JCU Logo

JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "AH 142"
COURSE NAME: "World Art II: Visual Culture of the Medieval World"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Silvia Armando
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 4:40-6:00 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This survey course focuses on the art and architecture of Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Asia from c. AD 400 to c. AD 1300. The course investigates the arts of the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic areas of western Asia, North Africa, and Europe, with brief considerations of the arts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, and pre-Columbian America. Special attention will be given to religious traditions and to the languages of art (i.e. the symbolic codes) developed to serve, express, and enrich those traditions. The chief objective of the course is to equip students with a mental map of artistic developments of the period in their broader cultural-historical contexts. The course will also assist students in cultivating basic art-historical skills, in particular description, stylistic analysis, and iconographic and iconological analysis.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

The course will maintain a traditional focus on the so-called Latin West, Byzantium and the Islamic world, while also considering case-studies from China, Japan, South East Asia and Africa. The main aim is to provide a firm understanding of related artistic traditions and to develop basic art-historical skills.

Art and material culture will be analyzed within their cultural and historical contexts. How did secular and religious powers affect the creation of artifacts and monuments? Which kind of messages were these intended to convey? Which role did previous or contemporary traditions play in artistic production, and how did this change across time and space? But also: how can archaeological discoveries and other material evidence improve our knowledge of the past? What can the materiality of an object and the technique of its making reveal?

Connections between distinct geographical areas and artistic traditions will also be explored through specific readings. These will reveal unexpected contacts and interchanges among distant cultures and traditions that were usually studied in isolation. Crossing conventional boundaries of historiography and examining a variety of methodological approaches will, in this way, improve the ability to think critically.

Finally, the study of medieval art is currently undergoing an essential and global reconsideration: nineteenth- and twentieth-century narratives were too often affected by racist, orientalist, colonialist or gender-biased interpretations, and the debate about how the history of medieval art should be expanded or rewritten is today extremely animated. Acquiring a basic awareness of these discussions, the course will approach both artistic phenomena and related bibliography with a fresher and more critical perspective.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

Beside acquiring a general knowledge and understanding of medieval artistic developments, students will:

·       improve their skills in describing, contextualizing and interpreting monuments, artifacts and material culture

·       improve their critical reading skills

·       learn how to deal with a variety of bibliographical materials and methodologies

·       engage in oral presentations and in-class discussions

·       write concise and effective texts about artifacts and monuments

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Global History, Volume IKleiner, F., et al.EngageISBN-10: 1285837843 ISBN-13: 978-1285837840 If you plan to take all of the AH140 sequence, you may wish to buy the single-volume version of Gardner's Art through the Ages: A Global History. N.B.: Any former edition of this volume is ok. In the course schedule, the book is simply mentioned as “Gardner's Art” Other readings are listed in the schedule: all of them will be accessible via Moodle, and/or available in the Frohring Library.
Siculo-Norman Art: Islamic Culture in Medieval SicilyMuseum With No FrontiersMuseum With No Frontiers3902782048N1119.S5 S53 2010Textbook for week 12 (selected parts)
A History of the World in 100 ObjectsMacGregor, NeilPenguin Books0143124153 9780143124153GN740 .M16 2013Needed for week 9 (selected entries)
Islamic Art and Architecture 650-1250Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, Yale University Press0300088698N6260 .E79Needed for week 8 (selected paragraphs)
The Silk Road: A Very Short IntroductionMillward, James Oxford University Press9780199782864DS33.1 .M55 2013Textbook for week 9 (selected parts)
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Whose Middle Ages: Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used PastAlbin, Andrew, et al.Fordham9780823285587 0823285588 9780823285594 0823285596https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1117645098 

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
A short guide to Writing about Art. 9th Edition. Barnet, S.Pearson Prentice Hall0136138551 9780136138556N7476 .B37 2008This resource is a valid help to cope with art history writing... browse it and enjoy!
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
   
Oral report of lessons At the end of each lesson, one or two students will be asked to prepare, for the next meeting, a brief ‘recap’ (5-8 minutes max.) concerning what was presented and discussed in class; this will be presented synchronously, in class or remotely. 5%
   
