Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The Gothic cathedral, like the Summa of Aquinas, the University of Paris, and the Christendom of Innocent III, stands as one of the major expressions of the spirit of the High Middle Ages. The word "Gothic," coined by the Renaissance as a term of disparagement, has come recently to have more favorable and appreciative connotations. Such a reevaluation may be due not only to the better perspective that a longer period of time offers us, but also to a deeper understanding of the cultural role of artistic and spiritual symbolism. The artistic expression of the Middle Ages found its supreme embodiment in the architecture of the Gothic cathedral. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section III: The Medieval Church. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.