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Virtual Art History Course: Early Christian Art and Visual Culture


Saturdays, January 15, 22, 29, and February 5, 9:30-11:30am EST
Members $100, Nonmembers $125
Registration ends Monday, January 10
Limited to 10 participants, the Zoom link will be sent to participants on the morning of the first class
Program fees are nonrefundable

The course offers a concise survey over the first thousand years of Christian art and visual culture with an emphasis on Western Europe. It will trace the side-by-side development of Byzantine and Latin Christianity and explore the influence and reflection of Byzantine forms in Western art. Participants will experience the many treasures the early Middle Ages have to offer and will learn how to properly describe and interpret them. The course ends with the Great Schism, the final breaking up between the Eastern and Western Christian churches in 1054, and a special view on 11th century Sicily. The small class size will allow students to interact and converse about the material presented.

Dr. Bettina Jungen has earned her Ph.D. in the history of Russian art from the University of Zürich, Switzerland. She has 20+ years of experience teaching art history spanning high school to college level. In addition, she taught and developed courses at a private school specializing in art history. In 2009 she came to the US to take the position of curator of Russian Art at the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College. Currently, she teaches the German language and develops exhibitions and courses as an independent scholar.


Session 1:

The Beginning of Christian culture and important examples of early architecture and ritual objects (0 – 400 AD)

Expansion of the Roman Empire and its governance systems

Situation and expansion of Christianity in the first three centuries

Basic shapes of sacral architecture and first Christian symbols

Constantine the Great and his role in solidifying Christian faith

The churches Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Sabina in Rome

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Early Christian mosaics and murals

Session 2:

Ravenna: Architecture and mosaics in the 5th and 6th centuries AD

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

San Vitale

San Apollinare in Classe

Baptistry of the Orthodox

Irish Manuscripts: Ornament and Figure in the 7th – 8th centuries

Book of Lindisfarne

Book of Kells

Session 3:

Carolingian Empire – 7th – 9th centuries

Charlemagne’s empire

The Carolingian revival

Palatine chapel in Aachen

The Ottonian Dynasty around the year 1000

The church Saint Michael’s in Hildesheim

Gospel Book of Otto III

Session 4:

Norman Sicily

Cappella Palatina



Review and Discussion

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