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ART HIST 3S03 ITAL REN 1200-1400

Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Gregory Davies



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Monday, 11:30 am -12:30 pm., or by appointment

Course Objectives:


COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will focus upon the visual arts in Italy during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early Renaissance occurred. Students will explore the important shifts in artistic theory, patronage, style and subject matter that arose during this time of dramatic social, political and religious change.

Due to the specialized nature of the course subject matter there is no singular survey text that will be used. The course text by Millard Meiss (see below) will serve as an important resource in the process of building a knowledge base, however students can only benefit from a diverse range of perspectives. As the course progresses other reserve readings (see below) will be introduced in order to augment the ideas addressed in the lectures.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

COURSE EVALUATION:  The final grade for this course will derive from three pieces of work. The requirements for each will be discussed in class. There will be one short test, one written assignment and a final examination. The marking scheme for each is listed below:


Test:                            25%     (written in class, Oct. 18)       

Written assignment:    35%     (due in class Nov. 11)

Final exam:                  40%     (date TBA)


The requirements for each will be discussed in class.

*Instructions and guidelines for the essay will be provided during the week of Sept. 16.

Method of Assessment:



Sept. 6, 9, 11                           Introduction: The Issues of Early Renaissance Art in Italy


Students should begin reading Millard Meiss at this time. The Meiss text should be read concurrently with the reserve readings below and the book should be finished by Oct. 21.


Sept. 13, 16, 18                       Early Renaissance Humanism

Baxandall, Ch. 1., “Humanists’ Opinions and Humanist Points of View,” pp. 1-50.



Sept. 20, 23, 25, 27, 30;         The Impact of Humanist Thought on the Visual Arts I

Oct. 2 

Baxandall, Ch. 2., “The Humanists on Painting,” pp. 51-77 only


Oct. 4, 7                                  The Impact of Humanist Thought on the Visual Arts II

Baxandall, Ch. 2., “The Humanists on Painting,” pp. 78-120 only


Oct. 9, 11                                The Impact of Humanist Thought on the Visual Arts II (continued)

Baxandall, Ch. 2., “The Humanists on Painting,” pp. 78-120 only


Oct. 14                                    NO CLASS: THANKSGIVING


Oct. 16                                    Art and the Black Death


Oct. 18                                    TEST: IN CLASS (30 MINS.)


Oct. 21, 23, 28                        Art and the Black Death: The Problem of Regressive Style

Millard Meiss text should be finished by Oct. 21.


Oct. 30; Nov. 1, 4, 6, 8, 11     Siena: Artistic Production and Patronage I


Maginnis, Ch. 1., “The Painter’s City,” pp. 16-44.

Maginnis, Ch. II., “The Painter’s Craft: Conditions,” pp. 83-118.


Nov. 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25     Siena: Artistic Production and Patronage I I

Maginnis, Ch. IV., “Painters and Projects, Major and Minor,” pp. 119-160

Maginnis, Ch. V., “The Painter’s World,” pp. 161-190.


Nov. 27, 29                             Reflections on the Histories of Early Renaissance Art in Italy


No readings assigned


Dec. 2, 4                                  Review

No readings assigned

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:



Millard Meiss, Painting in Florence and Siena After the Black Death: The Arts, Religion and Society in the Mid-Fourteenth Century, (Princeton, 1978). Text available at the McMaster University Bookstore


Select readings will also be assigned from the following books (on reserve at Mills Library):


Michael Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators: Humanist observers of painting in Italy and the discovery of pictorial composition, 1350-1450, (Oxford, 1971).


Hayden B.J. Maginnis, The World of the Early Sienese Painter, (University Park, 2001).

Other Course Information:


In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course.  The available information is dependent on the technology used.  Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure.  If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.


The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and