Course Title: 01:082:308 Italy 1250-1400: The Hinge between Medieval and Renaissance

Academic Credits:  3 credits

Mode of Instruction:  Lecture

Course Prerequisites: None

Core Curriculum:  None

Course Description:

Italian art and architecture from ca. 1250 to ca. 1400 with an emphasis on the stylistic and thematic innovations of Giotto and his successors and the developments of the schools of Florence, Siena, and Venice.

The course will investigate the development of a humanized, expressive interpretation in religious art, a fuller visual expression of secular themes, and the ways in which art and architecture served to construct civic identity and pride in the peninsula’s independent city-states, as well as to meet the objectives of its patrons, whether male or female, secular or religious.

There will be a class held at the Metropolitan Museum, a mid-term and a final exam, as well as a short research paper.

Learning Goals:

The primary goal of the course is to teach how to analyze visual information so that students can read and interpret works of art and differentiate among them. A secondary objective is to demonstrate how the visual language of painting, sculpture and architecture conveys religious, social, and political messages about the society in which it was created and to learn how to decipher them. Thirdly, this course aims to teach how to express these perceptions in discussions and in papers.

Required and Recommended Course Materials:

There is no textbook in print that covers just this course’s material. Instead scans of materials from a range of books and articles will be available on SAKAI. John Paoletti and Gary Radke, Art in Renaissance Italy, Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2012, paperback, pp. 12-199, provides a helpful basic account of the period. The scans from Paoletti & Radke are included under the 1st item on Resources on SAKAI, Readings for the entire semester. Scans from other sources will be listed under the relevant week. You are expected to read the readings before each class, come to class prepared to discuss them, and ready to answer the issues raised for each class.




The class syllabus, readings, directions for assignments, and a brief outline of each lecture and illustrations of the works of art discussed can be found on the class website on SAKAI. Additional information, analysis and illustrations can be found in the books on reserve, and at the site “Art History Resources on the Web,” under Renaissance Art – 13th and 14th Centuries ( “Art History Resources on the Web” also provides thumbnail sketch biographies of artists, dates and locations of the works of art illustrated, and links to museums and many research tools.


If you must miss one or two classes, please use the University absence reporting website to indicate the date and reason for your absence.  An email is automatically sent to me. 


The will be three 2 page essays on designated topics, an hourly exam, a 5-page research paper on the subject of your choice (developed from a revision and expansion of one of your essays), and a final. Grading will be based on these assignments and on contributions to class discussion (hourly @25 points; research paper @20 points; essays@15 points; class participation @ 10 points, and final @30 points). Attendance is required. There will be a class at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to review ancient and medieval art and to study in person objects relevant to the class. All other classes will be held in the Zimmerli Museum’s Multi-Purpose Room. Make-ups for the hourly exam and the final are granted only with a doctor’s excuse. Late assignments will be lowered a grade for each day they are late.

Course Instructor:

Fall, 2021 - Sarah Blake McHam

Disclaimer:  These course descriptions/synopses pages have been provided as samples and the information should not be considered accurate or current.  For actual course information, refer to the course site hosted by a Rutgers Learning Management System (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) as of first day of class.