Thursday, November 29, 2007

Summary of Lecture Twelve

The main theme of the discussion was literary modernism in the English-speaking world, especially High Modernism, which flourished from ca. 1914 to the mid-fifties.

Broadly speaking, there is a distinction between modernity and modernism. The first term is descriptive, the second prescriptive. Modernity is the situation in which we live. It is something that is simply given, today just as in former times. Bt contrast, modernism is a cause, a faith, a commitment--in short, an ism. Modernism requires allegiance or rejection, It attrracts passionate defenders and passionate opponents.

As regards etymology. the term modernismo stems from the Nicaraguan poet and journalist Ruben Dario in the 1880s. However, the poetry produced by Dario and his confreres was a form of late romanticism with cosmic overtones--a protomodernism, if you will. Catalan modernisme comes closer to the mark, with (as we have seen) distinct medieval overtones.

There are two modernist attitudes to the role of the past. 1) Proscription: true modernity means absolute renunciation of tradition and the past. We must embrace the present without any compromise. The Futurist leader F. T. Marinetti suggested a drastic solution, with his vision of the flooded museum, its masterpieces floating out to sea. (A new form of iconoclasm.) More constructively, he suggested (in his 1909 manifesto) a contrast between the Nike of Samothrace vs. a speeding automobile. In his view, the latter talisman replaces the former.

2) The other view entails a selective retention of past monuments. This approach transpires from Le Corbusier’s 1923 book “Vers une architecture” (English version seen in class). Buildings are much harder to get rid of than fragile oil paintings. By studying old buildings we learn essential principles of construction and proportion. The latter are as it were given in the nature of the universe (Pythagoreanism).

We turn now to high HIGH MODERNISM (as distinct from protomodernism and from semimodernism; the first anticipates, the second adopts only partially).

The English-speaking world rejoices in five quintessential high modernists: TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Gertrude Stein. (I take this list from a Harvard professor of literature; it would be widely endorsed.) Three characteristics are required for admission to this exclusive club: the members are major figures, each with a large body of significant work; the work is “full-strength modernism”; challenging and difficult: in consequence, they are not widely popular, though they receive the homage of fellow practitioners. In the quintet two are primarily poets; the other three mainly prose writers.

The following group characteristics are generally applicable.

1) Exile (this applies to all except Woolf). Abroad, they retain an intense attachment to their native country. Joyce labored mightily to recapture one day in Dublin in 1904. Stein sought to capture qualities of American language (“You bet!”). Pound’s showed an eccentric attachment to the US Constitution and the Founders (note the comparison of Jefferson and Mussolini). Woolf’s fragile mental health precluded travel; yet she was, so to speak, embedded in Francotropic Bloomsbury. Eliot, the most assimilated, sought to make himself into a facsimile of an Englishman; yet he returned to US fairly often to give lectures. With his love-hate for Ireland, Joyce is a special case. These exiles shared a sense of the provinciality of their homelands. In the previous generation Henry James was the model of the cultivated expatriate.

2) These writers exhibit an intense response to language, their own and others. Joyce was the most fluent linguist. He could, seemingly mimic any language. As a young man he learned Norwegian in order to read Ibsen. Residence in Italy, German-speaking Switzerland, and Paris improved his facility. Joyce spoke to his children in Triestino dialect! His situation may reflect the peculiar status of the Irish in mastering English, a language not originally theirs. Pound had a romance-language attachment; later he learned to read Chinese. Eliot studied Sanskrit at Harvard, yielding the incantatory words that conclude “The Waste Land.” Arguably, the deployment of these exotic languages adumbrates a sense of global culture.

3) There was an emphasis on consciousness and stream of consciousness. Joyce’s revival of the technique of stream of consciousness was echoed by Virginia Woolf. Stein had studied with the Harvard psychologist William James, who was interested in phenomena that existed on the borders of consciousness. Pound revealed an early devotion to Browningesque personae, usurpations of the consciousness of another.

4) Hence the notorious difficulty of the High Modernist works. While proficient in several varieties of French, Stein does not overtly display this knowledge. Instead she uses English in unexpected ways. In some respects her core texts are the most hermetic of all. This difficulty has engendered an academic industry of explication. What did they really mean? Eliot supplied “The Waste Land” with footnotes (which have not deterred later commentators). Joyce related to Homer; Pound to Dante. Even devoted Joyceans are dismayed by his terminal masterpiece “Finnegan’s Wake,” which seems to represent the ne plus ultra of difficulty.

