Elaine Beretz is the product of the Department of Medieval Studies at Yale University, where she earned a joint Ph.D in the History of Western Christianity and the History of Art. Her primary appointment is as a research associate with the Center of Visual Culture at Bryn Mawr, although she is always happy to offer the occasional course for the Religion Department at Haverford.
Prof. Beretz’s scholarship centers around the numerous intersections of art, religion, and society during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, with a focus on the intellectual and artistic achievements of the northern French city of Beauvais. Her writing has touched on such larger issues as: theology and manuscript illumination; liturgy and public art; the design of urban spaces; the funding of church construction; and the role of bishops as art patrons. Currently, she is working on two interrelated projects: 1) ‘Founder and Glorifier of Solemnities:’ A Case for the Defense of Bishop Guy of Beauvais (1063 – 1084) analyzes the sophisticated use of hagiography to defend a beleaguered bishop from charges that threatened his office. In the process, the treatise gives insight into the intersection of artistic patronage and diocesan politics in an age of reform; and 2) The transcription and translation of a newly identified liturgical manuscript from Beauvais that was Bishop Guy's “script” for dedicating the very church described in the treatise that defended him. The ritual gives rare evidence into how medieval churches acquired their meaning and how medieval people saw the buildings in which they worshiped.