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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Score and structure in ritual representation : meanings of the notational form in Sarum processional images Kemp, Jamie L


This research project examines an intriguing type of depictions which can be found within Sarum processional manuscripts, a genre of liturgical books which were produced between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The central focus is a specific example from Norwich which was produced between the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. I propose that their flat, ordered, and geometrically arranged mode of representation can be best understood when considered in relation to the semantic characteristics of notational systems. Their visual form signals that they are not representations of idiosyncratic events which have happened in the past, but are instead authoritative prescriptive layouts. They illustrate what important objects are required for the performance of a ritual and the number, status and position of the participants that will need to be in attendance. Thus, I argue that the viewer is not intended to be a passive witness to a scene taking place in the image, but is instead a presumed participant in a future performance of a specific character. Three arguments are introduced to lend support to the thesis. The first presents historical evidence which illustrates the authoritative role given to these books. The text discusses their widespread use and argues that this authoritative role may have been the result of a deliberate strategy on the part of the individuals seeking to increase the circulation of the books associated with the Sarum Use. The second argument is based on the examination of the relationships between the images and the texts found within the books. It states that the images do not present sufficient information to be considered pictorial instructions, but instead, can convey other meanings. The final argument is that the pictorial images have the semantic characteristics of a notational system. I argue that they are related to one specific system—the musical scores which interleave the images and intermingle with them in the pictorial frame.

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