5) Perhaps the key feature is discontinuity. The modern world presents an endless, disconcerting jangle of messages--a broken bundle of mirrors, in Pound’s words. Modern urban life features a bombardment of sense impressions, as conveyed by advertising, for example. We are set in this “booming, buzzing confusion” without a compass, except perhaps that of science--but scientists continue to differ on key points (eg the classic contrast between quantum physics and Einstein). Modernism means facing these discontinuities squarely, and using them as central features in one’s art.

6) The high modernists cause discomfort, because they are not politically correct. Their politics are disturbing, witness Stein’s dalliance with the French right; Eliot’s royalism and anti-Semitism; Pound’s adhesion to fascism; Woolf’s snobbery; Joyce’s elitism.


Born in Idaho, Ezra Pound was actually brought up in comfort in a Philadelphia suburb. The year of birth was 1885, so he came to maturity in our Gilded Age. Taken to Europe as a boy, the experience evidently “took” He was good at Latin, and so admitted to he University of Pennsylvania at the age of 15. He did not do well there, and transferred to Hamilton College in upstate NY. There he caught the bug of medieval literature, especially Provençal.

Here some background is required. Speaking very broadly. we may say that there are two medievialisms, that of the Latin Middle Ages and that of the vernacular Middle Ages. The Latin Middle Ages was often intertwined with polemical concerns, e.g. the Protestant-Catholic quarrel and the emergence of modern nationalism (the Monumenta Germaniae Historica). Connected with the rise of Romanticism, the vernacular Middle Ages recovered the earliest texts of Europe’s modern languages. The rediscovery of the text of Beowulf, preserved in a single manuscript in the British Library is an example. Other epics also reappeared: the Nibelungenlied, the Chanson de Roland, the Cantar del Mio Cid. There was an underlying quest for origins, entailing the notion that Provençal should rank as the primordial romance language. This is not so. Nonetheless, with their insensely personal lyrics, the troubadours created the first art language in a vernacular tongue. To Pound, the craft aspect--including the intricate trobar clus-- appealed. And so did courtly love.

After taking his M.A. Pound accepted an instructor’s appointment at Wabash College in Crawford, IN. In February 1908 a single act of generosity determined his entire future career. Going out one snowy evening, he discovered an actress who had been abandoned by her troupe. Pound took the young woman back to sleep on his couch; apparently nothing further happened. But the two maiden landladies, finding the young woman, were scandalized. Pound was immediately fired Concluding that his fledgling academic career was over, he borrowed money from father to go to Europe, where he would learn to be a poet.

First he went to Italy, then to London, the epicenter of Anglophone culture. He published a series of small volumes of poetry, and also lectured occasionally. Pound developed a flair for translation (integral to his Provençal interests); arguably, his innovative practices in the realm are the foundation for all succeeding English-language translators.

Pound’s poetic medievalism shows five spheres of engagement: 1) “The Goodly Fere” and Primitive Christianity; 2) The Saxonism of “The Seafarer”; 3) The Troubadours; 4) Dante and Cavalcanti; 5) François Villon. The engagement with the Troubadours is clearly the center of gravity.

The Pound scholar Richard Sieberth has argued for Pound’s 1912 walking tours of the south of France as his pivotal experience. Here he learned to experience the Troubadours in his own body, so to speak. Historically, the South of France produced three innovative phenomena: Romanesque architecture; the Troubadours; and the heresy known as Albigensianism or Catharism. The Albigensians had in fact a very strict sexual morality, but they were pilloried by their enemies as libertines. As such, they could be portrayed as the dark side of courtly love. At any rate, the concept of “hidden history” has a perennial appeal. Pound responded with his concept of the “love code,” hinting that the Troubadours preserved a pre-Christian mystique, linked to Eleusis.

In progressive literary circles, Pound found that his medievalism elicited ridicule as a Victorian survival. He took this criticism to heart. It was only after his involvement in Imagism, Vorticism, and above all Chinese poetry, that he was able to incorporate medieval components into his High Modernist magnum opus, The Cantos. The Procne-Cabestanh material, involving cannibalism, was cited as an example. Its gruesomeness is atypical, but of course that huge poem contains a good deal of controversial material.

