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Fall 2019

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    Course Number: HA 192T | CCN: 33031

    Undergraduate Seminar: Art: Take It, Break It, and Fake It

    Gregory Levine

    Tuesday | 2:00 - 5:00pm

    Why do people take, break, and art—art looting, iconoclasm and vandalism, and forgery? In other words, not the sorts of behaviors conventionally associated with the arts in simple senses of artistic creativity, beauty, and history. As violent, possessive, and deceitful as these “other” behaviors may be, they are as prominent in the art world as aesthetic appreciation, religious response, historical wonder, and cultural edification.
    This seminar explores episodes and visual-material things selected from a long chronological span and global range, each relevant to one (or more) of our three principal themes: take, break, and fake. We will consider art works as they encounter and are shaped or deformed or displaced by war and plunder from the ancient to modern world, colonialism and imperialist extraction, and modern looting for the art market. We will follow this with discussion of repatriation. We will then address religious iconoclasm ancient to contemporary and individual attacks upon art. Art forgers and forgery scandals will round things out. We will ask: what do these cases reveal about what “art” is and does and how viewers respond to art? As one strategy to engage such questions, we will consider the interplay of values (visual, political, religions, philosophical, economic, and so on) and the relationship of art, action, and identity.
    The seminar introduces scholarly studies and resources in each theme and related topics, including cultural heritage debates and laws; “authenticity” and “copying” in the arts; the art markets, etc. We will consider multiple representations of looting, image violence, and forgery, including films such as: The Rape of Europa (2007), The Woman in Gold (2015), Dance of the Maize God (2014), Giant Buddhas (2006), Art and Craft (2014), and Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010).
    Participants will prepare short assignments on a weekly basis and, as the primary academic work for the course, develop and complete a formal research paper or, potentially, a historically based multi/alternate-media/format project. The seminar will also address academic research and writing.

    This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (E) and Chronological period (III).

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