Art of the Medieval Mediterranean

Final Paper Assignment

Your final paper focuses on a carved capital in the cloister of the Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily. You have two tasks: first, to select and analyze the capital closely and characterize its components, form, and imagery, using art historical terminology; second, to elucidate the capital’s connections to broader trends in the arts of the Mediterranean region by comparing it to two works of art not from Sicily. You get to choose the two works not from Sicily. They should have something in common with your Monreale piece; they should be selected carefully from the works discussed in course readings, tutorials, and lectures. Please do not look beyond the materials covered in class for comparisons.


Getting organized and ready to write:
1. First, go to
Have a look at the capitals in the cloister and select one that interests you, noting how it is identified on the website by its location. Get familiar with your capital by looking carefully at all of the views of it and reading what the website says about it.

You are expected to read and use this website, including the more general sections on Monreale, but you are not expected or allowed to do additional in-depth research for this paper. However, some quick research may be needed to clarify facts, such as what a particular biblical passage is about. You must footnote all sources used, including course readings.No additional in-depth research is required or allowed for this assignment.

2. Next, once you have selected a capital, peruse the course readings and lecture PDFs for appropriate comparanda (that is, comparison works). Don’t grab the first things you see; consider your options and make smart choices. Read what the assigned texts say about the works, and consider how the more conceptual readings for the course may be relevant. What does each comparison have the potential to show? Are there other works that bring out more issues? How does context or setting help fuel a comparison? Artistic medium? Function or patron? Be sure to identify fully the works you discuss in your paper, including their dates, media, place of manufacture, and current location.

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Success with this kind of paper comes from care. Choose your capital carefully; pick one that grabs you in some way. Examine all faces of the capital carefully, looking at its various parts and their interrelationships, what stands out, and why; doing your own diagrams or sketches can help you “digest” the work.

Select your comparanda carefully so that you have something to say, and develop your ideas about the comparisons systematically. A good paper, carefully done, will have an overarching thesis that links the two parts of the paper together (the two parts being 1) the analysis of capital and 2) the discussion of comparanda and their implications). Leave yourself time to write a few drafts and develop your ideas. Most people do their best thinking when they are in the process of writing. No time to write = no time to think = shallow, boring, and sloppy paper. Proofread carefully, make corrections, proofread again, make more corrections, and proofread again…


Required components of this paper:

1. Title (not necessarily a title page, just a title).
2. The identifying letter and number of your capital must be at the top of your first page or in the first sentence.
3. The identifying features of your comparanda (see above).
4. Page numbers.
5. Footnotes to establish your sources and to help distinguish your ideas from those belonging to other people.
6. Illustrations of your two comparanda, including the source of each illustration (e.g., Blair and Bloom, Islamic Arts, fig. 2).
7. Map showing the locations of the works of art discussed in your paper, including the names of the locations and the modern countries. Feel free to use the blank maps posted in the Helpful Handouts folder on Blackboard.

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Points will be deducted from papers lacking these items.