Vittore Carpaccio, The Meditation on the Passion, c. 1490
Syllabus Description Art H 400 A: 2015 Topic -- The Renaissance Imagination of Distance
Professor Stuart Lingo
Office: Room 361
School of Art + Art History + Design
Office Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 12:00 noon-1:00 PM
The Italian Renaissance is often credited with discovering "historical distance" -- the realization that the past was critical to yet alienated from the present, and that understanding the past necessitated a creative enterprise of re-discovery. The Renaissance was also the "Age of Discovery," in which Europeans came into ever greater contact with diverse peoples across the globe. In both these arenas, art was at the center of Italian and European efforts to document, engage, and comprehend otherness and "distance," whether the temporal distance of the distant past or the geographical distance of the Silk Road or the Americas. This course will involve us in understanding and assessing the role of the arts in these Renaissance experiences.
-Attain a greater understanding of Renaissance art, conceptions of the past and the foreign, and ultimately reconsider the question of the nature of the "Renaissance" and its distinctive contribution to the history of art and images.
-Engage in historically sensitive consideration of the relations between artistic style and meaning in Renaissance Europe.
-Achieve heightened understanding of the interrelation between visual culture and other areas of culture and society.
-Develop and refine skills of close observation, careful analysis, and precise articulation in the study and interpretation of visual forms.
-Enhance skills in critical reading, independent research, and the evaluation of scholarly arguments.
-Enhance skills in writing and the articulation of persuasive arguments based on evidence.
Assignments and Grading
This course is structured as a 400-level course, but in the manner of a seminar. It will be built around stimulating discussion of shared readings. Please reflect carefully on each week's reading and come to our meetings prepared to participate in discussion.
Assignments will be built around a research paper of roughly 10 pages of double-spaced text with additional pages for endnotes, bibliography, and illustrations. As you work toward your paper, you will be asked to 1) submit a one-page statement identifying the subject you have selected and articulating why you see it as promising for research; 2) produce an annotated bibliography of principal sources, identifying their importance and interest to your project; and 3) present a 15-minute lecture to the seminar group in which you lay out the principal arguments of your paper and solicit feedback.
The system of grading (on the 4 point scale) is:
Topic choice and statement: 10%
Annotated bibliography: 10%
Participation in discussion: 15%
Your participation is enthusiastically expected! If you have to miss a class, please let me know and make arrangements with me or a fellow student for a review; our class discussions are critical to understanding the material of the course.
Please observe due dates for all assignments, which will be posted at the beginning of the course. Late submissions will result in grade-point loss of 0.25 per day except in the case of severe extenuating circumstances, such as serious illness or family crisis.
Weekly Outline of Topics:
Week 1: Introduction: The Past is a Foreign Country
Week 2: Renaissance Anachronism -- New Ideas about the Work of Images in Time
Week 3: Myth, History, and the Poetics of Antiquity -- Ways into the Wisdom of the Past
Week 4: Alternative Antiquities and the Question of Archaism
Week 5: Magic Carpets -- the Renaissance Imagination of the Exotic
Week 6: Renaissance Orientations -- Italy Looking East in Search of the Origins of Culture
Week 7: Tattoo Michelangelo -- The Question of the Idealized Native American Nude
Week 8: The Untranslatable Image -- European and Meso-American Arts in (Non)-Dialogue
Week 9: Student Research Presentations
Week 10: Student Research Presentations
Resources: Books that are useful for fundamental research, or chapters of which are required readings, will be placed on reserve in the Art Library; articles from JSTOR and other UW Library sites for periodical access will be available via Canvas.