Lena Liepe

Lena Liepe

Department of Music and Art Faculty of Arts and Humanities
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My main area of research is Nordic medieval art and visual culture. The art historical study of the Middle Ages is nowadays a multifaceted field, covering a wide range of visual and material cultural expressions. The Christian ecclesiastical world of  images and objects plays a key role, but secular visual culture is also important.

 I have studied medieval visual culture in the Nordic countries from various perspectives, but always with an underlying focus on method. Several of my publications can be read as methodological exercises in which an analytical approach is tested on a selected material (stone churches, the image of the body, illuminated manuscripts). More recently, I have been working on the historiography of medieval art history research, in particular the public display of medieval ecclesiastical cultural heritage from the 19th and 20th centuries to the present day. A second research topic has been medieval sacred relics and their use in the Nordic countries. The latter theme is part of my ongoing research within the six-year research programme At the End of the World. A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Apocalyptic Imaginary in the Past and Present 2023–2028 (funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond). In parallel to this, I am exploring the spatiality of sacred space: an phenomenologically inspired interdenominational project with a didactic focus. Linked to this is a current research interest concerning the possibilities of renewing the art historical study of Western older art with perspectives from the world art history paradigm.

I have published monographs on the following topics: the production and acquisition of medieval wood sculpture in Skåne (dissertation, 1995); medieval stone churches in northern Norway (2001); the representation of the body in medieval Nordic church art (2003); illuminations in 14th-century Icelandic manuscripts (2009); the exhibition of church art in Swedish museums from 1847 to 1943 (2018); relics and the use of relics in the medieval Nordic region (2020).


Article in journal (Refereed)

Conference paper (Refereed)

Chapter in book (Refereed)

Article in journal (Other academic)

Conference paper (Other academic)

Book (Other academic)

Chapter in book (Other academic)

Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)

Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))

Conference paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))

Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))

Presentations at seminars and conferences (in English)

From the sanctuary to the museum: Displaying the sacred. University of Helsinki Spring School for PhD candidates 2017.03.20–24
Lectures: “Displaying the Sacred (1): The Sanctuary”, and “Displaying the Sacred (2): The Museum”

