Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Art Practices in the Early Modern Iberian World
Tuesday, Thursday: 5:00-6:30pm
This course introduces undergraduate students to diverse artistic forms and practices created between the 15th and the 18th centuries in the Iberian world, a formation that, thanks to the expansionist projects of Portugal and Spain, came to include parts of Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. This diversity resulted from the infusion of local artistic traditions -such as those practiced and promoted by not just the Inca, Maya, Moghol, and Sapi, but also Venetian, Flemish, and even Spanish- into the transnational circulation of artistic objects throughout the world. We will explore the diffusion of Western iconographies and techniques throughout the Iberian sphere, and consider how this diffusion impacted local traditions. At the same time, we will examine how local artists in disparate parts of the Iberian world fused imported Western forms and materials with local ones, asserting local cultural identity while engaging in a transnational Iberian one. We will focus on several case studies from different parts of the Iberian world, investigating each object in its specific historical, political, and cultural context. Objects include New Spanish codices, featherwork, mother-of-pearl mosaics, corn sculptures, Indian and African ivory imagery, Japanese screen-folds, and Peruvian colonial textiles and metallurgy, among others.
As this is the second semester in the Reading and Composition series, the course also involves acquiring and developing the skills needed for researching and writing a compelling 10 to 12 page undergraduate term paper. Working in stages to be completed through the semester, you will take a vaguely defined research topic and turn it into a substantively researched argument. In addition to fostering and cultivating methodological, organizational, compositional, analytical, and interpretive skills required for any type of research paper–regardless of discipline–we will develop additional skills that include: writing about visual and material culture, working with primary and secondary sources, conducting object-based study, and synthesizing an existing body of research. You will also learn new technical vocabulary for describing art and architecture, and you will be exposed to a variety of early modern art practices that will enable you to critically engage with the visual world in new ways for the rest of your life.