Teaching in italian
Subject area
Reference degree course
Course type
Bachelor's Degree
Teaching hours
Frontal Hours: 30.0
Academic year
Year taught
Course year
Reference professor for teaching

Teaching description

It is advisable to have a good basic-knowledge in humanities, in particular in history of art and history of the Middle Ages (from Late Antique to the 12th century); good skills in understanding and using properly art-historical terminology are also required.

The course aims to outline the main features of the history of Medieval arts in Europe and Byzantium from Late Antique and the origins of Christian art in the Roman Empire up to the end of the Romanesque period (4th-12th century), a span of time generally labelled as “Dark Ages”. During classes, we will focus on key monuments and objects, considering a range of artistic media (architecture and monumental painting and sculpture; metalwork; stained glass; ivory carving; manuscript illumination). This rich material will be analyzed in its historical context, questioning how medieval art was made, used and perceived by medieval people. Matters related to materiality and craftsmanship, patronage and devotion, cult and cross-cultural exchange will be considered.

The course classes will focus on issues of periodization and artistic geography aimed at offering a specific preparation in the historical-artistic field. Particular attention will be paid to methodology problems, both to broaden the notions of the textbook (primary bibliography), and to acquire a good ability to apply analysis tools.

The course aims to make students acquiring tools for correct reading, analysis, philological and technical reconstruction of art works of the medieval period. Students must prove familiarity with art works, styles and iconography; they must acquire ability in identifying relationships between art works and/or artists and in outlining, in the respective periods, referring areas and contexts.

After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  • identify the major artworks produced in the Medieval period as well as compare and contrast their stylistic characteristics;
  • describe the role of history, religion and culture played in the development of Medieval art and architecture;
  • differentiate and distinguish between various mediums used during the Medieval time period;
  • interpret the visual symbolism of Medieval art and its conveyance of cultural and religious values through a critical eye and improved visual literacy;
  • demonstrate a competency in the use of appropriate art historical terminology.


The course will develop with face-to-face lectures during which powerpoint presentations will be projected. Handouts and extra support during the self-learning hours will be provided by the teaching staff.

Attendance of classes and participation are expected at all class sessions and are highly recommended. More than three unexcused absences will have an adverse effect on the final grade for the course. If there are schedule conflicts, students must inform the teaching staff in advance.

Students recording collect four or more unexcused absences, will be considered non-attending students. Non-attendance for justified reasons (e.g. working student; health reasons, etc.) must be communicated to the lecturer within the first month from the beginning of the course lessons or promptly during the course.

I. Attending students:

Attendance and participation to classes (see above: 2) Knowledge and skills to be acquired): 40%; oral exam: 60%. Two short written assignments will be given during the course on topics from textbook.



II. Non-attending students: oral exam: 100%.


Table of evaluation criteria for the oral exam in relation to the achievement of teaching objectives (see above: Teaching methodology / methods):

Students can only book for the final exam using VOL system.

Exams’ calendar:

  • January 17, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary)
  • February 7, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary)
  • February 28, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary)
  • April 4, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary with teaching break)
  • May 15, 2023, h. 8:30 (extraordinary*, without teaching break)
  • June 13, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary)
  • July 4, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary)
  • July 18, 2023, h. 8:30 (ordinary)
  • September 12, 2023, ore 8:30 (ordinary)
  • October 24, 2023, h. 8:30 (extraordinary*, without teaching break).

Students are invited to check periodically the single exam date; the single exam date will be available on VOL two weeks before the effective date.

* Reserved to graduating students, students who has not completed university exams within set time period and students enrolled in the final year of the degree and master’s degree programmes that have finished the second semester classes.


Manuela De Giorgi (head of the Committe), Raffaele Casciaro, Lucinia Speciale (members).

The course will be taught in a 9-week block mode.


Weekly Outline

Week 1, two classes: Introduction; Early Christianity: the Age of Constantine: Christian basilicas; Early Christian architecture in Milan and Europe;

Week 2: Catacombs and sarcophagi; Monumental decoration of sacred spaces;

Week 3, two classes: Byzantium-‘New Rome’: the Age of Justinian; Ravenna: the art of mosaic and the ‘Byzantine’ Italy;

Week 4, two classes: The art(s) of the ‘Barbarians’ in Europe: architecture and visual culture in Europe; Carolingian Renaissance and Ottonian art; Illuminated manuscripts and minor arts (8th-11th century);

Week 5: The evolving concept of ‘sacred image’; European art between Byzantine Christianity and Islamic influence;

Week 6, two classes: The raise of Romanesque architecture: historical outline and the European context; Romanesque art and architecture in Italy: a ‘new’ geography;

Week 7, two classes: Romanesque cathedrals; The role of Venice; Norman Sicily; Sculpture and monumental decoration in Romanesque period;

Week 8, two classes: the role of the Benedictines in European art between in the 10th-12th century: Montecassino; the status of the artist;

Week 9: Pilgrimage and art in the Middle Ages.

PLEASE NOTEthat weeks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 have two classes instead of one.

I. Attending students:

- M. Stokstad, Medieval Art, 2nd ed., Boulder: Westview Press, 2004 (selected parts).


PLEASE NOTE that textbook is COMPULSORY. The use of textbooks other than the one listed above in the Bibliography is not permitted.


Secondary bibliography:

  1. R. Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, Baltimore: Penguin Books (Pelican History of Art), 1965 (excellent discussion of Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture; particularly recommended are: Chapter 3 [section on Milan] and Chapters on buildings in Rome and Ravenna covered in class);
  2. C. Walker Bynum, Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe, New York: Zone Books (Matter and Miracles), 2011, pp. 217-265;
  3. J.G.J. Alexander, Medieval illuminators and their methods of work, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992 (selected parts);
  4. H. Focillon, The Art of the West in the Middle Ages, vol. I: Romanesque Art, 3rd ed., ed. J. Bony, Oxford: Oxford Phaidon, 1980 (selected parts);
  5. J. Elsner, «The Birth of Late Antiquity: Riegl and Strzygowski in 1901», in Art History 25 (2002), pp. 358-379;
  6. R. Nelson, «Living on the Byzantine Borders of Western Art», in Gesta 35 (1996), pp. 3-11;
  7. I. Weinryb, «Hildesheim Avant-Garde: Bronze, Columns, and Colonialism», in Speculum 93 (2018), pp. 728-782.


PLEASE NOTE that PDF of the following readings will be available during the course, partly on the course webpage in the MATERIALE DIDATTICO section (nrr. 2, 5, 6 and 7), partly on demand mailing to manuela.degiorgi@unisalento.it (nrr. 1, 3 and 4). Students attending course MUST select no less than three secondary readings.


For the preparation of the exam, it is a good practice to use compendia, dictionaries and similar material to considered helpful also for next art history courses included in the degree course; for this purpose, a useful working tool is:

The Enciclopedia dell’Arte Medievale, 12 vols., Roma: Treccani, 1991-2002, is an useful tool for further readings (available on-line https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/elenco-opere/Enciclopedia_dell%27_Arte_Medievale and in printed version at the Beni Culturali Departmental Library).


II. Non-attending students:

Non-attending students, to successfully completed the course, MUST read all references of the Secondary bibliography.

Second Semester (dal 06/03/2022 al 09/06/2023)

Exam type

Type of assessment
Oral - Final grade

Course timetable

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