Art documents a particular culture, its goals, its standards of beauty, and serves as a window to another time and place. This introductory survey course focuses on works of art and architecture created by the cultures we will encounter on our voyage and relates them to their historical, political, religious and social contexts. We will also examine innovations in technique, style, and aesthetics that place key objects and monuments in the larger course of global culture and art history.
Using illustrated lectures and classroom discussions, we will learn by means of visual analysis how to identify formal methods and materials of artistic expression based on culturally specific definitions of a particular ideal. We will study the basics of world religions as expressed in art and architecture, including Islam and Christianity, as well as indigenous and blended traditions, dating from ancient to modern times.
Field WorkCountry: Italy
Day: 1 - Saturday, 19 September
In this field lab we will visit three sites in Rome, each of which demonstrate how sacred space is constructed, how spaces reflect patronage, and the role of artworks within them. At the 16th century Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, we will study the site’s connections to France and how paintings by the famed Italian master Caravaggio (1571-1610) contribute to this particular Catholic church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Our visit to the Basilica of San Clemente will show how sites change over time: built atop ancient Roman ruins, it was once a private home but as Christianity grew in power and acceptability, the site transformed into a basilica housing early medieval wall paintings. We will also visit the famous Pantheon, a 2nd century CE monument dedicated to the gods of ancient Rome; we’ll study how those gods and goddesses were memorialized and propitiated through sculpture and architecture, and how the site developed over time. At each site, we will examine how the ritual environments of previous rulers were—or were not—changed to suit different needs, and we’ll also consider the roles of patrons and donors in the creation of a variety of sacred spaces. Academic Objectives: 1. Study first hand three sites in Rome that reflect differing phases of patronage and religious dominance 2. Examine the placement, style and functions of art/ritual objects in the environment 3. Analyze how the ritual environment and its material culture reflect the main tenets of particular beliefs and practices 4. Study how function of a particular site changes over time, and how these changes are reflected in the physical environment Important Note: Modest dress is REQUIRED to visit some religious sites. This means all students, regardless of gender, must have their arms and legs fully covered; no shorts, short-sleeved shirts, or skirts above the ankle, etc. Any student not adhering to the dress code will not be allowed to participate in the field lab and will receive a failing grade for the course.