History of Art


HART0113 Reviewing the Italian City - Indicative Weekly Topics and Suggested Reading

Indicative Weekly Topics

Over 20 weeks we have flexibility to addressing works and ideas that you want to bring to the table, but the outline of the first few weeks are as follows:

1: Mapping the field
2: The Social Production of Space: Henry Lefebvre's theory of space as socially produced and De Certeau’s ‘Walking the City’. How might these be applied to understanding late medieval Italian cities? 
3. V&A and Brompton Oratory visit (Cromwell Road): addressing disciplinary space, gender,  charisma and materiality
4: The late Medieval city and urban transformation. The politics of space in the Late Medieval city and its representation. Walls and gates, inclusion/exclusion/transition
5: The piazza and the street: Public space, state power, representation, contestation 
6. Between church and piazza: the staging of civic religion and the sacred on the street. The Florentine Festa di San Giovanni and Epiphany procession, ‘popular’ performances, difference.
7. The city of statues: The presence of sculpted bodies. Monuments and the production of new social and spatial orders

Suggested Reading

  • M. Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Florence, Oxford: OUP (1972), and re-editions, Chapter 2 ‘The Period Eye’ [part of a short, very important book you may want to acquire in paperback]
  • Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. D. Nicholson-Smith, Oxford: Blackwell (1991), Chapter 1 
  • Michel de Certeau, ‘Walking in the City’, in The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press (1984), Chapter 7.
  • Richard C. Trexler, ‘The Ritual of Celebration’, in Public Life in Renaissance Florence, 2nd Edition, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press (1991), Chapter  8.
  • Sharon T. Strocchia, ‘Theaters of Everyday Life’, in Roger J. Crum & John T. Paoletti (eds), Renaissance Florence: A Social History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2006), pp. 55-80 (and other articles in this volume esp. Gaston)
  • E. Muir and R.F.E. Weissman, ‘Social and Symbolic places in Renaissance Venice and Florence’ in eds. J.A. Agnew and J.S. Duncan, The Power of Place: Bringing together Geographical and Sociological Imaginations, Boston 1989
  • Marvin Trachtenberg, ‘Framing and Grounding Urbanism in Theory and the Arts’, in Dominion of the Eye: Urbanism, Art, and Power in Early Modern Florence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1997), pp. 149-165, 202-225, 239-43
  • Filippo De Vivo, ‘Walking in the early modern city: Mobilizing the spatial turn. The case of sixteenth-century Venice’ from  I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, Spring 2018 (for a social historian’s take on Venice - interesting but using paintings rather uncritically)  

You’re not expected to have any prior knowledge of Florence, Siena or Venice, but you will be better prepared if you ‘visit’ via a couple of films. Two very entertaining ones are:

  • For Florence as ‘Renaissance’ city for early 20th-century tourists:  James Ivory dir. A Room with a View, 1985; For the disorientation of Venice:  Nichola Roeg dir. Don’t Look Now, 1973