The Visual Arts in Medieval Society
MWF 10:00am-12:00am
G-026 Tisch
3 Credit Lecture

This course introduces students to great monuments of medieval art and architecture produced in Europe from c. 500 to c. 1500 - that is from the period of the decline of the Roman Empire and the establishment of "barbarian" kingdoms through the period of the reestablishment of a western empire and up to the eve of the Reformation. The course will equip students to "read" medieval objects and buildings according to their social, political, and religious uses. We will examine items made for various purposes and in diverse media, from Roman imperial objects reconfigured for Christian use to gem-encrusted swords and brooches for Germanic kings to dazzling manuscripts produced by monastic scribes. We will consider the awe-inspiring architectural achievements of builders during the Romanesque and Gothic periods, and the paintings and sculpture that adorned cathedrals, monasteries, and palaces, placing special emphasis on the place of art in public and private devotion. Throughout the course we will examine how visual culture responded to contemporary--often tempestuous--social and historical changes.

Readings for the course will be drawn principally from Marilyn Stokstad's survey volume, Medieval Art. Class discussion will center on short articles focusing on individual objects or thematic issues and excerpts from medieval commentators that describe the objects and edifices of their time.

Estimated cost of materials: $50 or more, but less than $100. D. 2