ARTH 578
The Idea and Materiality of Medieval and Early Modern European Books
Last Offered Fall 2022
Division I
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

How did medieval and Renaissance “books” work, when the codex was only one form of the book, which continually evolved, and when they weren’t only used for reading? This course will explore the book as object and the book as concept. Drawing on the collection of manuscripts, incunables, and later printed books at WCMA, Chapin, and surrounding university museums, the course will consider how the forms and materiality of books could have affected readers’ reception and perceptions, and in turn, how religious, cultural, political, and economical forces shape their format, decoration, and paratext. While it will primarily deal with Western books, we will also consider early ones from around the world. Students will have the opportunity to engage with Embodied Words: Reading in Medieval Christian Culture, contribute to the exhibition’s StoryMaps on medieval reading, and develop some codicological skills. Coming to the study of the book from the theory of thingness and cognitive linguistics, we will study our changing uses and relationships with and to books as instruments of doctrine and devotion, power and identity.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1686
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class presentation; research paper (20pp); other assignments
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then advanced art history undergrad majors
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800 Courses

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