This course focuses on the history of medieval Europe primarily through the lens of material culture. In addition to manuscripts, we will explore the significance of several categories of historical artifacts including: art, textiles, relics and reliquaries, architecture, pottery, crowns, jewelry and seals. We will discuss what we can discover about the production, circulation, reception, historic and geographic context, and the meaning attributed to the materials from which these objects were created. How would these objects be experienced in a pre-modern world? This class explores what these objects reveal about the religious, political, economic, cultural, and intellectual history of medieval Europe, beyond what we can learn from medieval texts.
Isidore of Seville, “Etymologies”
Hugh of St. Victor, “Noah’s Ark”
Abbot Suger, “On the Abbey Church of St.-Denis and its Art Treasures”
Honorius of Autun, “Gemma Animae”
Augustine, selections on the sense of sight
Bak, Janos M. Coronations: Medieval and Early Modern Monarchic Ritual. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Bynum, Caroline. Christian Materiality. New York: Zone Books, 2011.
Janes, Dominic. God and Gold in Late Antiquity. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Kessler, Herbert L. Seeing Medieval Art. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004.
Miller, C. Maureen. Clothing the Clergy: Virtue and Power in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1200. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014.
Tilley, Christopher, et al. Handbook of Material Culture. London: Sage Publications, 2006
Proposed Grading Policy:
10% class preparation and participation