Renaissance to the Present Spring 2004 m 5: 30-8: 20 mnd 1024

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Renaissance to the Present

Spring 2004
M 5:30-8:20

MND 1024
George S. Craft

Office: Tahoe 3080 Telephone: 278-6400

Office Hours: MW 10:00-11:30 Email:

M 4:30-5:15 in MND 2024.

Catalog Description
LIBA 200B. Culture and Expression: Renaissance to the Present. Interdisciplinary seminar on cultural movements, figures and art forms of eras from the Renaissance to the present. Focus on the West with some global comparison. Emphasis on theoretical perspectives, methods, and research techniques germane to the liberal arts. 3 units.
Course Description
LIBA 200B will be an interpretive and thoughtful survey of primarily western humanities from the Early Renaissance until the end of the 20th century.
Our assumption is that the arts and humanities in each broad era are partially unified by certain common ideas, attitudes, leitmotifs and styles, e.g., ideal naturalism and humanism in the Renaissance, realism and energy in the Baroque, humanity and reasonableness in the Enlightenment, feeling and nature in the Romantic Era, etc. We will explore these attitudes primarily through reading imaginative literature, but we will also focus on the visual arts -- painting, sculpture and architecture. A study of the humanities should be interdisciplinary. It should also be chronological. We will look at these different styles in sequence, paying attention to how one develops out of the other. It should also be somewhat historical, since the humanities flourish in given social and political circumstances, e.g., the aristocratic patronage system of the 17th and 18th century giving way to the 19th century ideal of the artist making a living in middle class society as an independent interpreter of hallowed truths.
The overarching theme is the progressive secularization of western culture beginning with the Renaissance. Renaissance humanism, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the secular revolutionary creeds of the 19th and 20th centuries are progressive steps in the emergence of a new secular (and material) culture in the modern West.
We are not able to cover non-Western cultures in this course because of lack of time and the fear of being embarrassingly superficial.

For students with little knowledge of this material, the course should provide a valuable framework for future study. For students with some familiarity with the material, the course should deepen your understanding of the subject matter and help you conceptualize the evolution of the humanities.

Students will also benefit from writing two research papers on subjects of their choosing. Aside from giving you an in-depth knowledge of interesting subjects, the papers will familiarize you with the use of library and research materials, and train you in writing and documentation standards appropriate to graduate study.
Required Texts
Lawrence Cunningham and John Reich, Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities, Volume II, 5th edition. Not always cogently explained and organized, but useful with good illustrations and smaller readings.

Boccaccio, The Decameron.

Molière, Selected Plays.

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road.

Chris Rodrigez, Introducing Modernism.

Diane Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual -- optional.
There will be handouts and additional materials on the course website (go to for my personal webpage, whence you may contact the course page). We will also view several programs from ‘Sr. Wendy’s Story of Painting,’ which was aired on PBS a few years ago, and for which there is an excellent accompanying text obtainable for a modest price on
For the visual arts there are wonderful websites containing thousands of works of art. Some of the best are: -- Web Gallery of Art has a comprehensive collection of European painting from about 1400 to about 1800. -- WebMuseum has good illustrations for selected artists. -- Artcyclopedia takes you to galleries and museums where works of art are hung.

By using Google Search you will find many more good sources.
Learning Objectives
At the end of the semester students should have advanced their skills in the following areas:

  • Be conversant in the basic data (cultural movements, important figures, significant art forms, etc.) relative to Western cultural history from the Renaissance to the present.

  • Have at least a fundamental understanding of the successive styles in Western cultural history in this period.

  • Have a sophisticated knowledge of two areas of the student's choosing.

  • Gain an elementary familiarity with the primary texts (literary and visual) of the cultural history of this period.

  • Acquire a basic familiarity with schools of interpretation in history and the arts.

  • Pursue expertise in graduate-level research in the liberal arts, with particular emphasis on the period since the Renaissance.