APPENDIX. William IX: “The Nothing Poem/”

(We will discuss this tour de force next time). This translation derives from excellent comprehensive site

Farai un vers de dreit nien,
Non er de mi ni d'autra gen,
Non er d'amor ni de joven,
Ni de ren au,
Qu'enans fo trobatz en durmen
Sus un chivau. etc.

I'll write a verse about nothing at all,
it isn't about me or about anybody else,
it isn't about love nor about youth,
nor about anything else,
because, in the first place, it was conceived while sleeping
on a horse.

I don't know at which time I was born,
I am neither happy nor sad,
I am neither a stranger nor a native,
nor can I do anything,
because I was so bewitched one night
on a high hill.

I don't know when I'm asleep,
nor when I am awake, unless I am told!
I almost had my heart broken
by a deep pain,
and I don't care at all,
by St. Martial!

I am sick and I'm afraid to die,
but I don't know more than I hear around.
I'll call for a doctor as I feel,
but I don't know which one:
he is a good doctor if he can heal me,
he isn't if I get worse.

I have a mistress, and I don't know who she is,
because I never saw her, by my troth,
nor did she do anything I'd like or dislike,
nor do I care
since I never had either a Norman or a Frenchman
in my house.

I never saw her and I love her much,
I never had meed, nor did she ever wrong me;
when I don't see her, I do rather well,
I don't care,
because I know a kinder and prettier one
who is worth more.

I have written the verse, I don't know about whom,
and I'll convey it to the one
who'll convey it to someone else
towards Poitiers,
since I would like, of that etui,
to have the second key.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Summary of Lecture Eleven

The first part of the lecture concerned the rise of the discipline of design in England in the middle of the 19th century. Significantly, the English word "design" has migrated without change into French and German.

Provisionally, we suggested that design differs from older concepts of the "applied arts" and the "minor arts" principally because it harnesses the designing function to exploitation by industrial processes. That is, the designer does not proceed to execute his or her concept by hand, but must rely on the intervention of industry to carry it out. John Ruskin and other conservative critics held that quality could not be maintained under the new circumstances, and indeed they were able to point to many examples of shoddy work. However, the design revolution of Christopher Dresser proved them wrong. Modern design in therefore, perforce, industrial design.

We began with a brief prologue: two buildings. Paddington Station in West London illustrates the rise of a new building type--the railway terminal. The Brunel-Wyatt design (1852ff.) shows a number of revealing purloinings from an analysis of medieval architecture: the bay system surmounted by ribs imitated in cast iron; the transept; and the tell-tale Perpendicular cells in the spandrels. More generally, Paddington benefits from the Gothic sense of cost analysis: how can one get the maximum of building with the minimal deployment of materials?

The second building is Joseph Paxton's great hall (the "Crystal Palace") for the 1851 Great Exhibition, the first World's Fair, in Hyde Park. With its "functionalist" economy of means, this building may be regarded as the beginning of modern architecture. It was put up in record time, relying on the principle of standardized units (cast iron and glass). Immediately after the exhibition it was reerected in Sydenham in South London (where it unfortunately burned in 1936).

The Crystal Palace exhibits, especially those in the field of home furnishings and the decorative arts, were less satisfactory. In fact, they were frankly kitschy, combining vulgarity and shoddy workmanship.

This perceived debacle precipitated a demand for reform of design. Government design schools appeared, and what became the Victorian and Albert Museum arose in South Kensington as a showplace for well-designed objects from the world over. This institution became the model for other museums of this kind, including our Cooper-Hewitt.

The most radical response to the spirit of design reform was led by Christopher Dresser, the precursor of all later "modern" design. Dresser acknowledged three influences: the Gothic (as seen in his schemes for stained-glass windows); ancient Egypt; and Japan, with he visited personally.

Dresser's tea kettles and other domestic objects flaunt a drastic elimination of any unnecessary ornament. Less is indeed more. He had a few English followers, such as Archibald Knox, but essentially the baton passed to the Continent, as seen in the work of J. M. Olbrich and other Viennese Sezessionists, not to mention the Bauhaus.

