Assaf Pinkus (Tel Aviv University)


Course description
Charged emotionalism, authentic expressionism, and uncompromising realism are among the common modern clichés describing German Gothic sculpture. Do these expressions, however, reflect the historical realities and medieval culture or a Modernist notion of history? This course will examine how individual and national identity was formulated in Gothic sculpture as a similitude of appearance and emotion that failed to produce a coherent meaning. The gap between the identity of the figures and their meaning enabled the viewer to speculate about the phantasy that the images evoked. We will explore how a modern nation fabricates its myth through medieval artifacts and modern film industry, from Fritz Lang to Walt Disney and how these artworks enabled a flexible notion of history and its reception during the modern time’s Romanticism and Nationalism. This culminated in the invention of national-historical myths.

Learning outcomes of the course
Mid-term task: analyzing an object
Final Exam: The student will be presented with 5 pairs of art works, each demonstrating a set of ideas and historical contovresary that were discussed in the class. The students will have to choose 2 pairs, to analyze and compare each.

Teaching and evaluation methods
Presence: 10 %
Mid-term task: 20 %
Final Exam: 70 %

Allan, Robin: Walt Disney and Europe: European Influences on the Animated Feature Films of Walt Disney (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).
Belting, Hans: The Germans and Their Art: A Troublesome Relationship, trans. S. Kleager (Yale: Yale University Press, 1998).
Bork, Robert: “Into Thin Air: France, Germany, and the Invention of the Openwork Spire,” Art Bulletin 85, no. 1 (2003): 25–53.
Camille, Michael: Gothic Art, Glorious Visions (New York: Abrams, 1996).
Gertsman, Elina: “The Facial Gesture: (Mis)reading Emotion in Gothic Art,” Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 36, no. 11 (2010): 28–46.
—“Performing Birth, Enacting Death: Unstable Bodies in Late Medieval Devotion,” in Visualizing Medieval Performance, ed. Elina Gertsman (Aldershot, 2008), 84–87.
Girveau, Bruno: Once Upon a Time—Walt Disney: The Sources of Inspiration for the Disney (Munich: Prestel, 2006).
Kracauer, Siegfried: From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
Jung, Jacqueline: “Dynamic Bodies and the Beholder’s Share: The Wise and Foolish Virgins of Magdeburg Cathedral,” in Bild und Körper im Mittelalter , ed. Kristin Marek et al. (Munich: Fink, 2006), 135–60.
— Eloquent Bodies: Movement, Expression, and the Human Figure in Gothic Sculpture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020).
—“Peasant Meal or Lord’s Feast? The Social Iconography of the Naumburg Last Supper,” Gesta 42, no.1 (2003): 39–61.
Levin, David J.: Richard Wagner, Fritz Land and the Nibelungen. The Dramaturgy of Disavowal (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 96–140.
Nussbaum, Norbert: German Gothic Church Architecture (Yale: Yale University Press, 2000), 9–14.
Pinkus, Assaf: “The Giant of Bremen: Roland and the “Colossus Imagination,” Speculum 93, no. 2 (2018): 387–419.
— Patrons and Narrative of the Parler School. The Marian Tympana 1350-1400 (Berlin: Deutscher Kunst Verlag, 2008).
—Sculpting Simulacra in Medieval Germany, 1250-1380 (Farnham:Asgate, 2014).
—Visual Aggression: Images of Martyrsom in Late Medieval Germany (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 2020).
Rowe, Nina: “Rethinking Ecclesia and Synagoga in the Thirteenth Century,” in Gothic, Art &Thought in the Later Medieval Period: Essays in Honor of Willibald Sauerländer, ed. Colum Hourihane (Penn State University Press, 2011), 264–91.
Schwarz, Michael Viktor: “Retelling the Passion at Naumburg: The West-Screen and its Audience,” artibus et historiae 51 (2005): 59–72.
Walker Bynum, Caroline: “Violent Imagery in Late Medieval Piety,” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 30 (2002): 3-36.
Williamson, Paul: The Gothic Sculpture 1140-1300 (Yale: Yale University Press, 1995).


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