The keywords game Once a week, all students will take part to the online ‘keyword game’, which consists in identifying 3-4 keywords able summarize the main topics discussed in class, posting them in a dedicated Forum, then adding at least one comment to a colleague’s post. 5%
Two short entries for The Impossible Museum of Medieval ArtEntries dedicated to an object or monument, providing essential information as in an exhibition catalog entry, followed by an outline of the historical-cultural context within which was created and a visual and critical analysis. Each entry should count 1000 words max, excluding bibliography and images. After the teacher’s corrections, students will return to their texts and submit a revised version. A thorough revision will increase the final grade. During week 1, 2, and 3 we will be working together on how to write a Short entry. Specific guidelines will be posted on Moodle, together with a list of reliable websites and online resources from which students can start their research. Entry #1 due by Mon October 19th, 2 pm; Entry#2 due by Mon November 16th, 2 pm. Provided individual approval, and before the end of the term, these short texts will be collected in ‘The Impossible Museum of Medieval Art’, a catalog where artworks, objects of common use and architectures, presented side by side, will disclose the complexities of the global Middle Ages. 25% (10% and 15% respectively)
Mid-term examClosed book, synchronous. Format: slide identification, term definitions, description and contextualization of selected artworks; one or two short essays. Scheduled on week 6 (Oct. 29th).20%
   
Readings presentation and discussion Two make-up Fridays (Oct 16th and Nov 13th) will be dedicated to the discussion of key-readings: students will read the texts in advance, then fill and submit a chart containing basic questions (summarizing the author’s thesis, identifying her/his communication strategies, pinpointing weaknesses and strengths in the text, finding keywords, etc…). The class will be divided in sub-groups: one half of the class (likely divided in three sub-groups) will prepare presentations relating to their reading, which will be then offered during class time (in class or remotely, max 15 mins). The other half of the class will have comments and 2-3 questions ready to take part to the discussion. The two class halves will be switching roles in the two sessions. Deadlines to submit the chart: Mon Oct. 12th, 2pm; Mon Nov 2nd, 2 pm; Live sessions held on make-up Fridays (week 4: Oct. 16th; week 8: Nov 13th).15%
Final exam Closed book, synchronous. Format: slide identification, term definitions, description and contextualization of selected artworks; three short essays. All content from the course, including students’ presentations in class, will be considered. Date TBD25%
Professionalism and academic participation 5%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Class meetings are mandatory. Attendance counts heavily in the professionalism grade and has a guaranteed impact on your success on exams and other assignments. Students are kindly asked to notify the teacher about their absences, possibly in advance.

ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

AH 142 – SCHEDULE

Week 1 Introduction

Tue

§  There’s no such thing as the Middle Ages and there never was…what is medieval art and why should we care?

§  Course overview. Calendar, assessments and assignments. Introduction to research methods.

Readings:
- David Perry, ‘Introduction’, in Albin, Andrew, et al., editors, Whose Middle Ages: Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, 2019, pp. 1-8. (eBook accessible via Frohring Library: https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1117645098)

- Syllabus

Thu
What is a short entry: working together for ‘The Impossible Museum of Medieval Art’
Readings: Two catalog entries (see Moodle)

 

Week 2 – “Late Antiquity”

Tue-Thu

§  Transitions: from imperial patronage to Christianity

§  Late-Antique or Early-Christian?

+      Working together for the short entry (pick an artwork!)

