Seeing hell for oneself, watching the torture of a saint, looking at illustrations of war: these profoundly terrible experiences, narrated and drawn, shaped the way medieval readers took in the world around them, its violence, its suffering, its preponderance of evils. But how exactly does literature allow readers to witness and process such horrors? How is the observation of violence transformed by art? What is unique about the medieval experience of these artistic and literary forms of mediation? What can they teach us about our own contemporary cultural encounters with the sights and stories of atrocity?
Image: St. Alban’s Murder, London, British Library, MS Royal 2 B VI, f. 10v