University of Kent at Canterbury

The title of the module
Saints, Chroniclers and the End of Time: Narrative Art in England, c. 1175—c. 1300
The Department which will be responsible for management of the module
School of History
The Start Date of the Module
The number of students expected to take the module
Approx. 30
Modules to be withdrawn on the introduction of this proposed module and consultation with
other relevant Departments and Faculties regarding the withdrawal
The level of the module (eg Certificate [C], Intermediate [I], Honours [H] or Postgraduate [M])
The number of credits which the module represents
ECT credits: 7.5
Which term(s) the module is to be taught in (or other teaching pattern)
Term 2
Prerequisite and co-requisite modules
The programmes of study to which the module contributes
History; Visual History; also available as a wild module
The intended subject specific learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to
programme learning outcomes
To cultivate the critical awareness of the development and significance of pictorial
narrative in England c. 1170— c. 1300 (S of H, Learning Outcomes, C1)
To acquire skills in the interpretation of pictorial narrative through the in-depth analysis of
case studies (S of H, Learning Outcomes, C2)
To gain understanding of historiographic and interpretative issues concerning the
relationship between word and image in medieval narrative art (S of H, Learning
Outcomes, C3)
To develop knowledge of different methods of production and contexts for consumption of
pictorial narrative in different media and genres, including hagiography, chronicles, and
scripture (S of H, Learning Outcomes, B4)
The intended generic learning outcomes and, as appropriate, their relationship to programme
learning outcomes
1. Students will develop their ability to communicate about complex concepts effectively
verbally and in writing (S of H, Learning Outcomes, B1-4)
2. Students will gain awareness of the historical importance of visual sources and the ability
to relate these to documentary and secondary sources (S of H, Learning Outcomes, A1-2,
3. Students will develop their ability to assess the strengths and limitations of sources, both
visual and written (S of H, Learning Outcomes, A3)
A synopsis of the curriculum
‘Saints, Chroniclers and the End of the Time: Narrative Art in England’ will explore pictorial
storytelling in early Gothic art, considering issues of production, consumption, function, and
relationships between word and image. The course will begin with an overview of the
development of pictorial narrative and an introduction to interpretative issues, and then move
on to on a series of case studies designed to throw light on different ways that narrative images
were deployed. The first of these case studies will explore the Thomas Becket windows in
Canterbury Cathedral, considering aspects of their purpose, structure, audience, and literary
analogues. Students will be asked to consider what these windows might have meant to the
different audiences that saw them, including monks, pilgrims, kings and clerics. This unit will
consist of two seminars and a visit to the Cathedral, and include a written assignment in which
students will assess the relationship of a window to the literary sources. Matthew Paris’s
Chronica maiora will be the subject of the second unit, which will explore the function of
images in the Chronicle, Matthew’s dual role as author and artist, and issues concerning the
use of Matthew’s images as a historical source. The third unit examines illustrated
Apocalypses, investigating the reasons for their popularity in the thirteenth century, and
considering the roles played by images within these books. Issues of particular importance will
include the exegetical potential of images; the status of the biblical text, vernacular
translations, and commentaries and their relationships to adjacent miniatures; and artistic
solutions to the problems presented by this visionary text to illustrators. The course will
conclude with a seminar bringing together the themes of text-image relationships developed
in each unit by evaluating the influence and probity of Gregory the Great’s famous justification
of images as books for the illiterate.
Indicative Reading List
Camille, M. (1985). ‘Seeing and Reading: Some Visual Implications of Medieval Literacy and
Illiteracy’, Art History 8, pp. 26-49
Caviness, M. H. (1977). The Early Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral circa 1175—1220
Chazelle, C. M. (1990). ‘Pictures, books and the illiterate: Pope Gregory I’s letters to Serenus of
Marseilles’, Word and Image 6, pp. 138-153
Duggan, L. G. (1989). ‘Was art really the “book of the illiterate”?’, Word and Image 5, pp. 227251
Emmerson, R. K. and B. McGinn, eds. (1992). The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (London)
Kemp, W. (1997). The narratives of Gothic stained glass, trans. Caroline Dobson Saltzwedel
Lewis, S. (1987). The art of Matthew Paris in the Chronica majora (Aldershot)
Lewis, S. (1990). Reading Images: Narrative Discourse and Reception in the Thirteenth
Century Illuminated Apocalypse (Cambridge)
Maekawa, K. (2000). Narrative and Experience: innovations in thirteenth-century picture
books (Frankfurt am Main; New York)
Michael, M. A. (2004). Stained glass of Canterbury Cathedral (London)
Pächt, O. (1962). The Rise of Pictorial Narrative in Twelfth-Century England (Oxford)
Learning and Teaching Methods, including the nature and number of contact hours and the total
study hours which will be expected of students, and how these relate to achievement of the
intended learning outcomes
This course will consist of weekly two-hour seminars, one extended session during which we
will visit the Becket windows in Canterbury Cathedral. Students will be expected to spend at
least eight hours per week in private study.
Students will be expected to prepare for each seminar by reading set texts (S of H, Learning
Outcomes, D5), and will demonstrate their knowledge and understanding each week by
delivering a short presentation on a set topic (S of H, Learning Outcomes, D1). This
preparation will develop their understanding of the historical context for narrative art and
interpretative scholarly issues as outlined above, §11, 1-3. Additionally, each week every
student will be assigned a task in relation to the primary sources, which will be presented to
the class and subsequently submitted in writing to the module convenor (S of H, Learning
Outcomes, C2).
Assessment methods and how these relate to testing achievement of the intended learning
Students will be assessed on the basis of short weekly presentations on set readings and
written précis thereof (10% of course mark) (S of H, Learning Outcomes, C2, D1). They will
submit two essays (worth 25% each), which will focus on the relationships between text and
image in primary sources (S of H, Learning Outcomes, B1-4, C3, D6). The written
examination (worth 40% of the course mark) will test students’ command of the sources
examined in the course and their ability to think critically about them (S of H, Learning
Outcomes, A1-3, C1, C3).
17 Implications for learning resources, including staff, library, IT and space
Staff: This course will be taught by Dr Alixe Bovey.
Library: Some recent publications may need to be acquired by the library. Some images may
need to be purchased or scanned from 35mm slides already in the library’s collection.
IT: Lectures and seminars will require access to a PowerPoint projector.
Space: one seminar room with (with window blinds) will be required for three hours each
This course will take advantage of the resources of Canterbury Cathedral, particularly the
Becket Miracle Windows.
A statement confirming that, as far as can be reasonably anticipated, the curriculum, learning and
teaching methods and forms of assessment do not present any non-justifiable disadvantage to
students with disabilities
As far as can be anticipated this course will not present any non-justifiable disadvantages to
students with disabilities.
Statement by the Director of Learning and Teaching: "I confirm I have been consulted on the above module proposal
and have given advice on the correct procedures and required content of module proposals"
Director of Learning and Teaching
Statement by the Head of Department: "I confirm that the Department has approved the introduction of the module
and, where the module is proposed by Departmental staff, will be responsible for its resourcing"
Head of Department