Art 261 Syllabus


Renaissance to Modern Art
Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold
Spring 2017
Tuesday and Thurssday 11 to 12:15 AM
Instructor: Denise Johnson
Phone: 714.289.3569
Moulton Center 218

Office Hours by appointment
Monday & Wednesday
1 PM to 2:30 PM and 4 to 5:30 PM
10 AM to 11 AM


click here for a printable syllabus



Course Description

An introduction to the development of the visual arts in Europe, Britain, and America from the Renaissance to the 20th century.

(Offered every semester.)

Objectives & Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:
Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the major artists, movements, and events that shaped Renaissance to Modern art;
Identify and compare the aesthetic and philosophical characteristics associated with major periods of art from the Renaissance to the emergence of Modernism;
Describe and discuss the formal, stylistic, technical, and conceptual qualities of works of art produced from c. 1300 to the early modern era utilizing vocabulary relevant to the discipline of art history;
Apply appropriate art historical methodologies to the understanding of works of art, with a demonstration of growing understanding of these methods over the semester;
Analyze the relationships that existed between innovations in artistic practice and the social, cultural, and political changes that took place in Europe during the Renaissance and through the modern era.
Program Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:

Develop the writing competencies used in the discipline of art history;


Locate works of art and visual culture within the context of world art history and articulate the relationship between intended meaning/function and audience response in specific cultural and historical contexts;


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


Recognize the theoretical concerns of art history and its allied disciplines, and discuss and apply specific theoretical perspectives to a given art historical context and to their own research projects.

General Education Learning Outcomes
7AI Artistic Inquiry: students compose critical or creative works that embody or analyze conceptually an artistic form at a baccalaureate/pre-professional level.
7SI Social Inquiry: employs theories of how people frame and analyze social and/or historical phenomena.



Instructional Website
This class will be taught from the instructional website The Slide Projector at, Lecture presentations, assignments, and other course materials will be available for you at this site and you will need to access it regularly.
Required Textbook

Fred S. Kleiner, Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective, Volume II 14th Edition (or newer)


Recommended Texts
Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. Boston: Pearson Education Inc. (any edition, 10th or 11th preferred).


Materials on Blackboard

Selected essays will be posted to the Art 261 Assignments page at (see weekly schedule).

Additionally, two exams will be taken outside of class on Blackboard.



Instructional Strategies
Students will work toward course objectives through: lectures; student reports on readings, active participation in class discussions; in class partner exercises; reading assignments; writing assignments; exams; viewing images, videos, and audio representations of art from the Renaissance to the beginning of the modern era; and viewing of an off-campus exhibition that will require a commute, and may entail a parking fee, and/or entrance fee.
Major Study Units
• Context of the Renaissance

• Medieval faith and innovation
• French & American Revolutions
• Ancient discoveries
• Neoclassicism
• Humanism and rebirth
• Romanticism
• Early Renaissance
• Realism
• Northern Europe
• Photography
• Italy
• Industrial Revolution
• Making “Art” during the Renaissance
• Emerging middle class
• Patronage & artist guilds
• Impressionism
• Materials & tools
• Post Impressionism
• Quattrocento Italy
• Symbolism
• High Renaissance
• Modernism
• Mannerism
• Expressionism
• Cinquecento Italy
• Fauvism
• Northern Europe & Spain
• Futurism
• Baroque
• Cubism
• Italy & Spain
• Dadaism
• Northern Europe
• Surrealism



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. Additionally, students will be evaluated on the presentation of evidence that they have achieved the course objectives.

There are 500 points possible, which will be earned through the following graded components:


Class Participation 10%

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

  • Actively and consistently contributing to in-class discussions and applying theoretical ideas to works to earn up to 15 participation points;
  • Voluntarily reporting on assigned readings during class to earn up to 10 participation points through meaningful contributions to multiple conversations over the semester;
  • Attending one lecture in the Visual Thinker Lecture Series and submitting a VTLS Report worth 25 points. Please be reminded that Art and Art History majors are required by the department to attend all Visual Thinker Lectures.

Writing Assignments 60%

Students will earn up to 50 points each through the following assignments:

• Formal Analysis of work on view at relevant art venue

• Iconographic Analysis

• Biographic or Feminist Analysis

• Psychoanalytic or Marxist Analysis

• Architectural Analysis and diagram (group assignment)

• Timeline composed of key events and important works throughout the semester


Exams 30%

Students will take two exams worth 50 points each on the course Blackboard page at A final examination in the form of a Socratic Circle will be worth 50 points and will be executed in class during our scheduled final exam period.


