Relics, Reliquaries, and Cult Images. The Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Western
Upper Division Lecture: A) Europe and Mediterranean; I) prehistoric-1200. This lecture course is an introduction to Western medieval art. It explores the origins and transformations of Christian visual culture. It will focus on monumental free-standing sculpture, which largely disappeared from European art for nearly five hundred years as a result of the Christian backlash against the Roman veneration of cult images. During the High Middle Ages monumental free-standing sculpture experienced a revival that has been, and still is, the subject of many fascinating theories and hypotheses.
This class will analyze the revival of monumental sculpture in the context of liturgy, architecture, materiality of the minor arts and reliquaries, as well as medieval theories on perception. Each class meeting will focus on one specific object and/or text between 800-1400. The course will outline the history of Western image culture, visuality and fiction, taking as its central assumption that images can visualize and suggest ambiguities that could never be revealed in medieval theological discourse.