Special Topics in Medieval Art: Cross-cultural Aesthetics in Premodern Europe

Mo 2:30PM - 5:20PM / 104 Frick Fine Arts Building / CRN 29786

This course is centered on patterns of mobility and exchange in the medieval world, and considers the role of aesthetic objects as markers of identity across cultures.  The goal is to examine how the objects that are known today, as understood through their provenance histories, their use in commerce and gift exchanges, and their fluid meanings across different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups can inform discussion of culture, broadly defined.  While the class is centered on the European Middle Ages, the critical concepts that we will explore are intended to be applicable across the history of art and visual culture.  Topics will include but are not limited to: the shared legacy of ancient Rome across the Mediterranean, the crisis of abstraction in the early Middle Ages, the trade routes that brought luxury materials from Africa and Asia into Europe, the Crusader states as quasi-colonial spaces, and the production and consumption of Jewish and Muslim art in a predominantly Christian era of European history.

Number of Credits


Shirin Fozi

Course Term


Course Category

Category C: Cultural Antagonisms and Cultural Crises

Course Year