ARAB 212
Distant Encounters: East Meets West in the Art of the European Middle Ages Spring 2023
Division I
Cross-listed ARTH 212 / REL 210
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This lecture course 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 the Holy Land (extending across parts of present-day Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Turkey). When these sites became less accessible with the spread of Islam in the seventh century, Europeans sought to recreate the sites 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 empire of Byzantium, focused on its great capital of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), interacted in myriad ways, both friendly and hostile, with the polities of Western Europe. The course 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: lecture
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 3935
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 6-8-page paper, quiz, midterm, final exam
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: first- and second-year students, but open to all
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARAB 212 Division I ARTH 212 Division I REL 210 Division II
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800

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