First Year Seminar:Art and Ethics, from Forgery to Fraud
The production, exhibition and collection of art present a veritable minefield of ethical quagmires. Debates around such topics as authorship, originality, provenance, obscenity and funding raise crucial questions about what art is, how it works, and why it matters across both private and public spheres. Organized into four parts, this course takes scandal itself as a starting point for better understanding the politics of art as a privileged cultural category.
The first part of the course, "Forgery," foregrounds cultural constructions of "originality" and truth, the politics of forgeries and fakes, copies and original, and the practice of art authentication. The second part of the course, "Big Money," foregrounds the history of speculation in the private market, money laundering, the stakes of vertical integration across private and public sectors, and museum philanthropy. The third part of the course, "Theft," foregrounds the thorny politics of cultural heritage, with an emphasis on colonialist legacies, restitution and repatriation, and (markets for) stolen artifacts. The fourth and final part of the course, "Public Outrage," centers on the use and display of violence in art, obscenity, conservation gone wrong, and the destruction and/or defacement of art and cultural heritage.
Readings: This course is intended to expose students to a wide range of texts, including primary documents—statements by artists, essays by critics, and key works of critical theory—as well as recent secondary scholarship and art criticism. All readings will be posted one the HISTART 194.003 Canvas site.
Course Requirements: Attendance is mandatory. Weekly response posts: Each week, students will write 300-word response posts to prompts based on readings and class discussion. Long research paper (@ 4000 words): Students will write a longer research paper on the topic of their choice, based on consultation with the professor.