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Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture (390-0-26)


Art and Nature in Renaissance Europe


Rebecca Elizabeth Zorach

Uche Okpa Iroha

Meeting Info

Kresge Centennial Hall 2-329: Tues, Thurs 12:30PM - 1:50PM

Overview of class

Course title: Art and Nature in Renaissance Europe

This course surveys European Renaissance approaches to the idea of nature, and the relationship of art and nature. We read primary texts in translation and examine artworks from the early 1400s to the late 1500s, in Italy and Northern Europe, with attention to the ways in which exploration and colonization reflected and also altered European attitudes toward nature. Nature can mean plants and animals and landscapes in this period, but it also has many different definitions, and the class will defamiliarize the modern received definitions. We consider the Renaissance as a moment of origin for later ideologies that promote the human domination of nature (with all its negative consequences for both human beings and extra-human life) but we also look at alternative ideas and traditions within and outside of the European context that point to more holistic notions of the interconnections of living (and, sometimes, nonliving) beings. To the extent possible, course will be taught as a "flipped classroom," with video lectures to watch on your own along with short readings followed by ample time for in-class discussion.

Evaluation Method

Exam, final
Exam, mid-term
Class participation
Writing assignments

Class Materials (Required)

No textbook

Class Notes

Please use the following link for Art History Waitlist information: