Die „Ohren der Zuschauer“

Das hörende (und schauende) Predigtpublikum vor der Kanzel im 15. Jahrhundert

  • Joanna Olchawa (Autor/in)


There was hardly any other place in the Middle Ages that was as geared to speaking and listening as the space in or around the pulpit. With its inherent formal or iconographical possibilities as well as visual strategies, it could accentuate the spoken words during the ‘activation’, i.e. the preaching in front of an audience, or even refer subtly to and support the listening situation. Beyond the placement, this included particular inscriptions, forms and motifs that functioned as visual reminders to be silent or as instructions to listen attentively. Furthermore, the sound boards that first developed in the 15th century met practical, acoustic challenges and were thus able to improve both the sound and the intelligibility of orally recited words; through visual and spatial relations, they also emphasized the importance of the preacher inside the church. This paper explores these acoustic and, in particular, audiovisual dimensions of pulpits on the basis of selected examples produced and used north of the Alps as part of a triad – with the preacher standing on them and the audience sitting in front of them.

Keywords Pulpit; Audience; Listening; Preacher; Sermons