Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: Monsters in the Ancient Mediterranean
Monday, Wednesday: 12:30-2:00pm
What exactly is a monster? From the very beginning, humans have created art representing the world around them, but what does it mean when we leave reality behind and begin making images of fanciful or terrifying creatures that belong to the realms of myth, religion, and nightmares? This course will explore the role of monsters in the art of the ancient Mediterranean, focusing primarily on the cultures of Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Etruria. We will engage with both primary and secondary sources and together look for ways that the ancient concept of “the monster” still informs our world today. Objects we will examine include ancient texts in translation, modern scholarly articles, Disney movies, and actual ancient artifacts held by the Hearst Museum on campus.
This class fulfills the second half of the Reading and Composition (R&C) requirement, so while exploring this world of supernatural creatures, students will learn how to write college-level research papers, as well as be introduced to the field of Art History and its methods of visual analysis. After several shorter writing assignments, at the end of the semester, students will produce a 10-12 page research paper engaging with an object or set of objects that bear “monstrous” imagery and answering a unique research question that allows them to demonstrate the skills of both critical reading and effective writing learned throughout the course.