The Medieval Image: Art and Culture

Subject AHIS30021 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 102-hours across the semester, including class time.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects:

670-337 Art, Ideology and Doctrine, 400 - 1000; ENGL30019 Medieval Art: Ideology and Representation; ENGL30019 The Medieval Image: Art and Culture

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Dr Felicity Harley-McGowan

Subject Overview:

This subject traces the origin and development of the concept of the image of Western medieval thought. It examines the roles images played in medieval society through a survey of the various religious, philosophical, cultural and political frameworks in which conflicting attitudes toward image-making were developed. Lectures will introduce the differing ways in which philosophical and biblical traditions regarding figurative art and its value for religion shaped contrasting attitudes and led to aniconism and iconoclasm. The complex relationship Christians, Jews and Muslims shared with the visual arts will be addressed, and the legacy of disputes. Using specific case studies, tutorials will focus on how these attitudes were manifest in particular art works or monuments, with site visits to Univeristy of Melbourne collections and to the National Gallery of Victoria.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the subject students should have:

  • acquired a good knowledge of the intellectual history of the visual image;
  • become aware of the social, cultural, or historical forces that shaped/affected certain intellectual movements and thus influenced attitudes toward image-making in the medieval period;
  • developed an understanding of the different visual strategies employed by artists in the medieval period for representing the divine;
  • developed an ability to analyse a work of art during the period in relation to the social, political or religious context in which it was created;
  • developed an understanding of the conditions of the reception of medieval images, alongside issues relating to their production.

An essay of 2000 words 50% (due during semester) and a take home exam of 2000 words 50% (due in the examination period). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 80% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. All pieces of written work must be submitted in order to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available, or readings will be provided online.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have learned how to frame and develop a cohesive and compelling argument;

  • have learned how to plan a research project;

  • have learned how to communicate the outcomes of their research in seminar presentations.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Studies Major
Art History
Art History
Art History
Art History Major
European Studies

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