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ART H 309 C: Topics In Art History

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Renaissance Women

Meeting Time: 
MWF 9:00am - 10:20am
ART 317
Lane Eagles

Syllabus Description:


Madonna with the Child and two Angels, Filippo Lippi, 1465, Tempera on Wood, 95 x 62 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy.IMG_6267Q Sandro Botticelli. (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi) 1444-1510.FlorenceHans Baldung (Grien) 'Neujahrsblatt 1514'


ART H 309 C: Renaissance Women

Art 317

MWF 9:00-10:20am


Contact Information

Lane Eagles, PhC


Office hours: Fridays 10:30am – 12:30 and by appointment

Office: ART 311


Course Description

This courses explores the myriad of representations of women in the late medieval and early modern periods. Rather than focusing on particular historical figures, it examines images of women through thematic visual types such as: the witch, the bride, the queen, the goddess, the saint, and the artist. Students will learn about gender roles, costume and clothing, scientific theories, magical beliefs, and religious practices by studying a wide range of Renaissance media. There are no exams or required images for this course. Instead, student will be evaluated on the quality of their in-class discussion and papers. Students will visit the Henry Art Gallery and UW Library Special Collections to engage with art objects firsthand, and will also have the option to visit St. James Cathedral.



  • Examine how historical conditions (politics, commerce, religion) have affected, and will continue to affect, artists’ choices.
  • Develop skill sets and modes of critical thinking necessary for the sophisticated consumption and discussion of art.
  • Develop a language for art analysis and critique, and literacy in visual culture.  
  • Develop stronger art historical writing skills.
  • Learn to identify selected objects by sight from the late medieval and early modern periods.
  • Learn technical vocabulary necessary for the study of Late Medieval and Renaissance art history.
  • Learn the methods to effectively read and analyze academic articles.
  • Learn to sensitively approach art objects through the lens of feminism and gender studies.


Required Texts

  • All readings are available as PDFs via the course website, or accessible online at the addresses listed below.


Class Websites

The course syllabus, assignment details, readings, etc. are accessible via the class website:


Class Policies

  • All papers will be uploaded to the Canvas website on time. Late work will not be accepted unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor. Late papers will be deducted 1/3 letter grade per day (e.g., A to A- to B+ to B).
  • Exams & assignments cannot be made up unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor.
  • Cell phone use is prohibited.
  • Students are responsible for regularly checking their email for announcements, instructions, changes to the syllabus, cancellations, etc. 
  • Students are expected to complete all readings before class, and contribute to discussions in thoughtful and respectful manner.



  • 15% In-class participation
  • 25% Pop reading quizzes (5 x 5%)
  • 15% Artemisia Gentileschi paper
  • 20% Represented Women
  • 5% Round table outline
  • 20% Round table panel



  • In-class participation: participation is required for this class and makes up 15% of your final grade. All students are excepted to attend class regularly to contribute to and engage in group discussions, group and partner exercises, and peer-to-peer exercises.
  • Pop reading quizzes: it is critical that students carefully read all required articles and come to class prepared to discuss them in a group setting. Spaced throughout the quarter are 5 short reading quizzes to test reading completion and comprehension for that day's required reading. Quizzes will consist of 4-6 questions and are simple to pass if the required articles were thoroughly read. Quizzes will always happen on Fridays, but students will not be warned beforehand. Students will take quizzes via Canvas on their personal laptops or any wifi-enabled device. Please be sure to bring a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to class on Fridays. These quizzes cannot be made up unless you have a doctor's note or similar documentation for an excused absence, or have made previous arrangements with me. Lowest quiz score will be dropped at the end of the quarter. If a student does not own one of these, equipment may be borrowed from the university:
  • Papers: this class requires two papers, 4-6 in length. For specific assignment details, please refer to the “Assignments” tab. Take advantage of campus writing resources at Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) (by appointment), the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE) writing center (drop-in), or my office hours.
  • Round table panel: in lieu of a final exam, all students will participate an in-class round table discussion. Class will be divided into groups of 5 each. Each group will choose a European image or small group of images (3-5) created between 1300-1700 CE, and an article from the required readings. Topics can be anything pertaining to women/gender in the early modern period. You can deepen something discussed in class or in the readings, or explore a question you discovered on your own. Together, the group will give a 10-to-15 min presentation during which you will analyze and discuss the image as a panel. Each student will also fill out a comment card to provide constructive feedback for their peers’ panels. Please ignore the final exam date scheduled on MyUW.
  • Round table outline: working as a team of no more than 5 people, each group will explain the theme/topics to be discussed in a paragraph or outline form for the Round Table Panel. Only one outline per group, please. 
    • The outline should include:

