Universiteit Leiden

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Medieval and Early Modern Studies (c. 600-1800)

Meaning and Materiality

Researchers within the cluster are committed to the close and expert analysis of the materiality and content of the arts, literature and media they study. Different types of media bring various aspects of this core interest to the fore.

Literary studies at Leiden foster a strong philological tradition of annotating, editing, and commenting on texts in Dutch, English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and (neo-)Latin, and pioneer the use of cutting-edge digital tools in this area. Research also focuses on the development of literary genres and literary theory, and applies intertextual, stylistic and narrative theories, as well as notions from gender studies and ecocriticism to our readings in order to expose new understandings. Studies of historical literary theory, poetics and art theory lead to interdisciplinary perspectives on, for example, the influence of medieval and early modern literary theory and concepts on the visual arts.

Art history in Leiden is known for its pronounced global perspective, its close ties with the museum world, and its innovative perspectives on materiality. We have experts in medieval and early modern prints and drawings, painting, sculpture, architecture, interior design and decorative arts, who study a wide variety of visual clues to understand the genesis and (changing) characteristics of artworks, their preciousness and impact in society, as well as the development, transfer and morphing of styles. They perform material, stylistic and iconographical analyses, and relate these to the broader context of artistic practices, art theory, aesthetics, literature, philosophy and cultural history.

Researchers in book (and media) studies are dedicated to studying medieval and early modern manuscripts and early printed books as material objects that tell stories about their origins and (changing) function throughout history. Members of the cluster pioneer in ways of assessing the content, the writing (palaeography), and textual transmission. They are committed to making this material more widely available to a larger audience, use it in research and teaching activities, and collaborate with conservation specialists from Leiden University Library.

Impressio librorum
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