Medieval and Byzantine Art - Global Humanities 2020-2021

The course will provide students with a multifaceted approach to the role of images in medieval and Byzantine art, by paying a special attention to the so-called “Iconoclasm”, i.e. to the long period – between the late 6th and the 9th centuries – during which the debate about the meanings and use of images and icons together with their veneration “hit the headlines” and soon became the main issue on the religious and political agenda. How this large-scale ideological struggle could have had an influence or even exerted a “pressure” on the artistic production of Early Medieval Europe and the Byzantine world, shall be a basic subject to deal with during classes.
By adopting a definite iconological approach, a focus will be provided on the following subjects:

a. Architecture
b. Sculpture and plastic
c. Paintings, mosaic
d. Inscriptions, coins
e. Illuminated manuscripts
f. Small artworks, handcrafts, objects for use

Through this lens, Western Medieval and Byzantine art, archaeology, and culture will be explored, with an emphasis on the main capital cities, the major centres of pilgrimage, the trading networks. Cross-cultural interactions between the Byzantine world and its Eurasian neighbours (Bulgaria, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Hungary and the Northern Balkans; the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphate, the medieval Turks and the Mongols) will be considered as well.
This would imply to investigate the culture and material evidence of the millennium of Eurasian civilisation from Late Antiquity and the Early Medieval/Byzantine period up to the turning point of the 15th century with and its worldwide aftereffects.

The course is intended to provide students with a wide knowledge of art in medieval Europe and in the Byzantine world. Thus, attending students are expected to attain:
a. To become proficient in approaching medieval European and Byzantine artworks in their historical context, as well as in using stylistic, iconographic and technical terms.
b. To develop full autonomy of critical judgement.
c. To acquire an adequate awareness about artistic heritage and its preservation and/or valorisation.