Memory, piety and propaganda: funerary art as a source for the study of the Middle Ages - 1st semester


To understand funerary art as part of a mental and social process of broad spectrum (from the quest for salvation to the affirmation of lineages and individuals) and of multiple expressions (from sculpture to manuscripts); To relate the idiosyncrasy and formal evolution of funerary art of the 13th-15th centuries to particular artistic and spiritual dynamics; To reflect critically on methodologies and sources used for research into the Middle Ages, exploring the potential of funerary art as a means to create knowledge in previously innaccessible and still largely unexplored areas in Portuguese historiography such as private life, lay sipirituality, social and gender studies; To review concepts, perspectives and the lexicon, from the
notion of portrait to piety and propaganda, in order to put in place a new and open discourse on funerary practices; To analyse some key works that can reveal the possibilities created by a revision of historiography and new interdisciplinary research lines.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Carla Varela Fernandes


Weekly - 3 letivas + 1 tutorial

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





BORNGÄSSER, B., KARGE, H., KLEIN, B. (2006). Grabkunst und Sepulkralkultur in Spanien un Portugal. Arte funerario y cultura sepulcral en España y Portugal. Frankfurt/Madrid: Vervuert/Iberoamericana
CARRUTHERS, M. (2008).The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture. Second edition. Cambridge
CLANCHY, M. (1979). From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307. Cambridge, MA
NÚÑEZ RODRÍGUEZ, M., PORTELA SILVA, E. (1986-1992) – La idea y el sentimiento de la muerte en la historia y en el arte de la Edad Media. Santiago de Compostela: Universidad de Santiago de Compostela
ROSA, Maria de Lurdes (2010) – A morte e o Além. História da Vida Privada em Portugal, I. Círculo de Leitores: 402-417
SILVA, J. C. V. (2008) – Memória e Imagem, Reflexões sobre Escultura Tumular Portuguesa (séculos XIII e XIV). Revista de História da Arte, 1. Lisboa: IHA (FCSH-UNL), 47-81
VALDEZ DEL ALAMO, E., PENDERGAST, C. S. (2010) – Memory and the Medieval Tomb. Aldershot: Ashgate

Teaching method

Theoretical-practical lessons, using audiovisual material and study/research tools, such as: texts; images and documents.
Lessons will include a theoretical component intended for the presentation of specific contents, followed by a practical session based on a critical analysis of texts and documents as well as on the exploration of specific case studies.

Evaluation method

The evaluation will be based on two pieces of written work: a critical review on a paper or book related to the subject of the curricular unit (30%); a research work focused on a funerary programme, whether individual or collective, or on a topic aimed towards extensive and innovative study of medieval funerary practices (70%). The two works must be orally presented in class, in order to promote an environment of discussion.

Subject matter

1. Funerary art as subject to medieval historiography: towards the definition of a specific domain in art history and current topics in discussion. 2. The medieval monument placed between the preparation for death and the celebration of life and used both to envision salvation and to display social status; 3. The funerary effigy, ´revolution´ or revelation?: emergence, forms and meanings; 4. Social representation and ´individualism´: the construction of memory through imagery in a funerary context; 5. Programmes in the 13th-14th centuries: patterns versus personal affirmation; 6. Novelties and transformations throughout the 15th century in Portugal: the ´Batalha´ paradigm and the results of a changing society; 7. Programmes, processes and accomplishments: analysis of case studies as potential researches to review medieval historiography