Charting the Rise and Decline of the Gothic Cathedral

14 January 2012
Normandie 0344 Rouen Kathedrale  Credit: Allie Caulfield from Flickr

Normandie 0344 Rouen Kathedrale Credit: Allie Caulfield from Flickr

A comprehensive exploration into Gothic cathedrals and their place in medieval society will be the focus of a series of Cambridge University Slade Lectures in Fine Art entitled The Gothic Cathedral: A New Heaven and a New Earth.


The lectures, which run from 23 January through to 12 March, begin with Dark Gothic, the origins of the cathedral in the twelfth century and examine the myth of the cathedral in the history of late 19th and early 20th century ideas."

The lectures, which run from 23 January through to 12 March, begin with Dark Gothic, the origins of the cathedral in the twelfth century and examine the myth of the cathedral in the history of late 19th and early 20th century ideas. The series continues with an investigation into the origins of Gothic art and architecture in northern France in the twelfth century that features a close-up analysis of Abbot Suger’s new choir at St-Denis which is widely considered the first appearance of Gothic Architecture.

The series examines the cathedral as a work of engineering and advanced technology; the speakers will discuss the rhetorical notions of ductus and memoria in relation to liturgy and religious experience at Chartres; and plot the changes of meaning and experience in sculptural ensembles in northern France, England and the German Empire.

Stained glass also features prominently as a didactic medium that offers a delicate balance of story-telling and moral meaning.

The last two lectures weigh up the relations between cathedrals and their cities, and the incursions of royalty and the coronation in the functions and imagery of the Cathedral. The series concludes with a short postscript which speculates on why the cathedral idea failed in the later Middle Ages.

The 8 part lecture series is hosted by Professor Paul Crossley, Emertius Professor at the Courtauld Insititute of Art, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Foreign Fellow of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. Paul Crossley was educated at Downside School and Trinity College Cambridge. It was at Trinity College and the Jagiellonian University in Krakow where he completed his doctorate on the history of Polish Medieval architecture. From 1971 to 1990 he was a lecturer in the History of Art at Manchester University. 1990 he joined the teaching staff of The Courtauld Institute, first as a Senior Lecturer and then as a Professor in 2002.

The lectures will take place weekly at 5:00 pm on Mondays during the Full Term in Lecture Room A of the Arts’ School, Bene’t Street, Cambridge, starting on 23 January 2012.

23 January: Dark Gothic

30 January: Architecture as Spolia: Suger and St-Denis

6 February: An Architecture of Reason?

13 February: Ductus and Memoria at Chartres Cathedral

20 February: From Judgement to Atonement: Sculpture at Strasbourg, Lincoln and Naumburg

27 February: Stained Glass: From narrative to moral meaning

5 March: Royalty and the Cathedral

12 March: Cathedrals and their Cities

 
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