a history of western art

from the renaissance to the present


Your grade will be computed using an additive point system in which there are

950 possible points (no extra credit):  

3 exams 250 pts. each; museum paper 150 pts.; attendance 50 pts.  

At the end of the semester I add up the points you have earned and enter a letter grade based on this table:

883+ points = A               855-882 points = A-

826-854 points = B+          788-825 points = B          760-787 points = B-

731-759 points = C+          693-730 points = C          665-692 points = C-

637-664 points = D+          598-636 points = D          570-597 points = D-

less than 570 points = F

If you are not doing as well as you had hoped, please come see me early in the semester when something can be done about it.  There is no magic trick to doing well in the class, but if we look over your exams and assignments we should be able to figure out how you can do better on subsequent assignments.

Grading Rubric

For essays in papers and responses to exam questions, here is a general guide to what constitutes an A, B, C, D, and F, with + and - (plus and minus) used for more nuanced evaluation as appropriate.  

An 'A' paper or essay must be excellent, meaning that it does not just competently fulfill the assignment or answer the question: it must also be well-written, clearly organized, perceptive, thoughtful, and demonstrate complete mastery of the relevant material taught in class -- and ideally moments of significant insight beyond what was taught in class.

A 'B' paper or essay is good, meaning that it fulfills the assignment and demonstrates a solid knowledge of the relevant material taught in class, but it may fail to achieve the thoroughness and clarity of an A paper; or it may be excellent in part but fail to address some relevant aspect of the question or artwork(s) under consideration.

A 'C' paper or essay is OK.  It basically fulfills the assignment and demonstrates some relevant course-acquired knowledge, but it will have some significant problems, such as insufficient analysis of the work(s) in question, omissions or misunderstandings of important concepts, incomplete development of ideas, and/or poor writing that makes the expressed ideas difficult to understnad, particularly with regard to lack of thesis or poor organization.

A 'D' paper or essay  must still address the assignment and contain at least some relevant points, but it will do so in an unsatisfactory manner; for example by being conspicuously short of the assigned length or extremely poorly written; and/or by neglecting to address major aspects of the assignment, neglecting to use important course-related concepts, and/or neglecting to analyze significant features the work(s) under consideration.

An 'F' paper or essay (here meaning a grade where around one-third to one-half credit is assessed, rather than a zero) is given when an attempt at a response is handed in, but there is little to no engagement with the assigned question or topic, and/or little to no relevant use of the relevant concepts or skills taught in class.

A zero on a paper or essay is given when there is either no attempt to complete the assignment (no answer given or no paper handed in), or when that engagement clearly has no relevance to the assignment, the work(s) under consideration, or the concepts and skills taught in class.  A zero is also given for plagiarism (see below, 'Academic Misconduct'), in which case it is also reported to the Academic Misconduct Committee.


Because exams are based on the way the material is covered in class, attendance is crucial to your success in this course. Together with participation (see below), attendance is worth 50 points (around 5% of your grade).  How that will be determined differs slightly in sections of the class that meet twice a week versus sections that meet just once a week. In sections that meet twice a week, attendance is taken every day, and each failure to sign the roll sheet constitutes one absence. In sections that meet just once a week, attendance is taken twice per day, once before and once after a 10-minute break in the middle. Thus if you miss an entire class day, it will count as the equivalent of two (2) absences; or alternatively if you arrive after break or leave at break, it will count as one (1) absence. At the end of the semester I count up the number of missed sign-ins as follows:

     3 or fewer asbences = 50 points (full credit).

     4 absences = 40 points.

     5 absences = 20 points.

     6 or more absences = 0 points.

Purely nominal attendance (persistently coming late, leaving early, sleeping or using electronic devices during class time, and so on) will also result in deduction from the attendance and participation portion of your grade:  10 points per instance. If you miss the roll sheet when it is passed, it is your responsibility to sign in at the end of class.

FAQs about attendance:

     If you have some kind of official document that explains your absence, I’ll be glad to make a note of it.  However, professors are not allowed to ask for documentation of absences since that may violate student privacy.  In general I assume that you will not miss class without a good reason like an illness or a family emergency, and your ‘free’ absences are there to cover exactly such circumstances.  Save them for when you really need them.

     If really unusual circumstances or a chronic condition means that you cannot fulfill the attendance policy as described above, you should contact the Office of Student Affairs (located at 73 Tremont Street, 12th floor, 617.573-8230, studentaffairs@suffolk.edu).  If appropriate, they will provide an accommodation note to all of your professors.

     If you miss a class day, you are still responsible for whatever work was due that day (see below, ‘make-up exams’ and ‘late assignments'), and for staying caught up.  The best ways to stay caught up is to check the internet study guide for that topic, do the assigned readings, get notes from someone in the class, and come to the next class, when we will typically do a brief review of the important points.  And of course don’t hesitate to come see me as well.

     Captain Obvious reminds you that attendance and participation are worth only around 5% of your grade, so you won’t necessarily pass the class just because you attend regularly:  you will also need to do passing work on the papers and exams.

     If you already know the material or can learn it on your own, it is mathematically possible to pass without ever coming to class.  But it’s very unlikely, and I strongly encourage you to come regularly at least through the first exam so you can make an informed assessment of whether attendance is necessary for you.

