Fifteenth-Century Italian Art

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SUMMER 2015 (Session II-D): August 3 - August 20 

Class Meetings: MTuWTh


Professor: Nicole Riesenberger

Office: Art/Soc 4205B



INTRODUCTION: This course surveys the painting, sculpture and architecture of fifteenth-century Italy. We will consider the social and political functions of artistic programs, the domestic role of art, artistic patronage and commemoration, the revival of antique styles, developments toward naturalism, and the distinct regional styles practiced throughout Italy.

This fully online course will be taught directly from this website, which hosts images of the artworks students will learn throughout the semester, a schedule of class topics and assignments, supplemental resources, and a digital map and timeline populated with course content. Students will access lectures by logging onto Canvas at: The Canvas site will also be used for discussion forums, which all students will be expected to contribute to regularly.


REQUIRED READINGS: All required readings will be available online at Canvas, Students are not required to purchase any textbooks.


EXPECTATIONS: Students will be expected to complete assigned readings and to review online resources before each lecture. These materials will often serve as the starting point for debates in the Canvas discussion forum, which students will contribute to with brief responses before each lecture. Completion of all lectures and active participation on the discussion board and Twitter will be essential to the creation of a vibrant and engaging online community. 

The time allotted for lecture has been reduced substantially from the traditional course in order to allow ample time for students to complete discussion forum posts and to review additional online materials. The combination of discussion forum and Twitter participation will make up 40% of the student’s grade. The remainder of the course grade will comprise two exams and a digital exhibition project. 


DISCUSSION FORUM: Because the online course format does not allow us to engage in face-to-face discussions, it is crucial that all students contribute to the discussion forum for each lecture. This equates to four short posts per week (one for each day, Monday through Thursday). I will submit a question or prompt to the discussion board the night before each day's forum posts are due. By 12:00 am Eastern Standard Time each day, students are expected to have watched the lecture video and contributed a short discussion forum post for that day. 

On a rotating basis, individual students will be enlisted as discussion moderators for the online forum. The role of the discussion moderator is to stimulate debate with open-ended questions about the assigned materials and to respond to the posts of their peers in a thoughtful and inclusive manner.

Because there is no term paper required for this course, both the quality and quantity of students’ discussion forum posts will be factored into the participation grade. Therefore, contributions to the discussion forum should be concise (1-2 paragraphs) but thoughtful and cogent entries that reveal the student’s knowledge of the material and questions at hand.


TWITTER: Throughout the semester, students will use Twitter to communicate questions or reflections with the professor (@NRiesenberger) and their colleagues. Tweet with #ARTH323 to join the conversation. Unlike discussion forum posts, which are meant to be more well-formulated responses to provocative questions, Twitter can be used to share information or ask questions relevant to the course. This platform will allow for the creation of a more dynamic online community for our course.


DIGITAL EXHIBITION PROJECT: This course will culminate in a semester project involving the curation of a digital exhibition using Google Art Project. After first developing a question or subject for their exhibition, students will select five fifteenth-century Italian artworks from those available in Google’s collection. Exhibitions may be thematic (ie. mythology, marriage chests, the study of human anatomy, regional variations on a particular theme, such as the Madonna and Child, etc.) or retrospectives of a single artist’s work. In each case students will be expected to draft short narratives for each object in their exhibition, explaining the general history of the object and how it relates to the broader topic. Students will submit proposals for their exhibitions on August 6th and the final project will be due on August 17th. Students will then review one another’s exhibitions for the final discussion forum assignment. Further details for this project will be distributed on the first day of class.


GRADING:   Participation (Discussion Forum & Twitter): 40%

                        Digital Exhibition Project: 30%

                        Exams: 30%



  • A+, A, A- denotes excellent mastery of the subject and outstanding scholarship
  • B+, B, B- denotes good mastery of the subject and good scholarship
  • C+, C, C- denotes acceptable mastery of the subject
  • D+, D, D- denotes borderline understanding of the subject, marginal performance, and it does not represent satisfactory progress toward a degree
  • F denotes failure to understand the subject and unsatisfactory performance
  • XF denotes failure due to academic dishonesty


ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity visit the Student Honor Council web site:

To further exhibit your commitment to academic integrity, remember to sign the Honor Pledge on all examinations and assignments: "I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment)."


ACADEMIC ACCOMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: If a student has a documented disability and wishes to discuss academic accommodations, please contact the professor as soon as possible. The rules for eligibility and the types of accommodations a student may request can be reviewed on the Disability Support Services web site:

Disability Support Services requires that students request an Accommodation Form each semester. It is the student's responsibility to present the form to the professor as proof of eligibility for accommodations.


RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES: The University System of Maryland policy states that students should not be penalized in any way for participation in religious observances. Students shall be allowed, whenever practicable, to make up academic assignments that are missed due to such absences. It is the student's responsibility to contact the professor, and make arrangements for make-up work or examinations. The student is responsible for providing written notification to the professor within the first two weeks of the semester. The notification must identify the religious holiday(s) and date(s). For additional information, please visit the University of Maryland Policies and Procedures at