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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF2205 Renaissance / Anti-Renaissance: Critical Approaches to Early Modern Art in Europe

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Dr Richard Checketts

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

At least 20 credits from any ARTF-coded module or appropriate equivalent in a relevant discipline. In the latter case, students are advised to get in touch with the module leader to discuss eligibility prior to enrolment.

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will engage with a number of questions fundamental to a critical and historical approach to Renaissance art. Taking as our stating point the provocative notion of Anti-Renaissance – explored by the Italian art historian Eugenio Battisti, and in related discussions elsewhere – we will centrally try to think through the Renaissance as a dynamic site of conflict, contestation, and experiment. Against an idea of the Renaissance as the expression of a calm, linear ‘progress’ – towards artistic perfection, towards a rational approach to the world, towards the triumph of the ‘individual’ – notions like Battisti’s enable what is arguably a vital shift of attention to difference, to counter-tendencies, and to the instability, contingency, and even possibly the non-existence of what are casually accepted as Renaissance ‘ideals’. We will explore questions around the highly complex relations towards antiquity in this period, around the ‘geographies’ of Renaissance art, the market, patronage, artistic identify, and the impacts of religious controversy. We will approach the work of artists such as Michelangelo, Alberti, Palladio, Mantegna, Masaccio, Bosch, Bruegel, Dürer, Raphael, van Eyck, Cellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Holbein, and Caravaggio – alongside less known or anonymous figures, across a range of different artistic, architectural, and craft practices, and with reference to literature, philosophy and religious thought and practice.


The key objective of the module is to explore a broad range of critical and historical questions towards the development of advanced study of the art of the Renaissance within its wider cultural contexts.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students should have a good knowledge of European Renaissance art, both in broad terms and through a number of detailed case studies, with a particular focus on some of the key historical, critical and methodological frameworks that might be deployed in advanced study and in the development of independent research. They will acquire a good knowledge of the scholarly literature in this field, and develop skills, both in writing and orally, in describing, contextualising, and analysing works of art, other kinds of made object, and primary written sources.


The module is based on ongoing research, so the syllabus will change year to year. As a guide the themes addressed might include the following:

- Renaissance ‘ideals’ and their limits
- Remaking Antiquity: Humanism and historical disjuncture
- Canons and popular traditions: questioning ‘high’ and ‘low’ art
- Mapping the Renaissance: ‘centres’, ‘peripheries’, and encounters beyond Europe
- Making and knowing: the status of artists
- Art, display, and power
- Patronage and gender
- Workshops and markets
- The body, painting, and the Reformation

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be required to read and make notes on complex texts in preparation for detailed class discussions. They will be expected to think independently and creatively about how each of the readings relates to the broader themes of the module.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students’ progress will be monitored through their contribution to seminar discussions in each class, through assessed coursework submitted in week 5 and at the end of the semester, and through an exam.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,500-3,000 words50.00
Literature Review750-1,000 words0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)1 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:22:37


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