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The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages: Image, Text, Performance

Brepols, 2010

This multifaceted study introduces readers to the imagery and texts of the Dance of Death, an extraordinary subject that first emerged in western European art and literature in the late medieval era. Conceived from the start as an inherently public image, simultaneously intensely personal and widely accessible, the medieval Dance of Death proclaimed the inevitability of death and declared the futility of human ambition. The book inquires into the theological, socio-historic, literary, and artistic contexts of the Dance of Death, exploring it as a site of interaction between text, image, and beholder. Pulling together a wide variety of sources and drawing attention to those images that have slipped through the cracks of the art historical canon, the book examines the visual, textual, aural, pastoral, and performative discourses that informed the creation and reception of the Dance of Death, and proposes different modes of viewing for several paintings, each of which invited the beholder to participate in an active, kinesthetic experience. 

Winner of the Medieval Academy of America's John Nicholas Brown Prize 2014.

Recipient of the Medieval Academy of America subvention and the Samuel H. Kress Research Award from the International Center for Medieval Art.