Issue Nine: On Unstable Ground (Spring 2023)


This issue edited by Rachel Dressler and Ben Tilghman presents essays that consider the unstable, unreliable circumstances of the ground in medieval art. Understanding “ground” as a surface upon which humans act, the essays in this issue examine it as a formal artistic, environmental, or conceptual phenomenon. Essays in the issue also consider critically the grounds upon which the field of medieval art history has constructed itself. On what grounds have certain topics been historically dismissed as not pertinent to the study of medieval art? How might the ongoing critiques of the traditional geographic, religious, ethnic, and racial definitions of “medieval art” be understood as a radical regrounding of the field? These are some of the questions with which the authors in this issue engage.



Rachel Dressler
, SUNY-Albany, and Ben Tilghman, Washington College, Introduction to On Unstable Ground.

Tina Bawden, Freie Universität Berlin, Shifting Grounds and Shifting Perspectives: The Crucifixion Sequence in the Sacramentary of Robert of Jumièges (Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale MS 274 [Y.6]).

Rachel Dressler, SUNY-Albany, Standing on Rocky Ground: Terrain in the Bayeux Embroidery.

Susan M. Kim, Illinois State University, and Asa Simon Mittman, CSU-Chico, The Skin We Stand On: Landscape-Skinscape in the Tiberius Bv Marvels of the East.

Joy M. Partridge, Savannah College of Art and Design, Elements of Uncertainty: Visualizing the ‘Spheres’ of Water and Earth in the Late Middle Ages.

Saskia C. Quené, University of California, Berkeley, Figure, Ground, And Gold Ground: Relocating The Madonna Of Humility.

Emily Shartrand, University of California, Irvine, “I have the high ground!”: The Snail and the Knight Motif in the Margins of Manuscripts.

Nancy Thebaut, Skidmore College, Zones, Stripes, and Strata: The Banded Grounds of Ottonian Paintings.

Matthew J. Westerby, National Gallery of Art, Restabilizing a Locus Designatus: Capitals as Gnomons on the Cloister Ground at Santa Maria de Ripoll.