Catherine Harding

Catherine Harding
Associate Professor
Art History and Visual Studies

BA (McGill), MA, PhD (London)

Office: Fine Arts 139

Areas of research

  • Gothic Art and Architecture in Europe
  • Medieval and Renaissance cosmographical drawings and diagrams;
  • Pilgrimage, relics and art in fourteenth-century Italy (especially Orvieto);
  • Images (including diagrams) as information systems for ways of thinking in late Medieval and early Renaissance Europe
  • Pre-modern feminist theory and art history

Spring 2019

MEDI 304/AHVS 344A The Art of Travel 1200-1500

In this course, we will focus on art, architecture and other forms of material culture to analyze medieval and early modern travel experiences. With the advent of commercial consolidation and expansion in the late 11th century, European people developed a new sense of travel to embrace an expanded cultural and geographical knowledge of the world. We will examine how medieval people thought of journeying as a heroic battle, as in the spiritual quest, or crusading venture. People travelled when engaged in warfare. At times, their travels became exciting new adventures. Travel was also an important part of social display for wealthier people, in terms of showing off long-distance forms of knowledge.


Brief biography

After training at University College London, Catherine taught medieval art and architecture at McGill University as a Visiting Assistant Professor. She taught at Queen’s University until 1992, contributing to the Queen’s University Summer School in Venice, as well as courses in medieval and Renaissance art. She moved to the University of Victoria in 1992, and has taught courses in Medieval Studies, as well as late medieval and early Renaissance art and architecture.

Catherine enjoys the interdisciplinary partnership in the Medieval Studies programme at U.Vic. She has published some of the materials relating to mosaic production in the rich archive of the Opera del Duomo at Orvieto Cathedral, as well as several articles on the tradition of façade mosaic decoration in Italian churches. Her article on the cosmographical drawings of Opicinus de Canistris was published in the Zeitschrift fuer Kunstgeschichte.

She has published articles on text-image relations in the work of Brunetto Latini, Francesco da Barberino and Marino Sanudo/ Fra Paolino of Venice. She remains fascinated by illustrated encyclopedic texts from late medieval Italy, in public and private contexts, such as Florence, Venice, Padua and Foligno, in light of understanding how systems of power and knowledge operated to shape and define audiences, patrons, and artists.

Selected professional achievements

Editor, RACAR, 2014-present
Editor-in-Chief, RACAR, 2012-2014
President, UAAC, 2005-2010

Past President, UAAC, 2011

Grants facilitator, Faculty of Fine Arts, 2009-2014 

Selected Publications
“Speaking in Pictures: Reading, Memory, and Interpretation in Francesco da Barberino’s Advice to Women in his Reggimento e costumi di donna, “ RACAR, XXXVI, 1/ 2011, pp. 29-40. 

“Speaking Pictures: Cognition, Spiritual Understanding and the Decoration of the Chapel of the Corporal in the late Middle Ages,” Vivens homo, 18/1, 2008, pp. 245-253.

“Time, History and the Cosmos: The Dado in the Apse of the Church of the Eremitani, Padua,” in L. Bourdua and A. Dunlop, eds., Hermits and History: Art and the Augustinian Order in Early Renaissance Italy, Ashgate Press, 2007, pp.127-142.

“Visualizing Brunetto Latini’s Tesoretto in early Trecento Florence,” Word & Image, vol.19, no.3, July-September 2003, pp.230-246.

“Mamluks and Venetians: A Comparative Perspective on Fourteenth-Century Material Culture in the Mediterranean,” co-authored with Nancy Micklewright, RACAR, XXIV, 2/1997 (appeared in 2000), pp. 47-66.

“Madness, Reason, Vision and the Cosmos: Evaluating the Drawings of Opicinus de Canistris,” in Values in Renaissance Art, eds. G. Naher and R. Shepherd, Ashgate Press, 2000, pp. 201-210.

“Images of Identity, Authority and Power: Facade Mosaic Decoration in Rome during the Later Middle Ages,” RACAR, XXIV, 1-2, 1997 (appeared in 2000), pp. 15-27.

“Opening to God: the Cosmographical Diagrams of Opicinus de Canistris,” Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 61, 1998, pp. 18-39.

“Dissent, Dissatisfaction and Papal Self-Fashioning: Pope Gregory IX's Response to the Thirteenth-Century Reform Movement in the Facade Mosaic of San Pietro in Vaticano,” RACAR, XXII, 1995 (appeared in 1998), pp. 29-39.

“The Miracle of Bolsena and the Relic of the Corporal at Orvieto Cathedral,” Essays in Honour of John White, eds. H. Weston and D. Davies, London, 1990, pp. 82-88.

“The Production of Medieval Mosaics: The Orvieto Evidence,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 43 1989, pp. 73-102.

“Economic Dimensions in Art: Mosaic Versus Wall Painting in Trecento Orvieto,” Florence and Italy, Renaissance Studies in Honour of Nicolai Rubenstein, eds. C. Elam and P. Denley London, 1988, pp. 503-14.