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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Art Historical Thinking"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Linford Hansen Salvadori
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15 PM

What questions do art historians ask, and how do they justify their answers? This introductory course introduces basic components of the discipline of art history: its diversity and art-historical language, its technical terminology, and basic research skills. The course discusses different types of approaches and methodologies to analyze and think about visual evidence. It does so by addressing both the history of the study of art and the emergence of the specific discipline of art history, and by considering recent developments.

The course is an engagement with art history as an academic discipline. This is approached through considerations of the development of the field and current approaches to the study of art and visual culture.

The course is structured as a three-part team-taught module, each part taught by a specialist in the fields of, respectively ancient, medieval, and early modern and modern art. The advantage of considering art-historical thinking through a period-specific prism is two-fold. Firstly, it highlights how the material (and especially the perception of it) has conditioned methods of study and the questions that can be asked. Secondly, it highlights how the articulation of academic theories and methods are influenced by contemporary concerns. Hence, the course format offers an engagement with the workings of art as well as the work of the art historian.

Each section of the course is structured around a series of thematic case studies that throw light on both historiographical and current approaches. The case studies are based on textual and visual material linked to the study of art of the period in question. To highlight similarities as well as differences across the sections, the case studies are organized under four overarching headings that deal with: object, maker, context and viewer.

The aim of the course is to build up a well-rounded appreciation of art historical traditions and the methodologies of the field. That is, to establish a firm grasp of the aspects that have formed and hindered the study of art, as well as of contemporary approaches to art historical investigation. 


Understanding of the historiographical study of Art History as a field
     •   Significant individuals and theories that have shaped the field
     •   The historical and cultural context that shaped these
Understanding of key art historical methodologies
     •   The character of their theoretical/practical basis
     •   Their advantages and limitation
Understanding of material- and period-specific methodologies
     •   The impact of context (material and cultural) for interpretation
     •   The impact of terminology and expectation
Understanding of current approaches
     •   Exploring how the material can frame new research questions
     •   Impact of new finds and findings

Cognitive skill: Research – analysis – interpretation
     Evaluation and consideration of evidence; reasoned consideration of methods and motives: willingness to adapt/revise ways of thinking;
     openness to alternative perspectives
Communication skills: verbal and writing abilities
     Organization of material; effective presentations; nuanced discussion; formulation of analytical responses
Collaborative skills
     Investigative response-skills; collaborative contributions; explore complex ideas; thoughtful dialogue


Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
There is no set text-book for the course -Good overview: Pooke, G. and Newall, D. (2008) Art History. The Basics. Routledge. & Arnold, D. (2004) Art History. A Very Short Introduction. OUP -REF N.7425.P59 & N.7425.A646  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
A full bibliography for the course will be provided at the start of the course -For core bibliographic works see below-- 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Further reading suggestions for the course will be provided at the start of the course ---- 
Academic participationParticipation in class discussions; sharing ideas; furthering discussion ideas introduced by other class members, etc (3% from each part of the course)10%
Three Annotated bibliographiesDescriptive and evaluative summaries of bibliographic works relevant to the Research Papers (10% each)30%
Three short research papersResearch papers pertaining to each of the three sections (20% each)60%

ASuperior work directly addresses the question or problem raised; provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information; demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory; and has an element of originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of readin
BGood work is highly competent; directly addresses the question or problem raised; demonstrates some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice; and discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CSatisfactory work provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings only; it may have some significant structural flaw, absence of information or research background, or too casual and imprecise a treatment, or contain only a minimum of interpretation.
DPoor work lacks a coherent grasp of the material; fails to support its argument with sufficient evidence; indicates a hasty or unconsidered preparation, and/or fails to fulfill the assignment in some way; omits important information and includes irrelevant points.
FFailure work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question; most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


•   You are expected to participate in all scheduled classes. Absences and late arrival will be noted and may affect your grade. Please refer to the university catalogue for the attendance and absence policy.
•    You are expected to have dealt with food, drink and bathroom needs before class
•    Make-up work is not offered, except in exceptional circumstances and after consultation with the Dean of Academic Affairs
•    No electronic devices are permitted to be used in class.

Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Students should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.

Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam: a major exam (midterm or final) cannot be made up without the permission of the Dean’s Office. Permission will be granted only when the absence is caused by a serious impediment or grave personal situation. Absences due to conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, etc. will not be excused.

