History of Period Styles and Décor Syllabus

Course Description

Survey of architectural elements, furnishings, and decorative motifs useful to theatre designers: prehistoric through modern including Far Eastern styles. This course is a visual survey of the major “periods” of architecture, furnishings, decorative motifs, and ornamentation, coupled with a history of costume survey. The purpose of this class is to assist theatre artists in developing an understanding of visual history. This will establish for them a common historic framework from which to build their visual knowledge base and provide for them a means to accurately articulate their visual ideas, needs, and inspirations using correct historic references and terminologies.

Course Goals

Students will gain a broad visual overview of each period of style to serve as a basis on which to begin research when undertaking a new production, regardless of the fact the production is meant to be “historically accurate” or conceptual.

Learner Outcomes

Specifically, by the end of the semester you should be able to:

  • Identify and describe each period of architecture and decorative arts
  • Classify a primary or secondary research image into the proper period style through visual design analysis.
  • Develop and hone design analysis vocabulary to justify classification of period style.
  • Graduate students will be able to analyze decorative details of a design movement and demonstrate an understanding of their importance in the overall major decorative period.

Required Texts

  • Architecture and Interior Design Through the 18th Century: An Integrated History by Buie Hardwood, Bridget May, and Curt Sherman ($21.49 on Amazon)
  • Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century: An Integrated History by Buie Hardwood, Bridget May, and Curt Sherman ($15.43 rent/$35 used on Amazon)
  • Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style by DK Publishing ($32.95 on Amazon)— on reserve in the Library

Recommended Texts

  • Handbook of Ornament by Franz Sales Meyer ($9.15 new on Amazon, $3.56 used on Amazon)— on reserve in the Library
  • A Visual Dictionary of Architecture by Francis D.K. Ching ($33.06 new, $23.77 used on Amazon) on reserve in the Library
  • Essentials of Period Style: A Source Book for Stage and Production Designers by Hal Tiné (not available until November)


Each outcome will be assessed in a variety of projects with an accompanying rubric distributed with the project guidelines. Evaluation will be based on participation of classroom activities and completion of projects in a timely fashion. The project/grading rubric may be adjusted or modified by the instructor to better facilitate the educational needs of the enrolled students. This may include modification, simplification, or elimination of entire projects or components of projects and/or the adjustment of due dates as deemed appropriate. Enrollees will be informed in advance of any changes prior to starting the project and the changes will be implemented in a fair and equitable manner.


Graded Material %
Quizzes 20%
Midterm 30%
Participation 20%
Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

Tests will be objective, short answer, visual identifications, etc. After taking the tests, we will continue to have class on these days since there is so much information to cover. There will be 10 quizzes throughout the semester. These will be brief quizzes you may be asked to draw an item covered from a previous class. For example: “Draw an Ionic volute” or “Draw the plan of a groin vault.” You are not going to be graded on your drawing abilities – you will be graded on your understanding of the architectural or decorative feature. The quizzes will take no more than 5 minutes to complete.


In addition to the tests and quizzes, each graduate student must write a minimum 7-page typed paper. The topic is to be chosen from one of the smaller decorative movements within a major period (i.e. The Bauhaus – a part of the Deco period, The Glasgow School – a part of the Art Nouveau period, etc.) OR a biographical look at one of the major contributors to the look of any period (i.e. an architect, designer, furniture designer, landscape architect, etc.). Discuss the major focus of the decorative effort as well as specific contributions (realized works) and prominence of your topic (i.e. was the subject of your paper a significant or minor influence in the overall history of decor). Use examples, illustrations, photo-copies, websites, line drawings, etc. to illustrate your topic. Any books, articles, and websites used MUST be properly cited in MLA style at the end of the paper, however the paper does not have to be formally footnoted. The paper is worth 100 points, which will be added to your final exam points. The paper can be handed in at any time during the semester, but is finally due Thursday, Dec. 17, during finals week. The assessment rubric is on Western Online as well as at the end of this syllabus.

