Expanded Renaissance Initiative

The Expanding Renaissance Initiative (ERI), is a new Andrew W. Mellon-funded project from Smarthistory to expand the boundaries of art history in the classroom—in this case specifically the early modern period. Our plan is to work towards art histories that do not present European art as superior and help to weaken the binary western/non-western paradigm. The ERI is aligned with recent scholarship on what has been called “the global renaissance,” and while we embrace the term “global,” the ERI aims to do more than simply globalize, but to highlight overlooked subjects, materials, artists, groups, and locales.

From Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank, “Expanding the renaissance initiative

Here we point to resources that we’ve created to help think about “renaissance art” a bit differently.

Why consider teaching a more expanded renaissance art?

It seems important now, more than ever, that we should be mindful of issues of global trade, cultural entanglements, colonization, itinerancy, empire, and gender and racial dynamics between roughly 1330 and 1650, in part to recognize the visual cultures and peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas as vital contributors (both willing and unwilling) to renaissance art and culture.

Follower of Bernard Palissy, Dish, late 16th century
Follower of Bernard Palissy, platter, last quarter of the 16th century, lead-glazed earthenware, 52.1 x 39.7 x 7.1 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Resources for teaching

For some of the ERI content, Lauren created accompanying teaching resources that include brief introductions, lists of key terms and ideas, diagnostic quizzes, links to additional resources, discussion questions, research prompts, and in-class activities (like note-taking activities for videos that you can share and print as PDFs).

Here is a list of videos for which we have teaching and learning materials currently: