Matthew Shoaf

Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities

20102011 Forum on Virtuality

Matthew Shoaf

Assistant Professor, Art History, Ursinus College

Clamorous Images: Voice, Identity, and Verisimilitude in Gothic Italy

Narratives of spiritual salvation painted in fourteenth-century Italy have long been admired for their bold claims to represent human psychological and sensory experience. Their scenes abound with figures that appear vividly to communicate. Yet painters reserved representions of oral utterance for relatively few kinds of persons, including singers, women, Jews, and sinners. My project considers the artistic and social significance of virtual orality during a time marked by profound changes in relationships between people and material images. I investigate veristic pictorial evocations of voice as ways of engaging public audiences both with events depicted in Tuscan and Umbrian mural art and with late medieval discourses of the body, morality, and social difference articulated in literature, rhetoric, sermons, theology, music, drama, and communal legislation.