Castles of the Mind: A Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory

Castles of the Mind: A Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory

Castles of the Mind: A Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory

Castles of the Mind: A Study of Medieval Architectural Allegory


For well over a thousand years, scholars exploited the potential of architecture for allegorical representation. Regardless of whether they were describing the characteristics of romantic love, the framework of the medieval education syllabus, the community of the church, the virginal body or the contemplative vocation, writers turned repeatedly to the trope of the textual building. What was it about architecture that enabled it to fulfil such diverse functions over such a long timespan?

Castles of the Mind identifies and traces two primary traditions of symbolic textual architecture – Christian and classicizing – from antiquity until the end of the Middle Ages. It charts the evolution of the architectural metaphor over time, in relation to social, political and religious contexts, and offers a wealth of information on secular and devotional allegory.

Christiania Whitehead suggests new ways of reading and evaluating major medieval texts, such as Chaucer's House of Fame and Gavin Douglas's Palis of Honoure, as well as reassessing the importance of many less well-known works. Castles of the Mind is a major new contribution to our understanding of the symbolic structures and ideological systems underpinning medieval literary and cultural representations.


Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages aims to explore the interface between medieval religion and culture, with as broad an understanding of those terms as possible. It puts to the forefront studies which engage with works that significantly contributed to the shaping of medieval culture. However, it also gives attention to studies dealing with works that reflect and highlight aspects of medieval culture that have been neglected in the past by scholars of the medieval disciplines. For example, devotional works and the practice they infer illuminate our understanding of the medieval subject and its culture in remarkable ways, while studies of the material space designed and inhabited by medieval subjects yield new evidence on the period and the people who shaped it and lived in it. in the larger field of religion and culture, we also want to explore further the roles played by women as authors, readers and owners of books, thereby defining them more precisely as actors in the cultural field.

The series as a whole investigates the European Middle Ages, from c.500 to c.1500. Our aim is to explore medieval religion and culture with the tools belonging to such disciplines as, among others, art history, philosophy, theology, history, musicology, the history of medicine, and literature. in particular, we would like to promote interdisciplinary studies, as we believe strongly that our modern understanding of the term applies fascinatingly well to a cultural period marked by a less tight confinement and categorization of its disciplines than the modern period. However, our only criterion is academic excellence, with the belief that the use of a large diversity of critical tools and theoretical approaches enables a deeper understanding of medieval culture. We want the series to reflect this diversity, as we believe that, as a collection of outstanding contributions, it offers a more subtle representation of a period that is marked by paradoxes and contradictions and which necessarily reflects diversity and difference, however difficult it may sometimes have proved for medieval culture to accept these notions.

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