*BASC 201 (15793) Arts and Science Integrative Topics (3 credits) Prof. Gabriella Coleman, M, W, 1435-1555, STBIO, N2/2
ARTH 215 (18626) / EAST 215 Introduction to East Asian Art (3 credits), Prof. TBA, T, Th, 1135-1255, Arts W-215
ARTH 223 (18634) Intro to Italian Renaissance Art 1300-1500 (3 credits), Prof. Chriscinda Henry, T/Th, 0835-0955, Arts W-215
ARTH 226 (15332) Intro to 18th Century Art & Architecture (3 credits), Dr. Nicolas Gaudreau, T, Th, 1435-1555, Arts W-215
This introduction course will cover various aspects of the art, architecture, and visual culture of the Enlightenment, mainly in France, and England. We will pay attention to social and political issues in a period of time during which remains of aristocratic culture coexist and sometimes collide with manifestations of modernity and bourgeois culture. While addressing these issues in painting and architecture, we will also consider art criticism, aesthetics, architectural theory, antiquarianism, the idea of progress, private and public spaces, the development of tourism, and popular culture.
Evaluation and Deadlines
Mid-term exam (October 7)……….. 20%
Essay (November 20)…………..….. 40%
Final exam …………………...……. 40%
ARTH 315 (19245) / CANS 325 (19271) Indigenous Art and Culture (3 credits), Hannah Claus, M, W, F, 1235-1325, Arts W-215
Aboriginal Art and Culture: Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Canada
In this course we will critically engage with social and political issues within contemporary art by Indigenous artists throughout Canada. The process will integrate culturally-specific concepts and histories that inform the communication of these ideas. For the purposes of this course, contemporary Indigenous art is understood as beginning with work of Norval Morrisseau and Daphne Odjig through to the present day. The material will comprise a variety of media, complemented by lectures and group discussions. The large majority of the texts selected for the course are authored by Indigenous academics, curators and artists, in order to further a decolonizing perspective in the critical understanding of the artwork.
Critical Exhibition Review, 20%
Research Paper Proposal, 10%
Research Paper, 30%
Final Exam, 30%
ARTH 321 (18635) Visual Culture – Dutch Republic (3 credits), Prof. Angela Vanhaelen, T, Th, 1305-1425, Arts W-215
As Svetlana Alpers wrote in her provocative book, The Art of Describing: “In Holland the visual culture was central to the life of the society. One might say that the eye was a central means of self-representation and visual experience a central mode of self-consciousness. If the theatre was the arena in which the England of Elizabeth most fully represented itself to itself, images played that role for the Dutch.” In this course, we explore how the 17th-century Dutch Republic represented itself to itself through the examination of a wide range of visual imagery, from Rembrandt and Vermeer to various forms of popular culture. The focus will be on the role of the visual in shaping merchant capitalist identity in a society dominated by Calvinism. This process of self-definition will be examined in relation to a number of key symbolic sites such as the home, the marketplace, the tavern, the brothel, the theatre, the town hall, the anatomy theatre, the curiosity cabinet, the church, the synagogue, the city and the countryside, the nation and its trading partners and colonies. Our exploration of Dutch visual culture as a central mode of self-consciousness will thus open into a broader understanding of economic, social, historic, religious, literary, colonial, and scientific developments.
ARTH 339 (18636) Critical Issues – Contemporary Art (3 credits), Dr. Milena Tomic, T, Th, 1005-1125, Arts W-215
Breaking away from formalist approaches to traditional media like painting and sculpture, art entered the “real” world around 1950, taking the form of ordinary-looking objects, linguistic propositions, masochistic acts performed on the artist’s own body, traces left behind in the landscape, institutional and archival interventions, and much more. This course presents a largely chronological overview of art practice and theory from the mid-century to the 1980s. Among the movements and approaches we examine both in their proper historical context and through the lens of subsequent commentary are Abstract Expressionism, Gutai, Neo-Dada, the Situationist International (SI), minimalism, post-minimalism, Pop art, Fluxus, performance art, body art, earthworks, site-specific art, conceptual art, institutional critique, feminist art, photoconceptualism, appropriation art, activist art, and the retro-avant-garde. Reading the artists’ own writings alongside essays on their work by major art historians, critics, and theorists will expose students to a specialized terminology that still determines how contemporary art is discussed today.
