Agent of touch and transformation : a pilgrimage token of Saint Symeon the Younger in the Menil collection

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Agent of touch and transformation : a pilgrimage token of Saint Symeon the Younger in the Menil collection

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dc.contributor.advisor Peers, Glenn
dc.creator Steiner, Shannon P.
dc.date.accessioned 2011-07-12T17:08:57Z
dc.date.available 2011-07-12T17:08:57Z
dc.date.created 2011-05
dc.date.issued 2011-07-12
dc.date.submitted May 2011
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3459
dc.description.abstract When considering early Byzantine pilgrimage tokens, questions of touch and tactility arise almost instantly. Tokens lack cords or mountings, and so touch is implicit in such objects. Even gazing at them was a form of touching for the pilgrim. Hagiographies tell of pilgrims crowding to holy sites with the express intent to access sanctity through touch. Touch then, whether visual or manual, mediated the desire for connection between a pilgrim, a site, and a body. This requires an examination of a token’s touch as well as a pilgrim’s. In my thesis, I focus on a surviving token of the stylite saint Symeon the Younger, housed in the Menil Collection. This particular token bears iconography associated with physically and spiritually transformative events. Images of veneration, baptism, and healing appear together on the token’s obverse, while a human handprint on its reverse demands a multifaceted discussion of the implications of touching this object. I propose that in a pilgrim’s interaction with this token both object and viewer had agency. The token encapsulates a comprehensive pilgrimage experience. As a contact relic, the token makes present the saint’s body. Representation of baptism and the token’s backwards inscription enact sphragis – a figurative and literal stamping that pilgrims frequently described. I call attention to the experiential, memorial, and physical impressions made on the lives of early Byzantine pilgrims through the simultaneous touching of both viewer and object.
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject Pilgrimage
dc.subject Stylite saints
dc.subject Byzantium
dc.subject Syria
dc.subject Pilgrimage arts
dc.subject Late antiquity
dc.subject Symeon stylites
dc.subject Stamping
dc.subject Baptism
dc.subject Phenomenology
dc.title Agent of touch and transformation : a pilgrimage token of Saint Symeon the Younger in the Menil collection
dc.date.updated 2011-07-12T17:09:09Z
dc.identifier.slug 2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3459
dc.contributor.committeeMember Papalexandrou, Amy
dc.description.department Art History
dc.type.genre thesis
dc.type.material text
thesis.degree.department Art History
thesis.degree.discipline Art History
thesis.degree.grantor University of Texas at Austin
thesis.degree.level Masters
thesis.degree.name Master of Arts

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