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ARTH 667 Art History, Religion and Spirituality: Art, Architecture and the Christian Imagination in Europe and the Americas Since the Protestant Reformation

  • Tuesdays, 11:15 am - 2:15 pm 
  • Dr. Nicola Pezolet

This seminar course seeks to analyze the significance and impacts of the Christian faith on architecture and the arts, in both Europe and the Americas, from the Protestant Reformation to our contemporary moment. The course, organized around specific case studies, will cover a broad spectrum of social, cultural, political and religious contexts. We will ask a central question: How have members of different Christian traditions read Biblical texts imaginatively and express the “sacred” in their visual and material practices? Specific areas of study include the relationship of art, architecture and liturgical practices; the material history and “social life” of the Bible and prayer books; public and private spaces of worship; the transformations of Christian art and architecture in diasporic contexts; the competing claims of iconophiles and iconoclasts; the interactions of influential religious groups to private patrons and political sponsors; the formative role of utopianism, millenarianism, mysticism and spirituality in art and architecture; the intersections of religious and secular worldviews in social justice movements, etc. While the course will analyze more “mainstream” expressions of Christianity in the transatlantic world (such as Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Reformed Presbyterianism, Methodism, etc), it will also consider more radical and utopian movements (such as the Anabaptists and the Shakers, for instance). Readings will include primary sources, as well as secondary sources drawn from relevant methodological fields such as art and architecture history, theology, religious studies, sensory studies and social history.

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