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Art 371

                    Research Paper: Art 371


  1. Select a topic from medieval art and architecture that interests you. It must relate to the time periods (ca. 300 – 1350 CE) and geographical areas (western Europe or the Byzantine Empire) covered in class. It may be a single work of art or building, a group of objects, or a theme. Select a topic that you can cover adequately in a 5 – 7 page research paper, and that will include new research and information not covered in lecture or the assigned textbook.


Possible topics: These are merely ideas to help you think about potential topics……

– History: How is a specific historical event, like the Norman conquest of England, or the assassination of Thomas Becket, recorded in art? How are the Crusades depicted in medieval art? What was the purpose of these depictions?


– Patronage: How does a patron of the arts, such as Charlemagne or Abbot Suger, affect the content and appearance of art? Were women ever patrons of the arts? What kinds of art works did they commission?

– Religion: Research a cathedral, church portal, or reliquary and the effect that it was intended to have on its viewers. How is a particular saint depicted in art? Are some saints depicted in art only at particular times or places? Why? What is the artistic evidence for medieval Jewish life?

-Secular life: What did a medieval city look like? What were the homes of ordinary people like? What was it like to live in a medieval castle? Some church decoration includes scenes of farmers and craftsmen at work. What do they tell us about daily life?

-Subject matter: How is a subject such as jousting or courtship depicted in medieval art? What was the subject’s significance to medieval viewers?

– Artists and Techniques: Who built Gothic cathedrals ? How did they construct stone vaults? Who illustrated manuscripts? How did they prepare parchment and colored inks? How were tapestries created and used? What was the social status of medieval craftsmen? Were there women artists in the Middle Ages?

  1. Find sources in the library and on the internet that supplement information derived from class readings and lectures. Do not rely on a single source, but consult multiple sources to uncover varying viewpoints. Warning: information found on the internet is often superficial and unreliable. For a research paper you will need scholarly sources that provide substantive new information. Two excellent sources of information are: JStor, available on the library website under databases; and the Internet Medieval Sourcebook at:


III. Write a five to seven page double-spaced type-written paper about your topic. Include at least a brief discussion of the following subjects:

Style: Include a description of the formal characteristics of the artistic monument or group of monuments that you have selected.

Evidence: What types of evidence are available regarding your subject? Are there primary sources (written documents created at the time under study) relating to the subject, or is our knowledge based on secondary sources (modern scholars analyzing and interpreting the past)?

Historical Context: Be certain to place your subject in its broader historical context. What was going on at that time in history? Are the work or works that you are studying typical of their period or exceptional?

Footnotes and Annotated Bibliography: Information derived from your sources must be attributed in endnotes or footnotes, and the sources listed in a separate bibliography.

For help in attributing your sources: (1) the library webpage includes helpful information under Help: Citation of Sources; or (2) a brief summary of the Chicago Manual of Style is included under Course Documents here on Blackboard. You are not required to use the Chicago Style, but you must employ an accepted format for footnotes and bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography: Include in your bibliography a brief statement of the relevance and quality of each source you have used. How does each source illuminate your topic?

Please be clear, concise and organized. Standard English and neatness are important components in effective communication.   Do not hesitate to drop by my office or to make an appointment with me to talk about your subject or for help in researching, organizing or writing your paper. Please submit a hard copy to me in class, and an electronic copy on Turnitin on Blackboard.



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