Course Requirements
The following will be required of each student in the course.
1) Help present to the class the core materials contained in weekly text readings. These will include historical overview materials, characterizations of artistic periods and styles (e.g., 'the Baroque'), and discussion of literary readings. You will not be expected to make a formal presentation, but merely to be well informed and well prepared on the assignment so that you can be a co-leader in the discussion.
2) Two research papers of your choosing, one due in the middle of the semester, and the other at the end. (The first essay is due March 22.) Please follow the following general guidelines (borrowed largely from Professor Brodd's LIBA200A course).

  • It should be a topic of interest to you that deals with the material covered in that part of the semester. The first essay should deal with material between about 1400 and 1850; the second with something since about 1850.

  • The topic allows for consideration of primary (literary, art, architecture, etc.) as well as secondary sources.

  • The topic should not be too broad, not too narrow, but 'just right!'

Examples of too broad:Renaissance Italy

What is the difference between the Baroque and the Rococo?

Who is the most 'baroque' of the artists of the Baroque period?

What is modernism?

Were the Germans more Romantic?

What is modernism? What is postmodernism?
Too narrow: Caravaggio's debt to some obscure Mannerist artist.

Beethoven's use of the arpeggio.

Was Rembrandt's "Night Watch" really painted by the artist?

The motif of the train in Fontane's Effi Briest.

The significance of the airplane in the first part of Mrs. Dalloway?

Fireworks imagery in On the Road.
'Just right:’ The influence of Caravaggio in Baroque art.

Molière's espousal of bourgeois values.

Is "On the Road' a religious book?

Comparison: how Beethoven and Mozart use the classical style in two of their symphonies.

What does Voltaire mean: "We must cultivate our own garden."

The influence of English gothic literature on Wuthering Heights.

The impact of World War I on Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.

Montaigne’s views on education.

The image of Satan in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’

Richard Strauss’ relations with the Nazis.

Aesthetic comparison between Arnold Schoenberg and Vasily Kandinsky.

The paper should be at least eight pages long (typed, double-spaced).

  • You must follow proper documentation style (Bibliography/Works Cited/References and footnotes/endnotes/in-text citations) as per the Chicago (History-oriented) or MLA (language and literature-oriented) style. Consult Diane Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd edition; or go to the accompanying website:

  • The paper should rely significantly on primary resources, which in the arts and humanities is not too difficult. These would include prose and poetry works; visual art works such as painting, sculpture and architecture (pictures should be attached to the paper); letters, memoirs, etc. written by the artist or writer you are studying.

  • The paper must incorporate at least four secondary sources, drawn primarily from books, but also articles and handbooks/encyclopedias.

  • You should consult with the instructor by telephone, email or in office hours about choice of topic and sources. (I will have one office hour in MND 2024 from 4:30 to 5:15 every Monday.) Submit a written one-page prospectus on your first paper by February 23.

  • The first paper is due on March 22; the second in exam week.

3) One individual audio-visual presentation to the class on a visual artist – painter, sculptor or architect. The presentation should present basic biographical data, analyze the person's artistic or musical style, situate it within the relevant cultural period, and of course illustrate it with pictures. You should focus on identifying ideas and styles rather than objective factual information. The presentation should be about 20 minutes long. You may present visual materials either through slides (a good collection in the University Library), or a PowerPoint presentation in which you could use images captured off the Internet. To avoid long and encyclopedic presentations, you should use no more than a dozen (12) separate images.

I will try to establish a schedule of these presentations in the first two weeks of class. I will greatly appreciate students who are willing to make their presentations early in the semester.
4) I expect you to attend all classes and to participate in the discussion, even when you are not in the docket as a specialist or a presenter. It should be clear to me that every student has read all assigned texts/viewed and reflected on visual materials before the assigned class. I of course realize that occasional absences are unavoidable…

Your Grade

Your grade will be calculated according to the following formula:

Presentation of core materials; participation 20%

Two research papers 55%

Presentation on artist or musician 15%

Attendance and general participation 10%
In graduate study a C+ is considered inadequate, a B adequate, an A strong, entirely satisfactory achievement.