Information on / cancellation of class
•     Additional course information, etc. will be posted on MyJCU. Please check this regularly and, certainly, in advance of each class.
•     In case of unavoidable cancellations of class, notification will be posted at the front desk at Guarini campus. A suitable date and time for a make-up class will subsequently be established.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Details of further reading suggestions as well as a relevant bibliography for the course will be provided at the start of the semester.
Core bibliographic works for the course include:

Arnold, D. (2004) Art History. A Very Short Introduction. OUP
Pooke, Grant, and Diana Newall (2008) Art History: the basics. Routledge.
Preziosi, D. (ed.) (2009) The Art of Art History. A Critical Anthology. OUP [eBook]

Alcock, S:E. and Osborne, R: (eds) (2012) Classical Archaeology. A Second Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
Borg, B. (2015) (ed.) A Companion to Roman Art. Wiley-Blackwell.
Dyson, S.L. (2006) In pursuit of ancient pasts a history of classical archaeology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. YUP
Friedland, E.A., Sobocinski, M.G. and Gazda, E.K. (eds) (2015) The Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture. OUP
Marconi, C. (ed.) (2015) Oxford handbook of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture. OUP.
Marlowe, E. (2013) Shaky Ground: Context, Connoisseurship and the History of Roman Art. Bloomsbury.
Marvin, M. (2008) The Language of the Muses. The Dialogue between Roman and Greek Sculpture. The J. Paul Getty Museum.
Smith, R.R.R. (2002) The use of images: visual history and ancient history. In T.P. Wiseman (ed.), Classics in Progress. Essays on Ancient Greece and Rome: 59-102. OUP.
Stewart, P. (2008) The Social History of Roman Art. CUP

Blair, S. and Bloom, J. (2003) The Mirage of Islamic Art: Reflections on the Study of an Unwieldy Field. AB 85/1: 152-184
Cahn, W. (1969) The artist as outlaw and Apparatchik: Freedom and Constraint in the Interpretation of Medieval Art. In Sker, S. (ed.), The Twelfth Century Renaissance (Exhibition Catalogue of the Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design)  
Cassidy, B. ed. (1990) Iconography at the Crossroads: papers from the colloquium sponsored by the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, 23-24 March 1990. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Index of Christian Art (Occasional Papers 2)
Freeman Sandler, L. and Kessler H. (1989) An Exchange on the ‘State of Medieval Art History’. Art Bulletin 71/3: 506-507
Hoffman, E. ed. (2007) Late Antique and Medieval Art of the Mediterranean World.
Kessler, H. (1988) On the State of Medieval Art History. AB 70/2, 166-87
Rudolph, C. ed. (2006) A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe. Blackwell
Wharton, A. J. (1995) Refiguring the Post Classical City. Dura Europas, Jerash, Jerusalem and Ravenna


Please note - the schedule includes two make-up day: Friday September 21 and Friday November 9 


1. Tues. Sept. 4 - Introduction to the course
Course organization, requirements, logistics, etc.

2. Thurs. Sept. 6 -  Introduction to Art Historical Thinking 
Example of an approach that has influenced how we think about art history: Giorgio Vasari
Essential reading:     Preziosi 2009: 22-26 (Vasari)


Ancient art: the development of the field (Prof. Hansen)

3. Tues. Sept. 11  
Art and History – systems and classical archaeology (object)
16th-18th-century interests in and approaches to ancient art. Winckelmann; systematic study; art, culture and historicity; Grand Tour and collecting; Kant, aesthetics and sensory knowledge
Essential reading         Bartman 2015: 15-22 [3-10 online] (collecting); Dyson 2006: 1-19 (protohistory of classical archaeology); Hall 2014: 1-7 (history of study of classical archaeology); Marvin 2008: 103-19 (Winckelmann); Preziosi 2009: 13-21 (Winckelmann); Whitley 2001: 23-29 (18th-century interests)

4. Thurs. Sept. 13 Form and style – ancient art as international heritage (maker)
19th-century interests in and approaches to Greek art and Roman art. Enlightenment; the big digs, international academies, and national collections; Furtwängler, Kopienkritikand the ancient artist; Hegel and Zeitgeist
Essential reading         Bartman 2015: 21-24 [11-12 online] (collections); Dyson 2006: 156-9 (Furtwängler); Hall 2014: 5-12 (history of study of classical archaeology); Marvin 2008: 144-50, 164-7 (Furtwängler andMeisterforschung); Smith 2002: 59-72 (artists and art); Whitley 2001: 32-36 (19th-century big digs)

5. Tues. Sept. 18     Connoisseurship and social history – ‘identities’ (context)
Late 19th and early 20th-century approaches to ancient art. Morelli and Beazley; taxonomies of ancient art and artists: effects of wars, nationalism, and communism; social history, style, and non-elite art; ‘decline’ of Roman art and teleology of late antique art; Marx
Essential reading:        Borbein 2014: 527-35 [10-18 online] (connoisseurship); Elsner 2000: esp 251-5, 260-2 (teleology); Marvin 2008: 139-44 (Morelli and connoisseurship); Stewart 2008: 4-9 (New Art History); Whitley 2001: 36-41 (Beazley)

