Skip To Main Content
Principia College Logo

Caves to Cathedrals: The Power of Art


Art History


Sara Borja

Program Summary

Why do artists create? How does art express what is important to a culture? What is the power of art, and how can art be used to promote authority or overwhelm its viewers with emotion? These are some questions we will explore in this course that will study art history from the cave paintings of prehistoric times to the grand cathedrals of Europe built during the medieval period. This program enables students to engage in the ideas and issues that are the foundation for artistic creations, learning how artists are influenced by the culture around them (its religion, politics, literature, and technological innovations) while also contributing fresh ways to view the world. We will celebrate the creativity of artists and explore a variety of media used to provide deeper meaning and enhance the daily lives of viewers. We will also investigate how art has been employed to solidify power and exert influence. By studying paintings, sculptures, and architecture from the earliest examples of artistic expression through the 14th century, students will engage with the question of how art is powerful.

This FYE will include field trips to experience art in person in addition to making use of Principia College’s art collection.

ARTH 100: Intro to Western Art to 1400 (3 SH, GEA) 

This course surveys the visual arts in their many facets from prehistoric times and ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, through medieval Europe. Sometimes known as "from caves to cathedrals," this course introduces students to fundamental principles for the study of art history and theory, and the verbal language that unites the visual arts

GEN 101: ILC Caves to Cathedrals: The Power of Art (3 SH)

This foundational course serves to develop, practice, and apply college-level reading, critical thinking, writing, information literacy, and speaking skills. These skills will be developed through studying art history. Students will complete an annotated bibliography, a written research project, and a presentation.