During the course of the eleventh century, the designers of European churches fashioned a new architectural language that we now label “Romanesque.” One of the most innovative and dramatic aspects of this new language was its assimilation of monumental sculpture, absent in Europe since the fifth century. The focus of attention in this regard was the portal, which marked the threshold between the profane realm of the outside world and the sacred space of the church. Often characterized as the “marquee of the Middle Ages,” the Romanesque sculpted portal, with its startling juxtaposition of the spiritual and the physical, of ecstatic visions of the heavenly realm and writhing, biting monsters, constitutes one of the true high-points of creativity in medieval art. Through the lens of modern scholarship, this seminar will investigate the antecedents and origins of the Romanesque sculpted portal and examine in detail its most renowned manifestations. Emphasis will be placed on understanding these often complex sculptural schemes within their original functional and material contexts, especially in terms of how they helped to create the sacred space of the church behind. Students will then have the opportunity to develop their own research projects, informed by what we have learned in the seminar, but focused on an example of sacred threshold art of their own choosing.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
class discussion/participation, oral presentation, and a 15- to 20-page research paper
permission of instructor
Art majors and graduate students
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH pre-1800 Courses