Course syllabus



Domenico Ghirlandaio, ‘Birth of the Virgin’, c. 1486-1490


ARTHIST 325: Imaging the Renaissance

Semester 2, 2019

Lectures: Monday 10 am - 12 pm


Lecturers: Dr Natalie Bell (Art History)

Room 751, Humanities / Arts 1 (building 206)

Office Hours: Monday and Thursday, 12:30-1:30 


Associate Professor Kim Phillips (History)

Room 727, Humanities / Arts 1 (building 206)


Dr Lindsay Diggelmann (History)

Room 733, Humanities / Arts 1 (building 206)

Office Hours: Tuesday afternoons - usually 1.30-3.30, but times may vary



Here is the front section of the 2019 Courseguide with course information and reading lists:


Here is the full version, including weekly tutorial readings:

Imaging-Courseguide-2019-full version.pdf


Course Description

‘All history involves representation, and all representations are part of history.’ (Peter Burke)

‘Imaging the Renaissance’ offers an examination of major topics within the society and culture of Europe between c. 1400 and c. 1700, especially as expressed in visual images. The structure is thematic and the course will combine the differing approaches of historians and art historians to the Renaissance period, broadly defined. Topics include the Renaissance Court, Merchant Culture, Carnival, Food, Masculinities, Femininities, Witchcraft, and Death. Examples will be taken from Northern Europe and from Italy, drawing on the work of artists such as Bruegel, Holbein, Dürer, Mantegna, and Ghirlandaio.

Each topic will be discussed in two consecutive lectures. The first will provide historical background material and an introduction to historiographical issues surrounding the weekly theme. The second will focus on important artworks and their interpretation. This will be complemented by discussion of key images and readings on the topics in tutorials.

Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

We have designed the course so that students who complete Art History 225/325 are expected to achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Improve their knowledge of European society and art during the Renaissance period.
  • Gain familiarity with a number of significant visual representations of past societies and develop the skills to evaluate them effectively in both oral and written formats.
  • Engage with scholarship on an inter-disciplinary basis, learning to appreciate and adopt methodologies used both by historians and by art historians.


More generally, successful completion of Art History 225/325 will help students to develop skills that are consistent with the Graduate Profile of the University of Auckland and the Bachelor of Arts degree. Anticipated skills include the following specific Graduate Profile capabilities:

  • Able to define, contextualize and address questions or problems through multi- and/or interdisciplinary enquiry.
  • Able to conceive and formulate questions based on synthesising information and ideas from multiple sources and diverse perspectives.
  • Express and present information and ideas clearly, coherently, and persuasively in a variety of forms to diverse audiences.


Note: This course is listed in the Major Schedules for Art History and History. Students may use it to fulfil part of their degree requirements in either Art History or History (but not both).


Lecture and Assessment Programme


Week 1


Monday 22 July




Topic 1: Late Medieval Religion 

(Tutorials start in week 1)


Week 2

Monday 29 July


Topic 2: The Renaissance Court


Week 3

Monday 5 August


Topic 3: Merchant Culture


Week 4

Monday 12 August


Topic 4: Carnival


Week 5


Monday 19 August



Topic 5: Food


Week 6

Monday 26 August


In-Class Test, 20%, 1 hour

Essay Workshop

(No tutorials this week)



Monday 2 September

Monday 9 September


Mid-Semester Break

Week 7

Monday 16 Sept


Topic 6: Print and the Book


Week 8

Monday 23 September


Topic 7: The Reformation




Essay 1, 40%, 2500 words

Due 9pm, Wednesday 25 September


Week 9

Monday 30 September


Topic 8: Masculinity


Week 10

Monday 7 October


Topic 9: Femininity and the Home


Week 11

Monday 14 October


Topic 10: Witchcraft


Week 12

Monday 21 October



Topic 11: Death

Conclusion and Course Review 


Essay 2, 40%, 2500 words

Due 9 pm, Wednesday 30 October




Course summary:

Date Details