The purpose of the course is to deepen understanding of the preoccupations guiding modern art historical study. It does so in two ways. Firstly it examines key art historical texts that exemplify concerns central to the practice of the discipline and that bring such concerns to bear in the analysis of actual works of art. Secondly, the course looks closely at selected critical and theoretical texts that have had a major impact on how art history is practiced. These include texts relating to Marxist theories of the commodity and labor, aesthetic theory, psychoanalytic theory and semiotics or theories of the sign. Throughout, the course focuses on the interconnection between critical analysis of visual images and artifacts, historical study of the social, political and cultural context from which they originate and theoretical understanding of the issues involved in interpreting them. The themes the course explores include: the nature of visual representation, ways of viewing works of art and visual imagery, the nature of artistic traditions and conventions, the politics of visual representation, and the relationship between works of art and visual artifacts and a culture's ways of thinking about and understanding the world as well as its everyday material practices. The course is designed to foster cross-cultural awareness, examining the different priorities governing the study of a range of artistic cultures, Western and non-Western.
Estimated cost of materials: $50 or less.