Manual: Gardner's Art: Chapt.7: from Diocletian and the Tetrarchy; Chapter 8

 

Week 3 - 3 meetings - Byzantium 

Tue-Thu

§  Church and State: the art of a new capital, in and out of Byzantium (Ravenna, Sinai)

§  The power of images: books and icons

+      Working together for the short entry

Manual: Gardner's Art: Chapt. 9 Byzantium (until Middle Byzantine Art excluded)

Further reading (optional): Hagia Sophia has been converted back into a mosque, but the veiling of its figural icons is not a Muslim tradition, a conversation between Paroma Chatterjee and Christiane Gruber

 

Friday, Oct. 9th - Working together for Short Entry #1/and for Readings discussion

 

Week 4 - 3 meetings - Islamic world 1

! Monday October 12th: Have your reading done (see below) and submit the filled chart for Discussion #1

Readings:

-          Bissera Pentcheva, ‘Hagia Sophia and Multisensory Aesthetics’, Gesta, 50.2 (2011), pp. 93-111;

-          Grabar, Oleg. The Formation of Islamic Art. Revised and enlarged ed., Yale University Press, 1987: Chapter Three: ‘The Symbolic Appropriation of the Land’ John Cabot - Frohring Library Main Collection (circulating) N6260.G69 and PDF available on Moodle (1973 ed.);

-          Stephennie Mulder, ‘No, people in the Middle East haven't been fighting since the beginning of time’ in Albin, Andrew, et al., editors, Whose Middle Ages: Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, 2019, pp.127-139. Available on Moodle (entire eBook accessible via Frohring Library: https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1117645098).

 

Tue-Thu

§  What is Islamic art?

§  The advent of Islam: religious and secular power in an age of conversion

Manual: Gardner's Art: Chapt. 10: The Islamic World (until Later Islamic Art excluded).

Friday Oct. 16th: presentations and discussion of readings

 

Week 5 - Barbarians’ art? - The Carolingians

! Monday October 19th: sumbit Short Entry #1 by 2 pm

 

Tue-Thu

§  At the edge of the world: hoards, burials, and monastic culture

§  Renovatio Imperii: Charlemagne’s renaissance

Manual: Gardner's Art: Chapter 11: Early Medieval Europe until Ottonian Empire excluded

Further readings (optional): Maggie M. Williams, "Celtic" crosses and the myth of whiteness, in Albin, Andrew, et al., editors, Whose Middle Ages: Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, 2019, pp. 220-232. (eBook accessible via Frohring Library: https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1117645098)

 

Week 6 - Mid-term exam

Tue-Thu

§  General review

è  Mid-term Exam on October 29th


Week 7 - Ottonian art

Tue-Thu

§  Emperors, abbots, and art patronage in the Holy Roman Empire

§  Bernward of Hildesheim

Manual: Gardner's Art: Chapter 11: Early Medieval Europe: from Ottonian Empire onward.

Further readings (optional): Kingsley, Jennifer P., ‘Picturing the Treasury: The Power of Objects and the Art of Memory in the Bernward Gospels’, Gesta, Vol. 50, No. 1 (2011), pp. 19-39; Toussaint, Gia, ‘Cosmopolitan Claims: Islamicate Spolia During the Reign of King Henry II, 1002-1024’, The Medieval History Journal, 15 (2013), pp. 299-318. Texts available on Moodle.

 

Week 8 - 3 meetings - Islamic world 2

! Monday November 9th: Have your reading done (see below) and submit the filled chart for Discussion #2

Readings:

-          Kathleen Bickford Berzock, “An Introduction”, Kathleen Bickford Berzock (ed.), Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa, Northwestern University, 2019, pp. 23-37. Frohring Library Main Collection (circulating)NK700 .C36 2019; https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1032654614

-          Sarah Guérin, “Gold, Ivory and Copper. Materials and Arts from Trans-Saharan Trade”, Kathleen Bickford Berzock (ed.), Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange Across Medieval Saharan Africa, Northwestern University, 2019, pp. 175-201. Frohring Library Main Collection (circulating)NK700 .C36 2019; https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1032654614

-          Mariam Rosser Owen’s review of the exhibition ‘Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa’, The Burlington Magazine, 162, n. 1408 (July 2020).

 

Tue-Thu

§  Cities or palaces? Urban development and art in Abbasid capitals

§  Power to the Caliphs: al-Andalus and the Fatimids

Essential readings (as a replacement for the manual):

Abbasids: Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, Islamic Art and Architecture 650-1250, “Abbasid cities and palaces” (from p. 51 in 2001 edition); (Frohring Library);

Fatimids: Johathan Bloom, Art of the City Victorious, 2007, pp. 1-13; 101-105; 159-161; (Frohring Library);

al-Andalus: Mariam Rosser-Owen, Islamic Arts from Spain, 2010, pp. 8-33 (available on Moodle).

