CORE 176A Art History
Classic Themes in Western Art

Fall 2016, Syllabus
Hafey-Marian 301
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9:30-10:45 am
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Prof. Pavlac
Office: Hafey-Marian 307
   Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 8:30-9:15 am; 
Wednesdays 12 noon-3:30 pm; 
and by appointment.
Tel: (570) 208-5900, ext. 5748

 Description | Objectives  | Course Requirements | Class Schedule

1. Description

This Core course surveys basic themes of art within Western Civilization. Artists through the ages have portrayed basic stories, drawn from myth, religion, and history, that show people's realities and fantasies, fears and hopes. These stories reflect the concerns of the past, while they often resonate with us today, and provide a foundation of a common culture.  Students will read key stories from our heritage (especially from the Bible and Greek Mythology), look at and interpret art about them, and analyze their impact on our culture.  We will draw especially on the Græco-Roman  and Judeo-Christian traditions to provide a basis for appreciating art, its changing styles and techniques, and ourselves.

2. Course Objectives

Students will be introduced to various aspects of appreciation and analysis of numerous visual art media. Students will develop an appreciation for the history of visual art and artists, and increase their ability to analyze and interpret visual art as a means of expressing the social, political, and cultural trends of the period in which it was created. Course work will include an introduction to the diverse aspects of art such as its components, media and techniques, and content.


1) To demonstrate a greater understanding and appreciation for art as a medium through which the human condition is enriched.
2) To demonstrate a visceral knowledge of the act of creating a piece of art.

Other objectives for the student:

General Learning Outcomes for the student:

In addition to the more content related objectives described above, this course has some general liberal learning goals. Successful completion of this course is expected to help improve your ability

  1. To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.
  2. To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.
  3. To differentiate between facts, opinions, and inferences.
  4. To frame questions in order to more clearly clarify a problem, topic or issue.
  5. To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.
  6. To organize your thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in a written form and oral presentations.
  7. To obtain practice in selecting and presenting information and arguments within a restricted environment, especially the limitations of time in exams.

III. General Requirements

A. Academic Integrity.

Review the academic honesty policy concerning cheating and plagiarism, differing levels of violations, and your moral, ethical, and legal obligation only to submit work completed by you yourself. (click here for more information from the Student Handbook <>).  Also see <Help stop Plagiarism!>.

B. Reading:

The readings are intended to provide you with important factual and background information before class, a basis for discussion during class, and to be used as review and reference works afterwards.

Please obtain the following textbooks:

Other readings:

>If you are not obtaining a copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses  or the Bible (you must print out copies from the links below (such as the relevant web sources, which may more efficent to copy and paste into a word processing document). 

The required readings are intended both to provide you with important factual and background information before class, used for discusson and reference during class, and to be used as review and reference works afterwards. Before each class, you will read the chapters or pages assigned under the READING ASSIGNMENTS column on the class schedule.  If you are not using a book (such as the Bible or Ovid) print out the relevant web sources (for some it would be more efficent to copy and paste the relevant stories into a word processing document).  Also, it would be prudent to consult sites linked to under USEFUL LINKS since they would provide you with more information. 

Before class, you will read according to the class schedule, below. In all of your classes, you should prudently mark up, underline, highlight, and otherwise annotate your texts as you study. For this class, you are required to do so.

If you are not using a book (such as the Bible or Ovid) print out the relevant web sources (for some it would be more efficent to copy and paste the relevant stories into a word processing document).  Also, it would be prudent to consult sites linked to under USEFUL LINKS since they would provide you with more information. 
You should critique the textbook as you study. While you are reading, use one or more highlighters or pens to mark up portions of the text. You might use marks similar to those used by the professor in his assessment of your own assignments, found here. You might consider different colors for (a) historical facts, terms, dates, (b) important points or details, or (c) key explanatory phrases and sentences (d) significant quotes or lines. You might write comments in the margins about the following points:

Carefully reading and noting texts is so important that the instructor applies two methods of evaluation:
First, quizzes may be given. Quizzes are open book, so you may copy your answers from your notes onto the quiz sheet. Use your own words: language similar to the text may be plagiarism.
Second, you are required to turn in your textbook at each exam; then the instructor will evaluate how well you have marked it up and answered review questions.

For each class (except exams), bring the reading assignments (always the Mona Lisa and Dictionary textbooks, as necessary relevant handouts, and printouts from the web).  After each class, you should review your class notes and compare them with the textbooks' version of the material. For this class and for all your classes, you should prudently underline key statements, highlight important passages, and otherwise annotate essential details as you study.  Not all topics in the books will be covered in class, but you are responsible for them on the exam and in class discussion.

