Theses Doctoral

The Integrated Interior: Parish Church Architecture in Eastern England, c.1330–c.1550

Stewart, Zachary Dale

The "hall churches" of East Anglia, which number fewer than two dozen, were among the most distinctive of the thousands of parish churches built or rebuilt in England during the Late Middle Ages. Indeed, at the time of their construction, these buildings were nothing short of revolutionary since their open configurations upended centuries-old conventions of church planning. All medieval parish churches, by virtue of their function as spiritual centers for the common faithful, possessed two important ritual zones: the nave (traditionally maintained by the laity) and the chancel (traditionally maintained by the clergy). The vast majority treated these zones as semi-autonomous spaces. But a tiny minority, namely "hall churches," treated them as a single fully integrated volume of continuous extent and congruent design. Historians of art and architecture, in evaluating these one-of-a-kind structures, have been quick to praise their phenomenological homogeneity as architectural ensembles but slow to parse their ontological heterogeneity as composite spatial enclosures and conglomerate social enterprises. This dissertation seeks, in contrast, to investigate the implications of this productive tension between affect and reality via object-oriented methods derived from the spatial turn in the humanities. It argues—with special reference to three case study buildings in the cathedral city of Norwich—that the provocative contradictions of late medieval parish “hall churches” enabled parishioners to problematize identity by exploiting the fundamentally pliable relationship between form and meaning in architectural production.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Murray, Stephen
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 12, 2015