Faculty Book: Cynthia Hahn

Cynthia Hahn

Strange Beauty
(Penn State Press, 2012)

Reliquaries, one of the central art forms of the Middle Ages, have recently been the object of much interest among historians and artists. Until now, however, they have had no treatment in English that considers their history, origins, and place within religious practice, or, above all, their beauty and aesthetic value. In Strange Beauty, Hahn treats issues that cut across the class of medieval reliquaries as a whole. She is particularly concerned with portable reliquaries that often contained tiny relic fragments, which purportedly allowed saints to actively exercise power in the world. Above all, Hahn argues, reliquaries are a form of representation. They rarely simply depict what they contain; rather, they prepare the viewer for the appropriate reception of their precious contents and establish the “story” of the relics, and thus engage the viewer in ways that are persuasive or rhetorical. Cynthia Hahn (Prof., Hunter) is on the doctoral faculty in art history.

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Submitted on: AUG 21, 2012

Category: Art History, Faculty Books