Postgraduate(s) Matter(s)

Published: 14 December 2020

SMLC's postgraduate community joined together on Zoom for regular sessions to further their research and attended Masterclasses.

To supplement the regular seminars and sessions of SMLC's postgraduate community, such as 'Shut Up and Write', a Postgraduate Masterclass was held in association with History of Art on Friday 7th February and Monday 10th February. The topic 'Visual Aggression: images of martyrdom in Late Medieval Germany' was tackled by Assaf Pinkus of Tel Aviv University. 
Martyrs’ imagery in late medieval Germany reveals a strikingly brutal parade of violence: all phases of decapitation, split skulls, bleeding necks, mutilated organs, amputated fingers, eviscerated eyes, nails and teeth being torn out, cutting off of breasts, breaking on the wheel, and other such mutilations. Each of the martyrdom scenes is expropriated from narrative sequences of saints' vitae, epitomizing the moment of the immediate violent act. While earlier studies have focused on allegorical and reflective interpretations of medieval violence imagery as alluding to the imitatio Christi or on its relations to the liturgy of punishment in early modern times, this masterclass will suggest that the tortures depicted here are more concerned with the notion of violence as a moral problem in an ethical system. This 'visual aggression', namely the monumental public art of extreme violence, confronts the viewer somatically with an intense brutality, unsanctified in pictorial tradition or memory. The initial encounters with these 'galleries' of defaced figures have likely been experienced as something totally new, violently shocking, and thereby postponing the moment of devotional immersion. Tracing the contemporary discourse on violence and cruelty, this masterclass will address questions of aesthetics, reception, imagination, and somatic responses, as well as the eroticism of the tortured body. 

As part of their AHRC Networking Grant on Women, Religion and Culture in Spain and Spanish American 1900-2000, Eamon McCarthy (SMLC) and Dr Ricki O’Rawe (Queen’s University Belfast) organised a PG workshop entitled ‘Women, Religion & Culture: the challenges of writing about subjectivity’ on Friday 16 October. The workshop explored the challenges presented when writing about subjectivity, particularly women’s subjectivities, and ideas about religion or spirituality more broadly. It also explored the ways in which theory can appear devoid of lived experience or can even seem at times to devalue the subject. The ways in which an exploration of subjectivity and or spirituality, both very broadly understood, might help us engage with theoretical ideas more deeply and in a more meaningful way were also discussed. The workshop was attended by students across Arts and Humanities disciplines from across Scotland. 

Finally, our PGR students have contributed to SMLC’s research community by taking part in our 2020 PGR Activity Programme, including the sessions ‘What are you Working On? and ’Introduction to Research Clusters’. A big thank you to all students and staff who attended. 


First published: 14 December 2020

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