We then turned to the major theme of the lecture: the medieval contribution to our modern sense of sex and love. Ås a general principle one may posit that sex is a universal biological substrate, conditioned by the need of organisms to participate in the chain that prolongs the species. On this substructure, however, each society imposes a superstructure consisting of dos and don'ts, and (above all) a particular love ethic. Thus there was one dominant concept of love in ancient Greece, another in medieval Japan, a third in Islam, and a fourth in the high Middle Ages.

Accordingly, our analysis of the medieval contribution divides into the grosser aspects, mainly seen in our linguistic heritage, and the new sophistication of the concept of love, the precursor of our own sense of love (most recently affirmed by Dorothy Tennov as limerance).

The prurient impulse to censure language, especially when it comes to excretory and sexual functions, is probably perennial, though it is much stronger in some eras than others. Even ancient Rome, famous for its ribald works of satire, found it expedient to replace the harsh word mentula with penis, and merda with faeces. Cunnus yielded to vagina ("sheath"). (The substitutes found their way, of course into our own formal language.)

In the English-speaking world, the beginnings of what might be called the dual language system--"four-letter" words vs. dignified substitutes--may be placed around 1600. Neither Shakespeare nor the King James Bible employ the more familiar Anglo-Saxon terms which had, as a rule, been freely used in Old and Middle English texts. This reign of prudery reached its height in Victorian times, when some chose to replace "leg" with limb. Prostitutes were "fallen women" and homosexuality was the "sin that dare not speak its name." (The principle of unspeakability represents the extreme version of this reign of censorship.)

The taboos were not broken until the 1960s, where a series of court cases in England and America cleared the way for the publication of such "dirty books" as those of Henry Miller and D. H. Lawrence. Visual pornography soon followed. Nowadays, even college dictionaries include the George Carlin Seven--and much else of the kind. No longer need young people search in vain for words that almost everyone knows.

The Middle Ages had its own "pornography" in the form of the fabliaux, a tradition gently echoed in the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer.

Lest one overidealize the linguistic tolerance of the Middle Ages, one should note that the era gave rise to ideas that have continued to spread confusion. These fabrications regarding sex are the result of the combination of ecclesiastical taboos with popular prejudice. "Baeddel, baedling" is a case in point, as these Old English word fuse the distinction ideas of anatomical hermaphroditism and same-sex behavior. (Curiously the words gave rise to our modern English adjective of disparagement: "bad.") "Buggery" derives, via French, from a notion that the old Bulgarians combined dualist heresy (Manichaeanism) with sexual variance.

Visual parallels are found in the grotesque images of female presentation known as the Sheela-na-gig. While these may stem in part from representations of the vice of Lust (as at Moissac) they reflect an older stratum of genital display as menace (cf. Baubo in ancient Greece). As such, the images performed an apotropaic function, protecting windows, doorways, and arches from hostile intruders.

We also looked at the beautiful droleries in the 14th-centure Ormsby Psalter in Oxford. These reveal preoccupations (anal, monstrous) that might be thought to lie in the realm of psychoanalysis. In fact they represent not the pathology of an individual artist, but a stable tradition of marginalia (see the recent monograph by Michael Camille).

Turning now to the medieval contribution to the higher realm of emotions, we considered the rise of Courtly Love in the south of France in the 11th century in the work of the Troubadour poets. This invention coincided geographically with the rise of Romanesque, as determined by Puig i Cadafalch.

The customs of Courtly Love stemmed in the first instance from the fact that elite marriages were essentially economic arrangements, a situation in which love did not flourish. Accordingly, one sought emotional satisfaction outside the marriage bonds--in adulterous arrangements. However, these were difficult to achieve, hence the longueurs of the courting process. In keeping with the feudal concept of vassalage the Courtly Love suitor idealized his lady, going so far as to refer to her as "midons" my lord. The suitor was expected to be exemplary in word and deed, so that the process had a character-building aspect.

Andreas Capellanus expatiated on the theory of Courtly Love. He placed a very high value on the concept, asserting that everything good in this world (as distinction from the celestial realm of perfection) takes its origin from love. Love indeed makes the world go around. He spoke of the courts of love. Those committed to the celebration of its mysteries were the "soldiers" of love."

It would take too long to trace the entire itinerary linking this concept and our modern notions of romantic love. Suffice it to say that the traditions spread south (in the Italian trend of the dolce stil nuovo, with Dante at its head and Petrarch as its heir) and north to the courts of northern France, Germany, and England. About 1180 Chretien de Troyes placed a decisive stamp of Courtly Love on the older "matter of Britain," especially the Lancelot story.