Schedule and Assignments (Somewhat tentative; text abbreviated as ‘CR.’ Some of the assignments may be carried over to the next class period, or even be skipped.)

January 26 Introduction to the course. Signups and schedule. The Middle Ages.

No assignment
February 2 The Early (Florentine) Renaissance. Masaccio, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, etc. Renaissance humanism.
CR, Chapter 12.

Boccaccio, The Decameron (excerpts).

Excerpts: Pico della Mirandola; Machiavelli, The Prince.

Media presentation on Masaccio.
February 9 The High Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo; Giorgione, Tintoretto; Mannerism.

CR, Chapter 13.

Excerpts: Erasmus, Praise of Folly; Cellini, Autobiography.
February 16 Renaissance in the North. The Reformation. Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymous Bosch. Shakespeare.
CR, Chapter 14.

Excerpts: Michel de Montaigne, Of Cannibals.

Shakespeare, Hamlet.
February 23 The Baroque World: the Arts. St. Peter’s Basilica; Caravaggio, Gentileschi, Bernini, Nicolas Poussin, the Chateau of Versailles, Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt.
CR, Chapter 15, 160-85.

Poems by Metaphysical Poets.

March 1 The Baroque World: Science and Literature. Science and faith.
CR, Chapter 15, 190-99.

Molière, Le misanthrope and Tartuffe.

Cervantes, excerpt from Don Quixote.
March 8 Rococo and Revolution: The Rococo and the Neo-Classical.

Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Gainsborough; David. The classical style in music. Enlightenment humanism - literature.

CR, Chapter 16

Excerpts: Jonathan Swift; Voltaire, Candide.

March 15 The Romantic Era: Ideas and Literature. The Search for the Infinite.
CR, Chapter 17, 275-80, 298-311.

Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

Excerpts: Tolstoy and Poe; perhaps a story of E.T.A. Hoffmann.
March 22 The Romantic Era: The Visual Arts.

The symphonies of Beethoven (“Eroica”). Romantic painting – Goya, Géricault, Delacroix, Caspar Friedrich, Turner.

CR, Chapter 17, 275-98.

Excerpt: Poetry readings in text.

March 29 The Age of Science and Realism. Industrialization and Nationalism. A new outlook. American painting. Impressionism in painting – Monet, Manet. Realism in literature.
CR, Chapter 17, 303-09.

Fontane, Effi Briest.

Excerpts from Chapter 18: Chekhov, Ibsen, Chopin.
April 12 Toward the Modern Era. An age of unrest and anxiety. Modernism.

Art: Post-Impressionism and other prewar styles – Renoir, Morisot, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, Munch, etc.

CR, Chapter 18.

Rodriguez, Introducing Modernism.

April 19 Between the World Wars: the world gone amok. The arts. Modernism.

Cubism – Picasso. Fantasy art (cf. Sigmund Freud) – Chagall, Kandinsky, Dali, Magritte, Klee.

Dada and Guernica – art as protest and escape.
CR, Chapter 21, 419-26, 431-36.

Excerpts: T.S. Eliot, Franz Kafka.

April 26 Between the World Wars. Literary modernism. Modernism in film (Eisenstein, Potemkin).
CR, Chapter 21, 417-19

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; excerpt from James Joyce, Ulysses.

May 3 The Contemporary Contour (Post-1945).

Postwar existentialism.

Painting and architecture in the postwar period – Hopper, Pollock, Rothko, Jasper Johns, Warhol, Pearlstein, Alfred Leslie. Architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Richard Meier (Getty Center, LA), etc.
CR, Chapter 22, 463-76, 482-91.

Excerpt: Sartre.

May 10 The Contemporary Contour, continued. What is postmodernism?

The Hip generation of the 1950s.

CR, Chapter 21, 491-94.

Flannery O’Connor, “Revelation;” Borges.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road.

Envoi: This course is designed to be thoughtful, informative, and fun to be in. The material is extremely interesting and engaging. You will have a good time and do well in the course if you throw yourself into it, come to class regularly, and keep up with your assignments. Do not procrastinate! Be engaged!

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