Non Western Art History Exam Essay

The Midterm is Thursday October 11 for the TTH class; Friday October 12 for the MWF class and Monday October 15 for the Honorable class.

The Midterm will be an essay which you will compose outside of class and then write during the midterm examination period. It will cover the material seen in class from the beginning of the course to just before the date of the midterm. Here's how it works:
Everyone in the class will be given three essay questions of a general type. Of the three, each of you will write up two outside of class. When you come to class, you will be given a bluebook and a piece of paper which will contain two of the questions: 1 and 2, or 2 and 3, or 1 and 3. You will pick one of the questions and write a response to that one. Since you will have prepared two of the three questions outside of class, the midterm should take you no longer than just writing down your previously-composed essay.

You may use any combination of works of art from any three of the chapters we have covered up to the day before the midterm. So, you may use one work from a chapter, three from another, and another three or four from yet another (for a maximum total of eight)

You will probably find it easiest to put the works you wish to discuss in chronological order. You may of course use two works, for example, from two different chapters that share the same date.

You may find it helpful to organize your examples as a series of compare/contrast(s).

If you have questions you may e-mail me (; you may send a summary of your ideas for one of the topics, but please don't send me anything like a full essay--I cannot read it.

As mentioned in class, the essay should be four to five (8 1/2 x 11) handwritten pages long--as needed to form an adequate response. Bluebooks will be provided; you need bring only a writing utensil.

No slides will be shown during the midterm. You may not use any notes in writing up the midterm, and you may not use any computers, IPODs, or suchlike devices.

When you have finished the midterm exam, hand in the bluebook and the essay question paper. If your bluebook is returned without the essay question paper,you will receive no credit for the exam.

Please do not be late. You have only our class period for this. If you have to leave the room for any reason during the midterm you cannot return.

Do not miss the midterm. Only the most extreme misfortunes will provide an acceptable excuse.


For each essay, you will need to discuss a minimum of six works of art and no more than eight from at least three chapters from our text. The number of artworks is kept low so that you may discuss each one adequately.

Do not just submit a list. It is a good idea to memorize your introduction and your conclusion. The quality of the construction of the essay counts along with the content itself. Spelling is not important, but I do need to be able to be able to understand your reference. Oh, and try to write neatly--I have bad eyes!

Here they are:

  1. Discuss the changes and developments of the portrayal of the human body throughout this period of the course.
  2. Discuss religious architecture: how does its design reflect the interests and requirements of a particular group?
  3. Write an essay on the different ways of commemorating the dead.
Note that students who miss the exam will be required to sit through my hour long slide show on Cats in Italy before any retake is allowed

Fall 2008
ARHA-01 - Introduction to the History of Western Art
Lecture:  Tues & Thurs 10-11:20; Discussion Sections: Wed. 9-9:50; Fri. 10-10:50

Andaleeb Banta
Office: Fayerweather 206
Office hours: Wed. and Fri., 11-12:30, or by appt.
Phone: x 5373; Email:

This class will provide an introduction to works of art as the embodiment of cultural, social, and political values from ancient civilizations of the West to the present. We will approach a selected number of paintings, sculptures, and buildings from a variety of perspectives, and the course will address various historical periods, artists, creative practices, and themes through the study of Western art objects that exhibit unique and significant means of expression in visual form. The course will also consider cultural and artistic exchanges between societies of Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, when appropriate. Weekly discussion sections will meet at the Mead Art Museum to study original works of art.

Lectures and sections:
Everyone is to attend lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Fayerweather 115 (Pruyne Lecture Hall). Sections, assigned by the registrar, are Wednesday or Friday and will meet in the Green Teaching Gallery in the Mead Art Museum.

Recommended textbooks
Hugh Honour and John F. Fleming, The Visual Arts: A History. Prentice Hall, 2005.
Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art. Prentice Hall, 2007.

These books are available for purchase at the Jeffery Amherst Bookstore and will be on reserve at Frost Library. Weekly assigned readings will be available on e-reserve.

Requirements for the course:
15% each exam (3)
15% each paper (3)
10% section participation

Although there are no assigned readings from the textbook, it is your responsibility to keep up with the material as we cover it in class. You will find it helpful to have read the appropriate sections in your textbook prior to the class in which it will be covered. There are also assigned non-textbook readings that are meant to provide you with additional context or an alternative approach to the material. All readings assigned will be on e-reserve; they will be discussed from time to time in class, and will likely comprise a section on the exams.

