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ARTH 362 Studies in Early Christian and Byzantine Art and Architecture

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:45am - 2:15pm
  • EV 1.605
  • Instructor: Dr. Nicola Pezolet
Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy

This course seeks to provide a broad survey of the early centuries of Christian architecture and art, both in the East and in the West. The semester is structured around a series of interrelated questions. How did Christians of the first centuries and after seek to manifest their faith and theology through specific visual and material practices? How have church buildings shaped Christian communities and their liturgical worship? How has early Christian culture been affected by the various power dynamics of its day (be they social, political, or doctrinal)? What are the relationships between key Old and New Testament stories and their adaptation into the arts (mosaics, frescoes, illuminated manuscripts, etc.)? What are some of the distinctive iconographic and decorative traditions that have emerged in different Churches over time? Finally, how has Catholic and Byzantine culture affected some later artistic movements, such as revivalism, the avant-garde and postmodernism? Students will be invited to think about these and other questions by analyzing artworks and buildings in light of contemporary art historical and theological scholarship, archeological studies and written historical sources (such as selected Biblical texts, patristic writings, liturgical and ecclesiastical documents, etc). Weekly lectures will be historical analyses and will include case studies around works that relate to core Christian doctrines (such as creation, the fall, the incarnation, redemption, and new creation).

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