Richard and Saladin; Combat Series Chertsey tiles, Britsh Museum

*The course is available for Harvard cross-registration and open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Short description

The crusading movement that started with Pope Urban II’s call to arms in 1095 redrew the political, socio-economic and cultural map of Europe and the Middle East. The course explores the materiality of the Crusades and their imprint on early modern and modern culture. Among the themes discussed are:

  • The impact of the Crusades on cities and the countryside in Europe and the Middle East; communities, markets, money and the archaeology of destruction.
  • Art and cross-cultural encounters in the Eastern Mediterranean: patrons, artists, works of art and their intended audiences.
  • Secular architecture and new religious topographies in Western Europe and the Holy Land.
  • From Constantinople to Venice: relics, treasures and the Renaissance.
  • Commemoration, remembrance and the Crusades as a metaphor; representations of the East through the lyric lens; antiquarianism and the archaeology of the Crusades; Sir Walter Scott, 19th-century crusading literature and the Pre-Raphaelites; the Crusades in modern visual culture.

The course offers unprecedented access to works of art spread across three cities. In Cambridge and Boston classes will be held in the Harvard Art Museums, the Houghton Library and Boston’s Fine Arts Museum. The class visit to Washington DC in late March 2018 aims to familiarise students with the celebrated collections of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection and the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian National Museums of Asian Art. 


THE CRUSADES IN MATERIAL CULTURE in the students' own words (Course Evaluations, Spring 2017)

"I never before realized the cross-cultural exchanges that were occurring on so many different levels. I only saw the war and strife side that is commonly found in the history books but if you look deeper there is an interaction of very rich cultural traditions and some of the art pieces that emerged as a result of these new connections are truly beautiful. This course taught me that there was more to the Crusades than the battles. This was a monumental collision of cultures that had truly remarkable results both in the Holy Land and in Europe."

"Fantastic class. But even more so, a fantastic professor. Professor Georganteli is truly one of the kindest, most wonderful, intelligent, and inspiring professors I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. Take this class for the fascinating material culture, but even more so to have the opportunity to learn under the guidance of Professor Georganteli."

"The close-up inspections of works of art in the Harvard art museums, MFA and Dumbarton Oaks benefitted my learning journey by providing me with the unparalleled opportunity to see texts, seals, artworks and many other pieces of artwork that I might not have the chance to see anywhere else. Therefore, I am exceptionally grateful for the ability to visit these institutions."

"This course has deepened my awareness of the extent to which the world was interconnected in the late Middle Ages both economically as well as culturally and how the interactions established in the crusades impacted the development of both Europe as well as the near East."

"I loved the course! The split between lecturing, presentations, and discussion was well done, and never resulted in the class feeling stagnant. I think that Professor Georganteli has such a command of the subject, as well as an enthusiasm for it, that it was infectious, and as a result, we all strove to match her. I think the discussions were some of the most fruitful that I have had in courses here."