The instructor may give quizzes to test your reading and comprehension.

If you have a used Dictionary textbook that has been already marked up, or an electronic version of the textbook, or some other problem with obtaining a textbook, see the instructor within the first two weeks of classes so that solutions can be found for your use of the textbook and subsequent evaluation.  At the end of the second week, the instructor will examine your book to see how marked-up it is.

C. Class Participation:

Participation and attendance are necessary because lecture and discussion provide the essentials for achieving class goals and objectives. Thus a portion of your grade (about 20%) will depend on your in-class performance, aside from graded quizzes, exams, and papers. You are required to attend each class, arrive on time, remain attentive, maintain proper classroom decorum, respond to questions, and participate in discussion and small-group activities.

You are encouraged to take notes.  Student are also responsible for carrying out discussion, providing answers to questions about material in your readings, and bring up knowledge from other classes and experiences.  You can also contribute to discussion by asking questions.  Since mature engagement with our society's past and present problems and controversies requires knowledge of current events, students are expected to be informed about significant current events.

During class electronic devices may only be used for tasks and information relevant to the classroom activity and may not distract you or other students. Only with the instructor's permission may class be recorded, only to be used for your own study, and the recordings must be erased after the final exam.

Any student who has a learning disability, physical handicap, and/or any other possible impediment to class participation and requirements (whether vetted by the Academic Skills Center or not) should meet with the instructor within the first two weeks of classes to establish available accommodations.

If, at some point during the semester, you must discontinue the course, whether due to poor performance, illness, or some other cause, be sure to follow proper procedures for withdrawal through the Registrar.

Several minor written assignments (a paragraph to one page in length) may also be required as reflections and reactions to class discussion and projects (10 points each).

D. Absence Policy:

Since participation and class attendance are necessary, if you miss a class you must complete an Absentee Assignment (see below) so that the instructor may evaluate whether some learning has taken place (see below).
If you arrive at class late, after attendance is taken, you must personally request that the absence be turned into a tardy mark; otherwise an Absentee Assignment (see below) may be required. Students who need to leave a class early, except for an emergency, should notify the instructor before class begins.

Missing a class falls into two categories, excused or unexcused, either of which requires submission of an Absentee Assignment (see below).

1. Excused absences are due to college activities, an emergency, or extended illness. They require a notification by the appropriate College official (coach, director, etc.). If you know in advance, you should consult with the instructor about making up/turning in missed work; otherwise contact the instructor as soon as possible after your return. They should have no negative impact upon your grade.

2. All other absences, for whatever reasons, are unexcused, but do not require any written documentation. More than a few will lower the class participation portion of your grade.

After any absence, you are also responsible for requesting any hand-outs and already-returned assignments from the instructor, or borrowing notes from other students.

If you miss any quizzes and/or in-class writing or activity projects due to an excused absence, you may make them up with the explicit permission of the instructor, who may require any equivalent assignment. 

If you miss an exam, you do not need to complete an Absentee Assignment, but contact the instructor as soon as possible to schedule a make-up for the exam. You may take a missed exam only at the discretion of the instructor.

A few unexcused absences or a make-up exam should not significantly lower your grade.  Always, your health is your first priority. If you are sick, stay away from class, and seek proper treatment and rest before returning to class.

E. Absentee Assignment:

Since participation and class attendance are necessary, if you miss a class you must complete an Absentee Assignment so that the instructor may evaluate whether some learning has taken place.
For an Absentee Assignment, you are to write a no-more-than-one page essay (in proper presentation format) covering that day's reading or discussion topic.
These papers are ungraded, without points, and not returned; yet failure to complete Absentee Assignments will significantly lower your grade, perhaps resulting in failure of the course.
Deadlines: The assignment(s) should be turned in to the instructor at the beginning of the next class after you return.

G. Exams

You will take one mid-term exam (100 points) on the assigned date in the class schedule and one final exam (150 points), which is comprehensive, to be scheduled during finals week.  The final exam is comprehensive, covering material since the beginning of the course.

Both exams will consist of short identifications quizzing knowledge of detail and significance, and essays testing your understanding of the course material through logical presentation of facts and explanation of historical, cultural and artistic trends.  For part of each exam you will be able use your textbook Dictionary of Subject and Symbols in Art by James Hall and any written notes therein (not added markers or post-its).

To study for the exams you should regularly (at least once a week), review your class notes, especially for identifications drawn from the overhead outline. You should also compare and contrast these notes with your textbook and other readings.

