For the paper topic, students will be required to select one of the ten works of art from the list below. Francisco Goya, Yard with Lunatics, ca. 1794 (Meadows Museum at SMU) Luis Jimenez Aranda, Lady at the Paris Expositon, 1889 (Meadows Museum at SMU) Claes Olderburg, Geometric Mouse II, 1969 (Meadows Museum at SMU) Claude-Joseph Vernet, Moutain Landscape with Approaching Storm, 1775 (Dallas Museum of Art, downtown Dallas) Constantin Brancusi, Beginning of the World, ca. 1920 (Dallas Museum of Art) Frederic Church, The Icebergs, 1861 (Dallas Museum of Art) Herter Brothers, Vanderbilt console, ca. 1882 (Dallas Museum of Art) Charles and Henry Greene, Front doors from the Robert R. Blacker house, 1907 (Dallas Museum of Art) Edward Hopper, Lighthouse Hill, 1927 (Dallas Museum of Art) Richard Serra, My Curves Are Not Mad, 1987 (Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas) The aim of the paper is for students to explain how bringing more than one practice to an examination of the course topic (e.g., the artist’s view and that of the cultural historian) contributes to knowing about that topic. This paper should consist of 4-5 pages of text (typed, double-spaced, 12 point), with a title page, 6-8 numbered illustrations (numbered in the text—Fig. 1, etc.) with labels (artist, title, date), 2-4 endnotes or footnotes, and a bibliography. The illustrations should not be in the text, but grouped in the back. This paper consists of 8 parts: A title page with your name and a paper title that distills your argument. The first paragraph should include a 3-4 sentence thesis or argument. The second paragraph should consist of a detailed description of the image and its composition. Research will be required to describe exactly what is depicted in the painting. The same is true of detailed descriptions of the pieces of furniture or sculptures. The third paragraph should place the work of art within the context of that artist’s work from that specific period (within 10 years), illustrating 3-5 works to make your argument. The fourth paragraph should examine how your work was created. The fifth paragraph should place the work within a larger social context. The sixth paragraph should consist of a conclusion that argues what is gained by seeing the work through both the lens of the artist and the cultural historian. The paper should also include a short bibliography of the sources. Those who employ both the internet, including articles on JSTOR through the SMU Library site, as well as books in the library, will do best. The illustrations must be placed in the back of the paper, with proper labels (artist, title, date, collection). The illustrations should include a selfie of you in front of the work (all three museum allow photographs without a flash), a drawing of the work, a good reproduction of the work, as well as reproductions of 3-5 comparative works from that period by that artist. example: Normally, few of you will work on the Vernet Mountain Landscape painting at the Dallas Museum of Art. I have given that work more thought, so, in case you work on it, please see my points below. HERE ARE MY SUGGESTIONS If I were working on this painting, I would stick with my template structure, but would consider adding in places these things: 1. What interests me about this painting is that it was created when artists were just beginning to represent the sublime in art. If you compare with it with later full-blown sublime works (Turner’s Burning of the Houses of Parliament or his Hannibal Crossing the Alps or Philip James de Loutherbourg’s Avalanch in the Alps, etc.—illustrate one of those to make your point), the Vernet offers more of a mix of violent and arcadian. It presages later representations of the sublime, but also looks back to landscape painting from the seventeenth-century. 2. As I said in class today, use JSTOR to find articles about your artist rather than about that specific work. For Vernet, see “Salvator Rosa and Claude-Joseph Vernet,” by Philip Consibee (from 1973 in The Burlington Magazine) because it examines Vernet’s debt to earlier wild landscapes and his compositional devices. Also see the book in Hamon Library, French Painting of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century (National Gallery of Art). 3. In the paragraph on other works by Vernet, illustrate a couple of his sea storm ship wreck scenes and another work by him. But I would also illustrate a landscape by Claude Lorrain to illustrate Vernet’s debt to his works for their framing devices of trees, Salvator Rosa, for his wild scenes Vernet soaked up, and Salomon van Ruysdael’s storm scenes (another painter from the previous century). 4. For the social section, I would research the uses of the Sublime in eighteenth century (especially the writings of Edmund Burke and Lord Shaftsbury). 5. Finally, in the conclusion, it makes sense to illustrate Fragonard’s contemporary painting The Swing because it is polar opposite in effect (even though both contain wild nature, the Rococo painting is a lush garden while this sweeping scene overwhelms man). Hope this is of help.

Sample Solution

Sample solution

Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell. 

In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.

God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.

Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.

To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.



Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.

Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies4(8), 487.

Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.