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Stained Glass in the Great Church c.1170-1350 - HOA00046H

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Tim Ayers
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19 to Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

To explore the principal developments in and current art-historical approaches to the glazing of cathedral churches in England and France in the period c. 1170-1350.

The period saw fundamental changes in the form, technique and appearance of the medium, and there is no better location than York for its study. The Minster contains magnificent windows, dating from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries, and will be a major source building for this module. Other monuments in England and France to be examined include Canterbury Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral, and for comparison, the Ste-Chapelle in Paris and York's parish churches.

Issues to be addressed include the materiality of stained glass as a medium, the relationship between stained glass and architecture, the relationship with other kinds of imagery in changing patterns of devotion and worship, its role in strategies for commemoration by different social groups, and its power as a vehicle for story-telling. Most of the module is organized chronologically, but the first two weeks are devoted to processes of production.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • A grasp of the principal glass-painting techniques.
  • Familiarity with the monuments.
  • An understanding of the major developments and issues.


Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
Stained Glass in the Great Church
8 hours 90
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Seminar Oral Performance
N/A 10

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Open Examination (3 day paper over 4 days)
Stained Glass in the Great Church
8 hours 90

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on their formative assessment within one week.

Students will receive feedback on their summative assessment within 20 working days.

Indicative reading

(a) Technique

  • Brown, S. and O’Connor, D., Medieval Craftsmen. Glass-Painters, London, 1991

(b) General Surveys

  • Marks, R., Stained Glass in England during the Middle Ages, London, 1993

(c) Iconography and Meaning

You should familiarize yourself with the main events in the Gospels, particularly St Matthew’s Gospel. The following will also be useful:

  • Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, Readings on the Saints, trans. W. G. Ryan, 2 vols., Princeton, 1993. For dipping into.

For introductions to medieval images, and how to look at them:

  • H. L. Kessler, Seeing Medieval Art, Peterborough/Orchard Park, 2004
  • E. Sears and T. K. Thomas, Reading Medieval Images, The Art Historian and the Object, Ann Arbor, 2002
  • V. Sekules, Medieval Art, Oxford, 2001


The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring 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 by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

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