Pick my thesis? Ren/Baroque

Jul 2008
I just started my Renaissance and Baroque humanities course, and I have very few [good] ideas for a thesis.

So. Anyone want to throw some ideas out there or have something you want me to argue?

It can be related to anything and as controversial as you want it to be. Paintings, philosophers and/or their theories, political figures, music, art, etc.

It will be 6-11 pages and will be accompanied by a powerpoint.

I can't guarantee you I'll pick your point of view (I may disagree with you), but if its interesting and if I can get at least 6 pages out of it... I'll at least stay on topic (maybe).

I'll be sure to show anyone who wants to see it, or maybe post in here in historum (if anyone cares enough).

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
Damned England
How about how art became secular (and not almost exclusively the realm of the church) due the patronage of very wealthy Italian merchant families? And how this altered art in that the subject matter was no longer purely symbolic religious images, but rather likenesses of real people (the patrons, usually) and this hence may have been a major driving force in Classical art being rediscovered and a revival in truly lifelike art, with all the knock on effects this had for the Rennaissance generally. That should keep you busy, and it's a nice, well documented subject.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2008
My favourite is John Carey's theory of the deliberate encoding of culture to make it hard to understand so an elite educated at universities can feel superior to the masses.

In the past few could read or write, go to and art gallery or discuss politics and philosophy. However this changed in the 19th century with the spreading of general education and improved literacy. Before this only the educated elite could enjoy the afforementioned and the masses unable. With widespread education the educated elite could no-longer feel superior, so they moved the goal posts. Metaphor and allegory was included in literature and art that you needed a university education to decode, politics and philosophy became idealised. So once again these disiplines were restricted to an elite and beyond even a literate mass.

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
Damned England
Glad to be of help, Shark and Love!

Two excellent books, Avon, I agree.

Very true, Toltec. Most dark ages and medieval art was for the illiterate, which included a lot of kings, hence it was symbolic. If you saw a man with a halo and a bunch of keys, you were looking at St.Peter. If you saw a woman, and there was a wheel somewhere in the picture, that was St.Catherine. Sword + crown = king, and Edward the Confessor is almost always portrayed as an old man with a long beard (and a crown). Like heraldry, the illiterate could read it.

Yes, the 18th- to 19th century obsession with Classical culture seem to be the key to this encryption. Using classical "characters" (e.g. Zephyrus instead of "wind" or "The Olympian" instead of God etc) kind of implied that if you'd not had the "right" education, you're not going to get this.

Like reading the "Guardian" now:)

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