H. In-class projects

Regularly through the term we will have in-class discussions and projects. You are required to have read before class the appropriate material (as listed on the class schedule , or otherwise assigned by the instructor) and be prepared to discuss and write about it with the instructor or in small groups.

You will be evaluated by short quizzes or written reports done in-class or after class, worth between 10 and 20 points each.

I. Written Assignments

A. Art Queries
You are to make an oral presentation about one relevant work of art on the dates according to the class schedule and turn in a written report of three to four (3-4) pages of text in length (not counting cover page, bibliography, or handout).  (100 points)

Examining art works helps you understand the artistic achievement, and the culture better. In this exercise you will watch closely, analyze images, read carefully, organize your thoughts, and present them in clear written and verbal forms, and so develop observational and critical skills. 


  1. QUERY SELECTION:  As assigned, choose an artwork ABOUT A BIBLICAL OR GRECO-ROMAN MYTHOLOGICAL STORY by an artist on the list of top 25 artists and sign up for your artist hoice on a list posted on the instructor's door (HM 307) by date on the class schedule.  Only one artist per student is permitted). Find a relevant picture (either online, in a book, or in an actual museum).  (To choose another artwork by an artist not on the list requires with the instructor's written permission.  On the due date for the selection assignment, turn in your choice, listing artwork title, artist, and current location of the work of art (in proper presentation format with a cover page and the choice written on the other page.)  
  2. QUERY DRAFT EVALUATION:  Carefully answer the questions on the appropriate form (click here), in a few sentences. Be sure to pay attention to the subcategories and the relevant readings in primary sources. Consult appropriate sources about the art work (especially to answer Question #3).  Sources should include two printed book biographies of the artist and one printed book on art history, along with relevant course assigned texts. This Draft Evaluation, with a title page, the filled-out evaluation, and a bibliography page (in proper presentation format) is due according to the class schedule.
  3. QUERY ORAL AND WRITTEN REPORT:  On the day on which the topic is to be examined, present your artwork to the rest of the class within a five-to-seven minute timeframe. Be sure to bring a copy of the artwork to class as a handout on a standard sheet of paper and an image that can be shown on the large screen using the computer. The handout should be labeled with the title, artist, current location of the work of art, and source of the illustration.
    The reports should be based on expanded answers of the draft evaluation.  You can go into the general time period, the artist's life and background, artistic choices, comparison to other versions of the same subject by the same artist or others. 
  4. For the oral report, you must use notes (not full sentences or text copied from your written report) printed on one side of 5x8 inch notecards or half sheets of standard 8½ inch paper. Your assignment will be evaluated on the appropriateness of your choice of artwork, the thoroughness of your answers, quality of your notes, your use of sources, the clarity of your oral presentation, and your response to questions. For a similar evaluation form which will be used, click here.
  5. Turn in a written report (in proper presentation format) to the instructor. For more information on how to write essays, click here.  The report should have a cover page, text of three-four pages pulling together your analysis, followed by a page with a bibliography that lists the source of the actual artwork and sources used to write the report (at least two printed book biographies of the artist and one printed book on art history, along with relevant course assigned texts), and a copy of your handout. 

B. The story of a story
You are to write an essay of five to six (5-6) pages of text (not counting cover page, bibliography, and pictures) in which you critically research and analyze the historical development of a basic Western story. (100 points). 

This course focuses on basic stories of Western Civilization. This paper provides you the opportunity to study in greater detail one of the artistic themes and how it develops over time. In this exercise you will watch closely, analyze images, read carefully, assess opinions, organize your thoughts, present them in a clear written form, and so better understand a cultural theme.  


  1. STORY SELECTION:  Choose a basic cultural story or character from the list here by the date listed on the class schedule. On the due date for the selection assignment, turn in your choice (in proper presentation format with a cover page and the choice written on the other page).
  2. Research the different variations of the story, and works of art which illustrate it. You must choose at least four different artworks from four different artists and four time periods. Use at least four secondary, professional printed sources, along with relevant course assigned texts.  For more on sources, click here.
  3. Write a careful essay evaluating the use of the story in our culture. Your thesis should indicate your assessment story's relevance.  Your assignment will be evaluated on the thoroughness of your description and analysis, the incorporation of knowledge about artistic themes, the quality of your research and your use of sources, the clarity of your written work (including proper introduction and conclusion, organized paragraphs with clear topic sentences, transitions between ideas, as well as proper word choice and sentence structures). 
  4. STORY FINAL DRAFT DUE:  Rest, review, and revise repeatedly. Then write a final draft (in proper presentation format) to be turned in on the date listed on the class schedule. Include in the bibliography at least four secondary, professional printed secondary sources, a citation for the relevant primary source, if any, along with relevant course assigned texts. Pictures of the covered artworks should be included after the bibliography, labeled with title, artist, date of creation, current location, and your source for acquiring the illustration.

