HISTART 394-101
Special Topics in the Humanities:
Stone, Parchment, Silk and Gold - The Middle Ages through Materials

Tappan 180
MW 10:00am - 1:00pm
3 Credit Lecture

In the Middle Ages, materials mattered. Wood and stone, gold and glass carried wildly different symbolic messages and required different artistic skills to manipulate. For a medieval viewer, wood never lost its association with a living plant. Manuscripts not only contained written words and images but symbolized the power of embodied knowledge - words of ink impressed onto animal flesh.

This seminar will introduce students to a range of important types of objects from the high to late Middle Ages (1000-1525) in Europe. We will look at different sets of materials and consider their symbolic significance, manufacturing process, and how we might write about them for a museum audience. Each week will consist of brief lectures (to provide the survey-level context for this course), discussions of assigned readings (secondary and some primary), and multiple opportunities to practice close-looking with objects in UM collections.

This class will help students to develop writing and research skills that will prepare them for real-world museum experience. Throughout the course, students will get to contribute ongoing research in UMMA's medieval collection and work on content that will appear on UMMA's collections website, instead of writing a traditional final project.

Meets together with MEMS 360-101

HISTART Concentration Distributions: Medieval, Europe and US