The Arch and the Spire: Romanesque and Gothic Churches
By Dr. Elizabeth Lev
From Mont-Saint-Michel to Chartres, from Spire to Santa Maria del Fiore, join Dr. Elizabeth Lev in a course that will discuss how these developments in architecture crossed borders to create the first International Christian Style, and the innovative artistic media that enhanced the liturgical ceremonies within.
The Arch and the Spire:
Romanesque and Gothic Churches
with Dr. Elizabeth Lev
This six-part lecture series will examine the development of church building and decoration during the Golden Age of architecture, the 11th to 14th centuries. Responding to extraordinary geo-political events as well as a much-needed church reform, these styles reflected an engagement with the past as well as an innovative spirit.
From Mont-Saint-Michel to Chartres, from Spire to Santa Maria del Fiore, we’ll see how these developments in architecture crossed borders to create the first International Christian Style, and the innovative artistic media that enhanced the liturgical ceremonies within.
You’ll see the startling intersection of bishops, pilgrims, parishioners, and religious that brought about this artistic revolution, as well as the unsung heroes of art history, who designed and decorated these masterpieces.
We’ll study the nuts and bolts of how these amazing projects were organized and undertaken. But mostly we’ll bask in the beauty of stained glass, exquisite carvings, dazzling mosaics, mesmerizing manuscripts, and stunning spaces, as we explore the treasures of our Christian past and look at its legacy in the present.
Dr. Elizabeth Lev
Elizabeth Lev holds degrees in art history from the University of Chicago and the University of Bologna and has been teaching art history at Duquesne University’s Italian campus since 2002. She is a well-known tour guide and has served as a consultant to the Vatican Museums for their art and faith itineraries, projects with the Vatican Patrons of the Arts and also wrote “Vatican Treasures: The Via Pulchritudinis,” a film presented to Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.
Lev’s books include A Body for Glory: Theology of the Body in the Papal Collections, and How Catholic Art Saved the Faith, and she writes regularly for several journals. She is a Vatican analyst for NBC, and has appeared on the Today Show, Nightline and 60 Minutes and her TED Talk on the Sistine Chapel has garnered over 1.7 million views. Her latest project, Masters’ Gallery Rome, offers on-line video classes to learn about the art, history and faith of the Eternal City.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DR. ELIZABETH LEV
Class I. – January 10, 2023 (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm PT)
What puts the “Rome” in Romanesque? The opening class will look at the first churches built in the wake of crusades as people began to travel. We’ll study the rise of the Romanesque and its finest exemplars in Burgundy, Germany, and the Italian Peninsula with a special focus to the spectacular church of Mont St Michel. As great adventures began to be told in poetry, we’ll see how art tried to find the means to narrate the events of this epic age.
Class II. – January 17, 2023 (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm)
Searching for Stability in an Age of Crisis: Continuing in the footsteps of the 12th century pilgrims, we’ll explore more of the great Romanesque churches, including Vezelay and Cluny. This session will also examine the new decorations for Romanesque churches, in particular the rich carvings and inlaid stone that set off the new style perfectly.
Class III. – January 24, 2023 (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm)
Let There Be Light: The so-called “Gothic” era overlapped considerably with the Romanesque and indeed shared many traits. In this class, we’ll explore the rise of Gothic architecture, its singular characteristics and its unique constructions. From the theology of light to the mysteries of masonry, we’ll see how minds, hands and souls worked together to produce churches like Chartres and Notre Dame de Paris.
Class IV. – January 31, 2023 (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm)
The First Style Gone Viral: The soaring style of flying buttresses and ribbed vaults soon captured the imagination of Europe, and similar structures cropped up from Flanders to Florence. This class will virtually visit a sampling of shrines and cathedrals, noting the different imprints each region gave to the Gothic.
Class V. – February 7, 2023 (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm)
A Glimpse of Paradise: The role of stained glass in the Gothic décor was fundamental to the transcendent nature of the space. This lecture will explore the hows and whys of stained glass, from its oldest exemplars to the modern variants. We’ll take a special look at the windows of Chartres, the best kept windows in France, attempting to interpret their mystical meaning.
Class VI. – February 14, 2023 (7:30 pm – 9:00 pm)
The Phoenix from the Flames: his lecture will look at the legacy of the Gothic, its revival in England and the USA, and the restorations undertaken to preserve the monuments. We’ll talk about the crusade of Victor Hugo and Viollet le Duc to preserve the heritage of the Romanesque and Gothic monuments in France, as well as Antonio Gaudi’s exceptional revival of the style in the Sagrada Familia. We’ll close with some thoughts on the much-discussed restoration of Notre-Dame de Paris.