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Death Becomes Us: An Examination of Memento Mori Rhetoric in the Art and Literature of the Counter-Reformation

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Date Issued:
2019
Abstract/Description:
The use of death iconography, especially in the mode of memento mori, was a prevalent and effective means of conveying the Roman Catholic Church’s message of eternal reward through faith to provide hope to those who would follow. This contributed to the success of the Church’s internal reformation in the 16th century. This dissertation will explore a heretofore unexamined shift in the specific artistic mode of memento mori and its rhetorical function in ameliorating the image of the Church during the Counter- Reformation. Specifically, it examines in the mode of sculpture, the works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the Ossuary of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini; for the mode of painting, the works of Michelangelo Caravaggio and Pietro da Cortona; and for the mode of literature, the works of Giambattista Marino and Cesare Ripa. The artists and works selected for this study provide salient examples of memento mori of the Italian Baroque and its rhetorical function in the preservation of the Catholic faith. These works mark a distinct shift from the medieval modes of death representation which also indicates a shift in presentation of teleological theology in the eschatological message of the Church that is at the core of the faith. This change in rhetorical approach had a positive effect on the Church’s image and reputation that would comfort followers and encourage new converts. Close reading is performed on each of the sample works and their embedded rhetoric is examined. Since the fear of death and the hope for eternal life are the driving sentiments that these works evoke, their power to influence people is strong. Naturally, this increased the chances of the message of the Church being recognized, remembered, and spread. The use of transformed death iconography, especially in the mode of memento mori, was a prevalent and effective means of conveying the Church’s message of eternal reward through faith to provide hope to those who would follow. This contributed, in part, to the success of the Roman Catholic Church’s internal reformation at the time of the Protestant Schism in the 16th century.
Title: Death Becomes Us: An Examination of Memento Mori Rhetoric in the Art and Literature of the Counter-Reformation.
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Name(s): Dutton, Amanda M., author
Conrod, Frederic, Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters
Department of Languages, Linguistics and Comparative Literature
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2019
Date Issued: 2019
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 215 p.
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: The use of death iconography, especially in the mode of memento mori, was a prevalent and effective means of conveying the Roman Catholic Church’s message of eternal reward through faith to provide hope to those who would follow. This contributed to the success of the Church’s internal reformation in the 16th century. This dissertation will explore a heretofore unexamined shift in the specific artistic mode of memento mori and its rhetorical function in ameliorating the image of the Church during the Counter- Reformation. Specifically, it examines in the mode of sculpture, the works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the Ossuary of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini; for the mode of painting, the works of Michelangelo Caravaggio and Pietro da Cortona; and for the mode of literature, the works of Giambattista Marino and Cesare Ripa. The artists and works selected for this study provide salient examples of memento mori of the Italian Baroque and its rhetorical function in the preservation of the Catholic faith. These works mark a distinct shift from the medieval modes of death representation which also indicates a shift in presentation of teleological theology in the eschatological message of the Church that is at the core of the faith. This change in rhetorical approach had a positive effect on the Church’s image and reputation that would comfort followers and encourage new converts. Close reading is performed on each of the sample works and their embedded rhetoric is examined. Since the fear of death and the hope for eternal life are the driving sentiments that these works evoke, their power to influence people is strong. Naturally, this increased the chances of the message of the Church being recognized, remembered, and spread. The use of transformed death iconography, especially in the mode of memento mori, was a prevalent and effective means of conveying the Church’s message of eternal reward through faith to provide hope to those who would follow. This contributed, in part, to the success of the Roman Catholic Church’s internal reformation at the time of the Protestant Schism in the 16th century.
Identifier: FA00013201 (IID)
Degree granted: Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2019.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): Memento mori
Counter-Reformation and art
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00013201
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.