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Painting on Light: Stained Glass in the Medieval Tradition - HOA00006M

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Tim Ayers
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

The module introduces art-historical approaches to stained glass, in the mosaic tradition, across a broad chronological period.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

York is uniquely rich in materials for the study of stained glass, which was among the most popular monumental media in the middle ages and beyond, inspired by the metaphysical value of light and the communicative power of illuminated images: the enamel-painted picture windows of the 16th-19th centuries were premised upon new thinking about the image, after the Reformation.

Not surprisingly, the medium also enjoyed a new popularity in the Gothic Revival of the 19th century, famously attracting the many talents of Morris & Co., but also supporting commercial firms to fill many thousands of windows in secular and sacred buildings across Europe and the United States.

Taking an international perspective, but with local visits, this module sets out to explore the issues that the medium raises, including the relationship to architectural settings, ways to read these striking images in context, the variety of their functions for different audiences, and the creative partnerships involved in the making of such monumental art.

Module learning outcomes

  • To familiarise students with past and current trends in stained glass scholarship
  • To enable students to interrogate case-studies as a means of exploring themes and issues relevant to the scholarly discourse in the subject and to the wider art-historical discipline
  • To enable students to integrate the medium of stained glass into their wider study of art history
  • To suggest topics and themes for further research

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on assessed work within the timeframes set out by the University - please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

The purpose of feedback is to help you to improve your future work. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further, you are warmly encouraged to meet your Supervisor during their Office Hours.

Indicative reading

On Stained Glass Studies

  • Marks, Richard. Stained Glass in England during the Middle Ages. London: Routledge, 1993.
  • Pastan, Elizabeth C., and Brigitte Kurmann-Schwarz. Investigations in Medieval Stained Glass. Leiden: Brepols, 2019.

On Ecclesiastical and Devotional Contexts

  • Duffy, Eamon. The Stripping of the Altars. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1991.
  • Hall, Michael. "What do Victorian Churches Mean?" Journal of the Society of the Architectural Historians of America 59, no.1 (2000): 78-95.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.