The Rotunda as seen from the east colonnade

Notre Dame: Rebirth or Reconstruction?





It has taken over a year for the French government to decide the fate of Notre-Dame Cathedral, the historic emblem that the French nation tragically damaged by fire on April 15, 2019. Following months of heated debate, unofficial design contests, and political posturing, the announcement came on July 9 that Notre Dame will be restored as closely as possible to its last complete state. Although most think of the cathedral as an outstanding example of a medieval cathedral, its pre-fire appearance was largely a product of the 19th century. Why is this 19thcentury building seen as the emblem of France—and medieval France in particular? In this virtual talk, Lisa Reilly, professor and director of the Undergraduate Architectural History program in UVA’s School of Architecture, will discuss the building’s complex history while also considering what it means to reconstruct the building as it stood before the fire.


Lisa Reilly

Professor, Department of Architectural History and Joint Graduate Program in Art & Architectural History; Director, Undergraduate Architectural History Program

Professor Reilly is a graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University with a PhD in art history; the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York with an MA in medieval studies; and Vassar College with a BA in economics. Reilly’s chief research interest is the history of Norman architecture in England, France, and Italy. Her most recent book, The Invention of Norman Visual Culture: Art, Politics, and Dynastic Ambition, was published by Cambridge University Press in March 2020. Reilly teaches survey lectures in the Department of Architectural History as well as upper-level courses on early and later medieval architecture, which include a broad spectrum of architectural topics such as urban planning, vernacular architecture, the medieval Mediterranean, and lay piety as well as ecclesiastical and secular monuments. Professor Reilly is on the faculty of the joint graduate program in art and architectural history. She was the Fulbright Fellow in the History of Art at the University of York in Spring 2015 where she researched the stained glass of the parish church of St. Michael le Belfrey. She gave several public interviews in the aftermath of the Notre-Dame fire. You can see an article on this topic and a Lifetime Learning Thoughts From the Lawn blog post written by Lisa Reilly.