[Optional art alternative: instead of writing the above essay, you may create a set of artworks in a similar style, one each covering three stories from different cultural sets (e.g. Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman, Historical), accompanied by a two-three-page analysis of your artistic choices. Please consult the instructor by the end of the second week of class].

IV. Grading Policy:

You earn your grade through work done for this course. It is your responsibility to understand why you have achieved a certain grade and what steps you can take to maintain or improve your grade. Click here for essential information about evaluation and grading. For more information see your Student Handbook and the college catalog.

Your final grade will be based on a percentage (above 90%=A, 80-90%=B, etc., with borderline grades earning "+" or "-") of the sum of the assignments. Different assignments will be worth certain point values.

For your protection, in case of errors in recording, you should keep copies of all exams and assignments until you have received official notice of your final grade. Any and all materials done for this course may become the property of the instructor, who may use them for assessment, evaluative, scholarly, or research purposes.

J. Deadlines:

Meeting due dates are an important aspect of your course work. You yourself must hand in each due assignment at the beginning of class on the dates assigned (see class schedule). The grade of any paper you turn in late will lose at least 10% after the beginning of the first class, 20% after the second, and 35% after the third. No late papers will be accepted after the last day of class, resulting in a zero for any such assignment.

V. Class Schedule:

Should the College cancel classes, still work according to the schedule below, until otherwise instructed by the instructor.

Should the College have a compressed schedule, still do the work according to the schedule below, until otherwise instructed by the instructor.  Meeting time under the compressed schedule is 11:00-11:50 am.

Week 1
Aug 30, Sep 1
Introduction and Looking at Art The Annotated Mona Lisa, pp. x-1;
Dictionary, pp. vii-xiii
Materials for Studying Art  
Week 2
Sep 6, 8
A Concise Survey of the Art in Western Civilization:  up to 1500 The linked chapters 1-8;
The Annotated Mona Lisa, pp. 2-19, 24-29
List of Art Museums on the Web
List of Art History Websites;
Week 3
Sep 13, 15
A Concise Survey of the Art in Western Civilization: 1500 to today The linked chapters 9-15;
The Annotated Mona Lisa, pp. 30-127
Week 4
Sep 20, 22
The Hebrew Scriptures:
Adam and Eve;
Creation/Adam & Eve: Genesis 1-3;
Abraham: 18-22;
Samson: Judges 14-16;
Dictionary: Creation, God the Father, Trinity, compasses, wings, angel, seraph, cherub, putto, Garden, night, sun, moon, rose, lily, dandelion, palm, tree, nut, fruit, apple, fig, orange, peach, pomegranate, animals, snake, wolf, dog, hare, dove, lamb, lion, ape, Adam and Eve, blood, hand, skull, death, four seasons, twelve months, crown, Satan, demon; Abraham, Lot, knife, flame, fire, torch, candle; donor; Samson, shears, pillar
Art and the Bible STORY SELECTION due Sept 20
Week 5
Sep 27, 29
The Hebrew Scriptures:
David: I Samuel 17-31; II Samuel 11-20 (Bathsheba);
[or Daniel, Chapter 13];
Dictionary: David, viol; Susanna, humility, Daniel, mirror; Judith
Art and the Bible;
Catholic Encyclopedia
Week 6
Oct 4, 6
The New Testament:
Jesus the Christ;
and the Virgin Mary/Holy Family; John the Baptist and Salome
Gospel of Luke, Chapters 1-3, 22-24 (the rest of Luke and Matthew, Mark, John are optional);
Salome: Mark 6: 14-30;
  Annuciation, Virgin Mary, Visitation, John the Baptist, Nativity, Gabriel, book, Book of Hours, Adoration of the Magi, Holy Family, Flight into Egypt, Christ etc., Baptism, Trinity, pyx, bread, vine, grape, wine and bread, chalice, cross, crown, shepherd, coins, key, hand, foot, breast, Sermon on the Mount, Last Supper, Agony in the Garden, lamb, anchor, Cleansing of the Temple, Crucifixion, betrayal, Judas Iscariot, Trial of Christ,  flagellation, Mockery of Christ, Ecce Homo, man of sorrows, Crowning with the Thorns, Road to Calvary, stations of the cross, nails, Bearing the Body of Christ, Pieta, tomb, sepulchre, Resurrection, Ascension,  Death of the Virgin, assumption, Coronation of the Virgin, bishop, crozier, monk, religious dress
Art and the Bible STORY FINAL DRAFT due Oct 6
Week 7
Oct 11
Midterm EXAM   15 Styles;
25 Artists; 25 Works of Art
Midterm EXAM
Week 8
Oct 18. 20
The New Testament:
Last Judgment;
Mary Magdalene;
Mary Magdalene: John 20; and Golden Legend, relevant entries or here;
Paul: Acts of the Apostles 8-9;
Dictionary: Apocalypse, mandorla, Michael; Mary Magdalene, flag, Mary of Egypt, hair, crucifix, Seven Sacraments, Assumption, Holy Women at the Sepulchre; Paul, sword, book, scroll, Peter, pride
Week 9
Oct 25, 27
Saints and Martyrs:
Agatha; Anthony;
George; Jerome; Margaret; Sebastian
Golden Legend, relevant entries or here;
Dictionary: Agatha; Antony the Great; George; Jerome, hour glass, hat; Margaret of Antioch, dragon; Sebastian,
Patron Saints Index;
Art and the Bible;
St. Sebastian;
St. Anthony or St. Anthony
Week 10
Nov 1, 3
Græco-Roman Mythology:
Zeus/Jupiter and his affairs