Exams: Since there is a significant amount of material to cover in this course, there will be three exams spaced evenly throughout the semester. The first two will be held in class; the last one will be scheduled during finals week (Dec 15-19). We will discuss in class the best way to prepare for these exams. Many of the works will be illustrated in the recommended textbook, but they will also be made available on an online collection of images (more information on this to follow). You will need to know these works for the slide identification portions of the exams, but there will also be essay portions that will draw upon your understanding of the readings assigned and the class lectures.

There will be NO make-up exams unless requested by a Dean. Travel plans are not a valid excuse for missing an exam.

Papers: To encourage visual analysis and critical thinking, there are three, graded short paper assignments that will require extended personal interaction with a work of art. These papers are your opportunity to show how you’ve absorbed and understood the various analytical methods introduced in class. They are not to be done from reproductions.  I will provide more specifics on the paper assignments in class, but here are some standard guidelines to follow for each assignment:

•    Papers must be typed, double-spaced, and checked for grammar and spelling errors.
•    Papers not appropriately revised will be downgraded.
•    Quality of writing and command of the English language counts toward your grade. I strongly suggest you leave enough time to take your paper to the Writing Center prior to turning it in. Printing out and reading your paper aloud to yourself is also a very efficacious method for detecting grammatical errors and awkward phrasing. The Barnet book on writing about art will provide helpful tips as well.
•    Papers are due by midnight of the due date. You may turn in a hard copy during class on the due date or by email. Papers slipped under my office door or in my mailbox will not be accepted.
•    Your development as a writer and a critical thinker is very important. I am happy to discuss your writing—or any other aspect of this course—during office hours or by appointment.

Attendance and Note-taking:
Your attendance is key to success in this class. Repeated absences will adversely affect your grade as the substance of this course is introduced in lectures and discussion sessions rather than in the textbooks. It is your responsibility to plan your schedule so that you can attend the lecture class and your discussion section regularly.
Taking notes well is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to prepare for this course. Everyone’s style of note-taking is different, but students who are attentive during lectures and take detailed notes will have an easier time when preparing for exams or essays.


Sept. 2/4    Introduction: What is the History of Art?
 Learning How to Look/Prehistoric Art
 SECTIONS WILL NOT MEET THIS WEEK. Instead, visit the Mead Art Museum and write one paragraph about one work of art that intrigued you during your visit (due by Sept 9th).
*Irvin Lavin, “The Art of Art History: A Professional Allegory,” Art News 82, no. 8 (1983): 96-101.
* Walter Benjamin, Excerpts from “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in Art in Theory, 1900-1990: an anthology of changing ideas, ed. C. Harrison and P. Wood. Oxford 1993, pp. 512-520.
*Judith Thurman, “First Impressions,” The New Yorker, 23 June 2008.

Sept. 9/11     Art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt

*Zainab Bahrani, “Performativity and the Image: Narrative, Representation, and the Uruk Vase” in Leaving No Stone Unturned: Essays on the Ancient Near East and Egypt in Honor of Donald P. Hansen, ed. E. Ehrenberg. Winona Lake, IN, 2002, pp. 15-22.
*Ogden Goelet, “Nudity in Ancient Egypt,” Source: notes in the history of art 12, Winter 1993, “Notes on nudity in antiquity in memory of Otto Brendel”

Sept. 16/18    Greek and Roman Art / Paper due on Sept 18th
*Jean-Pierre Vernant, “Dim Body, Dazzling Body” in Fragments for a History of the Human Body, ed. M. Feher et al, Part One. New York, 1989, pp. 18-47.
*Sheila Dillon, “Women on the Columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius and the Visual Language of Roman Victory” in Representations of War in Ancient Rome, eds. S. Dillon and  Katherine E. Welch. Cambridge, 2006, pp. 534-588.

Sept. 23/25    Early Christian and Byzantine Art

*Peter Brown, The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. Chicago, 1981, Chapter 3 “The Invisible Companion” and Chapter 4 “The Very Special Dead”, pp. 50-85.

