Art & Archaeology Spotlights “Siegecraft” Course Supported by a Magic Grant

May 19, 2023
Guest speaker Elizabeth Kassler-Taub ’10 examines maps of Malta, which represented an ideal case study in sieges because of its geographic position between Sicily and Africa, and because of its intensive fortification campaign following the Ottoman siege of 1565 (Photo/Kirstin Ohrt)

In the undergraduate course “Siegecraft: Architecture, Warfare, and Media,” taught by Carolyn Yerkes (Art & Archaeology), students examined warfare as the subject matter for art and architecture in the early modern world.

“Siegecraft was an art more complex than painting, more powerful than sculpture, and more monumental than any building in the early modern world,” said Yerkes, in a story posted on the Department of Art & Archaeology website.

The course drew students from various disciplines including art history, practice of art, architecture, and political science. In addition to reading texts like Albrecht Dürer’s “Instructions on the Fortification of Cities, Castles, and Towns,” the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and Machiavelli’s “The Art of War,” students visited Princeton’s collections to see works firsthand and learn from a variety of guest speakers. 

Thanks to a Humanities Council Magic Grant, Yerkes was also able to organize four guest presentations. These included Elizabeth Kassler-Taub ’10 (Dartmouth College), Emanuele Lugli (Stanford University), and Matteo Valleriani (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science).

“An aspect of the class that was extremely interesting was all of the guest speakers that Professor Yerkes brought in to talk about their areas of interest and specialization,” said architecture student Keith Zhang ’24.

Read the full story on the Department of Art & Archaeology website.

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