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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Anna D. Kartsonis
RELIG 443
Seattle Campus

Art, Religion, and Politics in Byzantium, 700-1453 AD

Evolution of the art of Byzantium (700-1453 AD) in the context of contemporary religious, political, and cultural developments. Recommended: some background in Byzantine art or history. Offered: jointly with ART H 453.

Class description

This course will study the art of the Byzantine Empire from the eighth to the fifteenth century in the context of the religious, political and cultural changes of the times. During this period the Mediterranean basin witnessed vast geopolitical, demographic, and cultural changes including the gradual formation of a distinct western European identity in the Medieval West, and the meteoric rise of the Islamic civilization. Their interaction and conflicts with the Byzantine Empire marked Byzantium indelibly. It necessitated a redefinition of its boundaries, institutions, and aims along with a reinterpretation of its civic, religious and cultural identity as the legitimate Christian heir of the coveted Graeco-Roman cultural and political heritage. Byzantine art captures as a reflecting mirror most of these dramatic changes. We observe here the development of the integrated political and religious identity of the empire, its relationship with its past, and its hopes for the future. Moreover, the acceptance and use of Byzantine art by the rising West as well as by the emerging Slavic world illustrates the leading role of Byzantium in the development of an international visual culture. The aim of this course is to map through selective case studies the changing religious and political realities of Byzantium through the artistic production that expressed them.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures, discussion, guest lecturers

Recommended preparation

Attend classes and keep notes. Keep up with weekly readings, and visual material.

Class assignments and grading

Examinations, papers, class quizzes

Timely fulfillment of all assignments, and participation in class.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Anna D. Kartsonis
Date: 03/28/2005