      • First and last names of each group member 
      • Paragraph or outline explaining chosen topic
      • 3-5 images created between 1300-1700 CE on your theme
      • 1 peer-reviewed article that will be used (may be from the class readings)



Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit. It is a very serious academic offense. Plagiarism is a type of intellectual theft. It prevents genuine learning, it can generate false information, and it can give the plagiarist an unfair advantage. University of Washington policy is very strict towards to plagiarism. Repeat offenses may result in probation, suspension or even expulsion. If you have questions about plagiarism, please come talk with me in office hours.


Course Outline

All dates and assignments are subject to change.


Week 1 – Feminism and the Renaissance

M  3.27 – Introduction to Course

Syllabus overview

What is the Renaissance?


W  3.29 – Feminism and the Renaissance   

Introduction to art historical analytic process

Introduction to feminism  

Read: -Joan Kelly-Gadol, “Did Women Have a Renaissance?” in Becoming Visible: Women in European History, 137-64. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977.

-Merry E. Wiesner‐Hanks “Do Women Need the Renaissance?” Gender & History 20, no. 3 (2008): 539-57.


F  3.31 – NO CLASS


Week 2 – The Bride & the Widow

M  4.3 – The specter of Simonetta Vespucci

Read: -Alexander Nagel, “Icons and Early Modern Portraits,” in El Retrato Del Renacimiento, ed. Miguel Falomir (Madrid, 2008), 423-424.

-Charles Dempsey, “The End of the Masquerade,” Inventing the Renaissance Putto. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2001.

-Elizabeth Cropper, “On Beautiful Women, Parmigianino, Petrarchismo, and the Vernacular Style.” The Art Bulletin 58, no. 3 (September 1, 1976): 374–94.


W  4.5 – Marriageable women

Read: -Stefan Weppelmann, “Some Thoughts on Likeness in Italian Early Renaissance Portraits,” in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini, ed. Andrea Bayer, Keith Christiansen, and Stefan Weppelman, New York, New Haven and London, 2011, pp. 64-7

-Patricia Simons, “Women in Frames, the Gaze, the Eye, the Profile in Renaissance Portraiture,” History Workshop Journal 25, no. 1 (1988): 4–30.

-Joanna Woods-Marsden, “Portrait of the Lady, 1430-1520,” in Virtue and Beauty: Leonardo’s Ginevra de’ Benci and Renaissance Portraits of Women, ed. David Alan Brown, Washington, Princeton and Oxford, 2001, pp. 63-87.


F  4.7 – Mourning women

Read: -Caroline Murphy, Chapter 5 “‘La Vita vedovile’ The Art of Womanhood,”

Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-Century Bologna (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 166.

-Caroline Murphy “Lavinia Fontana and Le Dame Della Città: Understanding Female Artistic Patronage in Late Sixteenth‐century Bologna.” Renaissance Studies 10, no. 2 (1996): 190–208.


Week 3 – The Goddess & the Cadaver

M  4.10 – Flap anatomy & model carnality

Read: -Katharine Park, "The Death of Isabella Delia Volpe: Four Eyewitness Accounts of a Postmortem Caesarean Section in 1545." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 82, no. 1 (2008): 169-87.

-Joanne G. Bernstein, “The Female Model and the Renaissance Nude: Dürer, Giorgione, and Raphael,” Artibus et Historiae 13, no. 26 (1992): 51.


W 4.12 –  Nympha out of time

Read: -Estelle Lingo, “Mochi’s Edge” in Oxford Art Journal, no. 1 (2009): 1-16.

-Alexander Nagel and Christopher Wood, “Toward a New Model of Renaissance Anachronism,” Art Bulletin 87 (2005): 403-32 (includes responses to the authors’ initial statement by Michael Cole, Charles Dempsey, and Claire Farago, and the authors’ reply).

