Somatic Stimulation and the Grail: Experiencing London British Library Royal MS 14.E.III as a Haptic Interface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Michael Camille suggests that medieval images are “not the reflection of some external view of this world but the beginning and foundation of a process of thought” (Camille 2000, 216). This article suggests that the audience to London British library Royal MS 14.E.iii used haptic interaction with the codex as a way of uniting physical and spiritual sensory perception. In this way, the manuscript’s audience utilized a process that we might today define as ‘embodied reading’, in which the reception of a given narrative is enhanced through the stimulation of multiple sensory modalities. Building upon new work by Kathryn Rudy that focuses on the damage caused by touching, rubbing, and kissing religious manuscripts, I argue that the same ‘damage-by-loving-touch’ can also be seen in two miniatures in Royal 14.E.iii. In each example, the audience’s targeted touching of the Grail table mirrors the way in which characters within the text touch (and are subsequently healed by) the same object. By extension, this suggests that the lessons (and potential benefits) of accessing the Grail were understood to be applicable to the manuscript’s audience: the owners of Royal 14.E.iii treated the manuscript as if it was a devotional text, physical contact with which allowed them to participate in the events of the narrative.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExemplaria
Volume36
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Apr 2024

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Somatic Stimulation and the Grail: Experiencing London British Library Royal MS 14.E.III as a Haptic Interface'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this