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Title: Tapestry and gender : on the hero and heroine motifs and the construction of Burgundian identity
Author: Westphal, Romina
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 1656
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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Medievalists and art historians have tended to regard tapestry as a "minor" or "decorative" art form and only recently have a few studies begun to shed new light on this complex medium. Despite these efforts, especially within the field of fifteenth-century Burgundian arts, little scholarly attention has been directed towards the study of tapestry and gender. The aim of this thesis is to investigate questions concerning the connection between Burgundian tapestry and the construction of gender identities. It begins by examining how the Neuf Preux and Neuf Preuses, two hero groups consisting of historical, scriptural, and legendary figures, were appropriated by the Burgundian court to transmit conceptions of ideology and political ambitions. Next, the iconographic and compositional programmes of tapestry examples depicting the Neuf Preux and the Swan Knight story, which is linked to one of the nine heroes, are examined to explore how concepts of good male leadership and justice were translated through hero figures and legends. The case studies that follow analyse hangings depicting Andromache and Hector as well as Esther and Ahasuerus, which show female characters in a variety of roles that demonstrate their active involvement in political affairs. Analysis of further sets of hangings depicting the Amazons and two of the Neuf Preuses, Semiramis and Penthesilea, demonstrates how tapestries allowed for a unique representational mode of female agency and power. Applying an interdisciplinary approach, this thesis discusses these tapestry examples by combining iconographical analysis with a comparative examination of material objects and literary works, such as Christine de Pizan's City of Ladies (1405), which was highly esteemed at the Burgundian court. This approach allows for an evaluation of the interdependency of male and female characters in tapestries and an enhanced understanding of the multiple ways in which women could construct and display their identity and status.
Supervisor: Frojmovic, Eva ; Brown-Grant, Rosalind Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available