HISTART 393-002

Undergraduate Seminar: Worlds between Heaven and Hell - The Pictorial Universe of Hieronymus Bosch

270 Tappan
F 10am-1pm
3 Credit Seminar

Blending realism, allegory and fantasy, the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) have captivated, puzzled and shocked their audiences for more than five hundred years. Yet, despite their great appeal to the imagination, and their often bawdy and frivolous subject matter, Bosch's paintings are at heart didactic and moralizing works – works that seek to address profound theological and ethical questions, all of which Bosch and his contemporaries ultimately considered to derive from Eve's fatal mistake in the Garden of Eden. Centering on humanity's frailty, folly, proneness to sin, and ultimate destiny, Bosch's paintings employ a number of visual strategies that range from biting satire to what may be called the pictorial construction of alternative worlds. In exploring these aspects, we will primarily focus on Bosch's great paintings, including his famous "Garden of Earthly Delights." Although we will strongly engage with visual analysis, we also will read contemporary texts that help us better understand and contextualize Bosch's often striking pictorial inventions; such texts include devotional and moralizing treatises, hagiographical sources, and humanistic literature. Because this seminar will introduce students to issues that point far beyond the world of Bosch itself, it should appeal to students of medieval and early modern art as well as to those with an interest in the general methodologies of art history.

Textbooks/Other Materials: Relevant readings will be posted on CANVAS.

Course Requirements: Participation – 35%; one 10-minute oral report on a 30-40 page article – 15%; mid-term presentation and end-of-term research paper of ca. 15 pages – 50%.

Intended Audience: Advanced undergraduate students.

Class Format: Seminar.

Estimated Cost of Materials: $0-50

HISTART Distribution Requirements: D. Europe and the US, 2. Medieval, 3. Early Modern

This course fulfils the LSA Humanities Distribution requirement