Insegnamento a.a. 2015-2016



Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English

Go to class group/s: 31
CLEACC (6 credits - II sem. - OBS  |  L-ART/01)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (II sem.)

Course Objectives

This course aims to introduce students to the complex intersections between visual arts and politics. What do specific images, monuments and artefacts say about the cultural identity, historical memory, and political ideologies of a community? In what ways can they contribute to construct, advertise and disseminate shared ideals and values? How and why do certain social groups reject specific monuments and images, and how do they communicate their (subversive) identities through the visual? Conversely, what are the institutional, discursive, and ideological contexts that shape the objects and images that we call visual art?

The course is structured as a series of in-depth case studies, and addresses specific monuments, images and artefacts (including paintings, mosaics, metalwork, architecture and sculpture) in chronological order. It primarily focuses on monuments and artefacts created in the Mediterranean from antiquity to the renaissance, and examines them in their original contexts. However, the course will also expose the key role that some of these monuments played in the political ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, encouraging students to think critically about the role and potential of heritage management today.

Course Content Summary

A detailed programme will be presented at the beginning of the course. Topics may include (but not be confined to):
• Iconoclasm between religion and politics. Why destroy images, and what does Nineveh matter?
• The Parthenon: ancient democracy, imperialism and modern nationalism.
• The Ara Pacis in Rome: art, peace and propaganda from Augustus to Fascism.
• Representing the ruler: political iconography between power and charisma
• The Sainte Chapelle in Paris: to build a dynasty and found a nation, medieval- modern.
• Public art in the city of Siena: holy patrons, good government and civic pride.
• The Basilica of San Marco in Venice: history, politics and community.
• The art of diplomacy: gifts and gift giving in the Christian and Islamic Mediterranean.
• Spectacular Images: miracles and social identities in pre-modern Italy.
• Collecting as politics in the Renaissance. The Tribuna degli Uffizi and beyond.

Detailed Description of Assessment Methods

The exam format will be discussed in detail at the beginning of the course. There will be no intermediate exams, only a final exam at the end of the course. The exam will be written.


A detailed bibliography will be presented at the beginning of the course.
Exam textbooks & Online Articles (check availability at the Library)


Good oral and written command of English.
Last change 26/05/2015 14:37