“Saints and cult sites were central to religious practice in the Christian Middle Ages,” says Laura Hollengreen, associate professor of architecture and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture.
In March and April 2021, she’ll lead an online University of Arizona humanities seminar that examines four of those sites—Qalʿat Simʿān, Constantinople, Conques and Chartres—to find evolving concepts of sanctity and forms of cultic practice in medieval sociopolitical context. The course is titled “Localizing the Sacred: Medieval Christian Architecture and Art,” and builds from Hollengreen’s training as a medievalist art historian and her scholarship on Gothic art, urban spaces and interactions among medieval Christians and Jews.
Questions explored in the four-session course offered by the UArizona College of Humanities include: When did new kinds of saints emerge? How did holy people interact with others in their societies? How does architecture spatialize perception of the sacred, and how does art focus it?
Ranging from fifth-century Syria to 13th-century France, buildings that will be discussed include monastic and pilgrimage churches, a palace chapel and cathedrals. Artworks such as pilgrim’s tokens, mosaics, icons, manuscripts, reliquaries, statues and stained-glass windows evidence the devotional “zones of attraction” within these buildings as well as the circulation of images beyond them and the rise of theories of art in the Middle Ages.
Hollengreen was appointed associate dean for academic affairs in 2019. As associate professor of architecture and associate director of the School of Architecture, she teaches required and elective courses in architectural history and theory and enjoys engaging students and colleagues in all the physical and intellectual spaces of the college.