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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Classics General

Undergraduate Course: Mediterranean interactions in the Late Middle Ages: The Visual Culture of Byzantium, the Ottomans and the Italian penins (CLGE10016)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThrough the analysis of Late Byzantine visual and material culture, this course investigates Mediterranean cross-cultural pollination from the 13th to 15th centuries. It explores the long journey of objects, people and ideas, challenges the boundaries of rigid periodisation and offers alternative ways to look at the artistic production of Byzantium, Early Renaissance Europe and the Ottoman world.
Course description This course explores the artistic interactions between Byzantium and Italy after 1261, when the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, was reconquered after 57 years of Latin occupation. The Byzantine emperor reinstalled in the former capital, Michael VIII Palaiologos, as well as most of his successors needed the political and religious support of the Latinate west to secure their reigns and the survival of the empire. In turn, the Italian states stressed their affiliation with the prestigious empire to secure their political status and maritime trades in the East. Political relationships, gift exchange, and people's mobility gradually generated a shared cultural and artistic language that impacted the visual culture of both the east and west and influenced subsequent developments.

Through the analysis of architectural, sculptural, pictorial and decorative arts, this module contextualises the artistic and cultural cross-pollination between cities such as Assisi, Ferrara, Florence, Genoa, Constantinople, and Trebizond during the 13th to 15th centuries. The course will gradually reveal that the two worlds of the Latin west and the Greek-speaking east, which are generally investigated as separate cultural entities, were in fact deeply intertwined, and this affected the art produced in both. Similar patterns of the transmission of ideas (and objects) are discernible for the early Ottoman period, thus showing elements of continuity beyond the often-imposed narrative of modern national and chronological boundaries. The visual and material culture here reveals global trajectories that constantly overpass frontiers.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology (at least 1 of which should be in Classical or Byzantine Art and Archaeology at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Fieldwork Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Exhibition leaflet (20%)
2500-word essay (30%)

Written Exam:
Two-hour final exam (50%)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand, evaluate and reflect critically upon primary source material and relevant scholarship concerning the material and visual culture of late Byzantium and its Mediterranean interactions.
  2. Be familiar with some of the main artistic outputs of the late Byzantine and late medieval/early modern periods and be able to contextualise them in a solid historical, cultural, ideological and political framework.
  3. Understand and discuss the principal elements of continuity and change in the artistic production of late Byzantium, early Renaissance Italy and early Ottoman Empire, developing their idea on the subject.
  4. Build their confidence in academic discussion, presentation and writing skills.
  5. Be acquainted with some of the most important collections of Byzantine objects around the world, their catalogues, related web resources and online databases.
Reading List
Clark, Leah, Courtly Mediators: Transcultural Objects between Renaissance Italy and the Islamic World (Cambridge, 2023).

Cormack, Robin, Byzantine Art, Chapter 6, 'Art in the Service of a Failing Society. Late Byzantine Art 1204-1453', (Oxford 2018), 171-200.

Curcic, Slobodan and Mouriki, Doula, The Twilight of Byzantium. Aspects of Cultural and Religious History in the Late Byzantine Empire (Princeton, 1991).

Derbes, Anne, Picturing the Passion in Late Medieval Italy: Narrative Painting, Franciscan Ideologies, and the Levant (Cambridge, 1996).

Evans, Helen C. (ed.), Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) (New Haven and London, 2004).

Hilsdale, Cecily J., Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline (Cambridge, 2014).

Mattiello, Andrea and Rossi, Maria Alessia (eds), Late Byzantium Reconsidered: The Arts of the Palaiologan Era in the Mediterranean (London, 2019).

Melichar, Petra Empresses of Late Byzantium: Foreign Brides, Mediators and Pious Women (Berlin 2019).

Necipoglu, Nevra, Byzantium between the Ottomans and the Latins: Politics and Society in the Late Empire (Cambridge, 2009).

Ousterhout, Robert, Eastern Medieval Architecture (Oxford, 2019).

Talbot, Alice-Mary, 'The restoration of Constantinople under Michael VIII', Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 47, 1993, 243-261.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research, collect, evaluate, and use the available evidence to contextualise the cultural interchanges concerning designs, fashions, customs, and techniques for the Late Medieval/Early Modern Mediterranean.

Summarise, interpret and critique previous and current literature on Medieval visual and material culture through a solid historiographic lens.

Analyse and explain how and why objects were made and interacted with their social, cultural, and physical environments.

Identify original research questions concerning the journeys of objects, people, and ideas within the late Medieval Mediterranean.

Communicate clearly, both in verbal and written form, ideas, work in progress, and results developed after researching specific aspects of the material and visual culture of the Late Medieval Mediterranean by showing awareness of the possible diverse audience.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Benedikt Eckhardt
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretary
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