The Destruction and Reconstruction of Medieval Art and Architecture: Ethics and Approaches

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Many important medieval works of art and architecture are no longer extant as a result of iconoclasm, war, accident or purposeful refashioning. Despite their destruction, these objects continue to demand serious study in the history of medieval art. Investigating these works of art and architecture present clear challenges for scholars but they also raise important questions concerning ethics and methodologies of the study of destroyed objects. While the reconstruction efforts for partially intact structures have been widely debated entirely destroyed objects and buildings have received less critical attention. This session considers the destruction and reconstruction of medieval art and architecture by addressing both how scholars can study medieval objects that do not survive--either entirely or markedly apart from their original form---as well as the ethical issues surrounding attempts to reconstruct these works of art.Elisa A. Foster