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Between Art and Mind: Diagrams in Medieval Europe - HOA00103M

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

Module summary

This module focuses on medieval diagrams as tools for presenting and generating knowledge about the world.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The study of diagrams is one of the most rapidly expanding fields in art historical research, and closely allied to the investigation of the ties between art, science and human cognition. Focusing on medieval diagrams created in Europe, the module will closely examine key examples from different fields of knowledge, including astronomy, cosmology, ethics, theology, history, and logic. A particular focus will be on examining the epistemological role of lines; and on exploring the ways in which micro- and macrocosmic relationships were conceptualised - a relationship that has re-emerged as one of the most urgent themes in the current climate crisis.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • a good knowledge of key examples of medieval diagrams

  • acquaintance with their intellectual and cultural contexts

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

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Assessed Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Assessed Essay
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

  • Edson, Evelyn, and Emilie Savage-Smith, eds. Medieval Views of the Cosmos: Picturing the Universe in the Christian and Islamic Middle Ages. Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2004.
  • Even-Ezra, Eyelet. Lines of Thought: Branching Diagrams and the Medieval Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021.
  • Hamburger, Jeffrey, David J. Roxburgh, and Linda Safran, eds. The Diagram as Paradigm: Cross-Cultural Approaches. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2022.
  • Ingold, Tim. Lines: A Brief History. London: Routledge, 2016.
  • Krämer, Sybille, and Christina Ljungberg, eds. Thinking with Diagrams: The Semiotic Basis of Human Cognition. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.
  • Kupfer, Marcia, Adam S. Cohen, and J. H. Chajes, eds. The Visualization of Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Turnhout: Brepols, 2020.
  • Pombo, Olga, and Alexander Gerner, eds. Studies in Diagrammatology and Diagram Praxis. London: College Publications, 2010.



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.