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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Looking at Women in Renaissance and Baroque Art (HIAR10148)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryRenaissance art is often seen as the conceptual anchor for a conservative type of art history that focuses on great male artists and their revival of a classical past. This course uses recent research to challenge the idea, showing how old master painting can speak to current issues of sexual, gender and political identity. Focussing on different roles for women, we will investigate how visual culture promotes and challenges ideas of what it means to be female. We will look at women as archetypes of beauty, as wives, prostitutes, artists, patrons, poets and witches. We will consider medical beliefs in women's inferiority; the notional link between male creativity and reproductive processes; and how the separation of 'art' from 'craft' denigrated traditional areas of women's expertise, notably textiles, to a lesser form of making.
Course description Most art historians recognize that the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw revolutionary changes in visual culture, from the invention of single point perspective, to the minute recording of the natural world. The traditional approach to the Renaissance is celebratory, focussing on artists and patrons, who were almost always male. However, since the 1970s, there has been a great deal of important scholarship challenging the gender bias of early modern studies.

The Renaissance also saw a revolution in gender roles, including fiery debates over the 'nature of women'. This course considers how major developments in Renaissance and Baroque art were bound up with these development in women's social roles. It will look at women as artists, patrons and viewers and consider how images of women sought to promote ideal feminine behaviour in a patriarchal society. It is a broad-ranging course which will take in work by artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Dürer, Artemesia Gentilleschi, Caravaggio and Rubens.

The course is intended as a bridge between the introductory work at pre-honours and the specialism of the fourth year. It will both provide a more detailed survey of the changes that took place in Renaissance and Baroque art, and also give students a grounding in gender analysis as an approach to art history.

Teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lecture, discussion and student presentation in two-hour classes. These will include occasional visits to important collections of Renaissance paintings, drawings and applied arts in Edinburgh. Students will also spend approximately an hour a week discussing readings and images as part of student-led peer learning groups.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above, and we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that 3rd year History of Art courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Broadly understand the development of artistic and visual culture in Europe, 1400-1600.
  2. Understand how theories of gender relate to visual and historical analysis.
  3. Assess primary visual and material sources.
  4. Demonstrate developed skills of visual enquiry, analysis and communication.
Reading List
Cristelle Baskins, Cassone Painting, Humanism and Gender in Early Modern Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1998.
Andrea Bayer, ed., Art and Love in Renaissance Italy. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008.
Geraldine Johnson and Sara F. Mathews Grieco, Picturing Women in Renaissance and Baroque Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Catherine King, Renaissance Women Patrons: Wives and Widows in Italy, c. 1300-1550. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998.
Jane Louise Carroll and Alison G. Stewart eds, Saints, sinners and sisters: Gender and Northern Art in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.
Annette Dixon, Women who ruled: Queens, Goddesses, Amazons in Renaissance and Baroque Art. University of Michigan Art Museum, 2002.
Jacqueline Musacchio, The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.
Mary Rogers and Paola Tinagli eds, Women in Italy, 1350-1650: Ideals and Realities: A sourcebook. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005.
Paola Tinagli, Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, Identity. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Visual and critical analysis
- Independent research
- Presentation and communication skills
- Group work
- Organisation and planning
KeywordsRenaissance,Baroque,art,visual culture,feminism,women,patronage,identity
Course organiserDr Amelia Hope Jones
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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