VISA 1111: A Survey of Western Art I

This humanities course introduces the significant developments in artistic expression, from cave drawings and the monuments of ancient Egypt to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of the early Renaissance.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you should have:

  • An ability to describe the principal components of a painted image, sculpture, monument, or building using specialized terminology
  • A basic knowledge of the art historical periods, styles, and movements in the visual culture of the Near East, Middle East, and Europe ca. 30,000 BCE to 1345
  • Some understanding of the iconography (i.e., particular motifs and their symbolic significance) in well-known representations from these regions, tempered by an awareness that the meanings assigned to such elements are neither definitive nor exhaustive
  • A sense of the possible or actual functions performed by such works
  • An emerging skepticism towards "official histories" and a willingness to question received traditions

Course topics

VISA 1111: A Survey of Western Art I, includes the following seven course units:

  • Unit 1: Imagery, Dwellings, and Monuments before Writing
  • Unit 2: Visual Culture in Mesopotamia and Persia
  • Unit 3: Representing Pharaonic Egypt
  • Unit 4: Structures and Images from the Aegean Islands and Ancient Greece
  • Unit 5: Architecture and Representations in Etruria, and the Ancient Rome
  • Unit 6: Byzantine, Early Medieval, and Romanesque Churches and Artifacts
  • Unit 7: Gothic Cathedrals, Sculptures, and Stained Glass

Required text and materials

Students will receive the following:

  1. Kleiner, F. S. (2020). Gardner’s art through the ages: A global history (16th ed. Vol. I). Cengage Learning.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-1-337-69659-3


Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory examination and 50% overall. The following table shows how the final grade is determined for this course.

Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 25%
Final Examination (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of your course.

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