Between the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, pain and memory became interdependent in three domains of social and religious life: religious devotion, education, and criminal justice. The grounds for this affiliation were prepared by a training of individuals in the control of affect and the acceptance of memory training as a regimen of virtual self-wounding, often facilitated by violent imagery. Across the three domains examined here Christian subjectivity was quietly reformed, and an embodied habitus inculcated, to meet the demands of an age no longer anchored in unquestioned truths.
Pain and Memory in the Formation of Early Modern Habitus
Mitchell Merback is the Arnell and Everett Land Professor in the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent book is Perfection's Therapy: An Essay on Albrecht Dürer's “Melencolia I” (Zone Books, 2017). Current projects include a reevaluation of the European tradition of the identification portrait and a study of tragic recognition as theme and metatheme in Christian art before 1500.
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Mitchell Merback; Pain and Memory in the Formation of Early Modern Habitus. Representations 1 May 2019; 146 (1): 59–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2019.146.1.59
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