Undergraduate Seminar The Matter of Art History: Problems in Object Based Thinking
Meets with MUSEUMS 498.001
This seminar, for advanced undergraduate students who are invested in thinking deeply and critically about objects (understood broadly to include all visual and material culture) and their historical lives, will explore the matter of art history: the questions that art historians ask, the methods that they use to answer them, and the stakes—political, disciplinary, and personal—that motivate and energize their work.
The seminar will be divided into six units, each exploring a central question that revolves around a key term, such as biography, history, hybridity, agency, ecology, or identity. For each unit, we will closely read a key theoretical text addressing one of these themes as well as the work of art historians who put these theories into practice. Each participant will then be responsible for selecting an object within a designated University of Michigan collection to address in a short written assignment (ca. 750-1000 words), applying the lessons we've gleaned from our collective study in each unit. Exploratory and experimental, the course is designed to equip students who are passionate about object-based inquiry with a broad overview of the questions that continue to animate art historical scholarship.