Chartres: Anatomy of a Medieval Cathedral
210 Tappan
M 1:00-4:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

The cathedral of Chartres, completed, save its crypt and west front, between 1194 and 1221, occupies a unique place in the history of western medieval art and culture. Its revolutionary architectural design - the first to incorporate a vast, traceried clerestory - marks the beginning of what scholars have termed 'high Gothic' architecture; equally significant are the cathedral's full array of stained glass windows, which give its interior a deep, vibrant color, as well as the plethora of sculptures populating the colossal portals on either side of the transept, as well as the older Portail Royal on the west front.

This seminar is divided into three parts: Part One introduces the student to aspects of the cathedral's history, chronology, structure, iconography, patronage, and liturgy, and to the broader aesthetic, social and cultural contexts in which these aspects need to viewed; Part Two consists of a week-long field-trip to Chartres that consolidates, or provides a counterpoint to, the previous classroom discussions in front of the original monument; [Due to unforeseen circumstances, Professor Timmermann's seminar will not be taking a field trip to France this year. It will be reconfigured accordingly.] Part Three is based on the assumption that a building as complex as Chartres is not only a physical edifice - erected to meet the needs, interests and aspirations of its medieval audiences - but must also be understood as an intellectual construct (or re-construction) of subsequent generations of viewers (and scholars). This last and final part of the course therefore provides an in-depth discussion of the cathedral's rich and fascinating historiography - a historiography, which, encompassing the narratives of antiquarians, iconographers, Marxist historians, structuralists as well as post-structuralists, has justly been regarded as a micro-history of art history itself. It is expected that the seminar will not only attract students of medieval and early modern art, but also those with an interest in the methodologies of art history; furthermore, it is hoped that the course will also benefit from the insights of students from other departments or programs, particularly architecture, history, and theology. Course requirements: Class participation (may include summaries of reading assignments): 30%. Presentation of ca. 20 minutes on a given topic in front of the original monument: 30%. Research paper of ca. 20-22 pages: 40%. A reading knowledge of either French or German is highly desired.