Key topics include but are not limited to the following: the move away from the expressive power of the painterly trace and towards a blurring of the boundaries between art and life; the conceptual “dematerialization” of the art object and attendant discovery of logic and language; the role of the Other in art, which encompasses issues around femininity, race, nationality, sexuality, disability, and posthumanism; the impact of appropriation, reiteration, and remediation on theories of originality, “high” culture, and the mass media; the return to the values of the early 20th-century avant-garde in the neo-avant-garde and post-avant-garde movements; the transformation of the artist into a cult figure, either as a shaman, celebrity, pedagogue, or brand; and the global spread of artist-led institutions and informal networks. Whenever possible, the course looks beyond North America and Western Europe to international case studies that fall outside of the dominant milieus and theoretical models.
October 14: Mid-term exam - 25%
October 2 and November 18: Journal responses to terms or concepts x 6 - 10%
November 27: Research essay - 30%
Before December 19: Final exam - 30%
Ongoing: Attendance - 5%
ARTH 354 (18637) Selected Topics in Art History 2: “Introduction to Nineteenth-Century Sculpture” (3 credits), Prof. Charmaine Nelson, W, F, 1435-1555, Arts W-215
This course introduces students to dominant practices of nineteenth-century “high” art sculpture: neoclassicism and polychromy. This course will explore how these distinct sculptural aesthetics were structured and informed by the political and social issues of the day. Each style emerged within specific contexts and each reveals investments in pressing social and political issues and current events. The sculpture then must be understood within the context of nineteenth-century institutions, events and issues like: Trans Atlantic Slavery, abolitionism, emancipation, the American Civil War, Reconstruction, American westward expansion and Manifest Destiny. It is not accidental that all of these issues intersect powerfully with issues of colonialism, nation-building, race and racism, since these were all clearly preoccupations of the majority of the sculptors and the societies of the time. The course will also examine the issue of identity (sex, gender, race, class, sexuality) in terms of sculptural production, representation and viewership. It will examine the internationally networked cultural centre of Rome and the rituals and circuits of patronage and celebrity that emerged from sculptors’ studios. Artists like Edmonia Lewis, Harriet Hosmer, Hiram Powers, William Wetmore Story and Charles Cordier shall be discussed alongside authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James, celebrities like Charlotte Cushman and art critics like James Jackson Jarves who constituted the cultural communities of the sculptors. A range of individual subjects (ie. Abraham Lincoln) shall be discussed alongside more idealized (ie. slaves, mulattoes, captives, soldiers, maidens), allegorical (ie. America, Africa), mythological (ie. Venus) and religious ones (ie. Eve). Distinctions between public and private, and so-called high and low art works will also be examined.
Research Resource Assignment: 15%
Sculptural Analysis: 20%
Mid-term Exam: 30%
Final Research Paper: 35%
ARTH 400 (6241) / 401 (6242) Methods: Art History / Honours Research Paper (3 credits), Prof. Mary Hunter, W, 1435-1725, Arts W-220
ARTH 420 (CRN 19923) History and Theory of Media: “Philosophy & Technics of the Hand: Digits & Digitalia” (3 credits), Kyle Stine, W, 1135-1425, Arts W-5
“Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified.” — Karl Marx, Grundrisse, ca. 1858
“Then I would let my eyes go from his face down to his hands. I would then discover Le Corbusier. It was his hands that revealed him. It was as if his hands betrayed him. They spoke all his feelings, all the vibrations of his inner life that his face tried to conceal [...] Hands that one might have thought Le Corbusier had drawn himself, with that trait made of a thousand small successive traces that seemed to look for one another but that in the end formed a precise and exact line, that unique contour that outlined the shape and defined it in space. Hands that seemed to hesitate but from which precision came. Hands that always thought, just like he did in his thinking, and on his hands one could read his anxiety, his disappointments, his emotions and his hopes. Hands that had drawn, and were to draw, all his work.” — André Wogenscky, Le Corbusier’s longtime assistant on Le Corbusier, 2006
“The hand is in danger” — Jacques Derrida, “Heidegger’s Hand,” 1985
The hand leads a secret life art and media. Testifying to this are its influences scattered throughout our language in unexpected places: A surgeon is literally and etymologically, “one who practices the art of healing by manual operation” (OED), one who heals with hands. The surgeon may do so adroitly, in its root sense, using the right hand (the same source as the word dextrous). Similarly, a handshake, originally a gesture of good faith meant to disarm one’s strong hand, may turn into hand-to-hand combat if someone acts sinisterly, concealing one’s left-handedness and the dagger so clutched. A new television comes with a manual. Video games require hand-eye coordination. Artists engage in handicraft.