We concluded by first examining medieval manuscripts of the Arthurian legends concerning Lancelot of the Lake and Tristan and Iseult (Isolde). Then we saw English exemplars by Aubrey Beardsley and Edward Burne-Jones.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Summary of Lecture Ten

Chris Brooks rightly concentrates on England as the key country in the emergence of the Gothic Revival as a major creative force. (As noted in the second hour, though, there is a major blind spot: Catalonia.)

Several features of the cultural climate of the 18th century in England were formative in the shift from Gothic from a mere antiquarian and dilettantish preoccupation among some members of the elite to its role as a vital creative force.

The most general of these trends was the rise of the Romantic sensibility. Here the key is probably the new emphasis on feeling and intuition, dethroning the central role of reason. Initially the Romantic movement was literary (yielding such major poets as Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Blake). But it shortly developed a visual and (above all) musical dimension. Some hold that the triumph of "classical" music, especially instrumental music, in the 19th century is largely due to the enabling force of Romantic sentiment.

It was in Germany, however, that the first convincing theoretical explanations were offered. Friedrich Schlegel encapsulated the Romantic quest in the pithy formula: "striving for the infinite." Discarding the normative strictures of the previously regnant Neoclassicism, Romanticism prepared the way for "alternative aesthetics," including Gothic.

The concept of the Picturesque was promoted by William Gilpin, beginning in 1782. It was originally not a movement directed at art, but derived from art, especially such earlier landscapes as those of Claude Lorrain (cf. the contemporary work of Richard Wilson). The vogue for Picturesque travel highlighted gentle features in nature, which invited contemplation. (In poetry Wordsworth exemplifies this trend.)

The Sublime is the more formidable sibling of the Picturesque. Based on the obscure treatise of Longinus, discussion began in England at the start of the 18th century. Joseph Addison, for example, described a trip across the Alps as a Sublime experience.

It was left to the youthful Edmund Burke, however. to systematize the question. He held that there are two key aspects of human experience: love and fear. Our sense of beauty, stemming from love, tends to make us drawn to such features as smallness, smoothness, and delicacy. Contemplating scenes and works of art that have these qualities serves to calm and reassure us.
Stemming from fear, the feeling for the Sublime gains force from vastness, infinity, and magnificence.

Burke saw these two aesthetic responses, beauty and the Sublime, as mutually exclusive. What is revolutionary about his theory is that it is binary--and potentially pluralistic. No longer need we limit our aesthetic response to the pole of beauty, a monism that had been taken for granted in earlier aesthetics.

Exasmples of the Sublime by Loutherbourg (Avalanche in the Alps, 1804) and Turner (Burning of the Houses of Parliament, 1834) were examined. We noted the proposal of Robert Rosenblum (1961) to regard 19th-century landscapes, as those of Birstadt, as precursors of the 20th-century Sublime (Rothko).

Ruins, it seems, can be either Picturesque (Turner's Easby Abbey) or Sublime (Cole).

The second hour discussed the role of the Gothic in Catalan modernismo. As a political and cultural movement, Catalan nationalism reflected a sense of economic grievance--that this highly industrialized region was being short-changed by Castilian centralism. There was an appeal to the era of Catalan greatness, when its dominions had extended (in the 14th and 15th centuries) across the Mediterranean, as far as Sicily and Naples. During this period, of course Gothic had prevailed, as we saw in the Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca (begun in 1229).

The Casa Marti, better known as the Quatre Gats cabaret, stood at the center of Barcelona's bohemian creativity. The Neo-Gothic building was designed by the multitalented J. Puig i Cadafalch, whom we earlier met at the discoverer of the proto-Romanesque.

It was of course Antoni Gaudi i Cornet who was the presiding genius of Catalan modernism. We first looked at his Casa Batllo,' which combines medievalism with Moorish tiles and touches of art nouveau.

The Parc Guell shows his innovative use of arches, stemming from his study of Gothic, but yielding entirely novel results. These arches were to bear fruit in the chapel of the Colonia Guell at Santa Coloma.

