Main Content

FAH 212 - Art and Architecture of the Middle Ages


This is a guide to selected sources of information on art and architecture during the Middle Ages, located in the Geisel Library. It is meant as a starting point for your research. If you need personalized assistance with developing a search strategy or locating information, consider making an appointment with the Fine Arts liaison librarian.


Reserve Reading List

FAH 212: Art and Architecture in the Middle Ages


Reference Sources for Background Information

Reference materials can provide basic background information on your topic and help you identify keywords for further searching; for example, the names of important artists, works of art, materials, or events. Some also contain topical essays that can be excellent introductions to a particular subject or time period. Many reference resources provide bibliographies at the ends of each entry or volume, which will point you to additional books, exhibit catalogs, and journal articles worth exploring. The list below is not exhaustive; browse the N section of the Reference and General collections for more resources.

Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages
This important reference work on the medieval world explores all aspects of the period from the fifth to the fifteenth century, including art, language, law, science, philosophy and theology. It primarily concentrates on cultural, social, political, and religious developments in Europe and the Christian world.

Medieval Art:  A Topical Dictionary

New Catholic Encyclopedia 2nd Edition
This resource is "prized for its scholarly presentation of persons and subjects related to Catholicism and the humanities."

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
This fully-searchable reference document encapsulates the thinking of different eras and cultures.

Oxford Art Online
This database provides access to the full contents of The Grove Dictionary of Art along with several other art reference works. Search and view over 5,000 thumbnail art images, conduct basic keyword searches, or use the Advanced Search to find information on specific geographic areas, time periods, or art forms.

Oxford Reference Online
This collection comprises over one million dictionary definitions, facts, figures, people, places, sayings, and dates from 150+ of Oxford's central English and bilingual dictionaries, usage, quotations, and subject reference books. Important titles for this class include The Oxford Companion to Western Art; The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists; The Oxford Dictionary of Saints; and A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

The Rise of the Medieval World

Background Sources (Print)

Atlas of Medieval Europe
     General Collection D116 .M3

Dictionary of the Middle Ages
     Ref D114.D5 (10 vols.)

Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium
     Ref DF521 .093 (3 vols.)

Iconography and Symbols

Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art
     Ref N7560 .H34

Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art
     Ref N7560 .E53 (2 vols.)

The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture
     Ref N7830 .M87

Signs & Symbols in Christian Art
     Ref N7830 .F37

Symbols and Allegories in Art
     Ref N7560 .G9 S5

Source Material

The Art of the Byzantine Empire: Sources and Documents
     General Collection N6250 .M25

Early Medieval Art 300-1150: Sources and Documents
     General Collection N5975 .D3

Gothic Art1140 - c. 1450: Sources and Documents
     General Collection N6310.F75

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance
     General Collection N5303 .H762 V.1

Materials to Assist with Writing the Research Paper

Dictionary of Art Terms
     Ref N33 .L75 2004

A Short Guide to Writing about Art
     Ref N7476 .B37 2003
     Online: Art History Writing Guide

A Survival Guide for Art History Students
     N385 .M37 2005

Writing about Art
     Ref N7476 .S29 2002


Return to top


Find Books/Secondary Sources

Books that are on reserve for this class

Geisel Library catalog
To find relevant books, you will probably want to try both Keyword and Subject searching in the library catalog. Start by doing keyword searching on various aspects of your topic. When you find useful books, click on the Subject Headings in their catalog records to identify additional books on the same topic.

Keywords to consider when using the online Catalog

  • Name of artist
  • Name of period
  • Type of artwork: altarpiece, painting, etc.
  • Geographic area: Rome, France, etc.
  • Media of the work: architecture, painting, sculpture
  • Name of museum where painting is located - you may find more information in a museum catalog

Use the * (asterisk) as a truncation symbol to retrieve variant forms of a word root. Use the Boolean OR to expand your search by including synonyms and related terms. When using two different Boolean commands in the same search statement ("and" and "or" in the preceding examples) you must include parentheses to indicate which command is to be performed first.

Subject Headings Suggestions for the online Catalog

  • Architecture and Religion
  • Architecture, Byzantine
  • Architecture, Gothic
  • Architecture, Medieval
  • Architecture, Romanesque
  • Art, Byzantine
  • Art, Carolingian
  • Art, Gothic
  • Art, Medieval
  • Art, Ottonian
  • Art, Romanesque
  • Painting, Byzantine (or Gothic, or Medieval)
  • Sculpture, Gothic (or Medieval, or Romanesque)
  • Christian Art and Symbolism
  • Christianity and Art
  • Church Architecture
  • Civilization, Medieval
  • Middle Ages

By searching WorldCat, you can identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. The best approach is to perform Subject searches on the same Subject Headings that you discovered in the Geisel Library catalog. You can supplement this with Keyword searching on keywords pertaining to your topic.

