nl en

Gothic Architecture, In and Out of Time


Admission requirements

Similar to the admission requirements for the MA Arts and Culture.


This course focuses on two distinct traditions of European art and architecture grouped under the stylistic designation “Gothic.”

In this course we will be dealing with the emergence of Gothic in the crownlands of twelfth-century France and how the style developed from there and spread to all regions of Medieval Europe. Although Gothic was superseded by the Renaissance, baroque and Classicist style, in some regions the style never quite vanished, and from the eighteenth century onwards it resurfaced on a grand scale, developing into what we now call the neo-Gothic style, alongside a desire to preserve medieval heritage. In this class we will be discussing the various ‘looks’ of the original medieval Gothic style and how and for what reasons (religious, political, nationalistic, social) this style was revived and came to be cherished in later centuries. While the course is not a class on “style,” per se, a careful examination of Gothic and neo-Gothic monuments – religious, courtly and civic – nevertheless offers an opportunity to interrogate the constitutive role of stylistic classification, both as a disciplinary tool and as a construct that shapes societies with its overlay of ideology and aesthetics.

The medieval part of this course is taught by Dr. Elizabeth den Hartog and has as its theme the emergence and spread of the Gothic style in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the architecture and arts throughout Western Europe up to its transformation in the later Middle Ages to what Matt Cavaler has termed ‘Renaissance Gothic’. During the course, we will focus on key monuments and consider the problems of definition. How was ‘Gothic’ architecture different from the contemporary ‘Romanesque’? Where did it originate and why? And why did both styles persist side by side? The French Gothic style has been very much linked to the rise of the Capetian dynasty in France. Why then, did it make such a mark throughout Europe, and how and why (or why not) was the style transformed when it was adapted in other regions? Another question we will be dealing with is the fact that the ‘Gothic style’ does not merely refer to architecture but also to the arts of the high medieval period. This also raises clear problems of definition? What is Gothic about Gothic art?

The neo-Gothic portion, taught by Dr. Steven Lauritano, examines ways in which medieval buildings were “revived” and retheorized in the work of 18th- 19th- and 20th-century designers. Using a set of geographically and conceptually distinct case studies, this part of the course will track the shifting associational values of the Gothic style, with special attention to the role played by architecture in politics and society. Indeed, the Gothic Revival in architecture marks a time when, in the words of Barry Bergdoll, “issues of style became matters of state.” To better understand the motivations underpinning stylistic revival, the course will utilize a comparative framework, reading modern buildings alongside their medieval precedents. How were details of Gothic monuments selectively borrowed and modified in response to changes in architectural pedagogy and practice, new construction technologies, systems of labor and craft, and the emerging professions of archeology and conservation? How, in turn, were the Neo-Gothic designs conceived and publicized to advance new ideas about statecraft, party politics, theology, public health and urbanism? Beyond the study of individual monuments, the second half of the course will interrogate the broader concept of revival in relationship to the emergence of art history as an academic discipline. How did “style” and “stylistic analysis” develop as key disciplinary constructs, ideally suited to transhistorical modes of meaning-making?

For this course you will write a 5000 word paper on a building or art work of your choice providing that it enables you to reflect on the medieval Gothic and the neo-Gothic.

Course objectives

  • To train your academic skills, i.e. to get an insight in the historiography of this subject

  • To learn how to find, read and evaluate critically the relevant literature;

  • To reflect and theorize on the subject;

  • To think up and work out a case study;

  • To present this case study in class with the use of PowerPoint;

  • To learn how to evaluate presentations of other students and act as a referee;

  • To write an academic paper’

  • To give students an insight in how to deal with comparative art history;

  • To examine historical conceptions of “style” and interrogate the constitutive role that “style” and “stylistic analysis” have played in the discipline of art history.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of two separate parts and a total of thirteen sessions. During the earlier sessions of the course we will provide you with some introductory lectures, discuss the pre-set literature with you and help you find a subject to write on, formulate a research question and find and evaluate the relevant literature. During the latter part of each section of the course you will be presenting your research orally and you will be required to discuss, interrogate and assess the work of your fellow students. At the end of the course, you hand in a research paper of 5000 words, or, if you are a research master student of 7500 words.

Assessment method


  • 1 paper 5000 words (ResMa students 7500 words each) (90%) and one oral presentation (10 %)
    Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructors.


The final grade is the average of the two grades for the paper and oral presentation (90% and 10%). A student passes the class if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.


The re-sit implies rewriting the paper (90%).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The literature to be read for this course will be posted and made available through Brightspace. If you have no knowledge of Gothic or neo-Gothic architecture we do advise you to read up before our first meeting. Literature suggestions will be made available via Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. You can register until two weeks after classes have started however students are advised to register as soon as possible and preferably before the start of the course. In the case of electives: please be aware that most electives have a maximum amount of students who can enroll. Do not approach the course instructor in case the class is full. You will automatically be put on a waiting list.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal