The Book: Late Antiquity to Renaissance

Subject AHIS40019 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 05-Aug-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week. Taught in Allan Myers Tutorial Room, The Academic Centre, Newman College.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 170 hours across the semester, including class time.


Admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in art history, or Master of Art Curatorship.



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

AHIS40019 The Book in Medieval and Renaissance Art

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:


Prof Bernard James Muir


Subject Overview:

This subject examines the art of the illuminated manuscript and its importance in medieval and Renaissance culture. It introduces students to the basic elements of codicology - the study of the physical structure of the book - and it focuses on the relationship between text and decoration. Students will study the various kinds of interaction between patrons, scribes and artists in the making of a manuscript and the ways in which the function of particular kinds of books may be reflected in their design and ornamentation. Key types of illuminated manuscripts to be studied include the Insular and Carolingian Gospel Book, the Medieval Psalter, the Bestiary, the Book of Hours, vernacular histories and romances, and the Renaissance humanist book. Students will have access to the collection of facsimiles in the Baillieu Library and to some original manuscripts in Victorian collections.

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • have an understanding of the evolution of the book in Western Europe during the period 200-1450;
  • have an understanding of the nature of Late Antique Roman art and its influence on an emergent Christian decorative tradition;
  • be familiar with the major genres of liturgical books and books of private devotion, including Gospel Books, Psalters, Bestiaries, and Books of Hours;
  • have examined the relationship between text and image in liturgical and devotional manuscripts;
  • have an understanding of different modes of book production in Western Europe;
  • have studied the interaction between the scribes, artists and patrons involved in commissioning and producing illuminated manuscripts

A class paper of 1000 words 30% (due during the semester), and an essay of 4000 words 70% (due in the examination period).

Students are required to attend a minimum of 80% (or 10 out of 12) classes in order to qualify to have their written work assessed. Any student who fails to meet this hurdle without valid reason will not be eligible to pass the subject. All required written work must be submitted in order to pass the subject. Essays submitted after the due date without an extension will be penalised 2% per day. Essays submitted after two weeks of the assessment due date without a formally approved application for special consideration or an extension will only be marked on a pass/fail basis if accepted.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

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

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • be able to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
  • be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion;
  • be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision; and
  • be able to participate in team work through involvement in syndicate groups and group discussions.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Art Curatorship
150 Point Master of Art Curatorship
200 Point Master of Art Curatorship
Art History
Graduate Certificate in Arts (Advanced) - Art History
Graduate Certificate in Arts - Art History
Graduate Diploma in Arts (Advanced) - Art History
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Art History
PC-ARTS Art History
PD-ARTS Art History

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