Undergraduate Seminar: Victorian Art and Beauty
Friday | 11:00 - 2:00pm
This course explores the different concepts of beauty in three Victorian art movements—the Pre-Raphaelite movement, the Aesthetic movement, and the Arts and Crafts movement. Pre-Raphaelite beauty was associated with truth to nature; Aesthetic beauty with subjectivity; Arts and Crafts beauty with socialism. Despite their differences, these three movements had much in common. Motivated by a shared belief that beauty was indispensable in art and in life, they developed diverse ways of introducing art into public spaces and objects of daily use. All three movements drew inspiration from past traditions. And they all wrestled with questions about the politics and morality of beauty. Over the course of the semester we look at artworks in a range of media including paintings, prints, sculptures, decorative arts, and interiors. Alongside the most recent scholarly literature and the writings of Victorian artists and critics, we consider philosophies of aesthetics and scientific theories of art and beauty. In the first third of the course we will visit the exhibition “Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters” at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: geographical area (A) and chronological period (III), based on the topic of the final research paper or project.