6. Thurs. Sept. 20     New archaeology – new questions for ancient art (viewer)
Mid-later 20th-century approaches to ancient art. New Art History, New Archaeology; (post)processualism and ‘the great divide’; the contextual and historical turn; Freud; Derrida; Renfrew
Essential reading:        Fehr 2014: 579-85, 595 [1-7, 17 online] (sociohistorical approaches); Hall 2014: 13-16 (classical archaeology and archaeology); Renfrew 1980: esp 295-8 (archaeology, anthropology, classics); Smith 2002: 67-74, 96-97 (the ‘contextual turn’)


7. Fri. Sept. 21
 Practical Review: Course work requirements and approaches
Practical approaches to writing an annotated bibliography and research paper 

Medieval art: the development of the field (Prof. Salvadori)

8. Tues. Sept. 25       Medieval Art: Discovered, invented, and evaluated (Object)
16-18th-centuries concepts about the art and architecture of a ‘Middle Age’:from decline to sublime; Renaissance, Reformation, Counterreformation; Antiquarians and Nationalists; Enlightenment, beauty, and the sublime; Wincklemann and Goethe; the Gothic Revival
Essential reading:        Rudolph in Rudolph 2006: 1-16 (historiography of western Medieval art)

9. Thurs. Sept. 27     The Romantic, the Nationalist, the Orientalist, and the Universalist Middle Ages (Object and Maker)
19th-century concepts about the art and architecture of a ‘Middle Age’: Gothic Art ‘enshrined’; the ‘birth’ of late antiquity: Riegl and Kunstwollenand the Rome vs Orient debate; Orientalism and Islamic Art
Essential reading:        Rudolph in Rudolph 2006: 16-26 (historiography of western Medieval art); Wharton 1995: 1-14 (Orientalism and late antiquity); Blair and Bloom 2003: 152-6 (historiography Islamic art)
Assignment              Annotated bibliography 1 due

10. Tues. Oct. 2    Formalism, Iconography and Intent (Object, Maker and Context)
c. 1900-1950 concepts about the art and architecture of a ‘Middle Age:’ formalism, style and iconography; the iconography of style; semiotics; social art history; the impact of politics and war in Europe; the “medieval U.S.A.”; the “birth” of Romanesque and the impact of Modern Art
Essential reading:     Rudolph in Rudolph 2006: 26-39 (historiography western med. Art); Cassidy in Cassidy 1993: 3-11 (historiography of and issues in iconographic studies)

11. Thurs. Oct. 4   

Perspective (Maker and Context)

c. 1950-1990 concepts about the art and architecture of a ‘Middle Age:’ historiographical awareness, building on and critiquing the field

Essential reading: Moxey in Cassidy 1993: 27-31 (critique of Panofsky via new emphases in the study of iconography); Mango 1991 (approaches to Byzantine Architecture)

Early Modern and Modern art: the development of the field (Prof. Linford)

12. Tues. Oct. 9  “Making” the maker: Figures of the Artist (maker)
Raffaello Sanzio’s The Transfiguration (1516-1520) serves here as a case study for the ways in which the figure of the artist (as courtier, poet, philosopher, scientist, genius or seer) is intimately linked to the emergence of the monograph (Vasari), the first and foundational genre of art historical writing. How “Raphael” is then used in later historiography to analyse and interpret his paintings, (high) Renaissance art, the atemporal classical ideal, or, in some systems, art generally, will be the focus of this class.
Essential Reading: Vasari 1913 [1550, 1568]:329-338 (Raphael’s Transfigurationexplained in biographical terms); Burckhardt 1929 [1860]: 141-147 (context to explain the biography and figure of the artist); Blunt 1958 (Raphael historiography refashioned to suit the needs and ideas of its epoch): 2-20

13. Thurs. Oct. 11 Bernini and the Baroques: problems with “style”(object)
Bernini’s works serve as test-case for the fluid definitions of Baroque “style”. What makes these objects similar enough to be studied as part of the same corpus, particularly given the variety of mdia (architecture, sculpture, drawing, painting and the performing arts) that “Baroque” is used to characterize? 
Essential reading:        Wölfflin 1964 [1888]: 15-26 (stylistic principles of Baroque); Payne 2010: 16-24 (what changes in historiography of Baroque makes it a possible object of study for Riegl); Connors 1999: i-xii (Wittkower on Baroque: legacy and shortcomings); Minor 2015:25-31 (“traditional” art history augmented by literary studies’ notion of performativity).
Assignment              Annotated bibliography 2 due

