Spring 2015

  HA 192F.2/290.3 | CCN: 05126 | 4 Units

Undergraduate/Graduate Seminar: Modern Art and the Modern Imagination

Whitney Davis,


This seminar is open to qualified undergraduates and to graduate students. Undergraduate Seminar: A) Europe and Mediterranean, E) transcultural; I) prehistoric-1200, III) 1800-present. It explores the historiography of the study of ancient arts and more broadly the reception of ancient arts in the disciplines of history, art history, archaeology, and anthropology and in relation to practices of collecting and exhibition (often in colonial and imperial contexts). Because these disciplines originated as academic investigations in the West (especially in German, French, and British museums and universities in the nineteenth century), it is not surprising that one of the chief topics—a focus—of ancient art studies has been the ancient art of the Western tradition, namely, the art of the Greco-Roman world in relation to its immediate historical antecedents (especially Egyptian and ancient Near Eastern arts). But ancient arts from around the world (e.g., in the pre-Columbian Americas, the circumpolar regions, and Oceania) have also been the subject of “Western” investigation, increasingly interacting with the study of these arts by scholars whose aesthetic and intellectual foundations lie outside the “West.” These developments will be considered in five thematic units: (1) Classical Naturalism and Anthropomorphism; (2) Ancient Egyptian Conceptualism; (3) The “Origins of Art”; (4) The Anthropology of “Primitive” Art; and (5) Visual Culture and Ancient Empires. Students will develop project that reflect their research interests and skills (e.g., in classical archaeology, analytic anthropology, nineteenth-century art history).