Courses

Fall 2016

  R1B Section 1 | CCN: 16042

Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Early Modern Art Literature in Italy (1400-1600)

Matthew Culler

Tuesday | Thursday: 8:00 - 9:30am

Where do the words we use to talk about art come from? Many of our modern aesthetic ideas and sensibilities find their birthing ground in the art literature and art of the Renaissance or the (sensibly named) Early Modern period (c.1400-1600). The Italy of Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Raphael produced some of the earliest examples of the new genres of literature on the arts, including treatises on painting, printed dialogues on the arts, and lives of artists. To find words to talk about the art of their time, authors borrowed terminology from rhetoric, optical science, poetry, and other disciplines. This course’s material will gather around broad concepts central to this literature: how to define beauty, the relationship between art and nature, the classification of the arts, the overlap between art and science, how to evaluate artistic skill, and the changing social status of the artist. Students will read from primary sources from early modern art literature as well as present-day critical accounts of that literature. Conversely, students will develop reading, writing, and research skill by looking at Early Modern art alongside the literature of its time. Students will write a 10-12 page research paper as their final project.