93158 - Iconography and Iconology (Lm)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Archaeology and Cultures of the Ancient World (cod. 8855)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will know the historical, theoretical and methodological foundations of iconographic and iconological research. Through a diachronic examination of some examples, from Prehistory to the Middle Ages, students will become familiar with the world of ancient images and their semantic value. They will be able to go about a critical study of an image, especially if connected with a chronological and cultural period in which they are specializing. More generally, understanding images and the rules governing them will enable students to exploit their peculiar features and suitability for a broad and varied public.

Course contents

After a brief introduction to the course, the topics covered include:

1. Reading images: teorethical approaches;

2. History of the studies in iconology;

3. Iconography & iconology in archaeology;

4. Current research methods and tools and their issues;

5. Case studies in Mediterranean Antiquity, form Prehistory to Middle Age (the presented samples change every year).


Literature here presented collects only general reference works, selected to support the students during the class.

A more detailed bibliography will be available on virtuale.it.

PANOFSKY, E. 1955. Meaning in the Visual Arts (see also later editions).

GOMBRICH, E.H. 1958. The Story of Art (and later editions).

GOMBRICH, E.H. 1959. Art and Illusion. A study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation.

GOMBRICH, E.H. 1972. Art, Perception and Reality.

PANOFSKY, E. 1972. Studies in Iconology. Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (especially Chapter I, Introduction).

BERARD, C., BRON C., DURAND, J.-L., FRONTISI-DUCROUX, F., LISSARRAGUE, F., SCHNAPP, A. and VERNANT J.-P., 1989. A City of Images. Iconography and Society in Ancient Greece, Princeton.

LISSARRAGUE, F. 1990. Une approche de l'imagerie attique, in IDEM, L'autre guerrier. Archers, peltastes, cavaliers dans l'imagerie attique.

VAN STRATEN, R. 1994. An introduction to Iconography. Symbols, Allusions and Meaning in the Visual Art (London-New York: Routledge).

WUNENBURGER, J.-J. 1997. Philosophie des images (Paris: Universitaires de France).

YATROMANOLAKIS, D. 2009 (ed.). An Archaeology of Representations: Ancient Greek Vase Painting and Contemporary Methodologies (Athens: Kardamitsa).

ISLER-KERÉNYI, C. 2015. "Iconographical and Iconological Approaches", in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Art and Architecture, edited by C. Marconi, pp. 557-578.

LUBTCHANSKY, N. 2017. "Iconography and Iconology, 19th to 21st Centuries" in Etruscology, edited by A. Naso, pp. 79-93.

Teaching methods

The course includes lectures, reading, discussions in class, and testing of the approaches to the interpretation of images.

Class attendance is requested (via Teams if the pandemic will require it).

Students are invited to attend lessons bringing their personal laptop, if they own one.

Assessment methods

Discussion about the topics presented by the Teacher in class will be a significant part of the evaluation process (10/30).

Every student will be requested to carry on a study about a specific, limited topic related to images, image interpretation, theoretical issues or other. If they are interested in a determined culture or chronological phase, they are invited to select this proper cultural context to improve their knowledge on images. Students' researches will be presented by everyone in class (10/30) and then submitted to the Teacher as an essay (3.000 words) (10/30). Then the essay will be discussed personally with the Teacher (please, sign in to one of the scheduled exam sessions).

The overall assessment will consider the following parameters, evaluated during the course:

- an excellent knowledge of the topics, the ability to analyse themes, refer to them using field-specific terminology, and discuss specific issues critically, expressing an opinion, will be rewarded with an excellent mark.

- a mnemonic knowledge of the subject, with the ability to analyse with a correct, although not always field-specific, command of the language will be rewarded with a 'fair' mark.

- minimal knowledge of the subject will not be sufficient to pass the exam.

Teaching tools

Images presented and discussed in class, readings and several documents will be provided on virtuale.it.

Office hours

See the website of Chiara Pizzirani


Quality education Gender equality Sustainable cities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.