Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Cultural Heritage: Theory, Practice, and Politics
Tuesday | Thursday: 9:30 - 11:00am
This is the second course in the Reading and Composition series. We will focus on how to read critically, identify arguments and approaches, and how to compose compelling arguments with appropriate sources. Our texts will be themed around the theories, practice, and politics of cultural heritage preservation. We will begin with readings that ask, “What is cultural heritage?” and “Why do we think it is worth protecting?” We will examine the role of UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the canonization of heritage sites; on the other extreme, we will consider why terrorist groups intentionally destroy heritage sites, like Palmyra and the Bamiyan Buddhas. We will examine the historical origins of preservation and conservation, and the differences in regional approaches to preservation as a concept and practice. How do non-Western approaches to preservation, such as Japan’s reconstruction of Ise Shrine, challenge the West’s emphasis on material authenticity? We will debate the political and cultural implications surrounding looted objects and their repatriation, in particular the Parthenon friezes (“the Elgin Marbles) in the British Museum collection. In addition to reading texts, we will also learn how to critically “read” heritage spaces, objects, and their depictions in photograph and film. You will produce a 10-12 page undergraduate research paper for your final.