This course offers an entry into the complex history and theory of the hand in art, technology, and design. Of special interest will be contemporary digital technologies; however, our readings and screenings will seek to contextualize these technologies by gaining a deeper understanding of the past. Digital technologies are technologies of the digit—technologies of the number and of the finger that once represented it. To understand this aspect of the digital—the digital in its materiality—we have to understand how new media have mobilized the hand in revolutionary ways. The piano keyboard, for instance, opened broad new possibilities for finger placement and hand movement in the creation of music. The typewriter keyboard opened similar avenues for the rapid transcription of texts. The touchscreen on current tablets and mobile phones has inaugurated a new field of human-machine interaction that has only begun to be tapped into. Perhaps the theremin, which allows for orchestration without physical contact between thereminist and instrument, points toward future, touchless technologies between hand and computer, as was the stuff of science fiction in Minority Report (2002).
The course features a number of rigorous philosophical texts, without which any discussion of the hand would be incomplete. I will provide reading questions for several of the more difficult weeks to help guide your reading and our discussions through the text, but one of the best ways for us to get a handle on these complicated issues is to use concrete examples. I have a number of such examples already in hand, but I encourage you to bring your own to the table. Such examples may very well become the topics of final papers.
15% – Attendance and participation, including one week when you will be scheduled to provide discussion questions on the week’s readings or to lead discussion on an object related to class. Objects might include clips from films and television, artistic pieces of all sorts, literary works, etc. Be creative! I look forward to seeing what you find.
30% – Response papers (6), one page each, due in phases: within weeks 1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8, 9–10, and 11–12. These windows are meant ideally to pace the papers so that different people are contributing each week with written thoughts that they can read aloud to help spark discussion. Papers should be submitted to the course website no later than 8 a.m. on the day of class. I will look over the responses before class and ask people to read their insights to the class. Feel free to offer to read your own. Finally, the specification of one page is just that: keep it to one page using a 12-point font. However, you can adjust the spacing between single-spaced and double- spaced depending on how much you have to say.
15% – Applying theory paper (5–6 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins), due October 8 in class. More info to come in an assignment sheet on September 24.
40% – Semester project, consisting of a formal scholarly paper (15–20 pages). If you have an alternative proposal for the semester project, please get in touch with me by October 10 so we can work out a plan before the first deadline.
October 17: Email me a one-paragraph paper proposal, pitching a topic and some preliminary research questions by 17:00
October 29: Formal paper proposal (4 pages), including a clear statement of topic, research questions, and an annotated bibliography November 26: A short presentation of your research
December 5: Formal scholarly paper (15–20 pages, plus citations) posted on the course website by 17:00.
ARTH 421 (18652) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 2: “Canadian Art and Race” (3 credits), Prof. Charmaine Nelson, M, 1135-1425, Arts W-5
This course is an exploration of colonialism and its impact on Canadian art and cultural production. Canada’s colonial history is undeniable and complex and yet often ignored and arguably not a part of our nation’s collective consciousness. Regardless, racism is one of several contemporary legacies of our histories of colonization, and the racial marginalization and exploitation of Natives and people of colour. This class will interweave histories of colonialism with issues of cultural access, production, representation and reception. It will examine individual and collective, personal and institutional politics and ideologies and together we will seek answers regarding how best to acknowledge, dismantle and challenge the problematic legacies of this shared history. Many types of art and visual culture will be explored and discussed including “high”, “low” and popular.
Short Essay: 10%
Mid-Term Exam: 30%
Final Paper: 35%
ARTH 435 (17001) Early Modern Visual Culture (3 credits), Prof. Angela Vanhaelen, F, 0835-1125, Arts W-220
Early modern art criticism conveys a fascination with the moving image—an artwork so strikingly lifelike that it appears to come alive. The force of the moving image is physical, immediate, and emotive. Such works consume their beholders, deploying stunning visual effects that move and even change their human interlocutors. In the words of one commentator, the viewer thus confronted by the incarnate artwork “becomes another person.” This type of response to images has been largely repressed from art historical discourses that focus on the distanced intellectual interpretation and contemplation of the work of art as a closed field of knowledge. Frequently dismissed as a form of ‘primitivism’, the living image is most often encountered in popular culture studies or anthropologies of the image. A reconsideration of the moving image thus has the potential to put art history in motion, animating and dynamically opening it to new objects, questions, temporalities, and methods of analysis. Engagement with the affective impact of images unsettles art historical categories of understanding, prompting us to reconsider key terms of analysis like representation, mimesis, spectatorship, meaning, and interpretation as mobile and transformative processes. In this seminar, we will thus seek to redress art historical neglect of the moving image and explore its multifaceted potentialities. If the power of such works was to transform viewers, how was the rhetorical force of the moving image mobilized to inspire or manipulate political, religious, colonial, and social actions? Weekly discussions will take up a body of readings, but also a corpus of moving images and their particular modes of address. We will consider images that move (automata, mechanical moving pictures); images that appear to move or breathe (living statues, portraits, waxworks); images that physically and /or emotionally move or alter their viewers; and the transformative potential of images that migrate between cultures. Focusing on case studies, student research can take up any aspect of the moving image in the early modern period (1500-1700).
