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HA4013 The Art of Sanctity

Module Organiser: Dr Laura Cleaver
Duration of the Module: Michaelmas and Hilary term
Contact Hours: 1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
Weighting: 20 ECTS
Assessment: Two summer examinations

This module will look at the roles played by art in establishing, promoting and enriching the cults of saints in Britain in the High Middle Ages. It will consider works in a range of media, from the shrines in which relics were placed, to the illuminated manuscripts that detailed their lives, and the buildings made to house the relics, their keepers and visitors to the shrines. The module will address aspects of their production and function as well as considering questions of iconography and audience. This period saw a few saints achieve fame both nationally and internationally, whilst others remained the focus of more localised devotion. We will consider the associations between art and the spread of cults, and the roles of objects in stimulating and enhancing the experiences of pilgrimage. The module will also address the problems inherent in working with this material, notably the significant destructions of the Reformation in the sixteenth century.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • identify and analyse key objects and issues relating to medieval saints cults in Ireland and Britain, using appropriate vocabulary
  • demonstrate awareness of major themes in the secondary literature and of areas of debate and disagreement
  • present, orally and in written form, analyses of relevant objects and literature
  • formulate research questions for the purposes of essay writing and oral presentations
  • engage critically and in-depth with primary sources and secondary literature
  • complete an intensive, self-motivated study of a relevant problem, with high quality research organization and presentation