Connections 20082. Patronage and Power in Early Modern Europe
Historians have long propounded the thesis that individuals rose anew in the early modern period to take control and dominate over the communities around them. Following, but questioning, the thesis advanced by nineteenth-century scholar Jacob Burckhardt, ARTH 242 “Patronage and the Artist in Early Modern Italy” and HIST 375 “Great Stories in Early Modern Europe” look at the ways in which individual interactions shaped larger social, cultural, intellectual and artistic productions. This pedagogical method allows students to use intellectual tools to explore central issues tied to historiography, a variety of historical settings (the court, the academy, the world of the artist-author, the village), visual productions and political decisions.
Both ARTH 242 and HIST 375 illustrate the various types of patron-artist relationships that determined original productions; they are non-exhaustive on purpose and push the students to think critically about what external social ties mean for the study of history and art history. By examining varied relations such as those molded by gender, status, or knowledge, ARTH 242 problematizes the uniformity of canonical art historical teachings. Similarly, HIST 375 examines paradigmatic historical individuals, including artists and patrons (such as Shakespeare with Queen Elizabeth and King James I) and rulers and courtiers to critique the reification of the individual and assess their contributions in the midst of their social communities.