Medieval Castles of Europe

Fall 2016, Spring 2018

ARTHIST 190S | MEDREN 190S

Edward Triplett

TTH 1:25-2:40pm | Wired! Lab (Smith, Bay 11, A233)

This course will examine the transition of Western Europe into a fortified landscape from the mid-11th century until the advent of large-scale artillery in the mid-15th century. The castles of Spain and Portugal will be discussed in greatest detail, but these will be supplemented by influential examples from other parts of Europe and the Near East. In addition to tracking technological and stylistic changes over time, this course will identify the discrete elements of fortification that were combined into a variety of castle plans. As a way of investigating these topics, students will digitally reconstruct a historical or imagined castle in 3D graphics at a specific place and time covered in the course.


Projects

Modeling Medieval European Castles

Mapping and Modeling Early Modern Venice

Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

VMS 89S

Kristin Lanzoni

Katie McCusker, TA

Spring 2016: T 10:20am-12:50pm | Wired! Lab (Smith, Bay 11 2nd Floor, A233)

Beginning with Napoleon’s forced entry into the city in 1797 and the fall of a more than 1000 year old Republic, the urban landscape of Venice experienced notable change. Significant intervention included the destruction of many Renaissance monuments and, therefore, great loss to the architectural and artistic patrimony of the city. The goal of this Wired! course is to map the urban landscape of early modern Venice by re-constructing lost architectural gems of the fifteenth and sixteenth century along with their immediate surroundings. To accomplish this, students will work in groups to use digital tools, such as Google Sketch up, to translate historical and modern maps, prints, engravings and paintings into 3-D models. In addition to the exterior reconstruction of the buildings, students will use inventories and various imagery to recreate interior spaces. These monuments will be mapped onto present-day Venice. The course assumes no prior art historical or digital experience; students will be provided with the background necessary to understand the art and architectural history of early modern Venice, and the skills required for the digital technology. The outcome of the course will be an unprecedented reconfiguration of aspects of Venice as it appeared in the Renaissance and visual models that may be shared with a larger academic community. This course is a First Year Seminar and is open to first years only.

The Medieval Castle in Britain

Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

ARTHIST 290S – 01

Matthew Woodworth

Fall 2016: TTH 1:25-2:40pm | Wired! Lab (Smith, Bay 11 2nd Fl, Rm A233)

This class investigates the evolution of the British castle from the Norman Conquest through the end of the Tudor dynasty (i.e., 1066-1603). It begins with the mighty eleventh-century ruins scattered along the coast of Wales — the greatest surviving fortifications in the world, and the inspiration for those seen in Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. The course then surveys the development of British military architecture over the next five and half centuries. Dramatic changes in ground plan and topography were matched by sweeping changes in style, architectural fashion, materials, and the machinery of war. Students will use 3D modeling to map the location of castles in the British landscape, as well as make digital reconstructions (both external and internal) of how a vanished or ruinous castle would have appeared in its heyday. Formalist and technological concerns will be approached holistically and symbiotically: How did the appearance of the “ideal” castle change over time, and how did it adapt to new regimes, weapons, and economic forces? We will also investigate the historical accuracy of popular “siege engine” computer games such as Stronghold, Age of Empires, and Medieval: Total War.

The Medieval Castle in Britain (First Year Seminar): Fortresses, Technology, and Power

Spring 2015

ARTHIST 89S-02 | MEDREN 89S-01

Matthew Woodworth

Th 3:05-5:35pm| The Wired! Lab (Smith, Bay 11, A233)

This class investigates the evolution of the British castle from the Norman Conquest through the end of the Tudor dynasty (i.e., 1066-1603). It begins with the mighty eleventh-century ruins scattered along the coast of Wales — the greatest surviving fortifications in the world, and the inspiration for those seen in Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. The course then surveys the development of British military architecture over the next five and half centuries. Dramatic changes in ground plan and topography were matched by sweeping changes in style, architectural fashion, materials, and the machinery of war. Students will use 3D modeling to map the location of castles in the British landscape, as well as make digital reconstructions (both external and internal) of how a vanished or ruinous castle would have appeared in its heyday. Formalist and technological concerns will be approached holistically and symbiotically: How did the appearance of the “ideal” castle change over time, and how did it adapt to new regimes, weapons, and economic forces? We will also investigate the historical accuracy of popular “siege engine” computer games such as Stronghold, Age of Empires, and Medieval: Total War.

This course is open to first year students only. Due to popular demand, a special topics course has been created for other students. More information is available here.

The Mendicant Revolution

Fall 2012, Fall 2014

Caroline Bruzelius


This course examines the impact of two new religious orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans (mendicant friars), on cities, architecture, literature, painting and sculpture.

