In Cistercian Architecture and Medieval Society Maximilian Sternberg offers an account of the social functions of the built environment in medieval monasticism. Few medieval monuments hold so privileged a place in the modern imagination as Cistercian abbeys, yet Sternberg suggests, it is precisely our own, peculiarly modern fascination with the idea of ‘Cistercian aesthetics’ that has hindered a full view of the complex social meanings of their architecture. this book draws attention instead to the practical and symbolic means by which architecture helped the Cistercians to negotiate the dense web of relations that, in actuality, bound them to other spheres of medieval society. It explores the permeability of monastic boundaries, and considers their effectiveness in reconciling a simultaneous need for interaction and distance between monastic communities and these other social spheres.
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