Labyrinth Research Bibliography

Bibliography of Studies Related to Labyrinth Research (.pdf 517K)

This downloadable Bibliography has all entries sorted by author. The entries in the bibliography have been categorized below by topic and also by type (doctoral dissertation, journal article etc.).

Understanding the labyrinth as transformative site, symbol, and technology: An arts-informed inquiry

Compton, V. J.

Abstract:  The unicursal labyrinth was first inlayed in the pavement of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres in France in 1200 CE, coincident with the flowering of the School of Chartres, where the Ars Liberales curriculum formalised dialectic inquiry, technologies of the imagination, and recursive spiritual development.  Reclaimed in recent years for walking meditation, the labyrinth functions, in the context of post-structural, holistic and aesthetic education, as a site of experiential learning and a technology for guiding the imagination into transformative patterns of thought.  Its image symbolizes the order-versus-confusion binary characteristic of the integrative processes of personal development.   This research project focuses on understandings drawn from existing literature on the historical, mythological, and mathematical labyrinth, the accounts of individual seekers and practitioners, and the author's personal experience from five years as labyrinth "keeper" in an urban parish church in Canada. Three personal essays document this involvement with the labyrinth from the dramatic first encounter, through intellectual quest and personal pilgrimage, to responsibility for installation and maintenance as public sacred art in a host community. The inquiry includes an extensive literature review of the historical site and the many avenues of approach to understanding the interaction between place, identity, and learning that occurs in the labyrinth.

Grounded in hermeneutic aesthetics and the methods of auto-ethnography, phenomenology and arts-based research, the inquiry investigates the connection between this ancient, mathematically significant site, the experience of reflective engagement with it, and contemporary interpretations of pilgrimage conceptualised as intentional seeking in the developmental process of self.  Implications for education lie both in the labyrinth's symbolic function as a public art form demarcating and validating ritual space for care of the self, and in its capacity to activate the incubation of individual and collective imagination, bring about shifts in perception, restore personal equilibrium and perspective, and access tacit knowledge and inner wisdom.  The medieval designers intended that users experience the characteristic sense of integrated consciousness and heightened imaginative function, a heritage that is to be welcomed at this historical juncture.

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