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2020 Abstracts

Representation and Interpretation: Understanding Text Through Images in the Romance of the Rose

Jackson, Erin; Root, Jerry; Kelly, Jessen (University of Utah)

Approximately 250 extant manuscripts of the Romance of the Rose contain illuminations. The depicted scenes and motifs within these works follow established patterns, a notion that created several iconic scenes from the Romance that can be seen in nearly every illuminated manuscript. Issues of representation and interpretation of the Old French text come to light through the depictions in the images. Inversely, the conversation created between these aspects of the manuscripts emphasizes the ways in which the illuminations inform the understanding of the text. Scholarship focuses predominantly on the former of these visual-textual relationships, and considering the influence of the images on textual understanding will provide new insight into the creation of one of the most highly-produced manuscripts of the Medieval period. These relationships are examined through the depictions of the reoccurring Narcissus scene within the Romance. This research will result in the completion of an interdisciplinary Honors Thesis for both French and Art History. The Romance research focuses on the analysis of series of images throughout the manuscripts available in the Digital Library of Medieval Manuscripts run by John Hopkins University. This is accomplished through a combination of literary and art history approaches to form a more holistic understanding of the visual-textual relationship within the Romance of the Rose manuscripts.