Summer School Online

Words and Images: The Power of Faith in the Age of Reformation and Counter-Reformation

Monday 26 - Friday 30 July 2021

i Front page, Martin Luther, Das Newe Testament (Wittenburg: Hans Lufft, 1553), University of Glasgow Library, Glasgow. Annotated by Pastor Michael, active late 16th century, New Bavaria

Our Summer School programme

Summer School Online offers 29 intensive week-long art history short courses on a wide and global range of subjects and periods, from medieval mosaics to the contemporary Chinese art scene. We aim for a high level of scholarly expertise, an engaging delivery and a friendly atmosphere, and we welcome everyone over the age of 18, irrespective of previous experience. Small-group teaching facilitates discussion and ensures each student is given the lecturer’s attention. The fee for each online course is £395 and includes expert tuition and extensive learning materials on our Virtual Learning Environment.

Course 30 – Words and Images: The Power of Faith in the Age of Reformation and Counter-Reformation

Dr Matthias Vollmer
Monday 26 – Friday 30 July 2021
Delivered online

Course description

The Protestant Reformation caused unprecedented religious upheaval in the history of Western Christianity. The visual arts in particular had to take on a new role. Protestants condemned the cult of veneration through relics and images, rejecting the appeal to emotion and the senses, and promoting the faculty of reason in receiving the Word of God instead. Early on, however, Martin Luther understood that visual displays had great didactic potential for many illiterate contemporaries and he set out to develop a Reformatory iconographic programme which eventually extended to altars, pulpits, galleries, epitaphs and liturgical devices. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) formulated the Catholic Church’s response to the challenge of Protestant Reformation. Every aspect of religious and devotional practice was reviewed, including the agency of art and architecture, and the role of the senses in inciting devotion and compassion became a central issue. In its attempt to win back the faithful, the Catholic Church embraced the sensuous, emphasising that art should be compelling in its narrative.

Lecturer’s biography

Dr Matthias Vollmer is Adjunct Professor at the Freie Universität Berlin European Studies Programme. He studied art history, philosophy and orientalism at the Freie Universität Berlin and wrote his PhD thesis on medieval book illustration. Matthias teaches interdisciplinary seminars on medieval and Renaissance art, as well as courses on modern art at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Universität der Künste Berlin, the Universität Münster and the Universität Frankfurt. He currently researches the principles of visualisation in art and science.

26 Jul - 30 Jul 2021

Daily live Zoom sessions, 14:00-15:30 [BST]


The course consists of:

  • Extensive course materials on our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), including readings and digital resources, sent before your course;
  • Ten pre-recorded lectures sent two weeks before the start of the live Zoom sessions;
  • Daily live Zoom seminars with your lecturer and fellow students during the teaching week.


Short Courses

Further information

How does an online course work?

Each online course consists of:

a) 10 pre-recorded lectures,

Pre-recorded lectures are sent two weeks in advance of your course. In total you have a three-week viewing period to enjoy the lectures.

b)  Live Zoom seminars each day at 14:00 [BST], lasting about 75-90 minutes each,

Live Zoom seminars are recorded and uploaded for you to re-cap the session or catch-up on ones you missed. Attendance is not compulsory. 

c) two discussion forums (student-to-lecturer and peer-to-peer), course handouts, scans of relevant chapters and journal articles reading scans and reading suggestions for further research. These can be found on our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), for which you will receive a log-in.

How do I book?

  1. Select one or more courses that interest you (please note you can only take one course per week).

2. Please email to enquire if a place on your chosen course(s) is available.

You will then receive a confirmation email and an online booking form.  Once you have paid online, we shall send a log-in for the VLE and its course materials, and two weeks before your course starts, you will receive the pre-recorded lectures.   Bookings are taken until the Thursday before a course’s live sessions start.  If you book after the course’s lectures have been sent, you will receive an appropriate extension to your viewing period.