ENG 3385el - Literature and Art  


Dr. Kristi Siegel  

Associate Professor, English

Mount Mary College

Fall 2003

NDH 247

M & W: 2:30 4:20 pm

Office hours: 1:30 2:30 Mondays and Wednesdays and by appointment

Office: Fidelis 223, (414) 258-4810, ext. 461

Home: phone no. listed on syllabus

e-mail: siegelkr@mtmary.edu

website: www.kristisiegel.com/lit_art







Required Texts:  

  • Chevalier, Tracy. Girl with a Pearl Earring

  • Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary

  • Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness 

  • Ionesco, Eugene. Rhinoceros

  • Tsukiyama, Gail. The Samurai's Garden

Reading Provided via Handouts:

  • Donne, John. Selected poems from The Holy Sonnets

  • Sacks, Oliver. "To See and Not See," from an Anthropologist on Mars

  • Hemingway, Ernest. "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"

  • Morrison, Toni. Excerpt from The Bluest Eye.

Recommended Materials:  

  • Beckett, Sr. Wendy. Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, 2nd Ed.

  • Just for fun: Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code.

Course Description


Literature and Art presents famous paintings (and films and background material about these artists) while considering the connections between works of literature and works of art. How have artists and writers reacted to critical moments in history? What techniques have writers and artists shared? In examining a broad range of art, fiction, poetry, and drama, students will consider how artists and writers depict common life themes (death, birth, aging, love, and so forth) and are always affected by the times in which they create their work.

Course Objectives:


  • to view and appreciate paintings from different periods;

  • to analyze the different techniques used in painting and literature;

  • to consider literature and art from a wide variety of periods and cultures;

  • to explore connections between the art of painting and the art of literature;

  • to consider the ways that art and literature often mirror the society in which they are created..  



In-class exercises and assignments


Participation (in groups, discussions)   15%
Directed essay no. 1 20%
Midterm  15%  
Directed essay no. 2 20%
Final exam or project   25%





Unit 1 - An Introduction to Literature, Art, and Perception

  • How does our visual orientation (pre-conceptions) inform the way artists create art and viewers/readers receive art?

Sep 3

  • Course Overview, Introductions

  • Group work

  • PP presentation on history, art, and literature

  • Handout: "To See and Not See" - read for next class 

Sep 8

  • Discuss "To See and Not See" and cultural perception
  • Group work and informal presentations
  • Read: Read first half of the Girl with a Pearl Earring for next class.

Unit 2 - Art as the Subject of Literature



  • Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Art - Dutch masters (e.g., Rembrandt, Vermeer, de Hooch, etc.)


  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Jesu, Joy of Men's Desiring

  • Antonio Vivaldi - Concerto for Two Trumpets, Strings, and Continuo in C


  • Dutch Masters: Vermeer (KULTUR VIDEO, Cromwell Films, 2000

Sep 10

  • Discuss Jan Vermeer - film and slide show
  • Small group discussion

Sep 15

  • Discuss first half GWPE
  • Small group discussion and informal presentations

Sep 17

  • Discuss rest of GWPE
  • Small group discussion and informal presentations
  • Optional presentations on artists (sign up sheet)

Unit 3 - Religious Visions/Religious Struggles


Readings - Selected Holy Sonnets by John Donne (handout)
  • "Death Be Not Proud"
  • "Batter my Heart, Three-Person'd God"
  • "At the Round Earths Imagin'd Corners, Blow"
  • "I am a Little World Made Cunningly"



  • William Byrd - Praeludium
  • Claudio Monteverdi - Due Belli Occhi


  • WIT starring Emma Thompson


Sep 22

  • Discussion of religious art
  • Video and/or slides

Sep 24

  • Discussion of selected Holy Sonnets

Sep 29

  • Video - WIT starring Emma Thompson

Oct 1

  • Discuss film, poems, and art
  • Directed essay assigned (due Oct 15)

Unit 4 - Light, Landscape, Realism, and Impressionism


  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert



  • Frederic Chopin - Nocturne 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1
  • Robert Schumann - Traumerei


  • Excerpt from Madame Bovary - Directed by Claude Chabrol. Los Angeles, CA: Republic Pictures Home Video, 1992.


Oct 6

  • Discussion and video on Impressionism

Oct 8

  • First third of MB - Chapters 1-16
  • Discussion in small groups and informal presentations

Oct 13

  • Second third of MB - Chapter 17-27
  • Discussion in small groups and informal presentations
  • Excerpt from video

Oct 15

  • Finish MB - discussion of book and Impressionism
  • In-class work on essay (due next class)
  • Excerpt from video

Unit 5 - Naturalism, Modernism, Primitivism


  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Excerpt from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's early philosophical writing



  • Bela Bartok - Bagetelle, Op. 6 (1908)


  • Excerpt from Apocalypse Now

Oct 20

  • Discussion of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Primitivism

Oct 22

  • First half of HOD and discussion

Oct 27 

  • Rest of HOD and excerpt from Apocalypse Now

Unit 6 - American Realism and Minimalism


  • "A Clean, Well-Lighted Place" by Ernest Hemingway


Music: TBA

Oct 29

  • Edward Hopper and American Realism
  • Short answer midterm

Nov 3

  • Hemingway Hero, minimalism
  • Discussion and small group presentations on short story

Unit 7 - The Absurd, Abstract, and Postmodern



  • Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco


Music: TBA

Nov 5

  • Field trip to Milwaukee Art Museum

Nov 10

  • Modern Art and the Theatre of the Absurd

Nov 12

  • Rhinoceros - Discussion and small groups
  • Topics for Directed Essay no. 2 (due Dec 1)

Unit 8 - Gauging the Influence of Pop Culture: Icons of Everyday Life


  • Excerpt from The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison


Music: TBA

Nov 17

  • Art and Pop Culture
  • Option of final take-home exam or project (to be presented during exam period - handout and explanation provided in class)

Nov 19

  • Discussion of The Bluest Eye (excerpt)
  • In-class work on Directed Essay no. 2

Nov 24

  • Reading day - catch up on reading and complete essay

Unit 9 - Eastern Art and Philosophy


  • The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama


Music: TBA

Dec 1

  • Essay no. 2 due
  • Eastern Art and Philosophy

Dec 3

  • First half of TSG and discussion

Dec 8 

  • Rest of TSG and discussion

Dec 10

  • Overview of course
  • Evaluations
  • Take-home exam (if not doing final project)

Dec 17 - 3:15 p.m.

  • Discussion of take-home exams
  • Project presentations