 

Friday Nov 13h: presentations and discussion of readings

Explore the webpage of the exhibition held in Washington, National Museum of African Art

Watch a short video about the same exhibition when iterated in Toronto, Aga Khan Museum

 

Week 9 – Silk Roads

! Monday Nov 16th: sumbit Short Entry #2 by 2 pm

 

Tue-Thu

§  A connected world: merchants, monks and diplomats

§  Moving people and religious beliefs: the transmission of artistic and technological knowledge

Essential readings (as a replacement for the manual):  

Millward, James A. The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. TBD; Frohring Library Main Collection (circulating)DS33.1 .M55 2013, https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/812122281 pp. TBD

MacGregor, Neil, et al. A History of the World in 100 Objects. Penguin Books, 2013, pp. TBD , Frohring Library Main Collection (circulating)GN740 .M16 2013, https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/837179039


Further readings: George, Alain F., “Direct Sea Trade Between Early Islamic Iraq and Tang China: from the Exchange of Goods to the Transmission of Ideas”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 25.4, 2011, pp. 579-624; Rezakhani, Khodadad, “The Road That Never Was: The Silk Road and Trans-Eurasian Exchange”, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 30.3, 2010, pp. 420–433; Hu, Jun. “Global Medieval at the End of the Silk Road circa 756 CE: The Shōsō-in Collection in Japan” The Medieval Globe, volume 3.2, 2017, Special Issue: A World within Worlds, pp. 177–202; Selbitschka, Armin. “Genuine Prestige Goods in Mortuary Contexts: Emulation in Polychrome Silk and Byzantine Solidi from Northern China.” Asian Perspectives: Journal of Archeology for Asia & the Pacific, vol. 57, no. 1, 2018, pp. 2-50.  (available on Moodle).

Week 10 - Romanesque and Gothic Europe

Tue-Thu

§  A new millennium: towns and churches, pilgrims and relics

§  An introduction to Gothic art

Manual: Gardner's Art: Chapter 12: Romanesque Europe; Chapter 13: Gothic Europe: until paragraph Royal Portal, Chartres excluded + boxes Paris Center of Medieval Learning and High Gothic Cathedrals

Further readings (optional): Marian Bleeke, ‘Modern Knights, Medieval Snails, and Naughty Nuns’, in Albin, Andrew, et al., editors, Whose Middle Ages: Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, 2019, pp.127-139. (eBook accessible via Frohring Library: https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1117645098).

 

Week 11Another Romanesque: Norman Sicily

Tue-Thu

§  Art at a Mediterranean crossroad: Byzantium, Islam, and the Christian world

§  Made for the kings: churches, palaces and precious objects

Essential readings (as a replacement for the manual):

Siculo-Norman Art: Islamic Culture in Medieval Sicily. Second ed., Museum with No Frontiers, 2010, Introduction; Itinerary I: pleasure palaces; Cappella Palatina. Frohring Library Main Collection (circulating)N1119.S5 S53 2010 https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1122809480

Further readings (optional): Kapitaikin, Lev, ‘Sicily and the Staging of Multiculturalism’, in Finbarr Barry Flood & Gulru Necipoglu (eds.), A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, 378-404, Tronzo, William, ‘The Artistic Culture of Twelfth-century Sicily, With a Focus On Palermo’, in Karagoz, Claudia (ed.), Sicily and the Mediterranean: Migration, Exchange, Reinvention, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, pp. 61-76, (available on Moodle).

Optional video: watch Jeremy Johns’ 2005 lecture on "Islamic art in Norman Sicily"

Our “Impossible Museum of Medieval Art” will be ready by Sunday Dec. 6th

 

Week 12 (only 1 class, December 10th) – FINAL REVISION

è Final exam