Art History 301-304
Undergraduate Seminar: Body, Style and Space in Early Modern Europe
Monday 2-5, Meyerson B5
Instructor: Rebecca Zorach
Office: Penn Humanities Forum, 3619 Locust Walk, room 204
Phone: 746-5947 (Home 528-5466)
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10-12 and 2-5 by appointment

Course Description

This course will examine the visually and metaphorically rich relationship between the fashions and fashioning of the human body and the organization and decoration of space in early modern Europe, with an emphasis on ornament and the social functions of fashion and on ideas of the exotic and utopian. How, in the Renaissance, were bodies used as markers of place (via costume or gesture), of conquest and domination, of the sophisticated luxury of certain places and the naturalness of others? How does the ornamenting of the outside (of a body, or of a building) reflect what's on the inside? How does the representation of space in painting and other visual media inflect the bodies that appear within it, and vice versa?


There is no specific prerequisite, but one or more classes in art history, in early modern history or literature, or in literary or cultural theory would be helpful. Reading knowledge of a European language other than English may assist in preparing a research paper. You must have a willingness to engage with very challenging, often theoretical readings: both to read them carefully on your own and to participate in class discussion.

Course Requirements

· Class discussion. We will spend about 1/2 - 2/3 of each class discussing the readings and the rest of class time discussing images (usually slides) using the readings as a guide to understanding them.

· Contributing questions for discussion by email to the class (to be assigned)

· The last three weeks of class are devoted to topics chosen by the class together with the instructor. You will divide into groups, each of which will choose a topic (related to your own paper topics) and, with my help, decide on readings to assign to the class for one week. Then you will collaboratively lead discussion (again, with my help).

· A research paper, comprising:

a one-page paper proposal, due 2/26

a five-page draft (specific instructions forthcoming), due 3/19

and a 15-20 page final paper, due 5/9


Ordered at the Penn Book Center: More, Utopia; Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form; Stallybrass and Jones, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory (back ordered); Erickson and Hulse, Early Modern Visual Culture

The course reader (CR) available at Campus Copy contains most of the other readings; a few will be on reserve at the Fine Arts Library (Fisher).


Schedule of Readings

Part I. Backgrounds

1/22 Introduction: Bodies/Styles/Spaces

Millon, "The Architectural Theory of Francesco di Giorgio" (CR)

1/29 Renaissance Bodies

Camporesi, "The Dreadful Desire to Study" (CR)

Arasse, "Archetype of a Glance" (CR)

Zemon Davis, "Women on Top" (CR)

2/5 The Body in Theory

Butler, "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution" (CR)

Best, "Sexualizing Space" (CR)

Grosz, "Bodies-Cities" and "Women, Chora, Dwelling" (CR)

Part II. Ornament and the ordering of space

2/12 Ornament in Pieces

Fumerton, Introduction (CR); Fletcher, from "The Cosmic Image" (CR)

Wohl, "Style" and "Ornato" (CR)

2/19 Architectural Ornament and Luxury

Thompson, Renaissance Architecture (on reserve)

2/26 Imagining Bodies/Spaces I: Perspective

Panofsky, Perspective as Symbolic Form (ordered)

Baltrusaitis, "German Visionaries: Kircher and Schott," and "Holbein's The Ambassadors" (CR)

**Paper proposal due**

3/5 Clothing

If available: Stallybrass and Jones, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory (selections); otherwise Erickson and Hulse, Early Modern Visual Culture (selections)

Part III. Other Spaces

3/19 Imagining Bodies/Spaces II: Utopia and heterotopia

More, Utopia (ordered)

Foucault, "Of Other Spaces" (CR)

**Paper draft due**

3/26 Nature-Gardens

Strong, The Renaissance Garden in England (selections, on reserve)

Lazzaro, "The Visual Language of Gender in Sixteenth-Century Garden Sculpture" (CR)

4/2 Colonial/Exotic Spaces

Early Modern Visual Culture (ordered)


Part IV. Further Topics

4/9, 4/16, 4/23 Student-led discussions, topics to be determined

Some topics (many more are possible)

Ideal cities


Maps and their populations

Cities and the idea of the "crowd"

Intimate Spaces-Pornography-the nude


Domestic space

Theater-spectacle, dance

Royal-court spaces (Palaces: Versailles; Palazzo del Tè in Mantua; etc.)

Books of manners and bodily deportment (Castliglione, etc.)