In the early 13th century, two men, Francis and Dominic, started religious movements that had a profound impact on the world. Although their institutions were different in many ways, they shared some common goals: outreach to the public through public sermons aimed at converting heretics, a spiritual vocation dedicated to imitating the poverty of Christ and the Apostles, and a focus on people living in cities. This became a profoundly urban movement, engaging with laymen in the public spaces of cities (squares, piazzas, markets) as well as in the private spaces of homes. Because of their public role, friars became immensely popular and influenced many aspects of late medieval life. Their use of imagery in painting and sculpture initiated new trends in the representation of sacred themes, for example. The importance of sermons as a mode of outreach to the public led to the invention of new types of texts, such as concordances, popularizing saint’s lives. They created a new type of urban convent for their communities that were often flanked by public piazzas for preaching.

Motion Graphics in Film & Video

Spring 2014

ARTSVIS 236S

Raquel Salvatella De Prada

WF 1:25-2:40 pm Social Science 229

This course explores motion graphics and post-production techniques to use in broadcast design, video and film production. Students first learn basic compositing using layers, animated text as well as keyframing and masking. Students then move to more advanced topics that include stabilization and tracking, green screen, rotoscoping, paint tools, color correction, 3D layers and special effects that can add exciting and creative touches to each student project, whether it is a film, documentary, visual experiment or animation. Importing media from a wide variety of applications, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier and Final Cut Pro is also covered.
Knowledge of editing software such as Final Cut Pro or Premier is required and familiarity with Photoshop and Illustrator is helpful. Instructor consent required.

The Museum Inside Out

Spring 2012

Caroline Bruzelius, Mark Olson

Elizabeth Baltes and Alexandra Dodson, TAs


Medieval sculpture often “floats” on white walls of museums with no suggestion of the richness of its historical context. The goal of this course was to explore the possibilities afforded by new media to inflect the presentation, mediation, and reconstruction of the original context for a work of art.

Using the collection of Medieval Sculpture in the Nasher Museum of Art as our laboratory, we reflected on how digital tools — laser scanning, photogrammetry, geo-mapping and restorative 2D/3D digital modeling — can offer non-invasive meditations on objects to assist visitors in their understanding of an object, its original setting, its history, its materiality. In other words, we aimed to trace what Appadurai calls “the social life of things.” Finally, against the uncritical embrace of new technology, we have been particularly interested in reflexive critical work on our own practices of visualization.

The course projects are multi-semester interventions with the goal of presenting student-designed digital models for the future exhibition of the Brummer collection, including an emphasis on the Brummer brothers as agents and dealers in the art market at the beginning of the twentieth century.

New Media, Memory, and the Visual Archive

Fall 2014

VMS 565S

Mark Olson

Wed 10:05am-12:35pm The Wired! Lab

Modern memory is first of all archival. It relies entirely on the specificity of the trace, the materiality of the vestige, the concreteness of the recording, the visibility of the image.
– Pierre Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire”

Is modern memory, as Pierre Nora claims, archival? If so, then individual and cultural memory might depend crucially on the material technologies of inscription and storage that constitute contemporary archives. New media technologies afford novel ways of recording and archiving the stuff of cultures and societies – narratives, images, ideologies, administrative records, and other forms of information or data.

An emerging body of work, both theoretical and artistic and informed by media studies and visual studies, has begun to interrogate the media-specificity of particular mnemotechnologies. The aim of this course is to engage and extend their work as we explore the impact of new media on the changing nature of archives as technologies of cultural memory and knowledge production.

Our major analytical themes include: medium specificity and the “storage capacity” of new media; the database as cultural form; the body and image as archive; new media and the documentation of “everyday life”; memory, counter-memory and the politics of the archive; archival materiality and digital ephemerality. Our primary focus will be on archives of visual artifacts (image, moving image) but because “there are no visual media” we must consider the role of other sensory modalities (what McLuhan calls differential sense ratios) in the construction of individual, institutional and collective memory.

Drawing on a range of theories and sources, we will examine the “art of memory” (art as technics) embedded in our modes of inscription, archivization, and representation, as well as in theories of mind and learning. At stake are competing claims about the mnemotechnics of new media technologies, contrasting the possibilities and pitfalls of prosthetic (and perhaps posthuman) memory with struggles over the nature of historical memory under digital conditions.

Paris: A City and Its Culture 1850-1930

VMS 338

Neil McWilliam


This class looks at Paris as an urban space and as an artistic center. It explores the city as a physical environment that has to be understood in terms of varied populations, economic activities, and cultural representations. Viewing Paris as a subject for art as well as a major center for training and exhibition, the class will include a research project that uses new technologies to map the growth and development of artistic activity in the city.

Politics and Modern Architecture

Spring 2018

ARTHIST 284 | HISTORY 263 | POLSCI 263 | PUBPOL 287

Paul Jaskot

WF 10:05-11:20am | Smith, Bay 10, A266

Given the needs for labor, materials, and legal permissions, architects in the modern period by definition intersect with interests of power. This course explores the role of political institutions and ideologies in the history of modern architecture. While the course focuses on European and North American examples, we will also include key case studies of non-Euroamerican architecture and politics. The course provides a foundational knowledge of the history of modern architecture as well as how political institutions and ideologies have influenced that development.