Siria's Reviews > Popular Piety And Art In The Late Middle Ages: Image Worship and Idolatry in England 1350-1500

Popular Piety And Art In The Late Middle Ages by Kathleen Kamerick
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's review
Oct 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: art-history, british-history, european-history, history, nonfiction, religious-history
Read from October 22 to 26, 2011

Popular Piety and Art in the Late Middle Ages is a highly interesting monograph which contrasts medieval theological writings on devotional images, and the supposed inability of "the common people" to use them in a sophisticated manner (that is, worshipping them as idols rather than using them as a means of focusing prayer), with the actual lived experience of people using devotional images within a parish setting. I'm not quite sure if the analytical categories were always as rigorously used as might be possible (especially when contrasting latria and dulia, worship and veneration), but Kamerick's study is both insightful and useful. She rightly points out the artificiality of a distinction between an "elite", textual religion and a "vulgar", visual religion, demonstrating that illiterate people could engage with a written text (Margery Kempe having a priest read her works of theology) while people of all social standings could have intimate experiences with devotional imagery. What I really would have liked to see more of—and I'm sure were left out because of issues of space and of cost—were more photographs of the images themselves, and of the East Anglian churches which Kamerick describes in such detail. Being able to see them might give us a much better conception of how the images fit into a church environment.
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