REL 210
Distant Encounters: East Meets West in the Art of the European Middle Ages Fall 2023
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed ARAB 212 / ARTH 212

Class Details

In this tutorial, students will investigate the rich artistic consequences — in architecture, manuscript illumination, mosaic, sculpture, panel painting, fresco, metalwork, and other minor arts — of European contact with the Eastern Mediterranean between approximately 300 and 1450 CE. From the beginnings of Christianity, pilgrims from Europe made the long journey to sacred sites in what they called the Holy Land (extending across parts of present-day Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Turkey), the place of Christ’s life, death, and believed resurrection. Large numbers of pilgrims even made the long journey to the Holy Land, and especially to Jerusalem, to visit a range of sacred sites related to Christ and his saints. When these sites became less accessible with the spread of Islam in the seventh century — and even before this time — Europeans sought to recreate many of them at home. Later, from 1095 onward, Christian Europeans attempted to reclaim and hold the Holy Land from non-Christians by force, through an ill-fated series of five major and several lesser “crusades.” Over the centuries, before, during, and after the Crusades, exposure to the peoples, ideas, and cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean also came through trade and through the travel and settlement of non-Europeans in Europe itself, particularly in Spain, Sicily, and Venice. Through all of these centuries, moreover, the Christian, Greek-speaking empire of Byzantium, focused on its great capital of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), interacted in myriad ways, both friendly and hostile, with the Latin-speaking polities of Western Europe, focused at least symbolically on their ancient capital of Rome. Together, by way of open discussion, we will explore artistic production within each of these different cross-cultural contexts of East-West encounter. In the process, we will reflect on how art could function as a conduit for the exchange of ideas in the Middle Ages, and how it could be used both to negotiate and to intensify cultural difference.
The Class: Format: tutorial
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1926
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in discussion; five 4-5-page papers; five 1-2-page papers; and one 6-8-page final paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first- and second-year students, but open to all
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
REL 210 Division II ARAB 212 Division I ARTH 212 Division I
WS Notes: In this tutorial, students will develop skills of critical reading and focus on how to craft clear and persuasive arguments of their own. To help them achieve these goals, they will receive timely comments on their written work, especially the five 4-5-page papers they will submit, with suggestions for improvement.
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800

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