How to write art history papers


F  4.14 – Goddesses & Renaissance sexuality  

Read: -David Lang Clark, "The Masturbating Venuses of Raphael, Giorgione, Titian, Ovid, Martial, and Poliziano." Aurora, The Journal of the History of Art 6 (2005): 1 .

-Jill Burke, “How to See People Naked in Renaissance Italy.” Jill Burke’s Blog, February 28, 2013 accessible here:


Week 4 – The Artist

M  4.17 – Feminism and women artists  

Read: -Linda Nochlin, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” in Women, Art, and Power : And Other Essays. Icon Editions; 183. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998, accessible here:

 -Fredrika Herman Jacobs, Chapter 3 “(Pro)creativity” Defining the Renaissance Virtuosa: Women Artists and the Language of Art History and Criticism. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.


W  4.19 – Early modern women artists

Read: -Caroline Murphy, “The Economics of the Woman Artist.” In Italian Women Artists: From Renaissance to Baroque, 1st ed. Milano: Skira; New York, 2007.

-Ann Sutherland Harris, "Artemisia Gentileschi and Elisabetta Sirani: Rivals or Strangers?” Woman's Art Journal, no. 1 (2010): 3-12.

-Babette Bohn, "The Antique Heroines of Elisabetta Sirani."Renaissance Studies, no. 1 (2002): 52-79.


F 4.21 – Early modern women artists continued

Read: -Babette Bohn, “Female Self-Portraiture in Early Modern Bologna.” Renaissance Studies 18, no. 2 (June 1, 2004): 239–86.

-Mary D. Garrard, and Bal, Mieke. Artemisia's Hand (selections) 2005.

-Jesse Locker, “Con pennello di luce’: Neapolitan Versus in Praise of Artemisia Gentileschi,” Studi secentechi 48 (2007): 243-262.


Week 5 – The Fashionista

M  4.24 – Renaissance clothing culture

Read: -Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass, “Introduction: fashion, fetishism, and memory in early modern England and Europe,” Renaissance clothing and the materials of memory (Cambridge UP, 2000): 1-11.

-Carole Collier Frick, Chapter 6 “Visualizing the Florentine Republic: An Essay on Painted Clothes” pages 449-478 in Dressing Renaissance Florence: Families, Fortunes,

& Fine Clothing. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

-Catherine Richardson, eds. “Introduction,” Clothing Culture, 1350-1650. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing House, 2004 (selections).


W  4.26 – Textiles & Embroidery

Meet at Henry Art Gallery


F   4.28 – Textiles & Embroidery

Meet at Henry Art Gallery

Artemisia Gentileschi paper due


Week 6 – The Nun

M  5.1 – Women and book arts

Meet at UW Special Collections

Allen Library South, Basement


W  5.3 – Renaissance in Seattle (optional)

Private guided tour of St. James Cathedral

Meet a St James Cathedral 804 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104


F 5.5 – Brides of Christ

Read: -Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Introduction: “Patterns of piety-protocols of vision: the visual culture of St. Walburg” Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. (Optional).

-Giancarla Periti, Chapter 1: “Courts of Elite Virgins: Enclosure, Christian Manners, and the Fashion of Liminality,In the Courts of Religious Ladies: Art, Vision, and Pleasure in Italian Renaissance Convents. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

- Craig Monson, Chapter 2: “Dangerous Enchantments: What the Inquisitor Found,” Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art, and Arson in the Convents of Italy. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2010.


Week 7 – The Witch

M  5.8 – The witch and the artist

Read: -Linda C. Hults, Chapter 1: “The Witch As Woman An Introduction to the European Witch-Hunts: The Place of a Feminist Perspective,” The Witch as Muse: Art, Gender, and Power in Early Modern Europe “Artists’ Self-Fashioning and the Visual Discourse of Witch-Hunting.”

-Christopher S. Wood, “Countermagical Combinations by Dosso Dossi.” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 49–50 (2006): 152–70.

-Michael Cole, “The Demonic Arts and the Origin of the Medium.” Art Bulletin 84, 2002.


W  5.10 – Sex with witches

Read: -Joseph Leo Koerner, Chapter 15: “15: The Crisis of Interpretation,” The Moment of Self-portraiture in German Renaissance Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

-Mary O’Neil, “Magical Healing Love Magic & Inquisition in Sixteenth Century Modena,” in Stephen Haliczer (ed), Inquisition & Society in Early Modern Europe (1987) pp. 88-114. 


