Section Information for Fall 2013Textiles and agriculture were the two major commercial products of the premodern world, tremendously important to human history. But both result in transitory products, making their histories hard to reconstruct and easy to overlook. Textiles are fascinating to art historians, since they may well have been the visual art most in view and most often traded in the ancient and medieval worlds. They are particularly interesting as often being products of women’s work and visual ideas. Only a few precious fragments remain from pre-modern times, such as the Bayeux Tapestry, carpets from the Islamic world, or burial goods preserved in the deserts of Egypt, China and Peru. But vast amounts of documentary evidence remain, allowing us to appreciate the importance of textiles in daily life, in international commerce, and in the interchange of artistic ideas worldwide.
In this senior seminar, we will explore the art, history, anthropology and archeology of textiles through case studies. The first half of the course will consist of a general introduction to pre-modern textile traditions of Eurasia, including the role of trade connections by land along the Silk Road and by sea. In the second part of the course, students will research topics of special interest worldwide, taking advantage of the wonderful resources of the Textile Museum in Washington, DC. Students will share the results of their own directed research projects to the class through Powerpoint presentations. Students taking ARTH 430 as part of the Ancient Mediterranean Art and Archaeology minor will be directed to appropriate research topics.
Studies a single topic in medieval or Islamic art. May focus on a particular period, region, or medium, or may explore cultural interconnections within medieval Eurasian world.
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credits when topic is different.