History of Art



From the anonymous builders of Westminster Abbey to Jan van Eyck’s oil paintings, this museum-based course explores the artistic production of the Late Middle Ages (ca. 1250 - 1500).

Each week will concentrate on a specific theme. In institutions such as the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Museum of London, the Wellcome Library or Westminster Abbey, the class will consider questions of artistic creation, reception and definition of ‘medieval art’.

Weekly thematics will centre on key current debates in the field of Art History, for instance, ‘Materials’, ‘Women in Art’, ‘Animals’, ‘Medievalism’ or ‘Picturing bodies’.

Two fundamental themes, ‘worlds’ and ‘bodies’, run through the entire course. The class will include and compare materials from different geographical regions such as Western Europe, the Mediterranean or Arabic worlds. The students will also be exposed to materials from different parts of society, including secular or scientific materials. Finally, a recurring point of focus will be on how different bodies (i.e. female, animal, disabled) are represented or how medieval bodies experienced art (e.g. walking through a cathedral).

By the end of the course, students will be equipped to critically engage with artworks and artistic concepts and will better understand a historical period that defined Western culture but is too often misunderstood.