Itds – 1145 american jesus

Short Essay
This assignment belongs in the context of visual piety and gives you the opportunity to apply and deepen your understanding of that notion, based on our reading by David Morgan. The assignment consists of two parts.

Part A:

Go to the following link and view the painting “Calvary” by the religious artist Stephen Sawyer. On your keyboard, keep the ‘Ctrl’ key pressed and then press the ‘+’ key (repeatedly) to enlarge the image.

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The above link worked fine, last time I checked. Should it not work properly anymore while our course is underway, you can google “Stephen Sawyer Calvary” to find other links to the same image.


Also, there is another link (see right below) to a commercial website, featuring the “Calvary” image, but here you cannot easily change the view.

However, here the image is accompanied by some suggestive commentary. According to the statement next to the image, Sawyer’s painting has to do with “broken connections with God” and “our private hell.”

For this part of the assignment, write a description of the painting and spell out how these two notions are visually engaged by the artist. While you should zero in on particular details or items (and what they may symbolize), this part of the assignment is mostly descriptive. Critical interpretation is reserved for the next part.


Part B:

Write a viewer’s response that addresses the following questions:

1)      What was your gut reaction to the painting? What emotions, sentiments, or associations did it trigger? (If you have encountered this picture before taking this class, recall what it was like when you first saw it.)

2)      What do you think is the intended message of the painting, and is it conveyed successfully? How does this message relate to the title “Calvary”?

(Focus on what the image “tells” you, and do NOT rely on, or parrot, the editorial text beneath the image!)

3)      What, if anything, is “pious” or “impious” about this image?



Microsoft Word document (ending with “.doc” or “.docx”).

First page: Student’s name, course number (ITDS 1145 – American Jesus), and semester (May 2013) at the top, left corner; no separate cover page needed.

Title: You can formulate your own.

Length: 2.5 pages (ca. 700 words).

            Typed: double-spaced; font: Times New Roman; font size: 12.

Word count: to be included at the end of your essay.

            Page numbers: Include page numbers (also for the first page).



Use regular Word document (ending with “.doc” or “docx”).

Submit via Short Essay Drop Box on D2L.  If, for some reason, the drop box does not work, send an e-mail attachment via D2L. 

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