From Marco Polo to Machiavelli to museums: exploring Renaissance art in Cincinnati

Field Trip

Professor Klestinec (R) with ENG 364 students at Dojo Gelato

Article and photos by Mackenzie Rossero, CAS Communications Intern

Last month, Professor Cynthia Klestinec’s ENG 364 students had the opportunity to see the work of an innovative Renaissance printmaker AND enjoy some delicious gelato.  

Durer exhibitStudents from the three-hundred level course, "From Marco Polo to Machiavelli," met up with their professor on a Thursday evening to enjoy treats from Dojo Gelato in Findlay Market before driving to a Renaissance exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

"I think that experiential learning is important to move the conversation out of our classroom and into the world," Klestinec said. "I chose this exhibition because it is directly related to the period that we’re studying and the exhibition – which I thought was fantastic – has so much material in it that we were able to connect to different parts of our class and the material that we’ve studied."

The exhibit, titled "Albrecht Dürer: The Age of Reformation and Renaissance," explores the importance of the Italian Renaissance and the Reformation through the work of Albrecht Dürer, a painter, printmaker and theorist in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

The exhibit features over 140 pieces by Dürer and his contemporaries, many of which are permanently owned by the museum. The rest are on loan from other collectors and museums.

The field trip helped students to better understand the people and era they have been studying.

"I feel like I gained a better understanding of some of the topics and ideas that were valued enough during the Renaissance to be captured in works of art," said sophomore Jessie Hicks, an English education major. "Dürer was a famous artist during the time period that we are studying, and so seeing his works in person helped me to visualize the culture that he was a part of."

ENG 364 is concentrated on Italian culture and literature during the Renaissance, which made this exhibit a fitting choice for a field trip. This was especially true because the exhibit allowed students to actually see Renaissance art, and, since the course primarily focused on literature, this knowledge greatly added to the students’ understanding of the Renaissance.

"For this class, we discussed a lot about the importance of the artisan, but looked more at writers of the Renaissance," said senior creative writingmajor Jacob Grace. "This [field trip] offered a different perspective from the creative side, one that uses visuals instead of the written word. Seeing what these visual artisans were capable of was astounding."

The students are also in the process of making their own cabinets of curiosity, a phrase which refers to collections from Renaissance Europe that were composed of strange or undiscovered objects and specimens. To complete this final project, students are working with manuscripts in King Library’s Special Collections to research and develop their own online exhibition. Many students found references to the items in their projects among the pieces in the Dürer exhibit.

"Seeing the portrait of Erasmus in the Durer exhibit connected to our cabinet of curiosities exhibit in that it represented what an important figure Erasmus was during the time period we are studying," Hicks said. “It really validated the importance of studying the texts he created and translated."

Klestinec's ENG 364 "From Marco Polo to Machiavelli" course will be offered again in Spring 2019.

The Albrecht Dürer exhibit will be at the Cincinnati Art Museum until February 11, 2018. Visit for tickets and pricing.

printmaker exhibit