Welcome to Pratt-SILS
Florence Summer Program 2008

Course Syllabus
Title: The Art and Culture of Florence, Explorations and Documentation.
Place: Florence, Italy
Dates: May 26- June 13
Instructor: Professor Anthony Caradonna
Coordinator of International Programs: Dr. Tula Giannini,
Dean, Pratt-SILS

Course Objectives Course project Daily Schedule & Web sites Online Resources Suggested Reading  
Beginning the Journey.
Imagine three weeks where you will live and breathe the art of Florence, birthplace of the renaissance, and enjoy its lively social life, fashion and exquisite cuisine.  Through this course, students experience first-hand the art and culture of Florence, not only through visits to cultural institutions such as museums and libraries, but as well through a program of total immersion in the life of Florence, a city where life and art are inseparable. The program begins with a walking architectural tour of Florence guided by Professor Caradonna, a recognized architect and designer and a specialist in Italian art and culture. The tour provides your first opportunity to explore and interact with the city.  Perusing the  daily schedule below, you will see at once the rich array of activities and visits we have planned for your educational enrichment and cultural journey.  On Sunday evening, May 25, we will all meet  for a class dinner - and so our journey begins.

Course Objectives:
Students will: 

  • gain an intimate knowledge of the art and culture of Florence through experiential learning, observation, discussion and immersion in city life.
  • participate in class visits and discussion.
  • produce an exhibition catalog based on a selected topic
  • use research to document art objects and to write a topic scholarly topic essay.
  • construct knowledge based on primary and secondary sources conveyed from the author's perspective.
  • understand the relationship between art and information and between primary and secondary sources.
  • create a catalog that expresses the topic and conveys its meaning through visual and textual media.
Course Project:
Project Methodology -
a creative, interactive and organic process involving object selection, photographing objects, object and topic research and analysis.   This process of "knowledge construction" will lead students to discover new ideas and perspectives which will be expressed in their project.

Project Description -

Each student is required to produce a course project.  The project takes the form of an exhibition catalog for which the exhibit theme / topic is based on an aspect of Florentine art and culture and importantly, on individual experience and observation. Students should choose their theme by the end of the beginning of the second week by which time you will have had a chance to experience and interact in ways that will inspire and guide your topic selection.  This process will motivate and propel your project.  A key point is that your work moves from the specific to the general, that is, from selected objects to topic formation.  From museum tours and lectures you will see the way in which museum curators think about and discuss art and how they describe and talk about works or art and bringing their individual perspectives placed social and cultural contexts.

The Project

Each student is required to produce a course project.  The project takes the form of an exhibition catalog for which the exhibit theme or subject is based on some aspect of Florentine art and culture and importantly, on your individual experience and observation.  Choose your theme by the end of the first week by which time you will have had a chance to experience and interact in ways that will inspire and guide your topic selection so that you connect with your topic.  This will motivate and propel you project.  A key point is that your work moves from the specific to the general, from selected objects to the topic.  

Project Process by Week.

Note - "object" refers to any object / work that represents Florentine art and culture defined broadly - from a garden, a building and its design elements, paintings, sculpture, fashion, etc.
Research - the projects requires research of objects and research of a theme.  Your work begins with object research.
Camera - you will need to bring a camera to photograph selected objects and documents.

