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Period Band: A
Curatorial Rating: unrated

Jerusalem in Western Medieval Art and Architecture

Tutor: Hanna Vorholt


Jerusalem has been a focal point on the stage of world history for centuries and holds an important place in the imagination of people of different nationalities and faiths. This module investigates the legacy of the city from an art-historical perspective and focuses on visualisations of Jerusalem in the medieval West. As part of this investigation, we will explore the history and significance of key sites in Jerusalem itself; consider the ways in which information regarding them was transmitted to the West; and, crucially, how it was then visually translated there within different media: texts, manuscripts, panel paintings, reliquaries and architecture. We will examine the concepts and the symbolism which informed the creation of these visual translations, as well as exploring the cultural, religious, and political contexts of their use. In this way, we will assess the role of Jerusalem in the Western imagination, and the relationship between changing visualisations of the city and broader developments such as the crusades, pilgrimage and contemporary trends in theological study. The main focus will be on the Christian imagery of Jerusalem, but Jewish and Islamic traditions will also be considered.


By the end of the module, students should have acquired:

  • an understanding of the history and significance of key sites in Jerusalem
  • familiarity with some of the key themes in Christian iconography
  • an ability to analyse primary sources in different media
  • a critical understanding of notions of ‘copying’ and ‘translation’ in medieval art and architecture
  • insights into medieval concepts of time and space

Preliminary Reading

  • Annabel Jane Wharton, Selling Jerusalem: Relics, Replicas, Theme Parks (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006
  • Colin Morris, The Sepulchre of Christ and the Medieval West: From the Beginning to 1600(Oxford, 2005)
  • Robert Ousterhout, ‘”Sweetly Refreshed in the Imagination”: Remembering Jerusalem in Words and Images’, in: Gesta 48.2 (2009), pp. 153-168
  • Paul D. A. Harvey, Medieval Maps of the Holy Land (London, 2012), esp. pp. 1-30
  • Richard Krautheimer: 'Introduction to an „Iconography of Medieval Architecture“', in: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 5 (1942), pp. 1-33
  • Laura D. Gelfand, ‘Illusionism and Interactivity: Medieval Installation Art, Architecture and Devotional Response’ in: Push Me, Pull You, ed. by Sarah Blick and Laura D. Gelfand (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011), vol. 2, pp. 87-116
  • Bianca Kühnel, Galit Noga-Banai and Hanna Vorholt, eds, Visual Constructs of Jerusalem(Turnhout, 2014)
  • Renana Bartal and Hanna Vorholt, eds, Between Jerusalem and Europe. Essays in Honour of Bianca Kühnel (Leiden, 2015)

Module code HOA00056I