14. Tues. Oct. 16  Norms and Institutions, Power and Context: the (Neo-) Classical ideal as context-dependant (context)
XVIIth and XVIIIth century ideas of the classical, at the very moment when the Western canon being formalized and reified (XVIIth c) and then politically instrumentalized in new ways (XVIIIth c), is examined in light of the way in which art historians have discussed Poussin, as compared to David or Canova, to make larger claims about the canons of beauty, taste and the political uses of the visual arts.
Essential reading:     Carrier 2016: 69-80 (short history of Poussin interpretation); Boime 1985: xix-xxv (social art history introduction to neoclassicism)

15. Thurs. Oct. 18  Romantic Color: “Reading” Intention (viewer)
By focusing on debates surrounding color as a locus and leitmotiv of Romantic historiography, we will ask why color recurrently made to function as the viewer’s “instinctive” or “empathetic” key to deciphering an artist’s intention, subjectivity and expression. Further: how do shifting conceptions of painters’ techniques match up with the larger (philosophical or aesthetic) systems of Diderot, Kant, Hegel, Goethe? The historiography of emblematic works by Friedrich, Turner and Delacroix provide punctual case-studies for an analysis of the imputed relations between subjectivity, technique and reception. 
Essential reading:        Gage 1999: 162-176 (theory and reception of color: Turner; Runge, Goethe); Phillips 2005: 342-357 (color vision and optics in relation to XIXth c art criticism); Rosen, Zerner 1984: 7-4 (aesthetic revolution, subjectivity)

16. Tues. Oct. 23 Abstract Expressionism as Case Study: The Historical Avant-gardes, the so-called “End of Art” and “End of Art History.”
Jackson Pollock’s painting will serve as a test case to inquire into: the problems of periodisation and categorisation; how the instruments and methods we have seen up to now (iconology, kunstwollen, formalism, historical determinism, post-structuralist theories, the “new art history”…) produce different objects of study. Students are asked to prepare for class by thinking synthetically and diachronically about the recurrence of toolsand paradigmsoperative in the historiography of art before Modernism (Vasari, Bellori, Winckelmann, Kant, Goethe, Hegel, Riegl, Hegel, Wölfflin, Panofsky, Gombrich, Freud, Blunt, Burckhardt, Schapiro, Foucault, Derrida, Werckmeister, Moxey, Zerner, Preziosi) are applied to Abstract Expressionism.
Essential reading:        Frascina 1985: 91-103 (introduction to the critical debate on Abstract Expressionism); Clark 1990: 186-194 (cultural history and notion of abstraction in Pollock); Krauss 1993: 221-232 (critic vs. art historian, problem of Pollock sources)


Ancient art: case studies in current developments of the field (Prof. Hansen)

17. Thurs. Oct. 25  Thinking about ‘the object’
What might influence artistic forms and styles? (top-down) cultural interaction; internal diversity; semantic systems; code-switching; Hölscher
Essential reading         Marlowe 2013: 64-70 (constancy of style); Varner 2006: 284-7 (eclectic rhetoric); Wallace-Hadrill 1998: esp 83-86 (‘code switching’)

18. Tues. Oct. 30  Thinking about ‘the maker’ 
Who are the ‘makers’ of ancient art – workshops, artists, patrons? signatures and viewed statements; rethinking replication
Essential reading:     Beard 1991: 12-19 (viewing Greek pots); Fejfer 2008: 29-33, 407-19, 426-9 (dedication, commission, portrait prototypes); Osborne 2010: esp 231-6, 243-51 (signatures on pots); Squire 2015: 175-88 [13-23 online] (signatures of Roman artists); Vout 2012: 446-52 (signatures and viewers)
Assignment              Annotated bibliography 3 due

Thursday November 1 - No class (Italian holiday)

19. Tues. Nov. 6  Thinking about ‘the context’  
What is the relationship between display context and object? Rhetoric of form (replication) and style (decorum); patronage and display
Essential reading:     Marconi 2009: 157-63, 166-68 (Parthenon decoration); Marvin 2008: 151-64 (types and copies); Trimble 2014: 139-45, 145-49 (setting and replication of honorific portraits)

20. Thurs. Nov. 8  Thinking about ‘the viewer’
In the act of viewing, what is the relationship between viewer and object? Agency and performativity; visual culture and globalization; Gell
Essential reading         Trimble 2015: 606-19 (viewing art); Versluys 2013: 436-40 (local and global); Smith 2002: 64-67 (art/material history), 98-102 (style as history); Whitley 2012: 579-90 (agency in art)

