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PLAI Courses


PLAI 400 (Winter 2012): Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Humanities

Changing Spaces: Visual and Theatrical Culture in Early Modern Europe


Instructors: Angela Vanhaelen (Art History and Communication Studies) and Paul Yachnin (English)

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:05-2:25pm; please check Minerva to confirm location

In this course, we will develop an account of how visual and theatrical art re-imagined and changed the physical, social, and virtual spaces of early modern Europe. By way of focused lines of disciplinary inquiry—one art historical and the other concerned with the history of theatre—we will consider the painting and printed imagery of the Netherlands, Italy, and England together with the plays and playhouses of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The two lines of inquiry will be in constant, productive dialogue, allowing each discipline to see its object of study with new eyes. We will thereby not only study the spatial innovations of the European past, but also change the disciplinary spaces of the modern academy itself.

We will make use of theoretical and historical work on social spatiality and geography by thinkers such as Michel de Certeau, David Harvey, Michael Warner, Rose Marie San Juan, Lena Orlin, Jean Howard, and others. Our study of how painting, print, and theatre changed the reality and experience of space in early modern Europe, and how this change also contributed to the emergence of the spaces of modernity, will be supported by the virtual research environment of the Making Publics Project, which is a storehouse of bibliography, publication, and work-in-progress on the public and social creativity of art and ideas in early modern Europe and also a space for ongoing intellectual exchange and collaborative research. Restricted to students with minimum U2 standing.