F  5.12 – Witches and saints

Read: -Richard Kieckhefer, “The Holy and The Unholy - Sainthood, Witchcraft, and Magic in Late Medieval Europe.” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 24, no. 3 (1994): 355–85.  

-Stephen Campbell, “ ‘Fare una cosa Morte Parer Viva’: Michelangelo, Rosso, and the (Un)Divinity of Art,” The Art Bulletin 84, 2002.


Week 8 – The Saint

M  5.15 – Praying for saintly aid  

Read: -David Freedberg, Chapter 7: “The Votive Image: Invoking Favor and Giving Thanks,” The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1989.

-Megan Holmes, “Ex-votos: Materiality, Memory and Cult,” in The Idol in the Age of Art: Objects, Devotions and the Early Modern World. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.

-Georges Didi-Huberman, “Ex-voto: Image, Time, Organ.” L’Esprit Créateur, vol. 47, no. 3 (2007), 7-16. (Optional)

Round table panel outline due


W  5.17 – Hell hath no fury: violent female saints

Read: -Ellert Dahl, “Heavenly Images: The Statue of Sainte-Foy of Conques and the Signification of the Medieval ‘Cult-Image’ in the West,” Acta ad Archaeologiam et Artium Historiam Pertinentia 7 (1978): 175-91.

-Michael P. Carroll, Madonnas Chapter 4: “The Dark Side of Holiness, Madonnas That Maim: Popular Catholicism in Italy Since the Fifteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

-Alexa Sand, “Vindictive Virgins: Animate Images and Theories of Art in Some Thirteenth-Century Miracle Stories.” Word & Image 26: 2. 150-159. London: Routledge, 2011. 


F  5.19 – Why does she look pregnant?

Read: -Penny Howell Jolly, Chapter 1: “The ‘Pregnant’ Magdalene, Bride of Christ: Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross,” Picturing the “Pregnant” Magdalene in Northern Art, 1430-1550: Addressing and Undressing the Sinner-Saint. Women and Gender in the Early Modern World. Farnham, Surrey; Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2014.

-Jill Burke, “‘Is She Pregnant, or Just out of Shape?’ Misogyny and Description in Art History.” Jill Burke’s Blog, June 18, 2012. Accessible here:


Week 9 – The Mother and the Mother of God

M  5.22 – The Maternal Imagination & Renaissance maternity

Read: -Herman W. Roodenburg, “The Maternal Imagination. The Fears of Pregnant Women in Seventeenth-Century Holland,” Journal of Social History 21, no. 4 (July 1, 1988): 701–16 .

-Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, “Weasels and Pregnancy in Renaissance Italy,” Source: Notes in the History of Art 16, no. 2 (1997): 3–9.

-Leon Battista Alberti, Book II: “Of Love and Marriage,” The Albertis of Florence: Leon Battista Alberti’s Della Famiglia. Bucknell Renaissance Texts in Translation. Lewisburg, Bucknell University. Press, 1971.


W  5.24 – From Theotokos to Queen of Heaven

Read: -Megan Holmes, “Miraculous Images in Renaissance Florence.” Art History Vol. 34, No. 1, 2011.

 -Christopher S. Wood, “Ritual and the Virgin on the Column: the Cult of the Schöne Maria in Regensburg.” Journal of Ritual Studies Vol. 6, 1992.

-Marina Warner, “Virgin Birth,” and “Second Eve,” Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary. 1st Vintage books ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1983. (Optional) 


F  5.26 – Mary Mediatrix

In-class prep for round table panel

Read: -Brendan Cassidy, “A Relic, Some Pictures and the Mothers of Florence in the Late Fourteenth Century.” Gesta 30, no. 2 (1991): 91. (Optional)

-Jane Garnett, and Gervase Rosser, "Miraculous Images and the Sanctification of Urban Neighborhood in Post-Medieval Italy." Journal of Urban History 32, no. 5 (2006): 729-40.

-Robert Maniura, "Persuading the Absent Saint: Image and Performance in Marian Devotion." Critical Inquiry 35, no. 3 (2009): 629-54.

Represented Women paper due


Week 10 – Renaissance Women

M  5.29 – Memorial Day, NO CLASS


W 5.31 – Round table panels


F 6.2 – Round table panels


Catalog Description: 
Topics vary.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:03pm