Description of Assignment:
The descriptions of the four assignments as detailed to the
students are listed below.
Assignment A (Week 1)
This assignment focuses on the iconography or subject matter
of a work of art. Each writer considers the possible meaning
and/or symbolism found in the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait and
the social context. Read the articles and excerpts, dating
from 1934 to 1996, and incorporate references to at least
five of them in your essay. Although you only need to cite
five sources in your text, I would encourage you to consider
how you might address portions of most of the articles in
the discussion of a single theme. Include Panofsky's article
from 1934 and Carroll's presentation from 1993. These two
articles will provide you with a sense of how approaches to
the very same work of art have changed over time. The study
of these differences is called historiography.
Make sure to begin your double-spaced, five-page essay with
a clear thesis statement (A thesis is not the same as a topic.
You must assert a particular view based on the written sources
and the painting.). Defend the thesis with specific examples
from your readings that are part of paragraphs that begin
with topic sentences. Your opinion must be based on the assigned
material you have read. The following bibliography follows
the Chicago Manual of Style. But you should format your paper
according to the MLA style guidelines included in Aaron's
The Little, Brown Essential Handbook for Writers. You
also can find a link to the guidelines on the Cole Library
Bedaux, Jan Baptist. "Reality of Symbols: The Question
of Disguised Symbolism in Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait."
Simiolus 16 (1986): 5-28.
Carrier, David. "Naturalism and Allegory in Flemish
Painting." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 45
Carroll, Margaret. "In the Name of God and Profit: Jan
van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait." Representations 44 (1993):
Cassidy, Brendan. "Introduction: Iconography, Texts,
and Audiences." In Critical Perspectives on Art History.
Eds. J.C. McEnroe and D.F. Pokinski, 84-90. Upper Saddle,
New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002.
Harbison, Craig. "Sexuality and Social Standing in Jan
van Eyck's Arnolfini Double Portrait." Renaissance Quarterly
43 (1990): 249-91.
Jardine, Lisa. "Prologue to Worldly Goods." In
Critical Perspectives on Art History. Eds. J.C. McEnroe and
D.F. Pokinski, 90-91. Upper Saddle, New Jersey: Prentice Hall,
Panofsky, Erwin. "Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait."
Burlington Magazine. 64 (1934): 117-27.
__________. Early Netherlandish Painting, Vol. 3. reprint
ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1971, 201-204.
Sandler, Lucy Freeman. "The Handclasp in the Arnolfini
Wedding: A Manuscript Precedent." Art Bulletin 66 (1984):
Schabacker, Peter. "De Matrimonio ad Morganticum Contracto:
Jan van Eyck's 'Arnolfini' Portrait Reconsidered." Art
Quarterly 35 (1972): 375-98.
Snyder, James. "Jan van Eyck and Adam's Apple."
Art Bulletin 58 (1976): 511-15.
There are some unusual features related to art history papers.
Titles for works of art must be underlined or placed in italics.
Do not use quotation marks. Also, one must attach photocopies
or scanned images of the works discussed to the back of each
paper. Make sure that you use only one image per page and
include your own typed caption with artist, title,
medium, and date. When you make reference to an image in the
body of your text, place the figure number within parentheses
before the punctuation mark (Fig. 1).
Students often wonder about when to cite sources with parenthetical
notations, footnotes, or endnotes. This concern is justified,
as plagiarism is a serious offense. I reserve the right
to fail any paper, even if the plagiarism is due to carelessness
alone. We are talking about the stealing of ideas in an academic
context. You may want to check out http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/research/r_plagiar.html.
There are three primary areas that should include some form
of a citation.
- If you use the exact works of an author, use a citation.
Place the words within quotation marks.
- If you draw upon the ideas, arguments, or observations
of others, use citations.
- If you include facts not widely available or known, use
Assignment B (Week 2)
This essay eventually will become part of a ten-page research
paper; therefore, you will want to choose a topic with which
you are fascinated. The assignment requires that you compose
a three to four-page essay about the medium and style
of a single work of art. You must employ a formal analysis
that does not consider the subject matter or iconography.
Your paper should answer the question, "What does
it look like?" Describe how the image or structure
appears. Do not panic, because even a formal analysis allows
you to consider a stylistic context for the work. In other
words, you may compare the form or style to that of other
works of art. You should attach a bibliography and figures
to the end of this paper.
The best place to begin thinking about your research paper
is by looking at your textbook. General texts often introduce
you to questions and controversies that may be of interest.
This and related reference sources have useful bibliographies
and notes that will direct you toward other material. In most
cases, you will include periodical literature and books in
your bibliography. Consider the holdings of the Cole Library
and those articles included on EBSCO in Art Abstracts. Although
there is no set number of required sources for the assignment,
your paper should investigate a wide range of materials. Avoid
using your textbook as a source. It may be a great reference
guide, but it is too general to be used as a bibliographic
source for your research project. We will meet with the consulting
librarian to discuss how to begin your research project as
a class, but an individual appointment should be scheduled
during the second week of class.
The instructions for Assignment A apply here as well, except
for one requirement. Instead of using MLA style guidelines,
I would like for you to use those listed in the Chicago
Manual of Style as guidelines for Assignments B-D. The
format appears in the Aaron text, and a website link is available
on the Cole Library homepage.
Assignment C (Week 3)
This five to six-page paper finally addresses the iconography
of a single work of art. For this paper, you should avoid
lengthy discussions of the style and medium. You may want
to compare the work to those of others using the same subject
matter or theme. This is the moment where you introduce your
ideas about the meaning or purpose behind the work. Your paper
will answer the question, "What does it represent?"
Place the work within the historical context in which it was
produced. Do not forget to privilege primary sources
over secondary ones. Avoid lengthy quotes from secondary sources,
but continue to follow the stylistic guidelines that you employed
for Assignment B for citations. Omit biographical material
unless directly relevant to your thesis.
Assignment D (Week 4)
This double-spaced, ten to twelve-page paper combines Assignments
B and C under a single thesis that includes an introduction
that maps out the relationship between the topics of your
earlier papers that addressed style and iconography (form
and content). This means that you will revise both essays
as part of this larger and more complex research project.
You will need to write a new introduction, draw stronger connections
between the two parts of the paper, and write a new conclusion.
The paper should begin with a description of the work. Your
goal will be to demonstrate how style and iconography are
interrelated. In other words, the question you will be answering
with this paper is "Why does it look the way it does?"
The two approaches, when combined, will lead the viewer toward
a greater understanding of the object under consideration.
Your completed paper will consist of four parts in the following
sequence: text, endnotes, bibliography, and illustrations.