Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9780226642819 Published September 2020
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Diagramming Devotion

Berthold of Nuremberg’s Transformation of Hrabanus Maurus’s Poems in Praise of the Cross

Jeffrey F. Hamburger

Diagramming Devotion

Jeffrey F. Hamburger

384 pages | 220 color plates, 1 halftone | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2019
Cloth $65.00 ISBN: 9780226642819 Published September 2020
E-book $10.00 to $65.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226642956 Published September 2020

During the European Middle Ages, diagrams provided a critical tool of analysis in cosmological and theological debates. In addition to drawing relationships among diverse areas of human knowledge and experience, diagrams themselves generated such knowledge in the first place. In Diagramming Devotion, Jeffrey F. Hamburger examines two monumental works that are diagrammatic to their core: a famous set of picture poems of unrivaled complexity by the Carolingian monk Hrabanus Maurus, devoted to the praise of the cross, and a virtually unknown commentary on Hrabanus’s work composed almost five hundred years later by the Dominican friar Berthold of Nuremberg. Berthold’s profusely illustrated elaboration of Hrabnus translated his predecessor’s poems into a series of almost one hundred diagrams. By examining Berthold of Nuremberg’s transformation of a Carolingian classic, Hamburger brings modern and medieval visual culture into dialogue, traces important changes in medieval visual culture, and introduces new ways of thinking about diagrams as an enduring visual and conceptual model.

Review Quotes
Herbert Kessler, author of Experiencing Medieval Art
“Hamburger has accomplished a rare feat among twenty-first-century scholars by bringing unknown illuminated manuscripts to light. Acutely sensitive to subtle changes made in Berthold’s revision, he locates the novelties in their theological context; and, moving from image to word and from diagrams to theological arguments, Hamburger provides a rich compendium of medieval thought and offers a subtle and complicated analysis of the late thirteenth-century version that engages the most important intellectual issues of the day. Like its subject, Diagramming Devotion is at once profoundly learned and inspiringly original.”
Kathrin Müller, Humboldt-Universität
“Hamburger impressively combines the historical analysis of medieval diagrams with a discussion of modern and contemporary notions of diagrams and the diagrammatic. Diagramming Devotion presents a whole range of fascinating new visual material and broadens the art historical canon in showing how closely diagrammatic and figural modes were linked in medieval visual culture. Hamburger not only demonstrates a profound knowledge of the diagrammatic in medieval imagery but also explores its many multidisciplinary aspects. In considering the personal, emotional, and sometimes even irrational dimensions of diagrams, Hamburger opens new ways to think about the role of diagrams in medieval art and thought. Diagraming Devotion is elegantly written, a pleasure to read, and an important contribution to the field of medieval art history.”
Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak, New York University
“Hamburger’s deeply learned study highlights the significance of Berthold’s endeavor, offering a pathbreaking argument about the diagrammatic disposition of medieval culture. In daring and fruitful juxtapositions, Hamburger shows how medieval and modern times share a strong reliance on diagrams, examining the expressive powers of their relational and processual modes and their claims to making truth in multiple areas of human inquiry. Within a comprehensive interpretative framework, Hamburger’s exploration of numerous manuscripts and lavish illustrations extracts new layers of meaning. His analysis sustains a consistently brilliant commentary on the implications of the medieval diagram as a meditational medium, animated by a poignant desire to demonstrate, and not simply to represent, the truth of salvation history.”
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