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Venetian luxury and display: Urban fabric, material culture, and social practice, 1200-1600

Module description
The option is one of two that MA students take in their term in Venice. While the other option addresses Venetian theories and writings on art, this asks students to look at the urban fabric of Venice as a whole, making maximum use of the opportunities offered by in situ and research-led, interdisciplinary teaching.
The course’s approach is informed by recent work on urban geographies and material culture, and consciously eschews traditional art historical analysis. Topics will address how distinctive Venetian settings informed the design of art/artefacts and in turn their consumption by Venetian and non-Venetian consumers. Venice’s position as Europe’s principal centre of production for luxury goods is a central concern of the course, and will relate painting and sculpture with the city’s metalwork, glass, printing, and textile industries. Trade, Venice’s pivotal position between East and West, and the city’s large foreign communities provide the backdrop.
This course and its companion will present MA students with two different sets of approaches and methodologies, and will encourage them to think independently about their own research interests at an early stage in the year, during the term in which they can take advantage of the rich primary sources afforded by Venice’s monuments, museums, libraries and archives.
Sample Syllabus (Subject to Change):
The Urban Armature: Jacopo de’Barbari’s Printed View and Venice in 1500
Sacred Spaces and Devotional Practices
Domestic Spaces and Venetian Material Culture
Civic Spaces and Venetian Identities
Economic Spaces: Trade, Food and Provisioning the City
Industrial Spaces: The Production of Luxury Goods
Artists’ Spaces: Studios, Workshops and Foundries
Musical Spaces: Production and Performance of Music
Hedonistic Spaces: Theatres, Gaming Rooms and Brothels

 Chalcedony vase
Palazzo Ducale
Goldoni staircase