The Unifying Power of Moving Pictures in Late Medieval and Renaissance Umbria
RIHOUET, PASCALE (BROWN UNIVERSITY)
Phd Thesis, Brown University (PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, (MAY 2008)
Most banners, flags, and other types of portable images, once prestigious signs of identity for the groups that carried them in processions, have disappeared through wear and tear, vandalism, or disinterest in their devotional, aesthetic, or thaumaturgic qualities. Nowadays, extant ―moving pictures‖ can be found in private and public collections, museum storage, or churches, alienated from their original functions. My goal is thus to reconstruct their original settings and their past role in building social cohesion and reinforcing collective ties within a ritual framework in Central Italy (Umbria). My background is the ritual motion of public processions as they were enacted by single groups or the entire civic population, for feast days, funerals, and princely entries during the fourteen-sixteenth centuries. Although anthropologists and sociologists have investigated how ritual works to produce group identity for participants and observers, my contribution lies in stressing the visual components of such rituals and the significance of symbolic representations.