Seminar in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Art, c. 1200-1500

Dr. Catherine Harding | 250-721-6304 | Email | Clearihue B415

September 7th - December 2nd, 2016 | CRN 10070
MR 11:30 am - 12:50 pm

In this combined seminar, we will ask: what makes a body divine, human or animal, and how were these categories understood in European thought, c. 1200-1500. If God was immaterial and divine, why is he represented with all the attributes of a human being? If Christ is the embodiment of the divine, why is his body an object of glorification, as well as a site of spectacular pain and suffering? We might ask: how is a saint’s body different from that of lay people? St. Francis, for instance, received the stigmata, a distinction that created a great stir when witnessed post mortem. The female body was, as always, a deeply contested site of power and control: women were torn between a limited range of choices, from being chaste to responding to ideals of perfect motherhood based on the model of the Virgin Mary. How did women negotiate the negative model of the polluted, sinful female temptress symbolized by Eve? As part of the great chain of being, animal bodies played a vital part in the late medieval imaginary: animals were hunted, domesticated, consumed as food, made into pets, but they also played a key role in the symbolic life of Europeans, who held fantastical beliefs about legendary beasts such as pards, basilisks, and unicorns. We will explore all of these concepts in the rich visual culture of Europe before the dawn of scientific principles of enquiry.

A split undergraduate/graduate seminar (AHVS 535 for graduate students)