Authority and Invention: Medieval Art and Architecture

Art and architecture in Western Europe from the decline of Rome to the dawn of the Italian Renaissance. Explores the creative tension between the impulse to originality and the constraint of authoritative models in the invention of new architectural forms. Emphasis on representative works considered in their totality (architecture, painting, sculpture, and minor arts) as experiential wholes; and on the plurality of geographical and cultural contexts (Italy, Germany, France, England, and Spain). Exploration of the forms, types, styles, intellectual, theoretical, and cultural contexts of paradigmatic monuments and places from Late Antiquity to the dawn of the Renaissance (approximately 300-1300 A.D.). A complete list of monuments seen in class is on the course site.
This course, intended for both graduate and undergraduate students, has no prerequisites. It is a lecture course but uses “flipped class” pedagogy. This means that the course format includes lectures, which are pre-recorded and which you will listen to on your own, and discussions, which will take place in the classroom. In many weeks we will meet in class only once, on Thursdays, using the Tuesday time slot for site visits, individual office hour meetings, optional review sessions, and so forth. Each pre-recorded lecture is normally devoted to one theme and focuses on one building or place. The lectures are available on Canvas as videos (images and narration in sync) and as PowerPoints without narration under Modules, for studying the images. Additional short lectures may take place at the beginning of the weekly discussion session. Students prepare for the weekly discussions by studying the assigned lectures and readings and thinking about how these relate to the week’s topic. Since the topics of discussion will address the students’ interests, each person submits a short question, comment, or topic prior to our meeting. The discussion sessions clarify, deepen, and/or extend themes and ideas introduced in the lecture(s) and readings.


The course is jointly offered with FAS as MEDVLSTD 107.