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Title: Iconography in dialogue : negotiating tradition and cultural contact in the art of seventh century Anglo-Saxon England
Author: Herman, Melissa Sara
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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The seventh century in Anglo-Saxon England offers a particularly rich historical period in which to examine the material effects of cultural contact between disparate cultures. As it lacks close contemporary textual accounts of the events taking place and the cultural response to the resultant changes, the material record becomes the site upon which that dialogue plays out. This study is primarily concerned with the art of what might be considered a transitional period in Anglo-Saxon England, the seventh century, between the arrival of the papal mission from Rome in 597 CE and the beginning of the eighth century when Christianity seems to have become well established throughout much of the region. At its core, this study is intended to present an iconographic, art historical examination of the artwork produced in this historical period, focusing predominantly on decorated metalwork, specifically personal ornament, as a medium for the transmission of iconography. To that end, given the scope of the historical events and material artefacts encompassed within that time period, it will focus primarily on traditional iconography, the so-called Germanic motifs, and their persistence and resurgence in response to the incoming Mediterranean influences. The artwork, specifically the metalwork, demonstrates a valuation and retention of longstanding traditions, both iconographic and aesthetic, which seem to be in direct response to the introduction of a competing culture. This embracing of tradition does not mean that significant cultural change was occurring throughout the seventh century, nor does it necessarily indicate a societal resistance to that change; however it does reveal that there was a level of uncertainty about the changes taking place and a resultant desire for the familiar, symbolic and significant traditions of the remembered past.
Supervisor: Hawkes, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available