Imitatio Mariae



Imitatio Mariae is funded by the Swedish Research Council and runs from 2011-2014 at Umeå University. The project is also supported by HUMlab, Umeå University. For more information, see Umeå University’s Research Project database.

The aim of the project is to study medieval Marian motifs in Old Swedish texts and art in order to acquire new knowledge of ideals of women as well as of the interplay between medieval religious texts and artworks. The analyses are based upon the assumption that social and cultural contexts are constructed through emotions and that the Marian motifs communicated norms and ideals of femininity and spirituality. The use of the Virgin as role model will be illuminated through the usage of emotional theory and of gender theory. Methodically the project combines critical text analysis with art historian visual culture. A selection of scenes and stories from the life of the Virgin will be studied, including key events such as the birth and the death of Jesus.

While previous research mainly has focused on art or text and never the two combined, the aim in this project is to work interdisciplinary to reveal the interplay between the visual and the written message, an approach well in line with current international research. Preliminary results show that constructions of ideal femininity were influenced by leading ideologies of the medieval church and that text and art were used didactically to consolidate the dominating ideologies during the Middle Ages. The outcomes of the project will be presented in methodological articles and primary resources will be presented in a web-based database and integrated as well as dynamically represented in an innovative digital research platform.

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