Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Monsters, Women And Jews: Medieval Art And Identity HISTART4032

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 40
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will explore medieval Christian images of the foreign, strange, unknown, underclass, inferior, 'pagan', and undesirable. During the Middle Ages, essentialised traits were assigned to certain real and imaginary groups, such as women, Jews, Wild Folk and the so-called Monstrous Races. The course examines how these groups were negatively stereotyped in works of art produced c.1000-c.1500 in Western Europe and consider the continued power of medieval ideas and negative imagery in modern debates around racism, misogyny, and antisemitism.


1 x 1hr lecture; 1 x 1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks per semester, as scheduled on MyCampus.

This is one of the Honours options in History of Art and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours in History of Art.

Excluded Courses





1 x Essay (3000 words) - 30%

1 x Essay (3000 words) - 30%

1 x Critical Reflection (500 words) - 10%

1 x Critical Reflection (500 words) - 10%

1 x Seminar Presentation (10 mins. accompanied by PowerPoint slides or 800 word paper) - 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ introduce the iconographical and semiotic characteristics of negative representations of a variety of medieval underclass/enemy constituencies

■ explore the active role of pictorial imagery in the shaping of contemporary social attitudes

■ examine and evaluate the explanatory value of modern theories concerned with concepts of 'otherness', monstrosity, marginalisation, and identity when considered in relation to pejorative medieval imagery

■ situate pictorial imagery within its broader medieval literary and visual cultures

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ identify and articulate the common iconographical and semiotic characteristics observable in medieval images of monsters, women, Jews, and other negatively portrayed groups

■ chronicle the development of pejorative medieval imagery in relation to specific classical traditions and their medieval modifications

■ critically evaluate different modern theoretical notions of how the medieval Christian majority perceived non-Christians and women

■ reflect on the interrelationships between visual culture and social history

■ research and present work, both orally and in written form, at a senior honours level

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.