ARTstor is a website that WIU subscribes to and has available for use by students. It is a digital art collection that is divided by categories. The site contains over 2 million images and you should use this as a source for looking at other images outside of class. The address is http://www.artstor.org/index.shtml. It is a fantastic source of images.

Attendance is extremely important. Please be prompt for all class meetings. You are responsible for all materials covered in class and included in the class readings. Read any assignments before the lecture to which they pertain.

All changes to course scheduling and assignments will be posted on Western Online and/or announced in class. You are responsible for checking the class Western Online site at least twice a week.

Course Expectations and Policies


If a student has more than one unexcused absence the instructor has the right to fail and/or lower the grade of the student. If a student has two or more excused absences the instructor has the right to fail and/or lower the grade of the student. An absence is excused when the instructor receives notification at least one hour before the impending absence via email OR phone message through the departmental secretary. All other absences are defined as unexcused. Attendance for all scheduled class meeting is expected. Please be prompt for all class meetings. You are responsible for all materials covered in class. This is a studio class and no book will cover what you might miss. Because of the hands-on nature of this class, you will not be permitted any unexcused absences. Your overall course grade will be negatively impacted by excessive absences and tardiness.

No late assignments or make-up work will be accepted. Attendance during the final exam period is mandatory. Failure to attend will result in failure of the class.

If you are absent, you are required to submit your absence through OARS. To log on, go to wiu.edu/oars and submit an absence form for that day’s classes. The submission generates an automatic email to the relevant instructors. The information is also included in CITR’s attendance tracking system, which can be used by faculty.


In accordance with University policy and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies the instructor of the need for an accommodation. For the instructor to provide the proper accommodation(s) you must obtain documentation of the need for an accommodation through Disability Resource Center (DRC) and provide it to the instructor. It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to the instructor’s attention, as he/she is not legally permitted to inquire about such particular needs of students. Students who may require special assistance in emergency evacuations (i.e. fire, tornado, etc.) should contact the instructor as to the most appropriate procedures to follow in such an emergency. Contact Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 298-2512 for additional services.


Except in extenuating circumstances, an incomplete will not be granted in this course. Failure to complete the assigned work or a chronic problem with attendance does not constitute grounds for an incomplete.

Academic Integrity

Your work is to be YOUR work. Having anyone else work on part of a project that you are turning in for a grade is the equivalent to someone writing part of a paper for you. If its clear that you have had someone else do your work, in part or in whole, it will be treated as academic misconduct. Each student should be familiar with the university policy on plagiarism and cheating as described on the WIU website. http://www.wiu.edu/policies/acintegrity.php

Student Rights & Responsibilities

Each student should be aware of their rights and responsibilities as indicated on the WIU website: http://www.wiu.edu/provost/students.php

Class Calendar—Subject to Change

Week 1

Aug. 25 Syllabus & Overview of periods Approach to Design History, Analysis Architecture & Interior Design (AID) Introduction

Aug. 27 Paleolithic/Neolithic/Preliterate Sumerian (Egyptian)

AID 1. Cultural Precedents pg. xi-14; Section C Antiquity, 4. Egypt pg. 50-61; Fashion—Chapter 1 pg. 12-17

Week 2

Sept. 1 Babylonian/Etruscan/Greek—AID Section C—5. Greece pg. 64-76; Fashion— Chapter 1 pg. 18-29

Sept. 3 Greek Early Classical/Greek Late Classical Fashion— Chapter 1 pg. 32-41

Week 3

Sept. 8 Greek Hellenistic/Rome Imperial/Late Imperial–AID – Section C 6. Rome pp. 80-98

Sept. 10 Quiz 1 Top of Class (TOC); Rome; Early Byzantine/Late Byzantine–AID –Section D 7. Early Christian and 8. Byzantine Pg. 99-114

Week 4

Sept. 15 Quiz 2 TOC (Rome) Islamic/Medieval-Early/Medieval-Romanesque–AID – Section D 9. Islamic, 10. Romanesque, 11. Gothic; Fashion –Chapter 2 Medieval Romance and Trade pg.44-75