For most of his later life Gaudi devoted himself to the Sagrada Familia church, still unfinished after 125 years. The 1882 plan, with its three great portals, reflects a study of French Gothic.
Today, the towers and pinnacles of the Sagrada Familia have rightly become the symbol of the city of Barcelona.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Summary of Lecture Nine

For a long time the term Gothic (and earlier its synonym "German") was used indiscriminately to cover the entire Middle Ages. As nothing of value happened during the Dark Ages, it was not necessary to observe chronological niceties.

During the 17th century, however, architects in England and France began to notice differences between what they termed earlier Gothic and later Gothic. The one featured the round arch, the other the pointed arch. The earlier buildings preferred massive walls, the later one, light, soaring forms.

It is difficult to discuss a phenomenon without a name, and this advance came in the second decade of the 19th century, when the problem was tackled by William Gunn and Charles de Gerville. The former proposed (in 1819) the English term "Romanesque," while Gerville advanced the somewhat confusiong word "roman." Common to both designations is a sense of kinship with imperial Roman architecture, witness the round arch. (There is a monograph on these acts of naming by Tina Waldeier Bizzarro.)

Several examples served to illustrate our current understanding of Romanesque and its difference from Gothic. The Morgan Madonna in the Met illustrates the compact, obdurate, almost squat forms preferred in sculpture, while its Gothic companion in Boston (ca. 1200) revealed the delicacy and soaring ascent of Gothic.

Several manuscript illuminations took us further, The image of the Expulsion from Eden from the St. Albans Psalter showed a creative interplay with the three cells delimited by the arches. The St. Amandus image displayed a mor doctrinaire approach to compartmentation.

Particularly revealing were some images from a manuscript in Wiesbaden (no longer extant) attributed to the polymath Hildegard of Bingen. Among other things, she showed an affinity for central-plan, mandala like compositions. There is an interesting affinity with the pioneering Swedish abstractionist Hilma af Klint.

That playful aspects were not absent from Romanesque is seen in two initials from Citeaux. Such forms descend, of course, from Merovingian initials, but are now much more mature.

The Friedenskirche in Potsdam (completed in 1848) is a token of the Romanesque revival, which began in Germany in the 1840s. A distant echo of this trend is the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square (1892). NYC's most prominent hommage to the Romanesque is the Cloisters, consisting of portions of medieval buildings (mainly French and Spanish), "kidnapped" for this purpose.

A more creative approach to Romanesque appears in the work of America's first world-class architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson had learned a great deal about Romanesque during his years in France (where he waited out the Civil War). In Pittsburgh his Allegheny Jail and Courthouse showed a new use for Romanesque: carceral architecture. The so-called "Syrian arch," with is massive, spiky voussoirs, initiated a trend imitated by his successors Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

More orthodox, perhaps, is Richardson's Trinity Church in Boston (begun 1875). This draws on the rich decorative vocabulary of mature French and Spanish Romanesque.

Eventually a more austere model of Romanesque came into vogue, as seen in the abbey of St. Philibert at Tournus. In his early career Le Corbusier had been interested in Gothic. At the end of his career he turned to Cistertian austerity and (I would argue) Romanesque, as seen in his monastery of La Tourette. (See my recent article in Gesta.)

Other Romanesque affinities were seen in paintings by Mario Sironi and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Finally, Wright's Unity Temple in Oak Park (1906) was named as a (possibly) Romanesquoid building.

For a long time the question of the origins and date of Gothic remained uncertain. With the "liberation" of Romanesque from the Gothic embrace, this question seemed more earnest. It was taken for granted that Gothic had originated in the forests of northern Europe, being this a particular item in the Germanic-Emglish repertoire. Others proposed that Gothic architecture was quintessentially Christian, an explanation not incompatible with the previous one.

It was left for an obscure German architectural historian, Franz Mertens, to prove (in 1842) that Gothic was actually French. He did this by carefully studying the dates of the earliest buildings, an endeavor that pointed to the Ile de France, specifically the abbey of St. Denis. Today there is a general consensus that this pinpointing is correct. Gothic was invented by Abbot Suger at St. Denis, ca. 1144.

The origins of Romanesque are more diffuse. They were not clarified until the Catalan architect and historian Puig i Cadafalch made his fundamental studies a century ago. Puig showed that proto-Romanesque emerged in the 11th century in an arc stretching from Catalonia, through southern France, to Lombardy in northern Italy. These provinces had been strongly imbued with the Roman heritage.