Art 260 - Ancient to Medieval Art
King Tut's Coffin Mask
Fall 2015
Monday and Wednesday 4 to 5:15 pm
Instructor: Denise Johnson
Office Hours: Happy to meet with you by appointment


click here for a printable syllabus



Course Description

Art 260 - Ancient to Medieval Art is an introduction to the development of the visual arts from the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) period to the Middle Ages.

In this course, we will consider the cultural expressions and creative products of the western world from the earliest artifacts of prehistoric peoples to the founding principles of what we define as “art” during the medieval period. In just fourteen weeks, we will not only cover more than 30,000 years of social, cultural, political, and material history, but also build an understanding of the very study of art history - its methods, purposes, restrictions, and what the discipline can tell us about our world today and tomorrow. During our investigations, a conversational approach will be prioritized during class discussions (not lectures). Students will be encouraged through assignments and readings to bring a critical eye that is actively engaged in questioning through a shared learning experience. Think of the classroom as your lab, the textbook as your guide, and writing assignments as an adventurous expression of what you’ve learned, and what that means to your sense of humanity!

Objectives & Outcomes
This course satisfies the 7AI and 7SI components of the General Education curriculum: students will compose critical or creative works that embody or analyze an artistic form, and students will employ theories of how people frame and analyze social and/or historical phenomena.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
    • identify and compare the aesthetic and philosophical characteristics associated with major periods of art from the prehistoric period to the Middle Ages;
    • write critically about theoretical texts; and
    • conduct scholarly research that informs and supports their own insights and theses.
Art History Program Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:

write both descriptively and analytically about works of art in a variety of media;


write an independent research paper that uses visual analysis and scholarly research to develop and support a thesis;


conduct advanced art historical research using the full range of scholarly resources; and


recognize the theoretical concerns of art history and its allied disciplines and apply specific theoretical perspectives to their research projects.



Required Text

Kleiner, F. and C. Mamiya. Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective. 10th-13th Ed. Vol. I. Boston, Massachusetts: Thomson Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Gardner's Art Through the Ages



Instructional Websites
This course will be taught from the instructional website: Lecture presentations, assignments, and other course materials will be available to students at this site, and you will need to access it regularly.  Please let the instructor know if you do not have internet access.
Various course materials will be available on the course Blackboard site at Registered students will use moodle to take online quizzes, review their current grade, utilize a discussion board, and access other materials.



Strategies and Methods
Students will work toward course objectives through in-class lectures, group discussion, quizzes, exams, reading assignments, in-class partner exercises, writing assignments, field-trips, viewing images, videos, and audio representations of art from the prehistoric era to the medieval period. Individual and group assignments will be given.
Methods of Evaluation
Students will be evaluated on the frequency and quality of their contributions to in-class discussion; on their ability to make oral and written critical observations about the works of art, artists, movements, and concepts presented in the course; on the quality of the writing they present in written assignments; and on their ability to demonstrate growth in their understanding and application of the history and methodologies for studying prehistoric to medieval art. Students will be evaluated on the presentation of evidence that they have achieved the course objectives.

Class Participation - 10%

Students will earn up to 50 participation points through the following activities:


Students will participate in class discussions and will be expected to contribute consistently to in-class debate and the application of theoretical ideas to works.


Students will be required to attend one lecture in the Visual Thinker Lecture Series (two contemporary artist lectures, and one Bensussen lecture). Additional lectures may be attended for extra credit. Please be reminded that Art and Art History majors are required by the department to attend all Visual Thinker Lectures and the Art 260 assignment requires different documentation.


Writing Assignments - 60%

Art historical scholarship is rooted in analytic and theoretical writing. In keeping with this foundation, we will begin a writing practice that makes mindful use of art historical methodologies and that builds a critical thinking muscle through the compilation of a Compendium of Knowledge. Students will earn up to 30 points each through the following individual and group writing assignments:


Over the course of the semester, students will be asked to write five visual analyses of specific works, and/or critical responses to assigned readings.


