HISTART 346-001

The Moving Image in the Middle Ages

270 TAP
M W 10:00 AM 11:30 AM
3 Credit Seminar

Cross listed with Religion 346

Byzantine art has been both condemned and praised for its static nature and flat surfaces. This course examines contexts in which the Byzantine icon disproves the traditional notion (or burden) of stillness imposed upon it. These contexts range from the public arena of processions in which icons (images) were the centre of visual attention, to the walls of Byzantine churches and palaces where they performed, to the miracles in which they supposedly came "alive". The responses of Byzantine viewers also reveal modes in which the viewing process shook icons out of their boundaries, transforming, even distorting them. By examining these issues, we may begin to understand the nuanced nature of the Byzantine icon other than as an epitome of stillness. The readings for this course include primary sources (all translated) in the form of deliciously evocative poems, epigrams and sermons.

At the end of the course, you should have:

  • a good sense of the visual culture of the middle ages in diverse media and regions
  • the ability to read scholarly (or non-scholarly) articles critically
  • the ability to formulate arguments and questions relating to medieval art, based on primary and secondary sources.

Readings: There is no standard textbook for this course. The readings consist of selections from various books and journals, all of which are on reserve at the Fine Arts Library in Tappan Hall. You will be expected to come to class having read the extracts specified for each day.

HISTART Concentration Distributions: The Middle East, Europe and the US, Medieval, Early Modern