Jane Gilbert (University College London)

Wed November 16th 2022, 12:00 - 1:15pm

Rhythm and History, on the Page: The Liber Floridus (Ghent, University Library, MS 92)

In this paper, I shall examine the visual rhythms that are a prominent feature of the Liber Floridus. This celebrated manuscript, an encyclopedic compendium of knowledge about the world and cosmos, was compiled and illustrated by Lambert of St. Omer in the first quarter of the 12th century at a moment when, for Lambert, history was drawing to its destined close with the crusading movement. Working with writings by several historians and theorists of rhythm (notably Henri Lefebvre, Jean-Claude Schmitt, Seeta Chaganti, and Roland Barthes), I shall argue that the manuscript’s different rhythmical devices relate to history in two ways: they represent and animate what Lambert presents as the great processes of universal history; and they convey the experience of living immersed in history, where patterns wink in and out of perception, and finding significance is a challenge.