2013 [chapter], Medieval perspectives in Europe: Oral culture and bodily practices, pp. 343-364, ISBN: 978-3-11-026131-8

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Prior to the invention of book printing, Western culture had no efficient storage medium that served to unburden human memory. Instead of writing a mnemotechnics based on the visual perception of bodily movements, took over the functions of orienting, identifying, and stabilizing the social order in the medieval period. In medieval instructions on ecclesiastic and secular norms of behavior, the categorization of the most wide-spread and relevant bodily practices was ordered according to the various functions of the body parts involved, such as neck, back, and knee muscles, arms, hands, lips, and facial muscles. Naturally, such a system of signifiers (like the prostration, the genuflection with inclined body, the genuflection with erect body, bowing to the waist, bowing to the chest, the foot kiss, the knee kiss, the shoulder kiss, the hand kiss, etc.) which will be reconstructed here on the basis of various source corpora, could not encompass all the motion sequences that took place in the context of different interactions. Nevertheless, it has proven useful to treat socially meaningful actions as communicative acts within the contexts of 1) religion, 2) law, 3) ceremonial and 4) etiquette.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBody - Language - Communication. An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction, Edited by C.Mueller et al. De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 343-364, ISBN: 978-3-11-026131-8
PublisherMouton de Gruyter
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-026131-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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