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"Ears and Eyes and Mouth and Heart… His Soul and His Senses"

Title: "Ears and Eyes and Mouth and Heart… His Soul and His Senses": The Visual St. Stephen Narrative as the Essence of Ecclesiastical Authority.
Name(s): Morrow, Kara Ann, author
Hahn, Cynthia, professor directing dissertation
Strait, Paul, outside committee member
Gerson, Paula, committee member
Emmerson, Richard, committee member
Department of Art History, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2007
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Narrative cycles of St. Stephen, proto-martyr, are common, frequently found on ecclesiastical monuments of thirteenth-century France. The cathedrals of Bourges, Chartres, and Paris, to name only a few, support visual imagery inspired by the legend of Stephen. Ordained by the apostles, ostensibly to aid the widows and orphans of the congregation, Stephen quickly shows himself "full of grace and fortitude" (Acts 6:8). His inspired, vitriolic sermon incurs the wrath of the Jews who lead him from the city of Jerusalem and stone him. The prevalence of Stephen's cult in the Gothic cathedrals of medieval France has been recognized by scholars; however, little attention has been devoted to the bishops' development and use of the cult, or the churches' production or interpretation of visual imagery. Explanations of the extant images have been driven by text based, iconographic models, which have often obfuscated the relevance of intricate compositional elements and relationships that are key to a more artistically and historically relevant understanding of the compositions. The intricately sculpted Stephen cycles in thirteenth-century France and the historic circumstances that informed their conceptions and receptions are the subjects of this dissertation. Drawing from a survey of the extant, architectural, sculptural narratives and relevant historical resources, this dissertation begins with a discussion of the establishment and dissemination of Stephen's cult in France. The following chapters focus specifically on the thirteenth-century images at the cathedrals of Rouen, Arles, Paris and Bourges chosen for their intricacy and unique compositional formulations. Ultimately, I propose the retelling of the Jewish/Christian debate at the root of Stephen's story was subtly reconstructed by ecclesiastical officials and articulated by artists to reference and comment on contemporary anti-Jewish conflict and ideologies in the mind of the medieval, Christian viewer. I continue to argue that St. Stephen was an exemplar of ecclesiastical succession and an idealized manifestation of the extension of the bishop's power within the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In addition to situating the proto-martyr's imagery in social and political context, this endeavor also contributes to the broader understanding of the construction and function of pictorial, hagiographic narrative.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-2253 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Art History in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2007.
Date of Defense: October 9, 2006.
Keywords: Medieval Art, Gothic Sculpture, Paris Cathedral, Rouen Cathedral, Bourges Cathedral, Arles Cathedral, St. Stephen
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Cynthia Hahn, Professor Directing Dissertation; Paul Strait, Outside Committee Member; Paula Gerson, Committee Member; Richard Emmerson, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Art -- History
Architecture -- History
Archaeology -- History
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Host Institution: FSU

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Morrow, K. A. (2007). "Ears and Eyes and Mouth and Heart… His Soul and His Senses": The Visual St. Stephen Narrative as the Essence of Ecclesiastical Authority. Retrieved from