2nd semester: Wednesday evening, cross listed as Spirituality DS2212Y/DS3212Y (Min. No. 8)



This unit investigates some of the ways in which visual images for example painting and sculpture reflected the spiritual characteristics and preoccupations of the Late Middle Ages, 1300-1500. After identifying the most important sacred stories and their chief personages, i.e. Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and various saints, the unit examines the patrons and audience for these “images of salvation”. What objects inspired devotion and how did these paintings, sculptures and other objects instruct the faithful in the mysteries of faith. Finally we will consider how space both private and communal was sanctified. Throughout this unit students will explore the problem of how visual expressions and material expressions of spirituality in general, build on yet differ from textual ones.



Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  1. identify the central iconographic themes of Christian art in the West c.1300-1500
  2. demonstrate ability to use the basic vocabulary of visual analysis and historical inquiry
  3. manifest oral and written communication skills
  4. articulate understanding of various lenses (historical, spiritual, theological) through which the interpreter views visual images (Level 3 only)
  5. exhibit the ability to write a research essay which clearly states an argument, and gathers appropriate evidence to support the argument



Level 2: 1000 word written visual and iconographic description and analysis of a painting or sculpture (20%); Fifteen minute oral presentation describing and analysing a work, the oral report counts as 1000 words (20%); 2000 word research essay (60%)

Level 3: As per Level 2 with a 3000 word research essay



Baxandall, Michael. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy. Oxford: OUP, 1988.

Camille, Michael. Gothic Art: Glorious Visions. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.

Clifton, James. The Body of Christ in the Art of Europe and New Spain, 1150-1800. Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1997.

Finaldi, Gabriele. The Image of Christ. London: National Gallery, 2000.

Hamburger, J. The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany. New York: Zone Books, 1998.

De Voragine, Jacobus. The Golden Legend. Translated by William Granger Ryan. 2 Vols. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.

Katz, M. R. Divine Mirrors: The Virgin Mary in the Visual Arts. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Marks, Richard. Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England. Stroud: Sutton, 2004.

Os, H. W. van. The Art of Devotion in the Late Middle Ages in Europe, 1300-1500. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

Raitt, J., ed. Christian Spirituality: High Middle Ages and Reformation. New York: Crossroad, 1988.

Swanson, R. N. Religion and Devotion in Europe c.1215-1515. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Verdon, Timothy. Mary in Florentine Art. Florence: Mandragora, 2003.

Woods, Kim W., ed. Art and Visual Culture: 1100-1600: Medieval to Renaissance. Millbank, London: Tate Publisher in association with Open University, 2012.