For class on Thursday, January 31, I have put together an online “tour” of the premodern world for those of you in my ‘Games of Thrones’ class. This “tour” will proceed via a series of links which I have e-mailed to all of you separately. In all likelihood, few of you in class have been to Europe or had substantial, visceral encounters with the arts and artifacts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Consequently, the basic intent of this activity is that I want you to “experience” the premodern world, at least insofar as that is possible through fragments offered on and through the internet. Unfortunately, there is a significant difference between experiencing such objects and places firsthand as opposed to a mediated forum, but all the same, this activity will (I hope) help attune you to our period of discussion and get you immersed in the period in a different and insightful way. In simple terms, in this Blog post I want to hear your (carefully focused) thoughts about the experience. I’m hoping that your posting offers us some sense of both your intellectual and emotional response to the places, spaces, and artifacts under consideration. By exploring the sites and material objects of this era and then writing about it, this activity will, hopefully, help you to recognize the relationships between time and place that are part and parcel of the very idea of the “premodern”, and in turn my wish is that you form some meaningful realizations about how specific places or works suggest certain ideals and fit in a larger cultural context.
Now, being even more specific in terms of the contents of your posting, I want you to respond to two particular “objects” of your choosing. Your response should broadly be broken down into two sections, with each section at least a robust paragraph in length – but the more the better. The first section should address a place or space, and then the second section should discuss a particular object or artifact. You should select a place and artwork that really piqued your interest, or that you found especially powerful in some way, shape, or form. Then, your response should offer some thoughts about just what these places/things seem to “mean” in your estimation. On the subject of your place/space, which location have you chosen, and why? What really stands out to you about it, and why is it so important and interesting? More to the point, what does your chosen place/space suggest to us about the premodern world and the people who lived there? Regarding your piece of art or other material object, you might track similar ideas and questions, as well as think about the minutiae of your chosen artifact. For instance, who created it, and when? What are central characteristics of that individual artists’ style, or how does this object suggest the stylistics of the day? How do you think it would have been used and understood by individuals in premodern society, and how might we reflect upon it from a twenty-first century perspective?
Overall, then, what have you LEARNED by exploring your selected places/objects, and what do they seemingly TEACH us about the premodern culture(s) of Western Europe??