All About Eve and Other Stories: Representations of Eve in French Romanesque Sculpture
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Traditionally unclothed, the figure of Eve made a sudden appearance on highly visible areas in the interior and exterior of European churches, built during the great architectural efflorescence of ca. 1100, now characterised as the Romanesque. Adapted, re-read, and sexualized, the story of Eve advanced particular agendas surrounding sex and gender. She became a plastic translation of socio-religious ideology, which imagined Eve’s body as a site of sin. Concerned mostly with the imagery of Eve between ca. 1080 to 1200, this dissertation not only explores the broad iconographical tradition of Eve in French Romanesque sculpture, but also places key monuments, such as the lintel fragment from Saint-Lazare Cathedral (ca. 1120), Autun, into a fuller context that includes regional trends, vernacular and religious literature, and socio-historical issues. Focusing on primary source material, textual evidence, and cultural context, this dissertation applies a multidisciplinary approach that includes digital humanities methods. Not only is it concerned with the application of current discourses of femininity and gender into pre-modern issues, but it also displays its findings through contemporary technological tools, making its scientific contribution more accessible and representative of its time. Moreover, this dissertation investigates codes in non-phonetic scripts and cultural practices for a more complete grasp of medieval visual expression and gender issues. It articulates the ways monumental Romanesque sculptures of Eve, which are in some respects similar to contemporary billboards, are not only passive reflections of political, religious (or secular/cultural), and social realities, but are also commodities and objects that act as social agents to remodel, challenge, and influence their society. In this context, the dissertation acknowledges the broader ideological systems present in Western Mediterranean societies. It identifies monumental French Romanesque sculptures of Eve as a possible precursor to modern-day advertisements — most especially those promoting perfumes that operate as performative image sources for and of female identity.