When you identify a relevant book in WorldCat, you can click on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in its WorldCat record. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to Geisel Library in 7-10 days. You will be emailed when your book arrives, and you can check it out for a specified borrowing period.

This library of over 40,000 e-books spans across all scholarly disciplines. Books can either be opened in QuickView for instant viewing or in the ebrary Reader (a downloadable plug-in), which provides enhanced functionality such as the ability to copy/paste, highlight, or take notes in a particular book.
Access restricted to the Saint Anselm College community.

Below is a sampling of titles that are included in Ebrary:


Return to top


Find Journal Articles

Below are several databases that may yield useful journal articles for your research. Some focus on art and architecture criticism while others will provide historical, theological, and socio-cultural context for your area of study . Try searching on the same keywords that you used in the book catalog. Remember to use Boolean operators and wildcards (the asterisk symbol) to improve your search. Once you find relevant articles, examine the subject headings that have been assigned to them and conduct Subject searches on the ones that seem most potentially fruitful. Be sure to read the bibliographies of articles to identify additional sources worth tracking down.

If there is no link to the full text of the article, click on the WebBridge icon to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full-text via another electronic database. If the article isn't available, consider clicking on the Interlibrary Loan link to request a PDF copy of the article from another library. Within a week, you should receive an email indicating that the article is available to access.

Academic Search Premier
Gain access to full-text articles and citations from a wide range of journal titles, covering the arts and more.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index
Provides indexing to the world's leading arts and humanities journals and includes articles, bibliographies, editorials, letters, and reviews. (1980-present)

Google Scholar
This free search engine can be used to find scholarly publications, including peer-reviewed papers, books, journal articles, and government reports. If an item is not available in full text, use the Geisel WebBridge links to obtain it.

International Medieval Bibliography   (On Campus Only)
IMB is a comprehensive index for Medieval resources.

Iter (Medieval and Renaissance)
This bibliography pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700) also offers full-text articles of Renaissance Quarterly (2000-current), Early Theatre (1998-current), and Renaissance and Reformation (2000-current). There are citations for journal articles (1842-current), reviews, bibliographies, abstracts, and more. (1784-current)    Searching Guide

A large collection of back issues of major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including the Arts. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue.

Project MUSE
"Project MUSE provides online, worldwide, institutional subscription access to the full text of more than 200 scholarly journals in arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics."

Databases for Religious Topics

Catholic Periodical & Literature Index
Search this index for citations from Catholic periodicals, books, newspapers, and papal documents dealing expressly with the practice of Catholic faith and lifestyle.

New Testament Abstracts
Thousands of article and book abstracts and citations related to New Testament scholarship are available in this database. Some linked full-text articles are available.

Old Testament Abstracts
Thousands of article and book abstracts and citations related to Old Testament scholarship. Topics include antiquities, archaeology, biblical theology, and philology. Some linked full-text articles are available.

ATLA Religion Database
This database is an essential resource for research in theology and humanities, and covers all religious traditions, though the strongest coverage is for materials dealing with the Judeo-Christian tradition. It provides citations and some full-text articles.

Religious and Theological Abstracts
Search here for citations and summaries of articles appearing in scholarly religion and theology journals from around the world - Christian, Jewish, and other world religions are covered.


Return to top


Find Images

Connect to ARTstor to access a half -million images and related text. These images can be printed for use in your paper, or included in PowerPoint demonstrations or audio slideshows. Ask a Reference Librarian if you require assistance using ARTstor.

The Smithsonian Institution Cross Catalog Searching Center allows you to search across dozens of Smithsonian libraries, archives and specialized research units. Search over 1.7 million records, with links to images, video and sound files, electronic journals and other resources.

There are many additional resources for locating art on the Web. Searching Bing Images or Google Image Search is probably the quickest way to locate art, but often the images are too small or the provenance is dubious. Most search engines offer tools to find images. Many museums offer searchable databases and have digitized much of their collections.

Images from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum can be accessed here.


Return to top


Selected Websites

Medieval Art and Architecture

The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies from Georgetown University

Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History - Medieval Europe

NetSERF - The Internet Connection for Medieval Resources


The Cloisters

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Frick Collection

Metropolitan Museum of Art

National Gallery of Art

Yale University Art Gallery


Return to top


How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is a selected list of resources that are available in a given field (the bibliography), each one being accompanied by a brief description and critical assessment of the source (the annotation). Geisel Library has instructions available to assist you when preparing your annotated bibliography. Always confirm the style required by your instructor.


Return to top


Citing Sources

Work cited in this class should use the formats as described in the Chicago Manual of Style, available at the Library's Reference Desk (Ready Ref. Z253 .U69 2003). See the library's Citing Sources guide, which provides online examples for Chicago/Turabian.


Return to top