Art and Culture


Chartres Cathedral in the Middle Ages and Today: Art, Music, Liturgy, and Identity

Margot Fassler

fasslerThis course is designed to welcome students with a broad variety of interests, in science and restoration, in art, music, and architecture, and in liturgy and theology.  Our basic work is to study theology and the arts with a focus on the most famous cathedral in the world, one dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a building with an eleventh-century crypt, a twelfth-century façade, a thirteenth-century nave and apse, and a fourteenth-century chapel. The class will travel to Chartres over Spring break.  Students will be hosted by members of Les Amis de la Cathédrale of Chartres in their homes (   Funding is being secured to pay for student plane fares as well; students need not know French.

The central “textbook” of the class will be the website designed by Professor Alison Stones of the University of Pittsburgh Students will work on programs of stained glass on the Notre Dame Campus, in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and in Moreau Chapel, and put them in theological and liturgical contexts.  In Chartres, students will meet Henri de Feraudy, the master photographer, who will discuss techniques for photographing religious art; before meeting him, we will have studied his photographs:

Trojan War Tragedies

Thomas P. Flint


This seminar will concentrate primarily on a number of Classical plays that focus on events connected with the legendary Trojan War. Written by the three great Athenian tragedians, these plays raise numerous questions concerning issues that are as urgent for us as they were for the ancient Greeks – issues concerning war and peace, love and hate, justice and revenge, fate and free will, passion and reason, God and evil. The tragedies to be read are: the three plays of the Oresteia (by Aeschylus); Electra, Philoctetes, and Ajax (by Sophocles); and Iphigenia in Aulis, The Trojan Women, Hecuba, Helen, and Orestes (by Euripides).

We will also look at two comedies (Lysistrata and The Frogs) by Aristophanes, read several selections from the great Greek historians Herodotus and Thucydides and from the social sciences, and view videos of a few stage and screen presentations of the plays.

Debates and student performances of sections of the plays will be incorporated into the class. Students will be evaluated primarily on the basis of their preparation for and contribution to class discussion. Other requirements will include five short papers, several unannounced quizzes on the readings, an oral midterm exam, and a final exam, which will take the form of a final oral performance by individuals or groups. The class as a whole will also be given the option to present one of the plays we read as the final oral performance.

Performance and Persuasion

Mark Pilkinton


Persuasion, often at the very heart of performance, is central to much of human activity. This course explores the important relationship between performance and persuasion by studying primarily plays (both on the stage and on the page) but also other performative texts containing strongly convincing and/or persuasive elements. Approaching persuasion from the tri-partite perspective of the Arts, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences, examples of texts used may include Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, the graphic novel of The 9/11 Report, Aristophanes's anti-war and proto-feminist Lysistrata, McDonagh's graphic film In Bruges, and the televangelistic efforts of Bishop Fulton Sheen to reaffirm the faith. Students will determine the nature and characteristics of convincing and persuasive performative events and then, in classroom presentations and discussions, convince their peers of their point of view and perhaps even persuade them to take action.

Society, Human Nature, and Reason in Mozart's Operas

Susan Youens


In this course, we will be examining late eighteenth-century views of human nature, love and passion, society, government, class tensions, and more, as reflected in the operas that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) composed in his last ten years of life, when he was a resident of Vienna. Mozart considered himself first and foremost an opera composer, and these operas are among the glories of Western civilization. If certain aspects of the humanity on display here are of their time and place, others are representative of eternal human dilemmas we can all recognize. Here, conundrums of human will, the education of the heart, conflicts of desire and duty, and more are garbed in witty stage-play and beautiful music.