Spring 2015

Art, Things, Spaces, and Places from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment

Listed in: , as COLQ-236


Louise M. Beckett (Section 01)
Laurie P. Canter (Section 01)
Nicola Courtright (Section 01)


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them and the art and objects that they contained. We will explore research strategies that are most useful in understanding the forces that explain change in the 400 years marking the beginning of the Renaissance to the Enlightenment in Europe and England. We will examine work on families from a variety of social classes who joined forces through marriage and other alliances and the process through which they acquired and passed on precious objects, furniture, paintings, and sculpture embedded with meanings from their origins.  How can we go about understanding how the construction of homes defined their inhabitants’ status, their political allegiance, their spirituality, and their place in the world? How can we best analyze the significance of the ways they adorned their domiciles with family portraits, tapestries, wall paintings, religious prints and icons, beds, marriage chests, silverware and jewelry? 

This course will give students tools to conduct their own research about why and how domiciles and their contents expressed meaning for their inhabitants and society, and how we in the 21st century might come to understand these relics of the past.  As the culmination of the course each student will choose a topic--anywhere from exploring special qualities found in a single object or work of art in a domicile to identifying unusual properties in architecture of a palace with a public function--and develop a prospectus for a research project. This course is part of a new model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive and collaborative research with faculty. 

Open to sophomores and juniors interested in research.  Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 6 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

If Overenrolled: to be determined by Professor


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015