HISTART 194-001

First Year Seminar:
Acting on Art in Renaissance Italy

T Th 2:30pm - 4:00pm
3 Credit Seminar
Fulfills LSA Humanities Requirements

Renaissance art is often associated with the controlled environment of today's museums—displayed under careful lighting, to be contemplated quietly and never touched. This, however, is misleading. These objects have had a much more dynamic, interactive, and even disorderly relationship with their historical viewers. "Viewers" may not even be the appropriate word.

This seminar explores the vibrant lives of early modern art objects and the many ways people have acted upon them. From dressing venerated sculptures and adorning them with jewels, to scratching away the faces of "dangerous" images, art in renaissance Italy provoked viewers into becoming actors. We will discuss works of art and material culture such as "talking" statues in Rome, bedroom furniture that could set the mood for successful conception and healthy babies, and a variety of stolen objects repurposed and displayed publicly to proclaim new political ideologies. This course will provide historical context for the power of images and how they still act on us today.

Course Readings: Available through Canvas. There is no textbook.

Course Requirements: A short paper analyzing an object at UMMA (10%); outline and 2-3 pages first draft of a research paper (10%); 2-3 additional pages of research paper draft (10%); attendance and participation (40%); final paper (8-10 pages; 30%).

Intended Audience: First-year LSA students

Estimated cost of materials: $0

Class format: Two 80-minute seminars weekly

HISTART Distribution Requirements: Europe and the US, Early Modern

Keywords: art, Italy, Renaissance, visual culture

Fulfills LSA Humanities Requirements