Gothic Art and Architecture, c. 1100-1350 - MT803

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 7 30 (15) checkmark-circle


This module explores the dynamic relationship between the cult of relics and Gothic art. It will begin by retracing the aesthetics of devotion across Western Christendom, culminating in the creation of towering Gothic cathedrals. Throughout history, the design of cult images could reveal sacred presence, testify to miracle-working powers, and explicate the significance of a holy place using visual narratives. Through pilgrimage, gift-giving, and even theft, people acquired relics and 'invented' new cults. The success of a relic cult would benefit from the design of a magnificent reliquary, the depiction of pictorial programmes (in glass, sculpture, and painting), and the placement of the relic within a spectacular architectural setting. Together we will explore the development of Gothic art in light of changing devotional needs. Using a number of diverse case studies, students will acquire a wealth of historical information and develop a variety of intellectual approaches to function and significance of visual culture. Beginning with Paris and its surrounding cathedrals, we will extend our analysis to Gothic Canterbury, London, Castile, Prague, Siena, and Florence. Above all, this course will encourage students to think critically about the influence of art in the religious imagination.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 280
Total study hours: 300


Open to all Postgraduate Students in Humanities

Method of assessment

The course will be assessed by a 5,000 word assessed essay on a relevant topic of each student's choosing. This essay will test the learning outcomes by requiring students to make a coherent, sophisticated, scholarly argument with an appropriate scholarly apparatus. ?Both the learning and teaching and assessment methods relate closely to the intended learning outcomes. They will encourage student-centred exploration and discussion of primary and secondary materials in both their essays and their seminar contributions. Students will develop their presentation skills (written and spoken) and their capacity for independent research. ?

Indicative reading

Bony, J., French Gothic Architecture of the 12th & 13th Centuries (Berkeley, 1983)

Frankl, P. revised by Crossley, P., Gothic Architecture (London, 2000) ?
Mâle, E., The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century (New York, 1972)

Treasures of Heaven, ex. cat. (London, 2011) ?
Williamson, P., Gothic Sculpture, 1140-1300 (New Haven, 1995)

Wilson, C., The Gothic Cathedral (London, 1990) ?

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

~ demonstrate a systematic understanding of the visual, architectural, material, and devotional culture of Gothic art and architecture in Europe c.1100-1350

~ demonstrate a critical awareness of both traditional and current methodological and historiographical approaches to the history of art and architecture in the High Middle Ages in Europe, as well as an understanding of
how these have changed in recent scholarship.

~ demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the study of medieval paintings, manuscripts, metalwork, sculpture, stained glass and architecture, as well as an appreciation of the level of
analysis needed to examine these types of source material.

~ demonstrate a strong independent ability to identify, locate and interrogate the most appropriate primary and secondary resources for the study of the Gothic imagination in medieval Europe.

~ critically evaluate models of change and continuity over the course of the development of the Gothic style in Europe and describe how these may be combined to form an overall assessment of the period.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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