The Medievalizing of Modernity

For those who wish to learn more about the objects and ideas featured in “Juggling the Middle Ages”, the recently published research of exhibition curator Jan Ziolkowski provides a wealth of information. Available for free as a downloadable PDF, The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity is a six volume work by Ziolkowski, Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library & Collection and the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Medieval Latin & Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. In many respects, this work functions as an especially robust exhibition catalog and complement to the informative programming throughout the run of “Juggling the Middle Ages”.

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity comprises of six volumes:

Vol. 1: The Middle Ages
Vol. 2: Medieval Meets Medievalism
Vol. 3: The American Middle Ages
Vol. 4: Picture That: Making a Show of the Jongleur
Vol. 5: Tumbling into the Twentieth Century
Vol. 6: War and Peace, Sex and Violence

More About the Book

This six volume study explores the journey of a single story, from its first incarnation in a medieval French poem through its prolific rebirth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Juggler of Notre Dame tells how an entertainer abandons the world to join a monastery, but is suspected of blasphemy after dancing his devotion before a statue of the Madonna in the crypt; he is saved when the statue, delighted by his skill, miraculously comes to life.

Jan Ziolkowski tracks the poem from its medieval roots to its rediscovery in late nineteenth-century Paris, before its translation into English in Britain and the United States. The visual influence of the tale on Gothic revivalism and vice versa in America is documented with illustrations, and Ziolkowski concludes with an examination of the explosion of interest in The Juggler of Notre Dame in the twentieth century and its place in mass culture today.

The Juggler of Notre Dame and the Medievalizing of Modernity is a rich case study for the reception of the Middle Ages in modernity. Spanning centuries and continents, the medieval period is understood through the lens of its (post)modern reception in Europe and America. Meaningful connections between the verbal and the visual are illustrated by an abundance of images, including book illustrations, stained glass, postage stamps, architecture, and Christmas cards.

This work is accessible to the general reader, while its many new discoveries will be valuable to academics in such fields and disciplines as medieval studies, medievalism, philology, literary history, art history, folklore, performance studies, and reception studies.

See more at Open Book Publishers.