Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Battle Imagery and the Body in Ancient Art
Session A (First 6-week session): May 28 – July 3, 2013
In this course, students will engage with a fascinating and rich spectrum of warrior and battle imagery produced, circulated, and consumed within various contexts of the ancient Neo-Assyrian, Greek, and Roman worlds. Objects discussed will range from the carved interior walls of the palaces at Nimrud and Nineveh to the painted vessels circulating among the elite at the Athenian symposium to the elaborate imperial public monuments erected in the center of Rome. How was the warrior’s body conceived differently in these three cultures and what was his perceived relation as a singular body, whether realistic, schematic, or ideological, to his collective body, the army, and to his greater society? Some topics addressed include: significance of choice in medium and technology for warrior representation; naked versus clothed warrior bodies; historicity or ‘reality’ of battle representations; relationship between ancient literary description and artistic depictions of the warrior; and warrior commemoration in the public and private worlds.
Throughout the course, students will engage with a variety of scholarship from the fields of art history, archaeology, and history and are encouraged to consider the readings and images critically and comparatively, looking for intersections between cultures and scholars. Different types of written exercises—formal analysis, comparative analysis, and research paper—will provide students with a strong basis for art historical writing.