ARTH 447 (CRN 5097) Independent Research Course (3 credits) Instructor’s Approval Required.
ARTH 479 (18653) Studies: Modern Art and Theoretical Problems 04 (3 credits), Dr. Anja Bock, T, 1435-1725, Arts W-5
Contemporary Art and Spatial Experience
Installation art is ubiquitous today, with sculpture, design and architecture rolled into a single spatial “experience.” The catchphrase “implicates the viewer” is everywhere, alongside descriptive terms such as “site-specific,” “immersive” and “interactive.” How are we to understand the spatial experiences that installation art proposes? This course investigates key concepts in the “production” of space with a focus on art after 1960. By discussing the work of foundational thinkers of space and place, including De Certeau, Lefebvre, Deleuze and Guattari and Elizabeth Grosz, this course will provide students with the necessary vocabulary to think critically about how different spaces implicate the viewer and what the consequences might be for our understanding of subjectivity and cultural production. This course consists of one seminar per week. Students need to come to class prepared to discuss the readings assigned for that week.
ARTH 490 (CRN 1493) Museum Internship (3 credits) Advisor’s Approval Required. (Ms. Sylvie Boisjoli)
ARTH 202 (CRN 13873) Intro to Contemporary Art (3 credits) Erandy Vergara-Vargas, T, Th, 1135-1255, Arts W-215
This course consists of a historical and critical exploration of art trends and movements from 1945 to the present. It will address key themes and theories in contemporary art, including embodiment, globalization, sexual diversity, AIDS awareness, and postcolonialism. By looking at the work of Canadian and international artists such as Marina Abramovic; Ron Athey; Rebecca Belmore; Edward Burtynsky; Xu Bing; Coco Fusco; General Idea; Guillermo Gomez-Peña; Cai Guo-Quiang; Isaac Julien; Brian Jungen; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; James Luna; Tracey Moffatt; Ernesto Neto; Shirin Neshat; Nadie Myre; Yinka Shonibare; Santiago Sierra; Fred Wilson; Krzysztof Wodiczko; and David Wojnarowicz, it will trace various tendencies in contemporary art.
40% - Midterm exam (26 February, in class)
15% - Independent museum project in Montreal (due 17 March)
5% - Attendance: taken at random during term
40% - Final take-home exam (21 April by 3pm)
ARTH 205 (CRN 13874) Intro to Modern Art (3 credits) Prof. Mary Hunter, T, Th, 1305-1425, Arts W-215
Introduction to Modern Art: The Politics of Modernism and Modernity
From the outset, this course approaches the history of modernism and modernity through a variety of theoretical lenses and methodological approaches. Following a chronological timeline, we will consider some of the key modernist movements and debates through an examination of artworks and visual objects produced from 1850 to the present. We will consider various definitions and approaches to “modernity” and “modernism” by reading texts from both primary and secondary sources, including works by artists, critics, historians and theorists. By focusing on the social and historical contexts in which artworks and art histories were made, we will explore how meaning is produced. In particularly, we will examine the politics of representations by discussing the ways in which sex, class, race and gender are inscribed in artworks, art historical narratives and exhibition practices. We will also draw connections between contemporary art practices and the themes and debates address in this class.
2 x independent museum assignments - 15%
Mid-Term - 35%
3 Pop Quizzes - 15%
Short research paper - 35%
ARTH 305 (CRN 3190) Methods in Art History (3 credits) Dr. Anja Bock, W, F, 1605-1725, Arts W-215
This course is a window onto our discipline; we will see how different modes of inquiry have shaped and inspired what art historians do, why we do it and how. The aim of the course it to illuminate the analytical, political and cultural possibilities of a variety of approaches to art history. Different methods entail different kinds of questions and concerns. The course is an opportunity for students to ask themselves: which methods are best suited to your own developing understandings of what art is and why it matters?
