Courses

Fall 2017

  HA 192T.1 | CCN: 22590

Undergraduate Seminar: Approaches to the "Origins of Art"

Whitney Davis,

Tuesday | 2:00 - 5:00pm

In this practice- and results-oriented seminar, in group work, team work, and individual research we will explore current cross-disciplinary scholarship (and relevant artifacts and archives) on seven topics commonly understood to bear on the question of "the origins of art": what is art and what is it for?; when (and how) did art "begin"? (non-human, pre-human, and prehistoric art); contemporary indigenous artistic expression ("traditional" arts in their contemporary moments); art and the brain; children's art; art and illness; the "end of art"?. Overall, we will emphasize (1) the interaction between theories of artistic origins and concrete practices in the visual and spatial arts; (2) the tensions and debates between scientific and humanistic approaches to the basic issues; (3) and the role of the discipline of art history in a much broader discourse that includes neuroscience, psychology, prehistory, aesthetics, art therapy, transnational art exhibition, and other forms of knowledge. In addition, we will identify and explore relevant campus, local, and online resources for studying and teaching the topics in question. Our collective goal will be to develop useful contexts and robust content for a new lower division course to be offered in Spring 2018 that could be broadly attractive to undergraduates all across campus, especially non-humanists, and that might also generate an ongoing online/virtual forum. Both graduate students and undergraduates have relevant backgrounds and stakes in this endeavor, and the seminar aims to find ways to actualize this.

This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (E) and Chronological period (III).