Undergraduate Seminar: Psychologies of Art: Medieval & Early Modern Europe
“Psychologies of Art: Medieval & Early Modern Europe” maps psychological, emotive, and pathological patterns in art, in the history of art, and in art theory from the late Middle Ages to the present day. In this new version of the original “Psychologies of Art” seminar, students will focus mostly on research topics in medieval and early modern European art history through the lens of global modernity. In the first half of the course we will trace themes such as art and empathy, the psychological aspects of Christian art and iconography, the emotional implications of the maniera greca / maniera latina conflict, the dynamics of trauma and transcendence, and the representation of emotions and psychological states between the middle ages and the early modern age. The second half of the semester will be focused on specific figures of depression and madness (such as Dante’s Count Ugolino in literature and in the visual arts, the emotional charge of figures in Giotto, the gender psychology of Botticelli’s paintings, Dürer’s Melancholia, Michelangelo and the distancing self-analysis in some of his writings, and the rewriting of those themes in European intellectual history (Lessing, Burke, Reynolds, Lavater, Warburg, Klibansky, Panofsky, Saxl, Baxandall). Additional discussions of modern themes in the mirror of the medieval / early modern materials prepare the issues of modernity and the “Ornament of the Masses” (Kracauer) through the question of fetishism, the new nineteenth-century concepts of childhood (Walter Benjamin), the history of art therapy and Gestalt psychology, Freud’s readings of Michelangelo’s works, and Gombrich’s psychological perspectives. We will furthermore relate medieval and early modern artworks to critical work of theorists and philosophers such as Susan Sontag, Georges Didi-Huberman, and Judith Butler.
NB: This course is designed to connect with other and further studies in broad fields including but not limited to Medieval Studies, Renaissance & Early Modern Studies, critical theory, interdisciplinary studies, and literature studies. No previous art history preparation required. Students from non-humanities backgrounds are welcome; please email Prof. Lange to discuss your interest in the course and potential adjustments for non-humanities majors.
This course fulfills the following Major Requirements: Geographical Area (E) and Chronological Area (II).