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Members' Research Report Archive

The Visual and Material Cultures of Pilgrimage in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Kathryn Barush, Research Associate, 2011 – 2012

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Glastonbury Thorn and Tor, Glastonbury, Somerset, England. Photograph: Peter L. Herring

My research focuses on the intersection of the concept of  pilgrimage and the visual imagination in early- to mid-nineteenth-century Britain, the subject of my dissertation (University of Oxford, 2012). This study, which I am preparing for publication, offers a detailed perspective on the conjunction of content, form, meaning, and process for artists and theorists in that period, when notions of the transfer of “spirit” from sacred place to representation reemerged as a key aspect of theological and artistic discourse. Intersections between pilgrimage and religious art, including the idea of painting as pilgrimage, the revival of illuminated medieval pilgrimage allegories and histories, and the refashioning of relics and religious ruins as contemporary sites of pilgrimage are examined through specific case studies. My forthcoming publications include a chapter in The Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Playhouse (2012) on the theater as a site of vicarious voyage and an article on the collection of Francis Douce, to appear in Apollo (in 2012). I am also a research affiliate for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion, a collaborative research initiative organized by Yale University.

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