The course consists of two lectures per week. Students need to come to class prepared to discuss the readings assigned for that week. Given the emphasis on methods – on how art historians approach a work of art – a number of case studies will be presented for group discussion in order that students may test different analytic tools and question their implications for art and art history.
Short Paper 1 - 25%
Midterm Exam - 25%
Short Paper 2 - 25%
Final Exam (take home) - 25%
ARTH 325 (CRN 13875) Visual Culture Renaissance Venice (3 credits) Prof. Chriscinda Henry, T, Th, 1005-1125, Arts W-215
This course addresses major monuments of Venetian architecture, sculpture, painting, and the decorative and graphic arts within a visual culture framework that acknowledges the status of Venice itself as an elaborately constructed work of art. Due to the unique position of the city—built upon a series of reclaimed islands in a shallow saline lagoon—Venice has always been understood as a floating mundus alter (other world), uniquely positioned between East and West. Known as La Serenissima (the Most Serene Republic), Venice employed her leading artists and architects—including the Bellini and Lombardo family dynasties, Giorgione, Titian, Sansovino, Tintoretto, Veronese, and Palladio—to lend potent visual form to a complex, multi-faceted, and carefully crafted self-mythology. Together we will recover the rich complexity of this Venetian self-portrait as it changed over time, with special focus on the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (1450-1580). We will examine the various strands and figures in the visualized myth, including the dual origins of Venice in ancient Rome and Byzantium; the cultivation of a materially opulent, hybrid architectural style rooted in East and West; the cultivation of communal socio-political values through visual and ritual culture; theoretical conception of Venetian style and subject matter; and the ambivalent projection of Venice as both a center of piety and pilgrimage and a marketplace, theater, and playground of the early modern world.
ARTH 353 (CRN 12747) Selected Topics in Art History 1 (3 credits), Prof. Charmaine Nelson, W, F, 1435-1555, Arts W-215
Black Subjects in Historical and Contemporary Popular Culture
This course undertakes the critical examination of the representation of black subjects in historical and contemporary popular culture. Although the focus is mainly American, some examples from other locations will also be introduced. The topic of black representation is challenging due to the interconnected histories of western colonialism, slavery, and racism, which have participated in the constitution of black subjects as “other” by mainly white cultural and media producers. However, moments of transformation, resistance, and alternative identifications will also be addressed. The course will examine various types of historical and contemporary popular culture across various media and contexts including slavery, minstrelsy, globalization, and tourism.
ARTH 353 Section 002 (CRN 15581) / EAST 358 Selected Topics in Art History 1: “Japanese Visual Culture” (3 credits), Brian Bergstrom, T, Th, 1605-1725, Arts W-215
An investigation into issues relevant to the study of visual culture in modern Japan, this class will focus on structures of modernity as they emerge in the visual arts of the Tokugawa (aka: Edo) Period (1600-1868), particularly in woodblock prints and other popular media, and then trace those structures as they are reconfigured in subsequent periods. Particular focus will be paid to interactions between so-called “high” and “low” or “popular” arts as we move from the Tokugawa into the present day, as well as theoretical debates over the role of art and visual culture in relation to evolving or contested notions of the “real.” Secondary texts will introduce students to fundamental issues of art criticism, cultural and media theory, the historicity of cultural products, and the specific issues that arise when considering the above in the context of Japan.
Midterm Papers (2 x 15%): 30%
Group presentations (10% write-up, 10% presentation, 10% discussion): 30%
Final Paper: 40%
ARTH 354 (CRN 13876) / COMS 354 (13877) Selected Topics in Art History 2 (3 credits), Prof. Will Straw, M, 1435-1725, Arts W-215
The Visual Culture of Crime
The category of "visual culture" encompasses the range of images which circulate within our social and cultural worlds. "Visual culture" may include prestigious forms of image-making, such as high art painting, or less respectable forms, such as the popular cultural imagery of advertising and television. The institutions of justice and policing have used visual images for a variety of purposes, from cataloguing suspected criminals to reconstructing the scenes of crimes. Painters and photographers have used images of crime to "prove" prejudices about the criminal personality, to aestheticize the contemporary city, to raise metaphysical issues of life and death, to transgress cultural norms of tastefulness and acceptability and so on.
