Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: The Art of Memory and Memorial Culture
This course interrogates the relationship between art and the archive of memory. How does art inspire, sustain, and foreclose memory, and in what ways does the impulse to remember influence the creation of art? In particular, what do minimalist and postmodern sculpture, both as art objects and as state-sanctioned memorials, tell us about ways we remember? We will trace the issues of site specificity and monumentality in contemporary art, in order to better understand the relationship between the site of an event and the way it is represented. Our investigations of memory and representation will explore whether a site itself can be construed as an art-historic object. In addition to the relationship between art and memory, we will consider the attendant presence of politics in such a relationship. Primary texts include work by Krauss, Sontag, Benjamin, Nora, Berger, Barthes, Serra, and various U.S. memorials. We will also cover how to craft writing on art. Since this is an introductory humanities course, there will be an emphasis on developing skills to write well –analytically, gracefully, and effectively. By the end of the semester, students will integrate skills and concepts learned in the class by writing a 10-page research paper.