Administrative Information

Course Description

This course will examine the innovations in technology that accompanied and made possible the proliferation of monumental art and architecture during the Italian Renaissance -- often at the same hands. Famous examples include the machines designed by Brunelleschi and da Vinci as well as novel construction and fresco techniques, bronze casting advances, etc. The class will look not only at these works, but at the social and political climate that made possible - and even demanded - engineering expertise from prominent artists.

A secondary goal of the course is to introduce students to the pleasures of creative engineering design. The course will include some short hands-on projects to give students a physical understanding of the engineering challenges that Renaissance masters faced and overcame with ingenious solutions. The course readings will draw from a combination of historical and engineering design sources that do not require a technical background.

Class location and meeting times

Tuesdays, Thursdays, 17:00-18:30 at the Stanford Florence Campus
There will also be several field trips.

Course Objectives

  • Introduce students to the triumphs of renaissance engineering and to the people and the social context behind them
  • Introduce students who may not havea technical background to the pleasures of creative engineering design.

Contact information

  • Mark Cutkosky
    • Email:
    • Class mailing list (goes to all class members): will be set up -- posting is restricted to list members to avoid spam.

Grading policy

Students can choose either letter grade or Pass/NC, but should inform me if taking for P/NC. The weighting is as follows:
  • Class participation: 20% -- All members are expected to contribute to discussions in class based on the assigned readings and questions.
  • Short assignments & machine: 50%
  • Final posters and writeup: 30%

Assuming it works from Florence, grades will be posted on Stanford Course Work. For informal short assignments we will sometimes use the scale used in the School of Business (H: Honors -- equivalent to a high A or A+; P+: Pass Plus -- beyond a pass, equivalent to A/A-; P: Pass -- equivalent to A-/B+; P- equivalent to B; I: Incomplete (revise and resubmit) UPDATED May 05 -- Course Work is not working from Florence. ME122F? does not show up on any list of courses that Coursework knows about. So please see me directly if you'd like to know about your grades to date.

Class List

  • to be filled out

-- MarkCutkosky - 11 Mar 2005

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