Students will be required to visit in person a professional art exhibition, at a venue showing works relevant to our course of study, and write a critical response to the exhibition and individual works on view.


On at least three occasions, students will form small groups to collaboratively write short essay responses to writing prompts given during class.


The final component to the Compendium of Knowledge will be to organize all group and individual essays into a collection that reflects what you have learned. The final Compendium of Knowledge will include introductory and/or conclusive essays, graphic design elements, a cover, and other elements that bring the individual analyses and reading responses together into a cohesive demonstration of learning.

Exams - 30%

Students will take three exams this semester, each worth 50 points. The first two exams will be taken on the course Blackboard page at The Final Exam will be taken in class, and on paper during our scheduled Final Exam period.


Make-up exams cannot be accommodated, except under extenuating circumstances!


Extra Credit

Students are limited to earning a maximum of six percent in extra credit points during the semester. Any points earned above this cap will NOT be applied to the final grade.


Thirty points of extra credit may be earned by creating a timeline for your Compendium of Knowledge designating the important periods studied this semester and including images and information on exemplary works in each period.


Thirty points of extra credit may be earned by creating a dictionary of new terms encountered during the semester and including this glossary in your Compendium of Knowledge.




Points will be earned on writing assignments through committed consideration of the material, demonstration of learned concepts and language, and evidence of critical thinking. In addition to the individual requirements, each writing assignment will earn points based on rigorous analysis through the skilled application of the art historical methodologies, as well as pointed and thoughtful responses to the questions proposed.

(100 to 90%)
Writing demonstrates excellence in both articulation and critical thinking. Art historical methodologies are used thoughtfuly and with exceptional skill. All questions are answered thoroughly, and disussion points carry beyond basic responses with sophistication. Credible academic sources were employed to support the author's positions, and Chicago Manual of Style citation rules were carefully followed. The written assignment leaves little to no room for improvement, and demonstrates committed interest in the discipline.
(89 to 80%)
Writing demonstrates clear focus and an above average consideration of the subject matter. While all questions have been answered, there is room for improvement in carrying the analysis and discussion beyond a basic response. The work exhibits potential for excellence however, a clearer application and understanding of the art historical methodologies is needed. Author has met the requirements for research and citations, but the stated positions could be significantly served by additional research.
(79 to 70%)
Most of the material is understood, but the focus is not entirely clear, and analysis is cursory. Question responses could be more fully realized, and the material, more thoroughly examined. Citation issues are present, little research was executed in support of the author's positions, and/or sources are not credible or academic. There are issues with language that make the writing somewhat difficult to understand.
(69 to 60%)
Lowest possible grade for a complete assignment submitted on time. Writing demonstrates little understanding or connection with the material and is flawed in content and form. Question responses do not provide evidence of critical thinking. Citation issues are present, no research was executed in support of the author's positions, and/or sources are not credible or academic. There are issues with language that make the writing very difficult to understand.
< 59%
Work fails to meet any requirements satisfactorily.



Writing is incomplete but shows potential. Student is offered one additional class day to revise, add to, and re-submit the assignment.



Important Dates
Late Registration
The last day to add courses is Friday, September 11.
Drop Deadline
Students wishing to drop the course without record must do so by Friday, September 11. The last day to withdraw from a course, or change grading option to P/NP is Friday, November 6.
Final Exam
The in-class final exam for this course is mandatory, and will not be offered at an alternative date, except under extenuating circumstances. The instructor understands that the holidays and holiday travel come with much urgency and pressure. Nonetheless, the hours set aside for the final exam are a part of your earned credit and as such, are an important component of your grade.
Grades will be available no later than Sunday, January 3.