(Hera/Juno), 1 Antiope, 2. Callisto, 3. Europa, 4. Danaë,
5. Ganymede, 6. Leda, 7. Io, 8. Semele
Ovid, Metamorphoses:
Callisto: Ovid II: 401-507;
Europa: Ovid II: 833-875;
Ganymede: Ovid X: 152-161;
Io: Ovid I: 68-746;
Semele:  Ovid III: 253-315;
Dictionary: Jupiter, thunderbolt, lightning, eagle, sceptre, sacrifice, Juno, Antiope, satyr, Cupid, Diana (5), nymph, Rape of Europa, bull, dolphin, putto, Danaë, Ganymede, Leda, Io, Mercury, caduceus, Semele

Larry A. Brown, Ovid's Metamorphoses;

Hans-Juergen Gunther, Illustrated Ovid (click on "OVIDUS-NASO EDITION" in left column;

University of Virginia, The Ovid Collection  

Week 11
Nov 8, 10
Græco-Roman Mythology:
More Olympian Gods
:  1. Apollo Phoebus and Daphne; 2. Diana and Actaeon; 3. Venus & Mars & Vulcan;
4. Cupid & Psyche; 5. Pluto & Proserpine
Ovid, Metamorphoses:
Apollo & Daphne: Ovid I: 438-472;
Diana & Actaeon: Ovid III: 138-253;
Cupid and Psyche: Apuleius;
Pluto & Proserpine: Ovid V: 332-571;
Dictionary: Apollo, bow, arrow, quiver, laurel, lyre, chariot, halo, Muses; Diana, Luna, stag; Venus, Cupid, Three Graces, Mars, Vulcan; Rape of Proserpine, Pluto, Ceres, cornucopia, sickle

The Perseus Project
Encyclopedia Mythica

Week 12
Nov 15, 17
Græco-Roman Mythology:
: 1. Pygmalion; 2. Theseus; 3. Perseus & Andromeda;
4. Judgement of Paris; 5. Hercules
Ovid, Metamorphoses:
Pygmalion: Ovid X: 247-297;
Theseus: Ovid VIII: 152-182;
Perseus: Ovid IV: 604-803;
Judgment of Paris: Lucian;
Pygmalion; Theseus, centaurs; Perseus; Hercules; Judgement of Paris, Paris, Minerva, Helen of Troy, Trojan War
Hyginus' version of Judgement of Paris QUERY DRAFT EVALUATION due Nov 15
Week 13
Nov 22
Græco-Roman History:
1. Socrates;
2. Alexander "the Great";
4. Lucretia;
5. Cleopatra
Plato, Phaedo, Socrates' Death;
Battle of Issus;
Livy on Lucretia;
The Death of Cleopatra;
:  Socrates; Alexander the Great; Rape of Lucretia; Cleopatra
Week 14
Nov 29, Dec1
Historical Tragedy and Comedy Dictionary:  warrior, weapons; love; lovers

Virtual Museum of Political Art 

Week 15
Dec 6, 8
ORAL REPORTS and Review   QUERY ORAL AND WRITTEN REPORT on either Dec 6 or 8
Thursday Dec 15 at 10:15 am Final EXAM     Final EXAM

Although the syllabus presents the basic content and requirements of the course, the professor reserves the right to change anything (e.g. assignments, point values, topics, due dates, grading policy, etc.), at any time, at his discretion.  

 Description | Objectives  | Course Requirements | Class Schedule

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Last Revision: 2016 November 29
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