- Continuity and change from Roman antiquity to the Christian Middle Ages in the art and architecture of Mediterranean lands (200-700 c.e.) The “decline” of Rome and the development of Christian imagery will be studied through art, archaeological sites, and texts–writings from the time as well as later historians.
Late antiquity is one of the most difficult but fascinating periods in art history. Art historical models developed for periods in art history like Greek or Renaissance art when “progress” towards naturalism is used as a criterion distort our understanding of late antiquity when art was multivalent. The traditional approach to late antiquity is to emphasize the influence of Christianity in the early 4th century, but it ignores the fact that fourth-century emperors saw their empire as continuous with its pagan ancestor.Nevertheless there are sea changes. As Jas Elsner says, “..Late Antiquity brought profound changes in social, political, and personal relationships, in the formation of organized Christianity (not only as a religion but also as a dominant cultural system), in the reformulation of attitudes to the family, to sexuality, to the body itself.” This course will survey the art of the period, while examining fundamental issues such as art and religion, cultural change, etc.