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).