Undergraduate Seminar: Pieter Bruegel’s Renaissance
Undergraduate Seminar: A) Europe and Mediterranean; II) 1200-1800. This course looks at the artistic production of Pieter Bruegel as a particular window onto some of the biggest issues of Renaissance thought: the place of man in the cosmos, selfhood and self-knowledge, the relation between external appearance and internal being, human ambition and the sources of true authority, the fate of the individual in a time of perpetual warfare, and human folly and festive behavior. We will examine the types of visual language open to Bruegel – the tradition of Bosch, the alternatives introduced from renaissance Italy, local innovations in representing landscape. We will also consider the impact of humanism; of new technologies of print-making; of the new social organization being brought about by early merchant capitalism; and the unsettling of normative beliefs caused by the Reformation and global exploration. We will read primary texts by Erasmus, Rabelais, and Montaigne, and consider Bruegel as speaking visually to some of the same problems that concerned those thinkers.
This course may be taken as a reading course for 2 units, or with a research component for 4 units.