The discipline of art history, like the histories it generates and the subjects it studies, is a work in progress. This course looks at the some of the central concerns and challenges that are shaping the practice of art history today, particularly in light of the expanding parameters of the field. It will consider such questions as the relationship of visual culture studies to the historical study of art, and how the incorporation of diverse artistic traditions and cultural perspectives might change the ways we do art history. The seminar will look at these and other issues from two related perspectives. First it will explore several influential approaches to the critical and interpretative study of images and objects. Secondly it will take up problems of historical, cultural, and cross-cultural analysis that have come to the fore in recent years. Particular attention will be given to studies that model dynamic ways of understanding images and objects within the material practices and social processes of making, viewing, and exchange of which they are part. Topics to be discussed include: art and visuality, concepts and uses of style, ritual uses and social functions of art, iconoclasms across cultures, theories of perception and representation, uses of tradition, economies of artistic exchange, art and cultural identity. A key goal of the course is to provide a fuller intellectual and practical basis for addressing two complementary challenges facing art historians today: first, the task of locating particular objects and practices in their historically and culturally specific circumstances, and secondly, the identification of methods and categories of analysis useful for comparative and cross-cultural study. Estimated cost of materials: $50 or more, but less than $100.

Instructor: Celeste Brusati

  • Wednesday
  • 10:00am - 1:00pm
  • 270 Tappan Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Seminar