Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

This module is inactive in the selected year. The information shown below is for the academic year that the module was last running in, prior to the year selected.

2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF2060 Ecologies of Medieval Art

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Professor Catherine Karkov

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Ecologies are networks in which the human intra-acts with the elements, the environment, the nonhuman, objects, materiality, study, language and the imagination, and so forth. Ecologies create histories and leave their traces in both memory and the material world. The material world thus emerges in the encounter between the human and all that can be classified as 'nonhuman.' This module asks you to think about how these ecologies develop and decay, how they face crisis and heal themselves.


The module will explore the ecologies of medieval art through a combination of theoretical and historical readings, encounters with and discussions of objects, and hands-on work with a small portion of the landscape (a micro-ecology). It will explore both the agency of nature and the nonhuman, and the way in which nature, the elements, animals, objects and shifting ecologies were perceived, theorised, depicted and encountered, as well as how they left their traces on and through the art and architecture of the period. The weekly readings offer a combination of sources dealing with contemporary eco-theory, with original medieval sources, and with secondary scholarship on those sources. Weekly lectures and discussions of the lecture material will ask you to apply what you have learned from those readings to medieval objects. Your essays will ask you to reflect on how these multiple sources are set in dialogue with each other. You will then need to synthesise them in order to construct original arguments of your own.

The micro-ecology project (an idea borrowed from Jeffrey Jerome Cohen) asks you to find a place, anywhere you like, for intense ecological reflection and study. During the course of the semester you should make at least two 1-hour visits per week to your place to note its changes. The spot can be anywhere you like, and any size you like, but it should be small enough for you to be able to organise your thought. It could be a part of Hyde Park, Cemetery Field, or your own garden; it could also be part of the built environment—City Square, the corner of a building, an abandoned lot. Turn off all electronic equipment. You should look slowly, paying attention both to natural forces (weather, sunlight, animals, microclimates) and to human influences (pollution, decay, building or rebuilding). Take pictures and make sketches of your place—sketching encourages both eye and hand to really get to know a place. Your observations will form the basis for your final presentation and essay.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have demonstrated:
- Critical analysis of primary and secondary sources;
- Understanding of key concepts in ecocriticism;
- Verbal fluency in constructing a logical and coherent argument;
- Research skills;
- Analysis of images, texts and objects.


Week 1: Introduction: ecology and medieval art
Week 2: Water
Week 3: Earth
Week 4: Air
Week 5: Fire
Week 6: Essay tutorials
Week 7: Ice
Week 8: Coasts
Week 9: Animals and Monsters
Week 10: Presentations of micro-ecology projects
Week 11: Presentations of micro-ecology projects

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment12.002.00
Private study hours176.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

The two essays will require independent reflection and research, and the final presentation will require some advance preparation. Weekly readings will require private study, and the micro-ecology project will require at least 2 hours of independent study per week.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through class participation, through the first essay, through reading week tutorials, and through the final presentation.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500-3,000 words45.00
Essay2,500-3,000 words45.00
PresentationFinal Presentation10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/07/2021 11:03:00


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019