Theory of the Copy
The course surveys critical controversies surrounding fakes, forgeries, multiples, counterfeits, imitations, and appropriations from the Late Renaissance to the present day, in European, American, Australian and Chinese art. Each of the images and objects we will examine sparked extensive debate in art history, philosophy, anthropology, social theory or legal studies, around which we will build our own discussions. Through a series of historical case studies, we will track how copies are excised—and sometimes reinstated—into the status of art, and delve into the impact of the copy on the rhetorics of authorship, genius, individuality, expertise and technology. We will be reading theoretical texts on copies in various historical and cultural contexts, with an eye towards learning the various disciplinary methods that have been taken up to define and evaluate them. Two writing assignments and a final research paper are designed to develop our awareness to the rhetorics of visual and material analysis, and of historical narratives of invention, imitation and appropriation.