ARTH 240
Medieval Mediterranean
Instructor: Konstantinos Kourelis
MWF 10-11

Course Description

Modern history has framed the Middle Ages as the gap between Greco-Roman Antiquity and the European Renaissance. This "time between" has unclear chronological and geographical limits, as well as a contested significance in the modern narratives of European history. The history of art has construed the "time between" as the product of three culturally self-sufficient civilizations: Catholic Europe, Byzantium and Islam. All three civilizations shared the Mediterranean Sea as a locus of political control, economic exploitation and cultural interchange. The Mediterranean, "the place between," thus offers opportunity to explore an alternative view of medieval artistic production and to develop inter-disciplinary paradigms about the study of material culture in general. We will consider evidence from art, architecture and archaeology in Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa between the fourth and the fourteenth centuries. We will investigate the diversity of historical narratives that their interpretation has produced, and assess the applicability of modern intellectual concepts (multiculturalism, imperialism, orientalism, geographic determinism, etc.) in the study of a pre-modern environment. The unity/fragmentation of the Mediterranean will underlie our inquiries while we investigate whether the geographic region is an ideologically meaningful entity.

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Last update: November 1, 2002

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