Class Schedule and Required Reading
This is a tentative schedule that may change. Assignment directions and due dates will be posted on The Slide Projector. Updates will be announced in class, on lecture presentations, and modified on the Syllabus page of The Slide Projector.
Discussion Topic
Assignment & Reading Due
August 31
September 2
What is art history?
September 7

Labor Day - No Class

September 9
Prehistoric Beginnings
Chapter 1 & Cave of Forgotten Dreams
September 14
Class canceled :0(
Writing Assignment 1
September 16
Neolithic Advances
Chapter 2
September 21
Ancient Near East
Writing Assignment 2
September 23
Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt
Chapter 3
September 28
Middle and New Kingdoms
Writing Assignment 3
September 30
Art of the Ancient Aegean
Chapter 4
October 5
Geometric and Oriental Periods
Exam 1
October 7
Archaic Period
Chapter 5
October 12
Classic Period
Writing Assignment 4
October 14
Hellenistic Period
Chapter 6
October 19
Etruscan Art
Writing Assignment 5
October 21
Roman Republic
Chapter 7
October 26
Imperial Rome
Chapters 8 & 9
October 28
Jewish and Early Christian
Writing Assignment 6
November 2
Chapter 10
November 4
Islamic Art
November 5
Exam 2
November 9
Early Medieval
Chapter 11
November 11
Viking and Ottonian Empires
Writing Assignment 7
November 16
Chapter 12
November 18
Writing Assignment 8
November 23
Thanksgiving Recess
November 25
November 30
Gothic Light and Space
Chapter 13
December 2
Gothic Form
Writing Assignment 9
December 7
Late Medieval Italy
Chapter 14
December 9
Final Compendium
December 14
Final Exam to be taken in class 4:15 to 6:45 pm



Instructor Policies
Commitment to the Conversation
Conversation and debate will be central to the learning experience this semester. Art historians do not work in secluded spaces that are entirely disconnected from the world around them. Given the importance of engagement, students will be expected to fully commit to in-class dialogues and will agree to take a break from texting, emailing, and fulfilling requirements for courses other than our own, while in class. Laptop, tablet, and smart phone use will only be permitted for use in class when the devices are being used for the purpose of understanding Art 260 material.
Respect is Key
We will often consider provocative, challenging, even vulgar subject matter in this class and must therefore agree to respect each other’s views and identities. Our diverse backgrounds and opinions are assets and no student shall be made to feel inferior or uncomfortable because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or physical/ intellectual abilities.
Paper Please

Please submit coursework that is due at the beginning of class.

As a courtesy, the instructor will accept emailed assignments as receipt of having turned in an assignment on time, as long as the assignment has been emailed to the instructor as a pdf BEFORE the start of the class session that the assignment is due. The instructor will expect a paper copy of the emailed assignment to be submitted by the next class session for grading. Assignments submitted in this fashion may require additional time for grading. If you know you will be absent, please make arrangements with a fellow student to submit coursework on the day it is due.

Regular attendance is mandatory. Up to three absences will be tolerated, however the instructor reserves the right to deduct 5% of total available class points (25 points) for each absence beyond the third. Please also be punctual! Students arriving 15 or more minutes after class begins should expect to be marked absent for the entire class session.
Late Assignments
You may submit one assignment, one class day late. The late assignment will not be marked down, however any assignments turned in more than one class late, or in addition to the one accepted assignment, will only receive credit at the digression of the instructor.



Chapman University Policies
Academic Integrity Policy
Chapman University is a community of scholars which emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and for submitting coursework completed this semester, for this class. Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated anywhere in the university. Academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor/administrator and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including expulsion. Please see the full description of Chapman University's policy on Academic Integrity at
Students with Disabilities
In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. Upon recommendation of the Center for Academic Success, adaptations of teaching methods, class materials, including text and reading materials or testing may be made as needed to provide for equitable participation.
Equity and Diversity Policy

Chapman University is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity. Students and professors are reminded to show respect at all times as outlined in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy: at Any violations of this policy should be discussed with the professor, the Dean of Students and/or otherwise reported in accordance with this policy.