Undergraduate Seminar: Representing the Body in Indian Art
Figural art, both in the form of sculpture and painting, comprises much of art production from India. There is a wide variety in the modes of depicting the human body – over time, region, and across media. In this seminar we will explore various topics pertaining to the representation of the human form in Indian art. These include questions about stylization and “realism”, idealization and sensuousness, composite bodies; relationships between form and function; questions relating to portraiture and the modes of capturing the “likeness” of an individual; the body as transcribed onto temple architecture; issues about gender, sexuality and the gaze; and the reception of Indian art in museum display contexts. In addition to critical secondary literature, readings will include excerpts from texts in translation, such as the Natyasastra (a treatise on the performing arts), the Citralakshana (a treatise on aesthetics), and the Kamasutra (a treatise on sexual and moral codes). The course will be structured around active participation in class discussions, visits to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and a final research paper.