Medieval art: case studies in current developments of the field (Prof. Salvadori)

21. Fri. Nov. 9  
Thinking about ‘the object
How are the style, form, medium, and subject matter of artworks to be understood? Does medium, affect style, form and subject? Does subject affect style and form? How does “received” artistic tradition affect style, form and subject? How do contemporary (medieval) cultures affect style, form and subject?
Essential reading:     Golombek in Hoffman 2007: (textiles and Islamic art)

22. Tues. Nov. 13     Thinking about ‘the maker
Who are the ‘makers’ of medieval art – workshops, artists, patrons, “designers” in the form of learned advisers, anti-establishment forces?
Essential reading:        Caskey in Rudolph 2006 (patronage in Romanesque and Gothic Art)
Assignment              Research paper 1 due

23. Thurs. Nov. 15  Thinking about ‘the viewer
Public, communal and private viewing contexts; accessibility and meaning; stasis and mobility; in the act of viewing, what is the relationship between the viewer and the artwork? How was seeing construed in the middle ages? How do feminism, gender and queer studies contribute to the discourse?
Essential reading:      Caviness in Rudolph 2006 (medieval viewers)

24. Tues. Nov. 20   Thinking about ‘the context’ 
What is the role of the social, political, religious, ethnic and geographical context in the making of art? constructions of the Other; gender, foreigners, alterity, monsters and maps
Essential reading:        Dale in Rudolph 2006 (historiography and state of question on the iconography of the monstrous)

Thursday November 22 - No class (US holiday)

Early Modern and Modern art: case studies in current developments of the field (Prof. Linford)

25. Tues. Nov. 27  
Tools and Technology: Making, Meaning 
Digital tools and recent thinking about science and technology have brought about new fields of art historical research. In the mid-1980s, the “iconic turn” was touted as generating a new method, “visual studies,” and providing an issue to the “end of art and its histories.” Concurrently, the history of science made its entrance into the history of art, enriching knowledge about both how objects are made and what objects mean.  More recently, the “digital humanities” apply IT tools to unearth new facts and create new relationships between existing bodies of art historical knowledge.
Essential reading:        J.L. Koerner (2004) “Bosch’s Equipment” Things that Talk, ed. L. Daston MIT Press: 27-65 (what objects mean vs. how they are made); L. Roberts (1997) “Education as a Narrative Endeavor” From Knowledge to Narrative,Smithsonian Institute Press:131-152 (objects and museum studies); J. Drucker (2013) “Is There a ‘Digital’ Art History?”, Visual Resources,29 (1-2): 5-13 (do digital tools enable new methods?).
Assignment                Research paper 2 due

26. Thurs. Nov. 29  Identity Politics, Cultural Criticism and Social Values
Post-colonial studies, in the era of globalisation, and gender studies rooted, first in feminism and then LGBTQ+, have generated new queries about makers and viewers and the polysemia of many objects. The notions of disenfranchisement and empowerment, working with agency in particular, have extended studies of the Other to include objects, functions, cultures and identities previously overlooked by canonical art history.
Essential reading:        Moxey, K. (1994) “Panofsky’s Melancolia” The Practice of Theory. Poststructuralism, Cultural Politics, and Art History, Cornell University Press:  65-78 (cultural bias); Homi Baba; Said and TBA

27. Tues. Dec. 4    Beyond Narratives? Relativism and Revisionism 
Can we ever escape meta-narratives, over-arching stories, teleology or our biases when practicing art history? Do we want to?
Essential reading:        James Clifford “Art and culture system” (functions); K. Moxey (1994) “Introduction” The Practice of Theory:1-19 (Deconstruction to Relativism) and TBA.

28. Thurs. Dec. 6   Rules or Laws — Nominalism, Cognition 
Who are the “authors” of art history and what truths can one hope to arrive at ? Are historiography, the history of history of art and cultural criticism forever stuck in the nature/culture quandary?
Essential reading:        Michael Parsons, “Overview of the Five Stages” How We Understand Art. A Cognitive Developmental Account of Aesthetic Experience (1994 - 1987): 20-36(cognitive stages);H. Brinkman (2014), et alii, “Abstract Art as a Universal Language?” Leonardo 47/3, 256–257 (cognitive science); T.J. Clark (2006) excerpt from The Sight of Death. An Experiment in Art Writing, Yale University Press: (experience and tempo of looking, art writing as a genre).


29/30. Dec. 10-14       Discussion of course themes (2 hours)
The class will take place on the ‘Final Exam’ time scheduled for the course. Exact day and time will be established.
Assignment              Research paper 3 due