International art history (2016/2017)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Giorgio Fossaluzza
Giorgio Fossaluzza
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II SEMESTRE dal Feb 27, 2017 al Jun 10, 2017.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

Today’s “cultural tourism”, the form of tourism involving the cultural resources of a country’s artistic heritage, seeks to delve into the original local and urban context, along with traditions, customs and expressions of culture and civilization, in search of a comprehensive overview.
An openness to the artistic dynamics created between the center and periphery has undermined past hierarchical distinctions among works of art and resulted in increasingly widespread knowledge about forms of figurative expression that is spread at all levels in local settings.
Historical research has kept pace with this process, including research into traditions or investigations of linguistic and literary expressions, for example, or the governance of the natural environment and landscape. Thanks to the pressure exerted by “cultural tourism,” these developments in geographical, historical and art-historical fields are called on to duly disseminate their findings. This form of tourism in turn aims to restore and valorize these resources, viewing them as the expression of human experiences and values and as valid in and of themselves due to their inherent beauty. In experiencing the “beauty of a local area”, cultural tourists project and fulfill their expectation of a better quality of life.
Having outlined this background, the course is structured in two parts.
The objective of the first part is to provide a basic understanding of art history, a prerequisite that is deemed indispensable for operators to engage in any projects or promotion.
The course content is aimed at granting significance to a discipline that, following the revision of the programs carried out by the department, has taken on the name of “International Art History”, and of translating this discipline into an educational experience.
Among the multiple possible meanings of the term international, this name indicates Western, or at least European, art history. In view of this, the introduction to the course guides students in reflecting on some of the historical-artistic categories developed by Henry Focillon (1938) that aid in identifying a temporal jumping-off point for a journey through the art history of the West, or of Europe. Indeed, Focillon notes that a new artistic culture emerged beginning in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, called “Romanesque” because it was born together with the new Romance languages and literature. This is a point to keep in mind in making sense of an “international” history of art taught in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature.
Among Focillon’s other categories, one worth mentioning is the ‘sedentary and nomadic, local and European’ Middle Ages characterized by encounters with Mediterranean cultures such as Islamic culture. This consideration aids us in bringing together and granting importance to the “macroscopic” facts of art history, its large pages, along with the local or regional episodes that likewise reflect encounters between cultures and civilizations.


Similar to modern art history, this course therefore follows a diachronic trajectory through art history from the Romanesque period to Neoclassicism. It focuses on the Italian situation while also illustrating the fundamental seasons and thus the main figures of art history in the European countries, to be considered as much as possible in comparative terms. In addition to stylistic analysis, the course also pays attention to the geography and history of Italian and European art, that is to say, the historical and cultural context surrounding the centers of production, patrons, etc.
The second part of the course aims to capitalize on the artistic historical knowledge students acquired in the first part with a view to meeting the demand for cultural tourism within which students will be called on to practice their profession. To this end, basic introductory content will include definitions of concepts such as cultural heritage, conservation and heritage preservation as well as a general knowledge of cultural heritage legislation and the institutions involved in this field.
To illustrate and define an individual or group project, the course presents two lines according to which the students’ exercises will be guided.
The first line concerns the museum, identity, history, collections and contemporary projects for managing and promoting cultural institutions, with reference to internationally recognized examples.
The second line deals with cases of Italian cultural and historical-artistic heritage, specifically the Veneto region, which is at the center of interests associated with the international “tourist flow”.
In particular, the course presents the case of managing and promoting the Venetian villa or the great monuments of the Veneto region (churches, palaces, etc.). In this case as well, course exercises require students to outline the origins, identity, history and content in order to analyze current management and promotion activities and develop new project-oriented ideas.

Bibliography and handouts are available at the copy shop ‘Replay’, close to Frinzi library.

Assessment methods and criteria

Students can take the exam in the form of a single written test. They can choose to split the first part into two sections, presenting art history topics 1-9 for the first written exam and topics 10-17 for the second written exam.
Non-attending students can carry out an in-depth project agreed on with the teacher in the place of the exercise scheduled to be presented at the end of the course, adding the written discussion of this project to the points outlined above. This in-depth project can be completed along with the second exam for the general part of the history of art, or as an additional (third) written exam carried out at the end, after the other two.
The grade will be calculated as the average of the individual exams, the exercise and the written exam (or exams).

Teaching aids