Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase Clow, Ph.D.

First Reader

Leslie Ross, Ph.D.


In the fourteenth century a devastating pandemic disease known as the Black Death was responsible for the tragic death of millions of Europeans. The wide ranging consequences affected Europe’s culture, religion, and economic stability. These consequences can be seen most directly in the visual arts, notably with the prevalent motif of images of the dead interacting with humans. This interaction between the dead and the living can be found in the famous Triumph of Death, by Francisco Traini (ca. 1350) and the Dance of Death, by Bernt Notke (n.d.). These paintings are just a few of the many examples of the late medieval allegories of the universality of death. This thesis examines how the arrival of the Black Death in Europe created a void that was filled with art that reflected the human experience through a grim and macabre lens.


This thesis has been updated to correct formatting errors.