Sept. 17 Medieval-Gothic

Week 5

Sept. 22 Quiz 3 TOC (Medieval) Renaissance-Proto–AID – Section C 12. Italian, 13. Spanish, 14. French, 15. English **pp 161-250Fashion – Chapter 3 Renaissance Splendor pp. 75-113

Sept. 24 Renaissance-Early/Renaissance-High

Week 6

Sept. 29 Renaissance Manners/Renaissance-Artists TBA

Oct. 1 Quiz 4 TOC (Renaissance) Baroque –Great Britain/United States; Baroque- France/Mediterranean/Europe–AID –Section F 20. European Baroque, 2.1 Louis XIV,22. English Restoration** pp. 321-384;Fashion – Chapter 4 Baroque and Rococo pp116-162

Week 7

Oct. 6 Baroque-Artists

Oct. 8 Quiz 5 TOC (Baroque) Rococo-Great Britain/United States;  Rococo-France/Mediterranean Europe–AID – Section G 23. Le Regence and Louis XV, 24.English Neo-Palladian and Georgian, 25. American p.385-454

Week 8

Oct. 13 Rococo—Artists TBA

Oct. 15 Midterm (Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance, Medieval, Roman,Greek, Egypt)

Week 9

Oct. 20 Neo Classical-Great Britain/United States; Neo Classical-France/Mediterranean Europe–AID – Section H 26. Louis XVI and French Provincial, 27. Late English Georgian, 28. American Federal pp.455-526; Fashion – Chapter 5 pp.166-187

Oct. 22 Neo Classical-Artists

Week 10

Oct. 27 Quiz 7 TOC (Neo Classical) Late Neoclassical/Romanticism/Victorian Revivals—Empire, Biedermeier, Italianate–AID Vol. 2—Section B pp. 33-118***, Section C Victorian

Revivals Ch. 7, 9, 10 pp. 154-180; 212-266***Fashion – Chapter 5 pp.187-221

Oct. 29 Romanticism Artists; Victorian—Exoticism, Queen Anne,Eclecticism–AID Vol. 2 – Section C Victorian Revivals Ch. 9, 10, Section D Ch. 12 pp. 212-266, pp. 288-320

Week 11

Nov. 3 Victorian, Late—Reforms Section E Ch. 15-17 p 279-480***

Nov. 5 Victorian, Edwardian/Art Nouveau AID Vol. 2 –Section F Innovation, Ch. 19 Art Nouveau

Week 12

Nov. 10 Art Nouveau/ /Chicago School/ Prairie & Mission Styles–AID Vol. 2 –Section F Innovation, Ch. 21-22; Fashion – Chapter 6 pp. 222-269

Nov. 12 Art Nouveau/Bauhaus/German Expressionism–Ch. 24 The Bauhaus pp 560-577; pp 590-612

Week 13

Nov. 17 Quiz 8 TOC (Victorian & Art Nouveau) Early Modernism: Art Deco/Art; Moderne, Usonian–AID Vol. 2—Section G Modernism, Ch. 26 Art Deco pp

636-673 Section F Innovation, Ch. 22 Modern Forerunners

Nov. 19 Art Deco—Modernism, Expressionism,Brutalism–Fashion – Chapter 7 pp. 270-311

Week 14

Nov. 24& 26 Thanksgiving Break

Week 15

Dec. 1 Quiz 9 TOC (Art Deco) Post Modern—Mid-century modern, Fashion – Chapter 8 pp. 314-349 Googie,

Dec. 3 Post Modern and Deconstructionism TBA; Fashion – Chapter 9-10 pp. 350-421

Week 16

Dec. 8 Quiz 10 TOC (Contemporary) Oriental–China AID Vol. 1 Section B—Oriental Ch. 2 China pp. 15-30

Dec. 10 Oriental–Japan AID Vol. 1 Section B—Oriental Ch. 3 Japan pp. 31-49

Week 17

Dec. 17 Final Exam 10 am -12 noon