Arts of the Book

Subject Name: 

Art & the History of Art

Course Number: 
Amherst College

(Offered as ARHA 267 and ASLC 267.)  This course considers the arts of the book at the royal courts of Greater Iran (including Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia) and Islamic South Asia from the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries. It will focus in particular on illustrated histories and poetic works in Persian, including Abu'l Qasim Firdausi's Shahnama (Book of Kings), Nizami Ganjavi's Khamsa (Quintet), and Abu'l Fazl's Akbarnama (Book of Akbar), among others. All aspects of manuscript production will be considered, from the arts of “miniature painting,” calligraphy, and illumination, to the preparation of paper, brushes, inks, and pigments. The class will explore in depth the nature of the royal manuscript workshop, the formation of visual idioms, the roles of originality and imitation in artistic practice, the aesthetics of the illustrated page, and the theorization of painting and calligraphy in technical treatises, poetry, and other primary texts. Emphasis will be placed on the great movement of artists, materials, and ideas across the Islamic world, all of which contributed to the rise of an elite, cosmopolitan culture of manuscript connoisseurs. Examination of objects in the Mead Art Museum and other local collections will supplement classroom discussion and assigned readings. No previous knowledge of the topic is presumed, and all reading will be available in English.

Requisite:One course in Art History or Studio Art. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Five College Mellon Fellow Rice.


Instructor Permission: 
Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.
Crosslisted Section ID: 
Schedule #: 

Course Sections

Arts of the Book
Sect # Credits Instructor(s) Instructor Email Meeting Times Location
01 4.0

Yael Rice

MW 02:00PM-03:20PM

FAYE 217