Shiva as Lord of Dance (Nataraja), Indian (Tamil Nadu)

You are here

ART H 309 D: Topics in Art History

We look forward to safely returning to in-person instruction and activities this autumn quarter. Current and prospective students please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages.

Women in the Renaissance

Meeting Time: 
MWF 11:30am - 12:50pm
ART 003
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 D: Women in the Renaissance

Art 003

MWF 11:30am-12:50pm


Contact Information

Lane Eagles, PhC


Office hours: MW 10:00 – 11:00am 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 widow, 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, students will be evaluated on the quality of their in-class discussion, pop quizzes, and papers. Students will visit the Seattle Art Museum and UW Library Special Collections to engage with art objects firsthand, and will also have the option to visit St. James Cathedral.

Required Texts

  • All readings are available as PDFs via the course website, or accessible online at the addresses listed below. Students are not required to purchase any reading material. 


  • 15% In-class participation
  • 25% Pop reading & lecture quizzes (10 x 2.5%)
  • 15% Formal Analysis paper (3 pages)
  • 20% Artemisia Gentileschi paper (5 pages)
  • 25% Represented Women paper (5 pages)
  • St. James Cathedral visit report (2.5% extra credit) 


  • In-class participation: participation is required for this class and makes up 15% of your final grade. All students are expected to attend class regularly to contribute to and engage in group discussions, group and partner exercises, in-class exercises, and peer-to-peer exercises.
  • Pop reading & lecture quizzes: it is critical that students carefully read all required articles and come to class prepared to discuss them in a group setting. Students are also expected to take thorough notes during lecture. Spaced throughout the quarter are 10 short reading quizzes (one quiz per week) to test reading completion and lecture comprehension. Quizzes will consist of 5 multiple choice questions and are simple to pass if the required articles were thoroughly read and student paid attention to lecture. Quizzes will cover only that day's reading and lecture. Quizzes will happen at the end of class, 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. If a student does not own one of these, equipment may be borrowed from the university: Lowest quiz score will be dropped at the end of the quarter. 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
  • Papers: this class requires three papers. For specific assignment details, please refer to the “Assignments” tab. Take advantage of campus writing resources at Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (by appointment), the Center for Learning and Undergraduate Enrichment (CLUE) writing center (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (drop-in), or my office hours.

 Class Policies

  • All papers will be uploaded to the Canvas website on time. Late papers and assignments will be deducted 1/3 letter grade per day (e.g., A to A- to B+ to B) unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor.
  • Pop quizzes cannot be made up unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor.
  • Cell phone use is prohibited.
  • Contribute to discussions in thoughtful and respectful manner.
  • Participation is required for this class and makes up 15% of your final grade. This category includes attendance and engagement in class, as well as participation in group work, in-class exercises and research visits. 


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

W 1.03 – Introduction to Course

Syllabus overview


W F 1.05 – Feminism and the Renaissance 

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


Week 2 – The Bride

M 1.08 – Renaissance beauty

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


W 1.10 – Marriageable women

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


F 1.12 – The specter of Simonetta Vespucci

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


Week 3 –The Goddess

M 1.15 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, NO CLASS


W 1.17 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.


F 1.19 – Writing workshop 

How to write art history papers

In-class peer review 


Week 4 – The Artist

M 1.22 – 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: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..


W 1.24 – Early modern women artists

Read 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


F 1.26 – Women painting themselves

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

Formal analysis paper due     


Week 5 – The Model

M 1.29 – 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.


W 1.31 – Model carnality

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


F 2.02 – Extra writing help (optional)

In-class office hours 

Meet in room ART 311


Week 6 – The Nun

M 2.05 – Renaissance in Seattle (optional, extra credit)

Private guided tour of St. James Cathedral

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


W 2.07 – Women and book arts

Meet at UW Special Collections

Allen Library South, Basement


F 2.09 – Brides of Christ

Read 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.

Artemisia Gentileschi paper due     


Week 7 – The Witch

M 2.15 – Witches and saints

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


W 2.14 – Sex with witches

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


F 2.16 – The witch and the artist

Read 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 2.19 – President's day, NO CLASS 


W 2.21 – 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.


F 2.23 – Self-guided visit to Seattle Art Museum permanent collection


Week 9 – The Mother

M 2.26 – Renaissance maternity

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


W 2.28 – The Maternal Imagination 

Read Herman W. Roodenburg, “The Maternal Imagination. The Fears of Pregnant Women in Seventeenth-Century Holland,” Journal of Social History21, no. 4 (July 1, 1988): 701–16.


F 3.02 – 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.


Week 10 – The Mother of God

M 3.05 – From Theotokos to Queen of Heaven

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


W 3.07 – Mary Mediatrix

Read 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.


F 3.09 – Did Women Have a Renaissance?

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

Represented Women paper due



Catalog Description: 
Topics vary.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:02pm