Word and Image as a Field of Research: Sound Methodologies or just a Fashionable Trend? A Polemic from a European Perspective

  • Norbert H. Ott
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This statement, which is simultaneously naive and arrogant, was made by one of the most famous literary scholars of his century—no less a personage than Ernst Robert Curtius—and it appears in the introduction to his equally famous book European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. 1 He even dedicated this book (and one is tempted to regard this as an intended insult) to Aby Warburg, that same Aby Warburg who, already at the beginning of the twentieth century and long before it became fashionable, practiced an integrated form of cultural studies that organized “the rest of the so-called ‘humanities’ around the focal point of pictorial art, thereby creating an overall program of cultural history” and demonstrating the ways in which art is indeed the bearer of thought.2


Literary Study Pictorial Representation Literary Scholar Fashionable Trend Pictorial Medium 
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  1. 10.
    See the introduction in Dagobert Frey, Gotik und Renaissance als Grundlagen der modernen Weltanschauung (Augsburg: Dr. B. Filser, 1929), pp. xvii–xxxi.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    On Warburg, see Ernst H. Gombrich, Aby Warburg: Eine intellektuelle Biographie (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984).Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    William Heckscher, Art and Literature: Studies in Relationship, ed. Egon Verheyen (Baden-Baden: V. Koerner, 1985)Google Scholar
  4. Roger Sherman Loomis and Laura Hibbard Loomis, Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art (1938; repr. London: Kraus Reprint Corp., 1966).Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Hellmut Lehmann-Haupt, Schwäbische Federzeichnungen: Studien zur Buchillustration Augsburgs im XV. Jahrhundert (Berlin: W de Gruyter, 1929).Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    See Loomis and Loomis, Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art; David J.A. Ross, Illustrated Medieval Alexander-Books in Germany and the Netherlands: A Study in Comparative Iconography (Cambridge: Modern Humanities Research Association, 1971)Google Scholar
  7. Chiara Settis-Frugoni, Historia Alexandri elevati pergriphos ad aerem: Originbe, iconografia e fortuna di un tema (Rome: Istituto storico italiano per il Medio Evo, 1973)Google Scholar
  8. Rita Lejeune and Jacques Stiennon, La legende de Roland dans l’art du Moyen Age (Brussels: Arcade, 1966).Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    See Otto Pacht, Buchmalerei des Mittelalters: Eine Einführung, ed. Dagmar Thoss and Ulrike Jenni (Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1984); see particularly the bibliography in that volume listing all of Pacht ‘s works on book illustration (pp. 214–15).Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    Compare, for example, Wolfgang Kemp, ed. Der Text des Bildes, Literatur und andere Künste 4 (Munich: Edition Text + Kritik, 1989).Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    Aby M. Warburg, “Italienische Kunst und internationale Astrologie im Palazzo Schifanoja zu Ferrara,” in Aby M. Warburg: Ausgewählte Schriften und Würdigungen, ed. Dieter Wuttke in collaboration with Carl Georg Heise (Baden-Baden: V. Koerner, 1979), p. 185 [173–98].Google Scholar

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© Kathryn Starkey and Horst Wenzel 2005

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  • Norbert H. Ott

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