What Iconic Architecture Reveals about the Middle Ages ... and Ourselves
Instructor Dr. Sarah Keeshan
Today, we approach the Middle Ages with many assumptions, shaped by 500+ years of popular culture. The term “medieval” can both conjure images of knights and castles and a pre-industrial, enchanted pastoral world, or be used pejoratively to describe something as barbaric and backward. The medieval past is both familiar and entirely foreign to us and is often used as a one-size-fits-all foil to our own times, revealing as much about ourselves as it does about the historical era. This course will introduce you to some of the colourful and diverse political-cultural worlds of the Middle Ages through the enduring legacies of some of the era's most inspiring and enigmatic buildings. Together, we will explore these medieval landscapes, what imprints they have left to us of the hopes and dreams of their ancient creators, and what our encounters with them might teach us about ourselves.
Dr. Sarah Keeshan is a medieval historian whose research focuses on historical writing and world-building, imperialism, and cultural interaction in the medieval Mediterranean and Norman world. Raised in Nepean, she recently completed her PhD at the University of Toronto and currently teaches in the History Department at Carleton University. She is always interested in the ways that the Middle Ages can challenge our assumptions and open up new ways of understanding the world around us.