By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:
- Describe the medium, materials and physical characteristics of the Bayeux Tapestry
- Summarize the subject of the Bayeux Tapestry and outline the main episodes depicted in the artwork
- Identify design strategies that are employed to advance the narrative of the Tapestry
- Explain why scholars propose varying interpretations of the point of view and specific aspects of the Bayeux Tapestry
- Give examples of artwork, reproductions and parodies that have been inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry
Your online learning will include the following methods:
- Reading academic and non-academic articles
- Participation in written discussions with other students
- Participation in videoconference seminars
- Optionally, creating scenes using a digital tool or hand-embroidering motifs based on the Bayeux Tapestry
For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.
Week 1: Setting the scene and introducing the players
We begin by reviewing the medium, materials and physical characteristics of the Bayeux Tapestry and consider who designed, embroidered and commissioned this artwork. Contemporary medieval book illustrations and literature offer possible stylistic and narrative precedents. We meet the main cast of characters and learn the backstory to the events depicted in the Tapestry.
Week 2: Act 1: Harold goes to Normandy
The first part of the Tapestry opens with Earl Harold’s enigmatic trip to Normandy and his adventures as a “guest” of Duke William, and ends with Harold’s accession to the English throne. We delve into the mysterious figure of Æfgyva and discuss design strategies, including how the narrative moves forward and what’s going on in the borders.
Week 3: Act 2: William invades England
In the second half, William receives word that Harold has been crowned king, prompting preparations for invasion. Thereafter, the narrative speeds up, showing William’s fleet, local pillaging and a long section of chaotic battle scenes culminating in the death of Harold and defeat of the English. We also take note of key events that aren’t depicted.
Week 4: Coda: the adventures of the Bayeux Tapestry
Remarkably, the Bayeux Tapestry has endured for nearly 1,000 years. After disappearing for four centuries, it managed to avoid destruction by fire, escape heedless damage and survive various wars since its creation. We conclude by looking at some of the reproductions, artworks and parodies inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry since the 19th century.
Books, materials and resources
You will access course resources using SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.