Insegnamento a.a. 2021-2022


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
CLEACC (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  L-ART/02)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Lezioni della classe erogate in presenza

Suggested background knowledge

Students are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken and written. A basic knowledge of the history of European art is recommended (see suggested readings).

Mission & Content Summary


This course explores European art and culture from the late 16th to the early 20th century with a particular focus on various urban centres and the relationship between these ‘centres’ and their ‘peripheries’. At the crossing between art history, geography and urban studies, the course looks into the site-specific nature of artistic production and cultural institutions. The visual arts of the early modern and modern periods are infused with urban culture, including court life and street life, as well as the relationship with the natural environments and with other towns. Similarly, the cultural institutions of modernity – especially museums – shape social structures and the construction of local identity. In sum, the mission of this course is to provide students with critical tools to think about the geographic and local dimensions of art and culture by revising some significant moments of this history in Europe.


The course will begin with sessions composing a methodological introduction on the relationship between visual and urban culture, followed by three blocks addressing different themes:

  1. City portraits and maps in the visual arts;
  2. Technological devices in the visual arts and the shaping of urban experience;
  3. The modern institution of cultural capitals and museums.

During the course, several classes will be devoted to the analysis of specific case studies: works of art, popular art forms, technological devices, and museums from cities such as Venice, London, Paris. Through a variety of teaching methods – including frontal teaching, reading seminars and guest presentations – Students will have the opportunity to develop their visual skills, to reflect critically about the history of urban heritage and to learn to interpret the history of cultural institutions.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...

At the end of the course students will have learned to:


  • Identify the main visual languages and techniques developed in Europe the period 1600-1900;
  • Describe the role of visual arts in shaping and mediating the relation to urban experience;
  • Identify the socio-cultural and artistic dimensions of urban institutions.


At the end of the course student will be able to...

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Employ some visual analysis skills: Analyse the iconography, visual language and technique of works of art, especially paintings, prints and drawings, used to represent cities;
  • Orientate themselves in narratives of European history of art and culture: Deploy some historical knowledge about Europe’s art and culture in the period 1600-1900;
  • Interpret urban cultural heritage in historical perspective: Demonstrate understanding of the socio-cultural and artistic dimensions of urban institutions and heritage as they appears today.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Guest speaker's talks (in class or in distance)
  • Company visits
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Individual assignments


This course combines traditional frontal teaching (lectures) with other learning activities. In particular, the course includes the following:


  • A reading seminar on key texts which propose methodological approaches to the course subject;
  • Individual presentations on case studies prepared in advance with the teachers’ guidance. Each presentation, on contemporary representation of cities during the global pandemic, should last for around 10 minutes;
  • Guest lectures, to be confirmed depending on the evolution of the pandemic situation.

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  • Active class participation (virtual, attendance)


  • Mid-term presentation: 30% of final mark;
  • Final exam: 70% of final mark. Written test with 3 open questions, one per thematic block; questions are based on course notes, slide presentations and compulsory readings. Students will have to answer 2 questions out of 3 (60 minutes).


Attending students are those who are present in class for at least 75% of classes. After the third exam session, all students are considered as non-attending.


Two open questions in the exam grade the ability of students to understand the themes of the course, as complemented by the readings. The evaluation also grades clarity of presentation and the ability to place images in a historical narrative.


  • Final exam: Written test comprising 3 open questions (75 minutes): 100% of final mark. In this test, each question weighs 1/3 of the mark. The first question will regard the candidate’s book of choice (see list of readings below); questions two and three will be based on slide presentations and compulsory readings.


The evaluation grades the ability of students to understand the themes of the course, as complemented by the readings; the ability to place images in a historical narrative; the depth of analysis; and finally the clarity of presentation.

Teaching materials


For attending students, the compulsory readings (journal articles or book chapters) and class material (slide presentations) are made available on the online platform. Power Points and other visual resources are uploaded on the Bboard online platform after each class. Two glossaries also are available to students in preparation for the exam.


The key essay discussed in the course is:

  • Carlo Ginzburg and Enrico Castelnuovo, 'Symbolic Domination and Artistic Geography in Italian Art History', English trans. by Maylis Curie in Art in Translation, 2009.


In addition to the compulsory readings and other material available on Bboard, non-attending students are required to read a book of choice from a list provided at the beginning of the course.

Last change 03/01/2022 18:55