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History and Art History - HS 120: Renaissance Culture

Blocks 5 and 6: Tip Ragan and Rebecca Tucker

This two-block course satisfies the Critical Perspectives: The West in Time requirement.

Giotto, The Betrayal, from the Scrovegni Chapel, c. 1305. Fresco.

During these two blocks, we will examine the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation through the lenses of history and art.  Since Jacob Burckhardt “discovered” the Renaissance in the nineteenth century, the question of “identity” has been the central guiding question of the period.  We will focus specifically on identity, but think about it in much more complex ways: specifically, we will interrogate how people saw themselves and acted in the context of the church, family, sexuality and gender, class, and state, as well as ideas of history and tradition. Philosophical, political, and literary texts as well as painting, architecture, and sculpture will illuminate changing notions of the self from the 1300s through the 1500s. Authors and artists considered in the class include: Tacitus, Boethius, Christine de Pizan, Giotto, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Dürer, Erasmus, and Luther.  In addition, we will examine the lives of people from the common orders of society, such as women, Jews, witches, and sodomites.

A two-block course with two instructors in each block; one grade will be given for the course as a whole


  • There may be afternoon class sessions occasionally, including movie viewing, trips to museums, and other projects.
  • Class will involve field trips to area museums in Colorado Springs and Denver