Iconophobia, literally the fear of religious images, usually occurs in proportion to the powers attributed to them by their believers. In the worst cases, these fears have led to, or coincide with, a cycle of violence that may involve the actual destruction of images (iconoclasm) and of human life. Semiotics helps interpret the interconnectedness of these seemingly separate events. Most iconoclasm involves confusion between the image or sign (such as a statue) and its referent (the actual subject), and a re-encoding (...) of the signified (the meanings assigned to the sign). This article explores four case studies. In the aftermath of iconoclasm, fragments and ruins can be trans-valued as relics, and thus inspire hatred of the perpetrator and sympathy for the group whose sacred precincts have been violated. Or, broken statues may be preserved by a re-encoding as `art'. Yet not only do historical models warn of recurring conditions in which violence may be perpetrated against people and objects, but the more recent examples indicate that even great works of art that capitalist society deems world treasures cannot be taken out of the currency of iconoclastic exchange. (shrink)
This article traces the multiple and rapid changes that have occurred during the past fifteen years, in theorizing "sex/gender arrangements". A secondary aspect is the reception, application and above all modification of these theories by some scholars of European medieval cultural production, in which varieties of difference are found that do not apply in modern societies. Deconstruction of the binary m/f (whether thought of as sexual or gender difference) erupted among feminist thinkers in the 1990s and eventually "queered" academic discourses (...) by destabilizing labels that had been naturalized, including a consistent gender identity for the individual in medieval or modern society. The author claims that queer and post-colonial theory, far from being antithetical to feminist theory, are out-growths of it, and exist in parallel; the proponents of each are concerned with the societal forces, including our own discourses, that maintain difference, and create communities of oppression Yet it is also necessary to raise the question, when will the next radical departure occur, and how will new theories be generated? (shrink)
This contribution to feminist studies provides a new decoding of the imagery in the Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux. I propose layered readings, registering a modern woman's critical perceptions, informed by knowledge of the historical context, to reconstruct the impression these images might have made on the original female owner.