Changing Senses of Sacrality. Objects, Beliefs and Performances from the Medieval to the Early Modern Era, org. Thure Galléns Stiftelse, Glossa. The Society for Medieval Studies in Finland, Centre for Nordic Studies at the Faculty of Humanitis, University of Helsinki, and Swedish Historical Society in Finland, Helsingfors 2016.12.01–02.
Keynote: “Arm-in-arm. The meaning-making of relics and reliquaries from the Middle Ages to the present”
The Cult of Saints in the Archdiocese of Niðaróss and its European Context, org. Dept. for Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo 2016.10.13–14
Paper: “To wear a piece of sanctity around one’s neck. Relic jewellery and the role of privately owned relics in medieval devotion”
Spiritual and Material Economies 1000–1350: Time, Devotion and Reform, org. The Church and Money Project, University of Oslo and Durham University, Durham 2016.06.08–10
Paper: “Sacred goods: Dealing with relics in the Scandinavian Middle Ages”
Archaeology of the Object: Conservation, Material Culture and the Creation of Historical Knowledge for Pre-reformation Church Inventories,org. “After the Black Death: Painting and Polychrome Sculpture in Norway” Project, Oslo 2014.10.15–17
Paper: “The material turn: A dispatch from the frontlines of medievalist art history”
Exhibition Materialities, org. Anders Ekström University of Uppsala–Brita Brenna, IKOS/University of Oslo–Taina Syrjämaa, Turku Universitet, in collaboration with Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik/Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Humbold Universität, Berlin; funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 2014.06.10–11
Paper: “The Materialistic Turn”
• Workshop Boundaries in Pre-Modern Studies, org. Umeå Group for Premodern Studies, Umeå University 2013.11.14–15
Keynote: “From cultural history to art history – and back again? The epistemology of images in medievalist scholarship: in the past, in the present, and in the future”
The Nordic Spirit Symposium. After the Vikings – Before the Reformation, org. Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation, Thousand Oaks, Californien, 2012.02.10–11
Paper: “The Late Medieval Church Interior: The Room and Its Holy Images”
 Painting and Polychrome Sculpture, 1100–1600. Interpretation, material histories and conservation, org. Conservation Studies, University of Oslo, 2010.11.26–27
Paper: “Findings of relics in medieval wooden statues”
• Workshop The Power of the Book. Medial Approaches to Medieval Nordic Legal Manuscripts, org. Nordeuropa-Institut, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2010.08.19–20
Paper: “Text and Images in Norwegian and Icelandic 14th Century Law Books” (together w. Karl G. Johansson, ILN)
Locus Celebris: The Church, Monastery and Manor of Dalby, org. Centre for the Study of Denmark at the University of Lund, 2010.04.24–27
Paper: “Byzantium and Dalby: a not-so-close encounter of the third kind”
New Directions in Medieval Scandinavian Studies, org. Fordham University, New York, 2010.03.27–28
Paper: “‘Byzantios’ reconsidered”
The Manuscript Triangle. France–England–Scandinavia 1100–1300. A workshop on medieval manuscripts and book fragments in Nordic collections, org. Center for Medieval Studies, Bergen, 2009.11.04–06
Paper: “Scandinavian law books with minor initials”
Art, Memory, and Patronage: Visual Culture in the Baltic Sea Region at the Time of Bernt Notke, org. Homburger Gespräche, Tallinn 2009.09.10–12 
Paper: “The Multimateriality of Bernt Notke’s St. George and the Dragon”
Images, Ritual, and Daily Life. International Workshop, Krems an der Donau, 2008.12.01–02, org. Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit / Austrian Academy of Sciences
Paper: “The Rogslösa Door”
Masculinity and the Medieval North, Gothenburg 2008.10.18–19
Paper: “The Male Body in Nordic Medieval Art”
42nd International Congress on Medieval Studies, West Michigan University, Kalamazoo, 2007.05.10–13
Paper: “Illuminations in Icelandic 14th Century Law Books”
Use and Reuse of Medieval Art and Architecture, Center for Studies of the Viking Age and the Nordic Middle Ages, University of Oslo 2004.11.19–20
Paper: “Use and reuse as aspects in art historical analysis”.
• Border Poetics? A Comparative Perspective, org. Faculty of Humanities, University of Tromsø, 2004.11.11–13
Paper: “The ‘word vomiter’ of Rómverjasaga: transgressing of text/image-division in an Icelandic medieval manuscript”.
The Songs of Ossian. Symposium in honour of Professor Bo Ossian Lindberg, org. Department for Art History, Åbo Academy 2002.01.25–27
Paper: “The Kalanti reredos: An Exegesis in Bodily Categories”.
Body, Culture, Religion, org. Department of Theology, Lund University 2001.10.05–06
Paper: “The Iconography of Body and Gender in Nordic Medieval Art”.
36th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Mich., USA 2001.05.03–06
Paper: “Body and Space in the Frontal from Ølst”.
De-Constructing Agency: The Question of Representation, org. Department of History, University of Tromsø 2000.05.05–06
Paper: “The Radical Alterity of the Past. On the Representation of Sexuality in Medieval Imagery”.
History and Images, org. the research program “Den billedskabte virkelighed”, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen 1999.05.31–06.03
Paper: “On the Epistemology of Images”.
Figur und Raum. Mittelalterliche Holzbildwerke in ihrem historischen und kunstgeographischen Kontext, org. Kunsthistorisches Institut der Universität Kiel, Selent, 1992.10.07–10
Paper: “The Törringe Master and his School. Ten Crucifixes in New Light”.


Organizer of international conferences, workshops and Ph.D.courses
• Organizer (together with Noëlle Streeton, University of Oslo) of session ”Curatorial Discourses on Medieval Art, Past and Present”, 54. International Congress for Medieval Studies, West Michigan University, Kalamazoo, 2019.05.09–12
• Scholarly responsibility for planning and content of Nordic workshop on relic research, Helsinki, 2019.04.01–03, org. Thure Gallén foundation, Centre for the Nordic Studies at the University of Helsinki, Swedish Historical Society in Finland, and Glossa Society for Medieval Studies in Finland.
• Scholarly responsibility for planning of and teaching at Ph.D. course From the sanctuary to the museum: Displaying the sacred, University of Helsinki Spring School for PhD candidates 2017.03.20–24:, org. Thure Gallén foundation, Centre for the Nordic Studies at the University of Helsinki, Swedish Historical Society in Finland, and Glossa Society for Medieval Studies in Finland
• Organizer of Annual Research Seminar in Art History 2015: Matter and materiality in the study of medieval art, Section for Art History, University of Oslo 2015.12.-04–05
• Member of the organizational committee of Stave Churches and Their Decoration. Symposium in Honour of the 70th Birthday of Prof. Em. Erla Bergendahl Hohler, The Norwegian Academy for Science and Letters 2007.12.01