Art and Monuments as Sources for Pre-Modern European History


Spring 2017
141 McCone
Day & Time: 
TuTh 12:30-2
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the Pre-Modern Requirement for the History Major.
  • This upper-division class explores the methodological challenges of using artifacts, monuments and the built environment as sources for ancient and medieval history. What can ancient images tell us about dates and events as well as individuals and societies? Is it appropriate to reconstruct religious ritual, social mores, knowledge and beliefs from representations in manuscripts, coins and ancient statuary? What are the limits of such interpretations? These are the questions that the class will address through a number of case studies from Archaic Greece through fifteenth-century Europe. An incomplete list of the case studies includes the Parthenon, Greek vases, the portraiture of Alexander the Great, the city of Constantinople, medieval prayer books, Greek and Roman coins, Byzantine botanical manuscripts, seals, medieval monasteries and instruments. The class will examine a number of primary and secondary sources, which will be made available online. Class meetings will emphasize dialogue, and the assignments are geared to hone the students’ writing skills.