Rites of Passage: Arts of Marriage and Childbirth in the Italian Renaissance


Fall 2012


4th Floor Classroom


Deborah L. Krohn

During the Renaissance, life's milestones were marked in celebration and commemoration by the creation of what we would consider works of art.  In this seminar we will examine the various rites and rituals that were performed around the key moments of birth and marriage, and the works which serve as records of these ceremonies, from deschi da parto, or birth trays, to cassoni, or marriage chests, and a variety of objects exchanged as part of the dowry.  We will look at works in a variety of media. We will also examine texts which narrate these events in the words of Renaissance men and women, from Alberti's writings on the family to letters, court records and notarial documents which provide insights into the institutions which dominated social life, including the church, the town and the hospital.  Many of the secondary readings are representative of current trends in social and economic history, and we will discuss the relationship of this field with material culture and decorative arts.  There will be at least two museum visits.  Assignments for this seminar will include short presentations, a short midterm paper and presentation, and a final research paper and presentation. 3 credits. (satisfies pre-1800 requirement)