Framing questions

Barbara Abou-El-Haj envisioned her book to be comparative study of the cathedrals of Reims and Amiens, considering the monuments in relation to the local conditions in which they were planned and built. Focusing on the cathedrals in tandem with their regional political, social, and economic histories, Abou-El-Haj sought to dispel what she understood to be myths in the prevailing discourses on Gothic cathedrals – primarily that these structures were built with the consensus of their local towns and that they function as symbols of harmony, materializing an urgent and eager piety shared by burghers and cathedral authorities.