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You are here: Home Courses Middlebury-CMRS Course List HARC 0050 Classical Art and Architecture

HARC 0050 Classical Art and Architecture

One of the most enduring legacies of the Classical Age was the contribution to art and architecture made by the Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman worlds. This course brings together the full range of visual and material culture that survives from these periods to examine an array of themes, set against the wider historical and archaeological context of continuity and change in the Mediterranean basin and beyond.

In these tutorials a range of artistic media may be studied, including statuary, relief sculpture, funerary monuments, mosaics, wall paintings, painted vases, jewellery, gems, coinage, and buildings. The uses of image, expressions of identity and power, and cultural influence and change are just a few of the themes which will be explored through an examination of the styles and traditions seen to have developed in the use of these materials.

In particular, buildings are some of the most impressive and best preserved ‘artefacts’ from the ancient world, and whose design was highly symbolic of the society within which they were built. From palaces, temples, and public buildings such as stoas, fora, basilicas, and bathhouses, to domestic buildings, the technology, materials, styles, ornament, and functions of Classical architecture provide substantial insight into ancient daily life, class structures, identity, and the culture of display.

The Ashmolean Museum (in central Oxford, five minutes' walk from St Michael's Hall) has a world-class array of artefacts which can be seen first-hand and might be brought into tutorial discussions, including in particular their collection of painted vases, and also the contents of the Cast Gallery, which houses plaster copies of many important sculptural monuments from the period.

General reading:

L. Burn, Hellenistic Art (London, 2004).

T. Hölscher, 'Images and political identity: The case of Athens', in D. Boedeker, K. A. Raaflaub, Democracy, Empire, and the Arts in Fifth-century Athens (Cambridge, Mass., 1998), 153-83.

T. Hölscher, The Language of Images in Roman Art (Cambridge, 2004).

R. Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek Art (Oxford, 1998).

R.R.R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture: A Handbook (London, 1991).

P. Stewart, The Social History of Roman Art (Cambridge, 2004).

P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Ann Arbor, 1988).

You never know what you'll find
One afternoon, I left St. Michael's Hall with the desire for a cookie and thought I'd pick one up before heading back to the Bodleian. The shop around...
Gabrielle Linnell, Spring Semester 2012, Wellesley College