ARTH 115: Art of the Western World. Department of Art + Art History, Albion College.

This course was designed to introduce first-year undergraduate students to the art of the Western world. Each class framed the arts within historical, religious, political, economic and social events and taught students basic tools of art historical analysis and criticism.

In addition to creating and implementing the course syllabus (below), I provided class lectures, facilitated group discussions and in-class activities, and developed and graded all essays and exams. I also provided one-on-one support to students as needed.

ARTH 115: Art of the Western World

Instructor: Dr. Meghan Gilbride


Office Hours: By appointment

This course meets Tuesday and Thursday from 2:15 pm to 4:05 pm. This course satisfies the global category requirement.

Course Description

Placing works of art within the relevant social, political, and philosophical contexts, this course presents a chronological survey of Western art from prehistoric times to the contemporary moment. Each class will focus on specific art objects from a range of styles and media that exemplify each period we discuss. Through a combination of lectures, group discussions, presentations, and written assignments, we will develop a basic art historical vocabulary and practice detailed visual readings that take into account each artwork’s context of origin as well as the impact they continue to have on the ideals of Western art. Together we will ask why these objects were made, what their social significance was at they time they were produced, and how they continue to resonate in our lives.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to

• Identify a group of significant works from the prehistoric period to the contemporary moment

• Recognize how an art object’s significance is shaped by its relevant historical and cultural contexts

• Distinguish between a broad range of art movements and styles

• Independently conduct formal and historical analyses using the appropriate vocabulary

• Understand the constructed nature of history and aesthetics within art history

• Think critically about the art and media you encounter in your daily life and consider today’s visual culture from the perspective of history

Required Text

Marilyn Stokstad and Michael W. Cothren. Art: A Brief History. Sixth edition. London: Pearson, 2015. (Identified in the syllabus as “SC”).

Course Assessment

Each of the following is expected for all students in this class: attendance, participation, on-time completion of reading and writing assignments, and the completion of all quizzes and examinations. If you do not complete all required exams and the final paper you will receive a 0 for this course.

  • Attendance

Attendance is mandatory. Two or more unexcused absences will result in your final grade lowered by 3 points on a 100-point scale (100 to 97 to 94 to 91 to 89 etc.).

The Albion College statement on attendance:

Regular attendance in all classes is expected. Every absence from class is inevitably a loss—usually one that can never be made up. A student has the responsibility to inform her or his faculty member, whenever possible in advance, of an absence due to serious or prolonged illness, and verification of absences due to emergency reasons, may be obtained from the Office of Residential Life.

Excused absences include illness, emergencies, and College-sanctioned events (i.e. College-sponsored athletics, field trips, conference attendance, etc. Such absences must be accompanied by notification from the appropriate faculty member or other College official). Punctuality is also expected. At the beginning of each class, you will be asked to sign an attendance sheet. Being late risks being counted absent.

The use of electronic devices of any sort, including laptops, is not permitted in the classroom, unless special arrangements have been made with me. Students who violate this policy or otherwise disrupt the class will be counted absent.

  • Participation (10%)

Class participation includes completing the assigned readings by their due dates, contributing to group discussions and activities, and welcoming other points of view. Throughout the course, you will also be participating in two group presentations. More details to follow.

  • Writing assignments (10%)

You will be asked to complete a small writing assignment each week. Some may be submitted via the course’s Moodle page while others might be conducted and handed in during class. Assignment topics will vary, and I will provide you with the relevant details each week.

  • Quizzes (10%)

Short pop quizzes may occur at any time. These may cover images, maps, or vocabulary from that week’s assigned readings.

  • Final Paper (30%)

A final paper will be due on Friday, April 20th. Topics will be assigned later in the term.

  • Exams (40%)

You will complete 3 exams: Exam 1: February 20; Exam 2: March 27; and the Final: TBA.

The grade distribution is as follows:











56 and below earns no credit

Statement on Academic Integrity:

As an academic community, Albion College is firmly committed to honor and integrity in the pursuit of knowledge. Therefore, as a member of this academic community, each student acknowledges responsibility for her or his actions and commits to the highest standards of integrity. In doing so, each student makes a covenant with the College not to engage in any form of academic dishonesty, fraud, cheating, or theft.

