73759 - Foundations of the Medieval History of Art

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Alessandro Volpe

  • Learning modules Alessandro Volpe (Modulo 1)
    Maria Cristina Carile (Modulo 2)

  • Credits 6

  • SSD L-ART/01

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures (Modulo 1)
    Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Ravenna

  • Degree Programme Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage (cod. 8616)

  • Course Timetable from Mar 06, 2023 to Apr 12, 2023

    Course Timetable from Jan 30, 2023 to Mar 01, 2023

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students possess a basic knowledge of European and Byzantine Art between the fourth and the fifteenth century. They should also acquire the tools for reading a work of art from a stylistic and iconographic point of view, with reference to the historical context.

Course contents

The course of History of Medieval Art includes two modules, which cover the evolution of medieval art as it developed in Late Antique Ravenna and in the West. Part of the course traces the stages of the history of the western image, from its Late Antique formation to the new language brought by the barbaric invasions, from the Carolingian and Ottonian ri-forundations to the more varied and naturalistic manner of the Romanesque, and it closes with the analysis of the ample and complex phenomenon currently corresponding to the term "Gothic".

The first module, Prof. Carile's classes, is dedicated to Late Antique art, from its formation at the dawn of the foundation of Constantinople in 330 until the sixth century, with particular attention to Ravenna.

Prof. Volpe's classes will center on mural decoration, particularly on mosaic and painting, researching the esthetical and cultural motivations that brought about the conspicuous changes happened during the course of the middle ages.


For Late Antique art and the art of Ravenna, see the readings and images provided with the online teaching materials and study a chapter from the following volume:

Jutta Dresken-Weiland, Mosaici di Ravenna. Immagine e significato, Jaca Book, Milano, 2017.

For Western art, see the readings and images provided with the online teaching materials and study the following volume:

N. Frapiccini, N. Giustozzi, Le storie dell’arte, edito da Hoepli Scuola, voll. A e B.

Teaching methods

Generally, lectures will take place in class with the aid of visual materials. Occasionally lectures may take place in situ, with a direct discussion of certain works of art and in collaboration with other colleagues.

Assessment methods

The final examination will verify the fulfillment of the following learning objectives:

  • knowledge of the topics and of the critical methodology discussed in class or studied in the literature;
  • ability to use critical tools when examining a given image;
  • ability to understand one's own critical opinion in relation to the historiographical debate. This ability is based on the assumption that our critical opinion is inevitably conditioned by our cultural views.

The exam will be exclusively in the form of an oral examination, which is evaluated in %30. It will be based on the images discussed in the books provided in the reading list or in class. Students should identify the works of art, demonstrate an understanding of their chronological, geographical and historical context, discuss their relationship with other works of art. For this reason, students are expected to bring their own books on the day of the exam.

Following the Alma Mater's guidelines, notably:

  • the demonstration of an organic vision of the themes addressed in class or in books indicated in the reading list as well as of the critical use, command of oral expression and specific vocabulary, will be assessed with marks of excellence (28-30).
  • mechanical and/or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, scarce ability of synthesis and analysis and/or the use of a correct but not always appropriate vocabulary will lead to discrete assessments (23-27).
  • training gaps and/or inappropriate vocabulary - even in conjunction with a minimal knowledge of the subject - will lead to marks that will not exceed the minimum grade (18-22).
  • training gaps, inappropriate vocabulary, lack of command of the bibliography discussed within the course will lead to negative evaluations.

Teaching tools

Exam materials and further readings can be found on IOL (https://iol.unibo.it).

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Volpe

See the website of Maria Cristina Carile