The discipline of art history, like the histories it generates and the subjects it studies, is a work in progress. This course looks at ongoing concerns that have shaped the history of the discipline alongside present-day challenges facing art historians today in light of the expanding parameters of the field and the many models of visual analysis at our disposal. We will take up such issues as the implications of visual culture studies for the historical study of art, the relations of art and language, and how the integration of diverse artistic traditions and cultural perspectives bear on present and future art historical practices. We will begin by considering several historically influential approaches to the critical and interpretative study of images and objects. We will then take up some problems of historical interpretation, cultural representation, and cross-cultural analysis that have come to the fore in recent years. Special attention will be given to studies that model effective writing, and offer dynamic ways of understanding material practices and social processes of making, viewing, and exchange. Topics to be discussed include: art and visuality, concepts and uses of style, ritual uses and social functions of art, theories of perception and representation, uses of tradition, iconoclasms, economies of art, art and identity formation. Through weekly readings and discussion, regular writing exercises and museum-based projects, the course aims to provide intellectual and practical tools for addressing two complementary challenges: first, the problem of crafting verbal analyses of visual images, objects and experiences; and secondly, developing analytical tools that facilitate comparative and inter-cultural study.
Estimated cost of Materials: $50 or more, but less than $100