In this course, we will be looking at a wide range of images which deal in some way with crime. Some of these will be in the form of "moving" images -- that is, films or television programs. Others will be "still images": photographs, paintings, drawings, newspaper and magazine covers, maps, etc. The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of many of the genres and styles through which crime comes to be represented visually.
Please note that there are no tutorials/discussion groups for this class.
Visual Analysis 1: Still Image - 20%
Visual Analysis II: Moving Image - 30%
Readings comments posted to MyCourses - 20%
Final Exam - 30%
(CANCELLED - REPLACED BY ARTH 353 Section 002) ARTH 358 (CRN 13878) / EAST 358 Later Chinese Art (960-1911), T, Th, 1605-1725, Arts W-215
Please note that this course has been replaced by:
ARTH 353 Section 002 (CRN 15581) / EAST 358 Selected Topics in Art History 1: “Japanese Visual Culture” (3 credits), Brian Bergstrom, T, Th, 1605-1725, Arts W-215
ARTH 420 (CRN 13879) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 1 (3 credits), Dr. Wendy Owens, T, 1435-1725, Arts W-220
Museums: A Curatorial Perspective
What is the role played by individuals with art historical training in the art world today and, in particular, in museums? This advanced undergraduate seminar will focus, not on museums in general, but on curatorial activities, both inside and outside the traditional museum. We will begin with a historical overview of curatorial training and some of the famous courses that trained the founders in the modern world of museums in North America and established the curatorial profession as well have come to know it. We will then move forward and look at the art world and the various types of institutions that now employ art historians with curatorial expertise—not only museums but private collections, commercial galleries, municipalities, universities, and auction houses—and look closely at how they operate and the responsibilities of the curatorial staff. We will examine the wide range of disparate skills and types of expertise that now may be expected of a curator: connoisseurship skills along with an understanding of art conservation, ethics, project planning, and proposal writing, etc. Guest speakers from the field will provide additional perspectives.
For the assignments in the course, we will use the McGill Visual Arts Collection (VAC) as our laboratory. We will take advantage of actual projects underway at the VAC: an upcoming survey of the collection, tours for groups, and an exhibition. Class members will be expected to write a research report on an object, make a presentation, and develop an idea for an exhibition. Everyone will be expected to visit other museums as well, either in Montreal or other cities, and write about their experiences.
20% - Class attendance and participation (including responsibilities as the scribe or a host).
10% - A 500-word review of an exhibition at a museum or a gallery. Due on February 10, 2015
20% - Presentation on a work of art in class. Presentation dates will be March 10, March 17, March 24, and March 31.
20% - Catalogue entry and research report on the same work of art that takes into account the class comments in your presentation. Due on April 7.
30% - Final writing assignment (Due on April 17)
ARTH 422 (CRN 14296) / ISLA 581 (14271) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 3 (3 credits), Dr. Sinem Casale, W, F, 1435-1655, Birks 111
ARTH 430 (CRN 12750) Concepts-Discipline Art History (3 credits), Prof. Matthew Hunter, F, 1135-1425, Arts W-220
Time Out of Mind: Material Duration in the Long Eighteenth Century
In his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), philosopher Adam Smith described eighteenth-century Britain’s material culture as parsed into strangely asynchronous temporalities. If a fashionable coat could be predicted to disintegrate within a year’s time, Smith observed, “the modes of furniture change less rapidly than those of dress; because furniture is commonly more durable. In five or six years, however, it generally undergoes an entire revolution.” An object lesson for Smith on the conventional nature of taste, the serried material durabilities he diagnosed had far broader consequence for practitioners in the supposedly “timeless” fine arts of the long eighteenth century. As an inquiry into the problem of culture’s material duration in the wake of the seventeenth century Scientific Revolution and the coming of the Industrial Revolution, this course seeks to draw out those longer lives of art-objects and bring them into the purview of art-historical consideration. Moving between texts and artifacts of long eighteenth-century Britain and France, this experimental seminar will foreground artistic practices that resist temporally unitary visions of artistic production and of aesthetic reception—that self-consciously open themselves to other times that accrue to objects and to inquiries into the nature of temporality itself thereby.
25%) class performance (including attendance, contribution to discussion, and any other activities assigned by the instructor)
25%) in-class presentations (of weekly readings and research)
50%) research paper: 15-20 pages on a topic of your choice relating to the problematic of the course. Expectations for the research papers will be presented in class and posted on the MyCourses site.