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Contemplation, Knowledge and Power: Medieval Maps - HOA00063H

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Hanna Vorholt
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module uses maps as paradigmatic examples to investigate medieval concepts of time and space, practices of contemplation and knowledge compilation, and ideas of territory and power.

Related modules

Students who have taken the I-level version of Contemplation, Knowledge and Power: Medieval Maps are prohibited from taking the H-version of the same module.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Globalisation goes hand in hand with experiences of spatial and temporal simultaneities and disjunctures. These have been met within arts and humanities research by an increasing focus on concepts of space and time, and an interrogation of the role of media technologies in their construction. Maps are a particularly rich area for such investigations. This module will focus on maps produced in medieval Europe, ranging from maps of cities, regions and continents to seascapes and unknown parts of the earth. Through the analysis of key examples we will explore the ways in which knowledge about the world was generated. We will critically examine the relationship between centre and periphery, marginalisation and othering; the role of physical and virtual travel; and how textual and visual features work together as distinct and conjoined modes of expression. We will explore what roles maps had in medieval practices of devotion, education, and politics, and ask what place research on such objects has today within the growing field of the Global Middle Ages. The module will enable students to develop the skills to work independently with complex primary sources, and to engage in topical debates in arts and humanities research.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • a good knowledge of key examples of medieval maps

  • acquaintance with their intellectual and cultural contexts

  • an understanding of the debates about and approaches to the subject

  • ability to identify and critically evaluate new source material through independent research.


Task Length % of module mark
Advanced Assignment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Advanced Assignment
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

  • Baumgärtner, Ingrid, Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby and Katrin Kogman-Appel. Maps and Travel in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period: Knowledge, Imagination, and Visual Culture. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019.
  • Baumgärtner, Ingrid, et al., eds. Mapping Narrations - Narrating Maps: Concepts of the World in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2022.
  • Connolly, Daniel. The Maps of Matthew Paris: Medieval Journeys through Space, Time and Liturgy. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2009.
  • Hiatt, Alfred. Terra Incognita. Mapping the Antipodes before 1600. London: British Library, 2008.
  • Hiatt, Alfred. Dislocations: Maps, Classical Tradition, and Spatial Play in the European Middle Ages. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2020.
  • Higgins, Hannah B. The Grid Book. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press, 2009.
  • Kiening, Christian, and Martina Stercken, eds. Temporality and Mediality in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018.
  • Kupfer, Marcia. Art and Optics in the Hereford Map. An English Mappa Mundi, c.1300. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.
  • Normore, Christina. "A World within Worlds?"’ In Re-Assessing the Global Turn in Medieval Art History. Edited by Christina Normore. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018.
  • Terkla, Dan, and Nick Millea, eds. A Critical Companion to English Mappae Mundi of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2019.

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.