Extra Credit

Students are limited to earning a maximum of 25 points, 5% of the total points possible (500), in extra credit points during the semester. Any points earned above this cap will NOT be applied to the final grade.



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 97%
500 - 483 points

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.

A -
96 to 90%
482 - 448 points
B +
89 to 87%
447 - 433 points

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.

86 to 84%
432 - 418 points
B -
83 to 80%
417 - 398 points
C +
79 to 77%
397 - 383 points

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.

76 to 74%
382 - 368 points
C -
73 to 70%
367 - 348 points
D +
69 to 67%
347 - 333 points

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.

66 - 64%
332 - 318 points
D -
63 - 60%
317 - 298 points
< 59%
297 - 0

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.



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 261 material. Students found to be using devices during class for activities other than those related to Art 261 may be asked to leave class until their full attention can be directed to our course material.


Regular attendance is mandatory. You are permitted two unexcused absence without damage to your grade. More than two missed classes will potentially lower your grade, and missing four or more classes will put you at risk of failing.

Please also be punctual! Students arriving 15 or more minutes after class begins should expect to be marked absent for the entire class session and may miss the departure of the class on arranged field trips. Students are asked to exchange contact information with their classmates to remain connected to the class as we travel to various destinations.

Respect is Key
We will often consider provocative, challenging, even vulgar subject matter in this class. It is assumed that each of us undertakes this learning endeavor with honorable intention and a commitment to understanding diverse perspectives and histories. When this is difficult for us, we agree to keep an open mind and to respect all views and identities, even those with which we are not able to concur. When this suits our viewpoint, we equally agree to openly consider ideas that may conflict with our own. While engaging in class activities, we agree to refrain from using derogatory, inflammatory, or otherwise disrespectful language. We do such, fully committed to the principles of academic freedom, holding “that the widest possible scope for freedom of expression is the foundation of an institution dedicated to vigorous inquiry, robust debate, and the continuous search for a proper balance between freedom and order,” “that censorship is always suspect, that intimidation is always repugnant, and that attempts to discourage constitutionally protected expression are antithetical to the central focus of the University's mission: education and discovery of new knowledge,” and that these principles are “accompanied by a corresponding principle of responsibility.” (From the Chapman University Faculty Manual, 2016)

Please submit coursework on Blackboard or Google Docs before the start of class on the day the assignment is due, even if you will need to miss class.

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.



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
14th edition
15th edition
January 31
February 2
Setting the Scene
Before 1300 & Introduction
Febraury 7

Early Renaissance in Italy

Chapter 14
February 9
Early Renaissance in Northern Europe
Chapter 21
Chapter 15
February 14
Quattrocentro Italy
Chapter 22
Chapter 16
February 16
High Renaissance
Pages 503 - 536
Iconographic Analysis
February 21
High Renaissance in Northern Europe
Pages 537 - 553
February 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 18
February 28
Baroque Italy & Spain
Chapter 25
Chapter 19
March 1
Rachel Mason, AF 209 C, 7 to 9 PM
March 2
Baroque in Northern Europe
March 6
Exam 1
March 7
Theatrics on the Side
Chapter 26
Chapter 20
March 9
Biographic or Feminist Analysis
March 14
Chapter 27
Pages 642 - 661
March 16
Revolution & Neoclassicism
Pages 662 - 671
March 21
Spring Break
March 23
March 28
Chapter 28
Pages 673 - 702
March 30
Nineteenth Century
Architectural Analysis
April 3
Bensussen Lecture
April 4
Pages 703 - 712
April 5
Margo Pawell, Beckman Hall 404, 7 to 9 PM
April 6
Photography & the Industrial Revolution
Pages 713 - 719
April 7
Art History Symposium, AF 209 B, 11 AM to 5:30 PM
April 10
Exam 2
April 11
The Avant-Garde
Chapter 29
Pages 720 - 732
April 13
April 18
Pages 732 - 741
April 20
Pages 741 - 759
April 25
The Modern World
Chapter 30
Pages 760 - 769
April 27
Formal Analysis/ Museum Visit
May 2
Radical Disruptions
May 4
Pages 770 - 779
Psychoanalytic or Marxist Analysis
May 9
Pages 780 - 800
May 11
Pages 801 - 827
May 16
Socratic Circle Final Exam 8 to 10:30 AM



Important Dates
Late Registration
The last day to add this courses is Friday, February 10.
Drop Deadline
Students wishing to drop the course without record must do so by Friday, February 10. The last day to withdraw from a course, or change grading option to P/NP is Friday, April 14.
Final Exam
The in-class final for this course is mandatory, and will not be offered at an alternative date, except under extenuating circumstances. The instructor understands that the end of the academic year and 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, May 29.



Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889.