Prof. Monica Dominguez
Lecture Location: 204 Kirkbride Lecture Hall

Lecture Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45 pm

Office Location: 118A Old College
Office Hours: Wednesday 3-4 pm


Teaching Assistant: Catherine Reed Holochvost (catherin@UDel.Edu)



Course Description | Textbooks | Grading | Calendar | Online Resources | Reference Books



Course Description


An introduction to the study of mythical and religious images, types, attributes and symbols on a comparative basis from many ages throughout the world. We will study a wide variety of examples organized under few broad topics: anthropomorphic figures that conform to an ideal of ‘perfection’; paradigmatic narratives of several civilizations; deities and archetypes related to natural phenomena; representations of great rulers and leaders; almighty deities or figures with supernatural powers; and deities and places associated with death and afterlife. The main objective of the course is to understand how those particular visual images ‘work’ within the belief system of the community that created them.






Required readings:

·        Nigel Spivey, How Art Made the World: A Journey to the Origins of Human Creativity, Perseus Books, 2005

·        David Leeming, The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, Oxford University Press, 2005


Recommended title:

·        Fred S. Kleiner and Christin J. Mamiya, Gardner’s Art through the Ages. A Concise History, Thomson Wadsworth, 2006






There will be three (3) take-home exams, each worth 20%; and one case study, which involves a short paper (15%) and an oral report (15%). The remaining 10% of the final grade would be assessed taking into account attendance and class participation. For the grade scale used in this course click here.




Calendar and Assignments

Topic 1            Introduction to the course – What’s the difference between myth & religion?
Aug 29             Course description, requirements, layout

Aug 31             Reading discussion: Leeming, pp. xi-xiii

Topic 2            Art & the Human Imagination
Sept 5               Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 6-49

Sept 7               Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 6-49


Topic 3            More Human than Human
Sept 12             Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 50-83

Sept 14             Presentations: Adam, Hercules, Achilles, Hermaphroditus, Krishna

Sept 19             Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 50-83

Sept 21             Presentations: Eve, Three Graces, Pandora, Freda / First Exam given


Topic 4            Once upon a time
Sept 26             Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 84-121/First Exam due

Sept 28             Presentations: Orpheus & Eurydice, The Rape of Europe, The Iliad, The Thousand &

                        One Nights, The Song of the Nibelungs

Oct 3                Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 84-121

Oct 5                Presentations: Noah’s ark, The tower of Babel, Jonah and the whale, The Last Supper, King Arthur, The Cid

Topic 5            Second nature

Oct 10              Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 122-153

Oct 12              Presentations: Olympus, Parnassus, Tlalocan, Yin-Yang

Oct 17              Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 122-153

Oct 19              Presentations: Baal, Cybele, Sedna, Yemanjá, Pachamama, Corn Mother / Second Exam given

Topic 6            Art and Power
Oct 24              Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 154-199 / Second Exam due

Oct 26              Presentations: King Solomon, Joseph (of Egypt), Moses, St Peter, Hitler

Oct 31              Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 154-199

Nov 2               Presentations: Akhenaton, Huangdi, Muhammad, Quetzalcoatl, Manco Capac, Shango

Topic 7            Seeing the invisible
Nov 7               No class – Election day – University closed

Nov 9               Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 200-253

Nov 14             Presentations: The Trinity, Zeus, Viracocha, Horus, Huitzilopochtli, Brahma

Nov 16             Presentations: Odin, Legba, Sibyls, Merlin, St Patrick, Virgin of Guadalupe 
Topic 8            In the face of death
Nov 21             Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 254-281

Nov 23             No class – Thanksgiving break – University closed

Nov 28             Presentations: Osiris, Hecate, Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, Shiva Nataraja, Morrigan, St Michael

Nov 30             Lecture & Reading discussion: Spivey, pp. 254-281 / Third Exam given

Dec 5               Presentations: Hades, Elysian Fields, Valhalla, Mictlan, Purgatory, Nirvana / Third Exam due



Online Resources



Image Databases

ARTstor (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Camio (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Google Image Search

Web Gallery of Art


Reference Resources


Art History Resources on the Web

The Grove Dictionary of Art (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Britannica Online (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

Biography Resource Center (requires an UDel proxy connection*)

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Olga’s Gallery: Ancient Greek and Roman Myths, Christian Saints Index,  New Testament Notes, Religion Notes Index

Roman Catholic Saints by Name


* To establish a proxy connection from your home computer click here




Reference Books at Morris Library


·        Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art (New York, 2005)

·        Sarah Carr-Gomm, The dictionary of symbols in western art (New York, 1995)

·        James Hall, Dictionary of subjects and symbols in art (various editions)

·        Matilde Battistini & Stephen Sartarelli, Symbols and allegories in art (Los Angeles, 2005)

·        Rosa Giorgi & Stefano Zuffi, Angels and demons in art (Los Angeles, 2005)

·        Chiara de Capoa & Stefano Zuffi, Old Testament figures in art (Los Angeles, 2003)

·        Stefano Zuffi, Gospel figures in art (Los Angeles, 2003)

·        Rosa Giorgi, Stefano Zuffi & Thomas M. Hartmann, Saints in art (Los Angeles, 2003)

·        Lucia Impelluso, Stefano Zuffi & Thomas M. Hartmann, Gods and heroes in art (Los Angeles, 2003)

·        Lucia Impelluso, Nature and its symbols (Los Angeles, 2004)

·        Erika Langmuir, The Yale dictionary of art and artists (New Haven, 2000)

·        Peter and Linda Murray, The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (various editions)