Henning Laugerud


Professor, Art History/Visual Culture.


Research groups


• Medieval and early modern.
• Theories of interpretation, Hermeneutics, visual-studies and rhetorical perspectivesm, memory-studies (mnemology).
• Art- and cultural-history, history of ideas, religious history. Some particular themes: The power of images and visual culture and the idea of “tradition” and visual culture, history of the gaze/sight and the understanding of the medieval sensorium. Counter-Reformation and Post-Reformation Chatolicism in Scandinavia.

Visiting Professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, 2021.

Visiting Fellow at the Maynooth University Arts and Humanities Institute. Maynooth University, Ireland, spring 2020.

Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Catholic Studies, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Durham, autumn 2016.

Founding member of the european research-network:
ENID - The European Network on the Instruments of Devotion: https://enid.w.uib.no/.

Member of the Center for Viking Age and Middle Ages, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark: https://cas.au.dk/en/center-for-viking-age-and-middle-ages/

Member of European Science Foundations "College of Reviewers".

Feature article
Academic chapter/article/Conference paper
Academic lecture
Popular scientific lecture
Academic anthology/Conference proceedings
Popular scientific article
Book review
Short communication
Introduction, musical or theatrical programme
Academic monograph
Doctoral dissertation
Website (informational material)
Interview Journal
Academic article
Popular scientific chapter/article
Academic literature review
Programme participation
Non-fiction book
Thesis at a second degree level

See a complete overview of publications in Cristin.



Ongoing research:

The Optics of Understanding: Sight, Perception and Discourses of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe. A study of the optics of cognition, based on the meaning of sight or gaze - which seems to be a common feature of all forms of knowledge discourses in Early Modern Europe. The project focuses on the cognitive significance of sight and/as a basis for knowledge of the world. Personal research-project.

Personal project.

First publication: https://www.academia.edu/24768406/The_Optics_of_Understanding_Sight_sensing_and_discourses_of_knowledge_in_early_modern_Europe

The Living Image (LIMA): On the ontology, agency and personhood of living images and objects — medieval and modern.The Living Image (LIMA) is concerned with the agency and life of material objects, and evolves around the investigation of two interlaced objectives. First, the project will shed light on understudied aspects of medieval visual culture, focusing in particular on the agency of images and material objects. Second, it will provide new cutting-edge theoretical reflections and methodologies concerning the study of material agency and “living images” today. We argue that the cultural use of and interaction with images may be regarded as more than mere historically or culturally specific phenomenon. Rather, it concerns the ontology of images and constitutes a fundamental aspect of our life with images, in the premodern as well as in the contemporary. This points to the need for a re-evaluation of visual culture in general. It is our contention that images are embedded in social interaction and that animation is deeply constitutive of the production of meaning. Animation, we argue, is not located in the mind of the beholder, but in the epistemology, creation, interaction and materiality of images. Furthermore, we will argue that medieval animation may inform contemporary views on animation and provide us with a more precise vocabulary to capture current phenomena in the digital world. The project is fundamentally interdisciplinary and transhistorical in its perspective. Our research will be highly relevant for visual studies, material studies, study of religions, anthropology, medieval studies and theology. It is also relevant more generally for current discussions about the life and agency of seemingly dead matter.

Project leader: Henning Laugerud.

Project period: 2020 - .

Bleeding Images and Visual animation: Christ automata, action dolls and mechanical figures in late medieval Danish and Scandinavian image media. “Bleeding Images and Visual Animation” is a project about the late medieval animated image media in Denmark and the Nordic countries. Actively acting "action pictures", interactive cult puppets and automated figures were set in motion by performative or mechanical means – e.g., drawbar, stage work, machine, wheels, bellows, fire, weight-driven gait or hydraulic mechanisms with moving fluids. Such images of movement played a central, but now almost forgotten, historical role in Scandinavian cities, churches and not least monasteries from the late 13th century to the early 16th century, where they contributed to pilgrimage, preaching, mission, ceremonies, plays, entertainment and spectacular public performances. The project provides a systematic identification and analysis of animated figures in painting, sculpture, rituals, and other pictorial media within a medieval culture, where the animation is hitherto completely unknown: a Danish animation project with Norwegian and Swedish subprojects.

Based on an "animistic" and anthropological conceptual apparatus, the anthropomorphic image - the figure or the image as a person - is re-evaluated and revived, equipped with its own agent, mobility, corporeality, and "personhood". Mechanical and miraculous animation principles appear to overlap and interact in the historical experience, where automata bled, secreted, moved, gestured, acted, spoke, changed facial expressions, and transformed, as were they living bodies (or persons) of flesh and blood. A concrete example, among a large number of these in the project - namely a body-sized “Man of Sorrows” in the old Brigittine monastery of Mariager - is subjected to in-depth technical investigations to prove the possible existence of a unique bleeding mechanism in the figure's hollow torso and side, which can demonstrate animation in Denmark. The concept of image is finally extended to performing play and games with dolls, animated figures as well as real people in both city and church processions, liturgical drama, and monastic devotion.

Project leader: Hans Henrik Lohfert Jørgensen, Aarhus University. The Project is financed by NOVO-Nordisk Fonden, Denmark.

Project period: 2020-2024.

See: https://projects.au.dk/bleeding-images-and-visual-animation/

First publication: https://en.unipress.dk/udgivelser/a/animation-between-magic,-miracles-and-mechanics/

Northern European Reformations. Transnational Perspectives.The project examines the experiences and interconnections of the Reformations, principally in Denmark-Norway and Britain and Ireland (but with an eye to the broader Scandinavian landscape as well), and also discusses instances of similarities between the Reformations in both realms. The volume features a comprehensive introduction, and provides a broad survey of the beginnings and progress of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations in Northern Europe, while also highlighting themes of comparison that are common to all of the bloc under consideration, which will be of interest to Reformation scholars across this geographical region.

The project consortium consists of James Kelly, Durham University, Salvador Ryan, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and Henning Laugerud, University of Bergen.

Project period: 2018 - .

First publication: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030544577


Laugerud har arbeidet ved Universitetet i Bergen, Kirke-, utdannings- og forskningsdepartementet, Historisk museum/Oldsakssamlingen i Oslo. Universitetsstipendiat ved Institutt for kulturstudier og kunsthistorie, Universitetet i Bergen 1999-2003, universitetslektor samme sted fra 2003-2005. Førstelektor ved Institutt for Kulturstudier og Orientalske språk ved Universitetet i Oslo fra 2006-2007. Førsteamanuensis LLE/UiB mars 2008, professor fra august 2019.

Doktorgradsavhandling i kunsthistorie fra Universitetet i Bergen: Det hagiosopiske blikk. Bilder, syn og erkjennelse i høy- og senmiddelalder, fra 2005.