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In June 2016, the French region of Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyreneés was officially renamed as Occitania. In the Middle Ages, Occitania was a region of feudal states that spanned the South of France from Catalonia to the Alps.

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For this project, I sought to combine my interested in wines from the Languedoc region with my passion for graphic design. After going on a number of amazing treks up mountains to visit castles and visit medieval sites, I noticed that wine always added a new element to the dining experience. Yet unlike traditional wine pairings that often only combine wine and food, I found that wine is also deeply connected to the broader context.

Those in the Medieval Period understood memory differently than we do today. Experientially generated images, or phantasms, they believed, were received, processed, and stored by the human mind in a highly systematized memorial process. Inspired by Aristotle, medieval thinkers assigned the mental powers involved in this process their own chambers in the brain (fig. 1). The first chamber, imagination, packaged into mental images the unique sensory processes (e.g., smell, sight, touch, etc.) involved in the perception of an object.

Dark Day Dreams: Statement of Purpose I decided to do a painting, rather than a collection of existing images, since I find that visual arts projects help me notice connections in literature or life circumstances that I wouldn’t otherwise notice.  Instead of explaining the symbolism of each figure in the painting, I’ll just discuss some of the ideas that directed my work. At first I wanted to do a series of painting addressing the different topographies, value systems and power relations operating in the alba.

The transition from Domna as the object of affection in troubadour lyric to the figure of the Virgin Mary in the Cantigas de Santa Maria opens up the scope of possible topics a lyric voice can address. The focus on the Virgin is not a unique feature of the Cantigas, but it is a defining one since it drives the text from story to story. The widely disparate roles that this figure plays throughout the lyrics raises some interesting questions concerning what exactly she represents in the imaginary of the Cantigas.

For my project, I attempted to visualize how Gui d’Ussel’s and Maria de Ventadorn’s partimen might be perceived by a modern audience. The narrative is simple: Maria de Ventadorn (as she is represented by the feminine lyrical subject) asks Gui d’Ussel if a lady should treat her lover as an equal and if she should do for him what he does for her “according to the laws that lovers hold.” Maria de Ventadorn’s question sparks a dialogue in which she and her interlocutor try to specify the ideal relationship between lady and lover – between domna and drutz.

[...] This is how the angel of history must look. His face is turned toward the past. Where a chain of events appears before us, he sees on single catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it at his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise and has got caught in his wings; it is so strong that the angel can no longer close them. This storm drives him irresistibly into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows toward the sky.

Vanessa, what an inspiring image of the home, in the warm colors of desire, compared to the sad faded image of arrival in the Holy Land that is given in the traditional iconographies!This is a representation of Philippe Auguste's crusade, which happens to be exactly the same Third Crusade!

The idea of lovers parting at dawn brings to mind the story of Cupid and Psyche. It is an old tale that is famously included by Apuleius in his novel The Golden Ass. In short, Psyche is a divinely beautiful mortal that a prophesy fortells will marry a force more powerful than Jupiter that torments the world. Transported to a realm where her intended husband lives she is splendidly entertained but is never told the identity of her husband. Cupid forbids her from seeing him or even knowing that it is he, Love himself, who is madly passionate for her.