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Faculty Profile

Melinda Schlitt

Professor of Art History; William W. Edel Professor of Humanities (1990)

Contact Information

on sabbatical Fall 2022

Weiss Center for the Arts Room 202


Professor Schlitt teaches courses in art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance, Ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture, and Women and European Art. Her current research focuses on 15th and 16th-century Italian art and criticism, the reception and transformation of the past, and poetry as cultural identity in art. She has published on Galileo's Moon Drawings, Francesco Salviati, Giorgio Vasari, Michelangelo, and the relationship between language and imagery in the Renaissance, and has edited (and contributed to) two books of new essays: "Perspectives on Early Modern and Modern Intellectual History," (Univ. of Rochester Press, 2001) and "Gifts in Return: Essays in Honour of Charles Dempsey," (Univ of Toronto Press, 2012). Prof. Schlitt is currently completing a monograph on the Arch of Constantine in Late Antiquity and the Renaissance, and a study on the Visual Poetics of Place in late 15th-century Florence . Awards include the Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome; Resident Fellowship, Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities; Research Fellowship, American Philosophical Society; Fulbright Foundation Research Fellowship; Lila Acheson Wallace-Reader's Digest Publications Grant, Villa I Tatti, Florence.


  • B.A., State University of New York at Purchase, 1981
  • M.A., Johns Hopkins University, 1983
  • Ph.D., 1991

2022-2023 Academic Year

Spring 2023

ARTH 101 Introduction History of Art
This course is a critical survey of western art beginning with the Ancient Near East (approximately 4000 B.C.) through the Gothic period in Europe (early 1300s). Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of style, subject-matter, and function within an historical context, and especially on the student's ability to develop skills in visual analysis. Developing appropriate vocabularies with which to discuss and analyze works of art and imagery will also be stressed, along with learning to evaluate scholarly interpretations of them.

WGSS 201 Goddesses/Prost/Wives/Saints
Cross-listed with ARTH 216-01. How has the representation of women been constructed, idealized, vilified, manipulated, sexualized, and gendered during what could be broadly called the "Renaissance" in Europe? How have female artists, such as Sofanisba Anguissola (1532-1625) or Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653), among others, represented themselves, men, and other familiar subjects differently from their male counterparts? How have female rulers, like Queen Elizabeth I of England, controlled their own political and cultural self-fashioning through portraiture? What role do the lives and writings of female mystics, like Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) or Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) play in depictions of their physical and spiritual identity? How was beauty and sexuality conceived through the imagery of mythological women, like Venus, or culturally ambivalent women, like courtesans and prostitutes? What kind of art did wealthy, aristocratic women or nuns pay for and use? Through studying primary texts, scholarly literature, and relevant theoretical sources, we will address these and other issues in art produced in Italy, France, Spain, Northern Europe, and England from 1200-1680. The course will be grounded in an understanding of historical and cultural contexts, and students will develop paper topics based on their own interests in consultation with the professor. A screening of the documentary film, "A Woman Like That" (2009), on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi and a trip to the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. will take place during the second half of the semester.

ARTH 216 Goddesses/Prost/Wives/Saints
Cross-listed with WGSS 201-01.

ARTH 300 Artists, Audience, Patrons
This course examines painting, sculpture, and architecture in Italy from 1250 to 1570. The work of Giotto, Lorenzetti, Donatello, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo, among others will be addressed. Students will study the significance of style, subject-matter, function, patronage, and artistic practice within historical and cultural contexts, and will also address Renaissance interpretations and responses to works of art. Discussion of art-historical theory and criticism as well as Renaissance theory and criticism based in primary texts will be an intrinsic part of the course. Students will acquire the ability to analyze and interpret works of art from the period within the framework outlined above, and will gain a working knowledge of the most significant works and the meaning(s) they have acquired over time. Analysis of primary and secondary sources will be a central focus of the research project, and students will be expected to construct a clear and well-supported interpretive argument over the course of the semester. The course includes a field trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which has the largest collection of Italian Renaissance painting outside of Europe. Prerequisite: 101 or 102 or permission of the instructor. Offered every year.