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I. Select a topic from medieval art and architecture that interests you. It must relate to the
time period (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 page double-spaced
type-written research paper, and that will include new research and information not
previously covered in lecture or the assigned textbook.
II. Find and read at least three new scholarly sources in the library or on the internet on
your topic. Do not rely on a single source, but consult multiple sources to incorporate
varying viewpoints. Warning: information from the internet is often superficial or
inaccurate. For a research paper you will need scholarly sources with substantive content.
(Scholarly sources are typically written by academic authors with their sources
footnoted. Wikipedia and other encyclopedias written for the general public are NOT
acceptable scholarly sources.)
III. Pose a question about your topic that you propose to answer in your paper. Academic
papers should ask and answer an interesting question. I will be looking for evidence of
critical thinking in the formulation of your question and answer. Your analysis should be 5
double-spaced type-written pages. Be certain to include a description of the artistic
monument(s). Include in your paper a discussion of the types of evidence that are used to
interpret the work(s) you have selected. 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)? How much is
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, the
    Crusades, or the assassination of Thomas Becket, portrayed in a work of art? Is history
    presented objectively, or from a particular point of view? What was the purpose of the
    depiction and who was its intended audience?
  • Patronage: How does a patron of the arts, such as Abbot Suger, affect the content and
    appearance of art? Do we have evidence of women as patrons of the arts? What kinds of art
    did they commission?
  • Religious sites: Research a specific church, mosque, or synagogue, the way that it was
    constructed, and how it was used in the middle ages. Who was its primary audience, and
    what effect was it was intended to have on its viewers?
  • Saints and relics: How and why was a saint worshipped at a particular time and place?
    What was the saint’s relevance to a medieval audience? How was the saint’s significance
    conveyed through literature and in art?
  • Secular life: What were the homes of ordinary people like? What was it like to live in a
    medieval castle? Some church decoration and manuscript illustrations include scenes of
    farmers and craftsmen at work. What do they tell us about daily life?
  • Women: How are women depicted in medieval art? Do manuscript illustrations of biblical
    heroines and saints reflect the lives of actual women? Are courtship, childbirth and
    motherhood ever depicted in medieval art?
    -Subject matter: How is a subject such as jousting or feasting 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 were tapestries created and used? Is there
    evident for women artists in the Middle Ages?
    Scholarly sources: Employ sources from the library and the internet that supplement
    information derived from class readings and lectures. Two excellent sources of information
    are: JStor, available on the library website under databases; and the Internet Medieval
    Sourcebook at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html
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