Piranesi's Prisons

Sumptuary laws

5/9 Final Paper due



- name/email/major and year/interest in course

- Plan for today: describe course, go over syllabus, show some slides (presumably finish a bit early)

"early modern": "Renaissance and Baroque"

Course description: French emphasis (vs. Italian, English)

Level of course: Something like a graduate seminar except less reading and more guidance

Basic presupposition: the pervasiveness of bodily metaphors for kinds of spaces, both physical space and social space: buildings, cities, nations … the king’s two bodies? symbolic body and actual body. Maps of the world based on Christ’s body (T-O maps?), the state as a body with the king at its head [Leviathan]) the "body politic"

Hobbes in 17c England: "For by art is created that great LEVIATHAN called a COMMONWEALTH, or STATE (in Latin, CIVITAS), which is but an artificial man, though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defence it was intended; and in which the sovereignty is an artificial soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; the magistrates and other officers of judicature and execution, artificial joints; reward and punishment (by which fastened to the seat of the sovereignty, every joint and member is moved to perform his duty) are the nerves, that do the same in the body natural; the wealth and riches of all the particular members are the strength; salus populi (the people's safety) its business; counsellors, by whom all things needful for it to know are suggested unto it, are the memory; equity and laws, an artificial reason and will; concord, health; sedition, sickness; and civil war, death. Lastly, the pacts and covenants, by which the parts of this body politic were at first made, set together, and united, resemble that fiat, or the Let us make man, pronounced by God in the Creation."

Vitruvius: antique architectural ornament and the relation to the body.

Millon article: churches based on the proportions of the body

conjunction of "old style" art history’s interest in Renaissance (focus on the "invention" of a rendering of bodies in "correct" (ie mathematical, perspectival) spatial relations… with newer theoretical interests in space, bodies (reflected in the theoretical readings of week 3)

One assumption: suspend the cultural pre-eminence of Renaissance art, defamiliarize it, realize how truly strange some things about it are…

Space: anthropology, social theory, geography: "space" as mental (conceptual, imaginary) and social (how people relate to each other in different kinds of spaces) as well as physical, the conjunction of all of these things (theories of Henri Lefebvre)

Body: feminist theory, gay and lesbian studies, race and postcolonial studies: attacking a traditional Western split between mind and body which presents the body as separate from and subordinate to the "disembodied" mind… pointing to ways in which certain bodies get "marked" as "other" in different historical contexts (women identified with the body more than men are in medieval and early modern culture: marriage conceived as a relation of mind to body, man to woman, man is "the head" of woman). But also the "phenomenology" of the body: bodily experience of different kinds of space, gesture, movement, etc.

How does "style" fit into this?

Some specific historical phenomena in the mid-late 15th c.

new interest in antiquity, classical ornament (including the "discovery" of the grotesque)

prints and the dissemination of imagery

exploration - travel literature

Ornament and order. hierarchy. But also anxieties about subjectivity – does ornament reduce humans to display, does the ornamenting of the outside mean they’re hollow inside?

Style as an element of knowledge of other places and cultures (including European as well as non-European cultures), cf Elizabeth Eisenstein's The Printing Press as an Agent of Change and the idea of the "type," dissemination of style, standardization and increased recognition of diversity of styles

2 or 3 volunteers to email questions for discussion to me by Sunday morning.

Possibility of trip to Baltimore to the Walters



Goujon Caryatids Louvre, 1550s Leonardo, Vitruvian Man (1492)

Space: Depth vs. ornament?

(Also, style and the effort at historical correctness)

Francesco dal Cossa, Pal. Schif. Piero, Flagellation of Christ, 1455

"March" 1470

Bodies and their (symbolic) disposition in space

Comp study, Florence, 15c Raphael, School of Athens, 1509

Raphael School, dec. panels


Sistine Chapel overall view [advance]

Mich. Last Judgment (1536-41) Bronzino, Martyrdom of St Lawrence

ca 1545

Stylishness and the body; decorum and sense of place

Mich. Nude youth Bronzino portrait, 1550s

Play with Perspective

Mantegna, Camera degli Sposi detail

oculus 1465-74

Holbein, Ambassadors [advance]

Giulio Romano, Sala dei Giganti det.

Palazzo Tè 1530-5


Monsters, non-human bodies: what do they say about the body?

det. from Giganti another det. from Giganti (buried in walls)

Grotto, Boboli Gardens ca 1549

Cornelis Floris Jakob Floris

Arcimboldo Landscape Man Piranesi ruins (18c)

Outdoor Spaces/Crowds/Foreign Locales

Bellini, Sermon of St. Mark View of Chateau of Monceau, Perelle

in Alexandria, 1504-7 [order]

Brueghel, Battle of Carnival

and Lent, 1559

Venus/domestic (fantasy?) space

Titian 1538 Clouet