Spring 2024 Course Highlight | History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals

This spring, Professor Thomas Dale will be teaching ART HIST 201 History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals MWF 11:00–11:40am | First Year Friendly | NO PREREQS | Humanities Breadth | L&S Credit | Enroll here.Description: Why and how were the Egyptian pyramids built? Why was Classical Greece fixated on the ideal body? Why did the medieval Christian Church use figural images in worship while Islamic cultures condemned them? What engineering innovations and theological ideas lie behind the building of the Gothic Cathedrals in late medieval Europe? Why did Giotto and other Italian painters develop perspective? These and many other questions will be explored in this introduction to the arts and cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean basin before the Renaissance. We look at well-known artworks such as the Pyramids at Giza and the mummy of Tutankamun, the Parthenon in Athens, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the Book of Kells, the Great Mosque at Cordoba, Chartres cathedral, and Giotto’s Arena Chapel. But we also explore the artefacts of everyday life, including books, jewelry, ceramics, clothing, and textiles. Besides considering the social, religious and historical contexts of artistic production, we address basic human concerns: death and the afterlife, desire and the body, concepts of likeness (portraiture), power and propaganda, monstrosity and the supernatural, the divine and the sacred.