McClendon, Charles B.
McClendon, Charles B.
Education: Indiana University, B.A.; New York University, M.A., Ph.D.
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, professor and chair of the department of fine arts.
Kress Foundation, Art History Fellowship, 1974-76, grant, 1979-84; also recipient of grants from the National Foundation for Humanities, 1980-81, Center for Field Research, 1981, American Council of Learned Societies, 1982, and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 1985; Guggenheim Fellowship, 1985-86; Otto Gründler Prize, International Congress on Medieval Studies, 2007; Haskins Medal, Medieval Academy of America, 2008.
(Editor) Rome and the Provinces: Studies in the Transformation of Art and Architecture in the Mediterranean World, New Haven Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (New Haven, CT), c. 1986.
The Origins of Medieval Architecture: Building in Europe, A.D. 600-900, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2005.
Art historian Charles B. McClendon specializes in medieval architecture. He received his B.A. at Indiana University and both his M.A. and Ph.D. at New York University. He serves as a professor and as the chair of the department of fine arts at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
McClendon's first book, The Origins of Medieval Architecture: Building in Europe, A.D. 600-900, won the 2008 Haskins Medal for most distinguished book in the field of Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America. The book received much favorable critical attention because it was the first book in English to focus on Mediterranean architecture during the transition from antiquity to the early Middle Ages.
According to McClendon, medieval architecture drew on classical Roman design, as seen in the early Christian churches built during the time of the fourth-century emperor Constantine. These churches were based on the Roman halls of justice known as basilicas. They consisted of a long hall with a raised dais at one end and colonnades forming alcoves along the sides. Over the centuries, medieval builders expanded and customized this basic form while taking inspiration from a variety of other sources, including the architecture of the invading Germanic tribes. McClendon propounds that early-medieval Carolingian architecture, which had directly descended from Roman forms, was more influential in the design of later Romanesque and Gothic buildings than it has been given credit for in the past.
The Origins of Medieval Architecture is composed of two parts. In the first part, McClendon discusses the foundations of medieval architecture in Roman design and how this architecture was adapted by Germanic "barbarians." In the second part, he shows how architecture reflected the political environment, augmenting secular power with religious authority as churches expanded to house sacred relics and monastic communities. McClendon describes the transition from the Roman to the Carolingian era as reflected in the evolution of church architecture.
Critics were delighted by McClendon's work and his attention to this formerly neglected transitional period. He received praise not only for bringing together new documents and archaeological findings, but also for incorporating a wide range of specialized studies from a variety of sources written in several languages.
Patricia Kosco Cossard, in Art Libraries Society of North America, wrote that "The Origins of Medieval Architecture fills a significant gap in every architectural history collection." She commented that the book was "jam-packed with data" and that McClendon's writing was "complex and rich." Reviewing the book for the Art Bulletin, Deborah M. Deliyannis praised McClendon's scholarship: "One of the best things about The Origins of Medieval Architecture is that McClendon not only offers a narrative for this period, but he also underlines the fact that many questions remain unanswered." In the Catholic Historical Review, Richard Hodges declared: "This accessible and well-illustrated book provides a thoughtful overview of the history of architecture between the later Roman period and A.D. 1000," adding: "This handsome book serves to summarize much great scholarship."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, June 1, 1990, review of The Imperial Abbey of Farfa: Architectural Currents of the Early Middle Ages, p. 806.
Art Bulletin, June 1, 2007, Deborah M. Deliyannis, review of The Origins of Medieval Architecture: Building in Europe, A.D. 600-900, p. 364.
Catholic Historical Review, January 1, 1989, John Osborne, review of The Imperial Abbey of Farfa, p. 134; July 1, 2006, Richard Hodges, review of The Origins of Medieval Architecture, p. 298.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March 1, 2006, W. Cahn, review of The Origins of Medieval Architecture, p. 1218.
Church History, September 1, 1989, William R. Cook, review of The Imperial Abbey of Farfa, p. 371.
English Historical Review, January 1, 1990, H.M. Colvin, review of The Imperial Abbey of Farfa, p. 149.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion, March 22, 1990, Robert Melzak, review of The Imperial Abbey of Farfa, p. 133.
Medieval Review, April 1, 2007, Judson Emerick, review of The Origins of Medieval Architecture.
Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, July 1, 1988, Suzanne Lewis, review of The Imperial Abbey of Farfa, p. 697.
Brandeis University Web site,http://www.brandeis.edu/ (July 2, 2008), author profile.
Yale University Press Web site,http://yalepress.yale.edu/ (July 2, 2008), description of The Origins of Medieval Architecture and short author profile.