Penn State

Kathryn Salzer - Associate Professor of History, Penn State University Park

Book Title: Architecture of Silence: Cistercian Abbeys of France

Author: Terryl N. Kinder

Book Description:

As a medievalist, my studies on monastic history have typically focused equally on the socioeconomic aspects of monastic life in the Middle Ages and on the material culture of medieval monasteries. Not only have I worked extensively with a variety of documents written about and by medieval monasteries, I have also participated in the archaeological excavations of several monastic houses in France and Greece. For me, medieval material culture includes the physical aspects of both written and architectural documents.

Cistercian monastic houses hold special interest for me because of this particular monastic order’s emphasis on austerity and simplicity—both in the monastic lives of the order’s monks and nuns and in the architectural design of Cistercian buildings, especially the abbey churches. Terryl N. Kinder’s Architecture of Silence: Cistercian Abbeys of France offers evocative images of a variety of medieval, Cistercian monasteries in France, an appropriate geographical focus as this monastic order originated in Burgundy.

Architecture of Silence is an academic publication that focuses on extant Cistercian buildings in France. As such, this volume has offered important comparanda to my study of the Cistercian abbey of Vaucelles, the subject of my recent monograph. The reason that I have nominated this volume as part of the Promotion and Tenure Recognition Program is that it is not only academically useful as a record of individual, French abbeys and the modern survival of their buildings, but it also offers visual photographs and illustrations that allow the non-specialist a window into the austere, yet graceful, world of the medieval Cistercian Order.


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