Skip to main content

Unit information: Introduction to Medieval Art in 2013/14

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Introduction to Medieval Art
Unit code HART10215
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Donkin
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to the sculpture, painting, manuscripts, prints and architecture of the Medieval and Early Renaissance periods, primarily in Western Europe. We will explore who made these objects and how, as well as who paid for them and why. We will examine how this visual material relates to its cultural context, and the various roles it played within that world. As well as addressing a series of thematic issues, we will also chart (and interrogate) the border that lies between ‘medieval’ and ‘Renaissance’. The course will acquaint students with major buildings and works of art of the period, and will also consider the ways in which this material has been treated in the secondary literature.


The unit aims to provide a broad chronological survey of art during the medieval and early modern periods. Within this broad survey the unit has three principal objectives: to acquaint students with major buildings, works of art and personalities of the period; to introduce students to key issues and concepts connected with the study of this material, such as style, patronage, function and interpretation; and to reflect upon the ways in which medieval and early-modern art has been treated in the secondary literature in the past, and is now being treated as a result of new approaches and recent research.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, the students should:

1. have gained a broad chronological understanding of the development of art production and consumption during this period;

2. be acquainted with a group of major buildings and works of art produced during this period

3. be able to reflect upon these objects in their historical context

4. be able to assess some of the ways in which art was used and consumed by patrons, both individual and institutional

5. be aware of different approaches to medieval and early modern art, and be able to reflect critically upon these different approaches

Students will have been given the opportunity to tackle some of the key issues and concepts connected with the study of the art of this period, and given the opportunity to develop their visual recognition, iconographical skills and visual analysis.

Teaching Information

2 x 1hr lectures weekly over 10 weeks plus 1 x 1hr seminar weekly over 10 weeks.

Assessment Information

1 x 2000 word essay (formative), 1 x 2-hour examination (100%)

Reading and References

  • A. Petzold, Romanesque Art, London, 1995
  • M. Camille, Gothic Art, London, 1996
  • V. Sekules, Medieval Art, Oxford, 2001
  • S. Nash, Northern Renaissance Art, Oxford, 2008
  • M. Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-century Italy, Oxford, 1988
  • J. Paoletti and G. Radke, Art in Renaissance Italy, London, 2005