Week  1.  During the first week, students will begin to formulate a theme / topic for their research project.  Topics will evolve from visits to museums, libraries and monuments during which students will identify paintings, sculpture, architecture and or other artifacts that speak to them , inspire them and are linked thematically to express a topic.  
  • Collect images.  You will need a camera, preferably a digital camera, so that you will be able to capture objects that you find of particular interest.  Some of these object will be used for you exhibition catalog.  
  • The exhibit catalog will contain 12 objects.  Take two photographs of each object selected, the object and object detail expressing the theme.   
  • Remember to document as you go.  In the first instance, copy the museum information on the object plaque and any additional information resident in the objects physical environment - thus you will avoid the need to retrace your steps which can be very time consuming.
  • Obtain a library card for the BNCF; you will need to present your passport for identification; use this library for researching objects.
  • Choose a topic/ theme.  A key aspect of the project's methodology is to work from the particular to the general.  This means that rather than starting with a predetermined theme, and then looking for objects to fit that theme, you will start with objects that attract you from which you will develop a fuzzy notion of a theme.
Week 2.    Once students have identified some of their objects and related theme, they will submit their topic to Professor Caradonna for approval.  This should be accomplished by the beginning of the second week.  Some examples of themes in Florentine art might be: aspects of the male or female figure, Medici women, ceremony, conflict, design elements in architecture, etc.    
  • Select objects and take photographs.
  • Research objects at the BNCF and or I Tatti.  These two libraries have a good number of book in English.
Week 3. 
  • Complete object selection and photographs so that you have at minimum 12 object for your exhibit catalog.
  • Focus your theme/ topic based on your research.  
  • Some examples of student project themes for past summers:  Images of Women in Florence; On the Wings of the Renaissance: The Florentine Spirit (this exhibit featured winds of angels depicted by  artists such as Beato Angelico and Sandro Botticelli); Birth Announcements: Annunciation Scenes from Florence.
  • Once you selected and captured your objects, study and research each individually and then think about what meaning they convey to you as you bring them together thus forming an original juxtaposition of objects.  Thus, you are constructing meaning from your selection and arrangement from which you will draw your theme.     

Project Format and Content
(note, students have the option of submitting digital projects.)
  • Cover - Exhibit title, author and image.
  • Title page - title, author, date, copyright information, course and instructor information.
  • Topic essay:  The essay should be from the specific perspectives of your research that you have gained from your object selection, experiences and observations.  This is NOT a general topic essay so that you should not try to give an overview of your topic, but rather speak from your own specific focus.  Make sure to cite sources that you have used in your research.  You are required to cite several sources.  These should be used to augment you own analysis and interpretation, not as the primary focus.
  • Bibliographic essay:  A discussion of sources and libraries as they pertain to your topic.
  • For each of the 12 objects you have selected, in a one or two page format, include your object photo, a full object citation (author, title, location, physical description including media and size), a one paragraph discussion of the object with a minimum of 3 cited sources for each object discussion included at the end of the paragraph.
  • Bibliography -  Include 5 to 6 of the most recent sources related to your topic with a brief annotation (about 2 sentences).
  • Personal perspectives: your thoughts on your experiences and the program.

Submitting the Project.

Because there will not adequate time to do library research while you are in Florence, you will until the end of Summer I (June 25), to complete your project.  For students attending the London Summer School, that timeline will be extended by 3 weeks.  

Florence Daily Schedule, May 27 - June 14, 2008  

Daily schedulte is posted in several weeks before the course begins.
Abbreviations and Web sites of visits and libraries.
BNCF -  Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze
Uffizi Gall - Uffizi Gallery
Uffizi Lib - Uffizi Library
Alinari - Alinari Photo Archive and Museum
Gabinetto delle Stampe -  Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe
Argenti - Museo degli Argenti
Bargello - Bargello National Museum
Cappelle Medicee - Museum of the Medici Chapels
Villa I Tatti - Villa I Tatti and Berenson Library
Boboli - The Boboli Gardens
Bib Laurne -  Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana
Basillica -  Basillica, Sante Croce
Vecchio -  Palzzo Vecchio
Cap -   Cappella Brancacci
Buonarroti -  Casa Buonarroti
Orsan michelle (also San Marco and other Florence churches)  - Orsanmichele
Academia  -  Galleria dell'Accademia


A general guide to Florence

Florence Live

Virtual Florence Tour

Florence History
Professor Witcombe presents an extensive outline of the Italian Renaissance consisting of links to art works, cultural institutions, churches, artists, architects, sculptures, etc.

Florence libraries and museums.

Union Catalog of consortium of libraries in Florence

Virtual Uffizi - Complete Catalog of  the Uffizi Gallery -

Architecture of Florence

Florentine Illuminated Manuscripts

The museums of Polo Museale - Florence

Digital Dante

History of Italy - Primary Documents

Medici Archives Database - Archives houses at the Archivo di Stato in Florence

The Prince by Machiavelli - from Project Gutenberg

Florence Archives List

Suggested Readings.- to be posted.