HISTART 615-001

First Year Graduate Seminar:
Historical and Critical Analysis of Visual Art

210 Tappan
Th 10:00-1:00pm
3 Credit Seminar

This course examines the ideas and concerns that have shaped modern art historical study and discusses how awareness of these can deepen our understanding of the nature, power and function of visual images and artifacts. It takes two approaches. Firstly, the course focuses on key art historical texts in which issues central to the discipline have both been developed in depth and deployed in the critical analysis of actual artifacts and images. Secondly, it singles out particularly influential theoretical and critical texts from outside the discipline that have had a major impact on modern thinking about art. These include Marxist theories of the commodity and labor, psychoanalytic theories, anthropological theories of art and social agency, and semiotics and conceptions of visual signification. Amongst the general themes discussed are - the nature of visual representation and visual cognition; ways of viewing and interpreting works art and visual artifacts; materiality and meaning; historical formations of the visual arts and their relation to broader cultural forms and ways of understanding the world; the role played by politics and ideology in visual art and culture, including issues of gender. Cross-cultural awareness is developed by drawing attention to the different priorities that have governed the study of various major artistic traditions, Western and non-Western.

Estimated Cost of Materials: 0$-50$

Course Requirements:
Presentations and participation 20%
Final essay 80%

Intended Audience: Graduate students working in the humanities who have an interest in the history and theory of visual art and culture

Class Format: Weekly three hour seminar

Textbooks/Other Materials: Set readings will be posted online. No textbook