Civility Statement:

To foster an environment of tolerance and civility in this classroom and across the college, you are asked to be courteous and respectful of others, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, age, and ability.

Disability statement:

If you require accommodations or modifications in class instruction or course-related activities, please contact the Learning Support Center (LSC) staff who can arrange for reasonable accommodations for students who provide documentation of their disability/condition. If you are presently registered with the LSC and have requested accommodations through the LSC, for this semester, please plan to meet with me as early as possible to discuss the best way to implement these accommodations in this class. The LSC is located in 114 and 112 Ferguson (on the first floor of the administration building in the Career Center Suite) and is open during regular business hours throughout the school year. The LSC Director can be reached at 517-629-0825 and the LSC Coordinator can be reached at 517-629-0411.

Course Schedule

Below is the course reading list. We may find that there are some areas that we will want to spend more time discussing than others. You are expected to read all of the assigned material even if we are not discussing it extensively in class.

Week One: Introduction

T. Course Overview and Objectives

Th. SC, Starter Kit and Introduction, xiv–17.

Week Two: Prehistoric and Ancient Near East

T. SC, Chapter 1, “Prehistoric Art in Europe,” 18–31.

Th. SC, Chapter 2, “Art of the Ancient Near East,” 32–47.

Week Three: Art of Ancient Egypt

T. SC, Chapter 3, “Art of Ancient Egypt,” 48–57.

Th. SC, Chapter 3 (continued), “Art of Ancient Egypt,” 58–67.

Week Four: Ancient Greece and the Aegean World

T. SC, Chapter 5, “Art of Ancient Greece and the Aegean World,” 92–101.

Th. SC, Chapter 5 (continued), “Art of Ancient Greece and the Aegean World,” 102–127.

Week Five: Roman and Byzantine Art

T. SC, Chapter 6, “Etruscan and Roman Art,” 128–157.

Th. SC, Chapter 7, “Jewish, Early Christian, and Byzantine Art,” 158–183.

Week Six: First Exam and Intro to Early Medieval Art


Th. SC, Chapter 10, “Early Medieval, and Romanesque Art,” 232–247.

Week Seven: Romanesque and Gothic

T. SC, Chapter 10 (continued), “Early Medieval, and Romanesque Art,” 247–259.

Th. SC, Chapter 11, “Gothic Art,” 260–291.


Week Eight: Early Renaissance Art

T. SC, Chapter 12, “Early Renaissance Art,” 292–305.

Th. SC, Chapter 12 (continued), “Early Renaissance Art,” 306–323.

Week Nine: High Renaissance and Reformation

T. SC, Chapter 13, “Art of the High Renaissance and Reformation,” 324–340.

Th. SC, Chapter 13 (continued), “Art of the High Renaissance and Reformation,” 341–365.

Week Ten: Second Exam


Th. Film Screening TBA

Week Eleven: Seventeenth Century Art in Europe

T. SC, Chapter 14, “Seventeenth Century Art in Europe,” 366–387.

Th. SC, Chapter 14 (continued), “Seventeenth Century Art in Europe,” 387–396.

Week Twelve: Art of the Americas

T. SC, Chapter 15, “Art of the Americas,” 402–427.

Th. SC, Chapter 15, “Art of the Americas” continued.

Week Thirteen: European and American Art, 1715–1910

T. SC, Chapter 17, “European and American Art, 1715–1840,” 446–473.

Th. SC, Chapter 18, “European and American Art, 1840–1910,” 474–509.

PAPER DUE on Friday by 5:00 pm.

Week Fourteen: Modern and Contemporary Art

T. SC, Chapter 19, “Modern and European Art in Europe and the Americas, 1900–1945,” 510–549.

Th. SC, Chapter 20, “Art Since 1945,” 550–591.

FINAL EXAM: Time and Place TBA

Image credit: Interior view of the chisel work at Canterbury Cathedral, 1070–1834. Canterbury, England.