cod. 1008853

Academic year 2021/22
2° year of course - Second semester
- Federica VERATELLI
Academic discipline
Museologia e critica artistica e del restauro (L-ART/04)
Discipline relative ai beni storico-archeologici e artistici, archivistici e librari, demoetnoantropologici e ambientali
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students, according to the Dublin Descriptors for the bachelor’s degree (First cycle - European Qualification Framework Level 6), with adequate knowledge and understanding of the history of art, (i.e. its meanings, its cultural role, its social impact) through the social history of art (1° Descriptor - Knowledge and understanding).
At the end of the course, the student must be able to:
• demonstrate, by applying knowledge and understanding, to be professionally able to solve through the creation of arguments, different kinds of issues relating to the social history of art (2° Descriptor - Applying knowledge and understanding);
• have the ability to independently collect and understand the sources for the history of art, including the consideration on connected social, scientific or ethic issues (3° Descriptor - Making judgements);
• communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions on the history of cultural and artistic heritage and its connections with social contexts of reference to both specialist and non-specialist audiences (4° Descriptor - Communication skills);
• improve the learning skills that are necessary to continue undertaking further study with a high degree of autonomy in the field of cultural and more specific, artistic heritage (5° Descriptor - Learning skills).

The threshold learning minimum outcomes are the student's ability to find its way in the social history of art field, with its methodological approaches, by applying the knowledge of cultural heritage, its history, and its peculiar characteristics, with attention to various social and historical contexts of reference.



Course unit content

The course aims to introduce students to social history of art main approaches. The Introduction - Part One will introduce to some key moments of this history, methodologies, critical theories, and different approaches to the social value of works of art developed during the 20th century, from Antal, Hauser, Klingender, through Baxandall, Wackernagel, Wittkover, Haskell, Alpers, Pommier, Shearman, Castelnuovo, Battisti, Burke, Montias, until Belting and the more recent theories. The diversity of the approaches and themes developed by these scholars during their research will consent to consider some case studies and some episodes of the global art history in different historical contexts, from the 15th century Florence to our globalized world.
The Single Subject course - Part Two explore, through a series of case studies, the painting of the Low Countries from 15th to 17th century, and the 'worlds' behind details and objects: added as part of daily life they recall social connections and economic implications linked to contexts of reference, making this works of art "an inventory of the possible". Therefore, in The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, 1434 (London, National Gallery) the rich fur worn by Giovanni Arnolfini as the Eastern sumptuous carpet bring us respectively in Russia and Turkey, destinations of the merchant trades, born in Lucca but resident in Bruges. At the same way, the impressive hat of the Officer and Laughing Girl by Jan Vermeer, 1657 circa (New York, The Frick Collection) bring us to Canada, where European explorers got beaver fur from Native Americans in exchange for weapons. Those pelts, in turn, contributed to finance the Dutch sailors’ travels seeking new routes to China, where, with silver mined in Peru, Europeans would purchase the Chinese white and blue porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, as we can see in Girl Reading a Letter, 1657 (Dresden, Gemäldegalerie).

Full programme

Introduction - Part One
Introduction to the social history of art

• Theories, methodologies, and critical approches, 20th-21th century.

Single Subject course - Part Two
Mirrors of the World. Paintings of the Low Countries as "inventories of the possible"

• Introduction to the painting of the Low Countries: an historical and geographical outline from 15th to 17th century.
• Case studies.


Subject matter:

• [Part One and Part Two] - A DIGITAL DOSSIER: PowerPoint slideshows containing images and sources shown during frontal lessons (available at the end of the course, and not before, on the platform for blended learning Elly DUSIC);
• [Part One] – THREE SHORT METHODOLOGICAL ESSAYS: E. Castelnuovo, Il contributo sociologico, in Id. Arte, industria, rivoluzioni. Temi di storia sociale dell'arte [1985], Pisa, Edizioni della Normale, 2007 (or reprints), pp. 81-98; E. Fumagalli, Note per il dialogo tra storia sociale e storia dell’arte, in “Ricerche di storia dell’arte”, 96, 2008, pp. 31-40; G.C. Sciolla, “Paura del nuovo”. La ricezione della storia sociale dell’arte nell’Italia del dopoguerra, in M. Nezzo, G. Tomasella (a cura di), Sotto la superficie visibile. Scritti in onore di Franco Bernabei, Treviso, Canova, 2013, pp. 429-437;
• [Part Two] – A CHOSEN BOOK: T. Brook, Vermeer's hat. The seventeenth century and the dawn of the global world, Croydon, Profile Books, 2009, or, as an alternative, J.M. Montias, Vermeer and his milieu. A Web of Social History, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1989.

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures, with PowerPoint projections (sources, works of art, video, documentaries). PowerPoint slideshows containing images and sources shown during frontal lessons are available at the end (and not before) of the course on the platform for blended learning Elly DUSIC).

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam.
The exam (20 minutes max) concerns the entire course and aims to test the student knowledge on the first and on the second part of the course.
Students who don't attend the classes on regular basis must refer to the list of recommended reading.
In Italian Universities grades are given based on 30 points (30/30). When the student's performance is considered outstanding, laude can be added. The minimum passing grade is 18/30. Grades below 18 are a failure and are not registered.
A failure is determined by 1. a lack of understanding of the basic content of the course; 2. the inability to express oneself adequately; 3. by a lack of autonomous preparation; 4. the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and its decoding; 5. the inability in making judgements independently.
The minimum passing grade (18-23/30) is ascribed when the student's performance is acceptable, according to the 5 evaluation indicators expressed above. Middle-range scores (24-27/30) are assigned to students who show more than a sufficient level (24-25/30) or a good level (26-27/30) according to the 5 evaluation indicators expressed above. High scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are assigned to students who show a very good or an excellent level according to the 5 evaluation indicators expressed above.

Other information

For any further information please contact the teacher during the Office hour (