Sept. 30/Oct. 2  Medieval Art in Europe: Romanesque and Gothic
*Barbara W. Tuchman, “’This Is the End of the World’: The Black Death” (Chap. 5) in A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. New York, 1978, pp. 92-125.
* Jerrilynn D. Dodds, “Christians, Muslims and the Problem of Religious Art in Spain," in The Art of Medieval Spain, A.D. 500-1200, eds. J. Dodds, C.T. Little and J. W. Williams. New York, 1993, pp. 27-37.

Oct. 7/9        Exam on Oct 7th / Early Renaissance in Italy
*Michael Baxandall, “Conditions of Trade” in Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style, 2nd ed. Oxford, 1988, pp. 1-27.
*Whitney Chadwick, “The Renaissance Ideal” in Women, Art and Society, 3rd edition. New York, 2002, pp. 66-86.

Oct. 14/16 - No class on Oct 14 (Mid-semester Break) / Northern Renaissance

*Erwin Panofsky, “Reality and Symbol in Early Netherlandish Painting” in Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, 1953, pp. 140-148.
*Maryan W. Ainsworth, “The Business of Art: Patrons, Clients, and Art Markets” in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ed. M.W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. New York, 1998, pp. 23-38.

Oct. 21/23    High Renaissance in Italy; Northern Art of the 16th Century
*Martin Kemp, ed. Leonardo on Painting. New Haven, 1989, “The Science of Art,” pp. 13-18; “Posture, Expression and Decorum,” pp. 144-46; “The Invention and Composition of Narratives,” pp. 222-225.
*David Franklin, “Michelangelo the Florentine Painter” in Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500-1550. New Haven, 2001, pp. 63-80.
*Joseph Leo Koerner, “The Hairy, Bearded Painter,” The Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art. Chicago, 1993, pp. 160-86.

Oct. 28/30    Baroque Art in Italy, France and Spain / Paper due on Oct 30th

*David Freedberg, “The Power of Images: Response and Repression” in The Power of Images. Chicago, 1989, pp. 1-26.
*Vernon Hyde Minor, “The Baroque Church: Setting for Mystery, Propaganda, and Worship” in Baroque & Rococo: Art and Culture. Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1999, pp. 75-117.

Nov.    4/6    Northern Baroque Art; Rococo and the Enlightenment

*Eddy de Jongh, “Realism and Seeming Realism in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Painting” and Svetlana Alpers, “Picturing Dutch Culture” in Looking at Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art: Realism Reconsidered, ed. Wayne Franits. Cambridge, 1997, pp. 21-56; 57-67.

Nov. 11/13    Exam on November 11th / Art in the Nineteenth Century I: Neoclassicism and Romanticism

*J. J. Winckelmann, Excerpt from “Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture” in Art in Theory, 1648-1815: an anthology of changing ideas, eds. Charles Harrison, Paul Wood, and Jason Gaiger. Oxford, 2000, pp. 450-456.
*Frances K. Pohl, “Old World, New World: The Encounter of Cultures on the American Frontier” and “Black and White in America” in Nineteenth Century Art: A Critical History, eds. Stephen F. Eisenman et al. London, 1994, pp. 144-162; 163-187.

Nov. 18/20    Art in the Nineteenth Century II: Realism, Impressionism, Post Impressionism
*T.J. Clark.  "Olympia's Choice" in The Painting of Modern Life:  Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers.  Princeton, [1999], pp. 79-146.
*Abigail Solomon-Godeau.  "The Legs of the Countess."  October 39 (Winter 1986), pp. 65-108.

Nov. 25/27    Thanksgiving Recess

Dec. 2/4  Paper due Dec 2/Early Twentieth Century Art; The Interwar Years in Europe
*Assorted manifestos in Art in Theory, 1900-2000, eds. Charles Harrison and Paul J. Wood. Oxford, 2003:  Giorgio de Chirico, “Mystery and Creation,” p. 58; FilippoTommaso Marinetti, “The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism,” pp. 146-152; Kasimir Malevich, “From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting,” pp. 173-183; Marcel Duchamp, “The Richard Mutt Case,” p. 252; Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto 1918,” pp. 252-257.
*Anna Indych-López, “Mural Gambits: Mexican Muralism in the United States and the ‘Portable’ Fresco,” Art Bulletin 89 (June 2007): 287-305.

Dec. 9        Post-WWII in Europe and America; Contemporary Art




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