Late assignments

If you have to miss a class when an assignment is due and you don’t want it to be counted as late, email the assignment (final text, not a draft) to me the day that it is due and bring a hard copy of it to the next class meeting.  Late assignments will be docked 3% for every day they are late, until the assignment is either emailed to me or turned in.  

All assignments must be turned in as hard copy to be graded. Emailing a paper to me only stops the accumulation of the late penalty:  you still need to turn in the hard copy before I will grade it.  


At a minimum, participation means coming on time, not leaving early, and being reasonably attentive during class (i.e. no twiddling on devices, doing other classes' homework, chatting with neighbors, napping, etc).  Participation also means contributing to discussions.  That does not necessarily mean saying brilliant things:  it can just as easily mean asking questions.  Don’t hesitate to interrupt me to ask me to clarify something, repeat something, or expand on something:  I will be glad to.  Your participation will make the course a lot more interesting not only for you, but also for me and for your fellow students.

Content Advisory

This course deals with some controversial and difficult subjects, such as religion, sexuality, race, and social class, including representations of the nude body and discussion of sexual, political, socio-economic, and religious ideas and practices that some students may disagree with or be uncomfortable with.  As we examine these topics, we should all remember to be respectful of each others’ beliefs and backgrounds, and we should keep the discussion anchored in an attempt to understand the contextual meanings and purposes of the works of art that we are covering.

Electronic devices in class

All electronic devices (including laptops, cell phones, tablets/pads, audio players, any audio or video recording devices, and so on) must be turned off and put away during class time.  If you have specific need to use an electronic device in class that is documented by the Dean’s Office or the Learning Center, come talk to me in advance. Unauthorized use of electronic devices will result in deductions to your attendance grade:  10 points per observed instance.


In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education set the definition of a 'credit hour' as entailing three hours of student engagement per week.  This means that a 4-credit course such as this one should entail a minimum of 12 hours per week of engaged learning.  Since we meet for 3 hours per week in the classroom, that means that you should expect to spend spend approximately 9 hours per week outside of class meeting time on this course, including time spent doing the readings, analyzing relevant works, preparing for class beforehand, organizing and reviewing your lecture notes afterwards, visiting the museum, writing the papers, and so on.  

Note that this definition means that you should expect to spend just as much time on a 100-level class as on an upper-level classes.  The difference between the two is that the lower-level classes usually require no prior knowledge of a subject, not that they are easier.

Make-up exams

Because art history exams require special equipment and a proctor to administer, make-up exams will only be given under extraordinary circumstances, and only one make-up exam will be allowed per student per semester.  Make-up exams consist of an 8-10 page take-home essay plus identifications of works from the study guide by artist, title, style, and date.  Most people prefer the in-class exams.

How you can get in touch with me

I would love to talk to you about the course material, how to do well on the exams and papers, what career paths are available to art history majors, the current roster and prospects of the New England Revolution, or anything else I may know anything about. My contact info and office hours are in the footer below.  Email is usually the fastest way to get in touch with me:  I check that several times a day, but might go for days without checking my voicemail, or even weeks or months during school vacations.  If my regular office hours don’t work I’m sure we can find a time when we are both free:  don’t hesitate to ask.

How I will get in touch with you

Occasionally during the semester I may need to get in touch with you; for example, if I need to notify you that we will not be holding class for some reason.  In such cases, I will use your suffolk.edu email account, so be sure you check that account often or have your mail from that account forwarded to an account that you do check often.

Withdrawal policy  

February 6th is the last day students can withdraw from a course without receiving a grade of W. The course will be completely removed from the student's transcript. Students may do this online via MySuffolk.

March 22nd is the last day students can withdraw from a course (a W will be entered on your transcript). After this date, students may not withdraw from courses unless they have serious extenuating circumstances and documentation. Students should contact the Student Affairs Office (located at 73 Tremont Street, 12th floor, 617.573-8230, studentaffairs@suffolk.edu) to learn more about requesting a late course withdrawal.

University-wide course policies

In addition to those described here and on the syllabus, this course adheres to policies and procedures that apply to all Suffolk courses with regard to disability accommodation, academic misconduct, academic grievance, attendance, and credit hour compliance.  A description of these policies can be found at the link http://www.suffolk.edu/academics/72770.php.  

Academic Misconduct (including the use of AI technology such as ChatGPT)


Suffolk University expects all students to be responsible individuals with high standards of conduct. Students are expected to practice ethical behavior in all learning environments and scenarios, including classrooms and laboratories, internships and practica, and study groups and academic teams. Cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, use of unauthorized electronic devices, self-plagiarism, fabrication or falsification of data, and other types of academic misconduct are treated as serious offenses that will result in an automatic zero on the assignment, and may initiate a formal process of inquiry and incur additional disciplinary sanctions. The unauthorized or unacknowledged use of AI technology such as ChatGPT is considered academic dishonesty because it presents work as your own when it was not. Some cases of academic misconduct may be reviewed and resolved at the academic departmental level; other more egregious forms of academic misconduct necessitate a full review by the Academic Misconduct Committee (AMC).  For more on the Academic Misconduct policy and procedure, please follow the link above.

course policies