In this course we will investigate ‘supernatural’ phenomena in the visual arts: divine acts, miracles, magic, and sorcery. We will be interested in how and why people in late medieval and early modern Europe distinguished between the ‘supernatural’ and the ‘natural’, as well as the extreme fluidity of these terms. We will investigate how certain ‘supernatural’ occurrences were considered to have been caused by God, saints, and holy men and women, while others were said to be the work of the devil, demons, sorcerers, witches, and tricksters. A variety of artistic media and genres will be studied: narrative paintings, prints, miraculous images, votive objects, relics and reliquaries, incantations, and prayers. We will also be interested in how conceptions about the miraculous and diabolical were applied to artists and to works of art: the ‘divine’ Michelangelo was compared to the supreme animator, God; figures of devils in paintings were defaced in order to prevent evil forces from acting through the images. Our inquiry will extend beyond the boundaries of Europe and consider modern day experiences for comparative purposes.
No field trip
Catagory for Concentration Distributions: D. Europe and the United States, 3. Early Modern
No textbook or required materials — readings are all posted on CTools
mid-term exam, final exam, three short reading-response papers, and a simple ‘creative project’ that will not be graded and will not require much time or artistic skill.
no art history background required
Class Format: meets twice a week, 1:20 minute classes. Tuesday classes will generally be lectures with discussion, while Thursday classes will focus on the readings