Course Syllabus


Week 1 The Art of Art History

Good taste, which is becoming more prevalent throughout the world, had its origins under the skies of Greece....We are told that Minerva chose this land, with its mild seasons, above all others for the Greeks in the knowledge that it would be productive of genius.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Readings for August 29

Donald Preziosi, “Art History: Making the Visible Legible,” and “Art as History” in The Art of Art History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 13-30.

Readings for August 31
Svetlana Alpers, “Is Art History?” Daedalus 106, no. 3 (1977), 1-13.

Donald Preziosi, “The Question of Art History,” Joel Snyder, “A Response to Donald Preziosi,” and Preziosi, “A Rejoinder to Joel Snyder,” in Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice, and Persuasion Across the Disciplines, eds. James Chandler, Arnold I. Davidson, and Harry Harootunian (Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1994), 203-40.

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The Power of Patience

Portland Art Museum College Creative License

Week 2 The Canon and Its Authors

The author still rules in manuals of literary history, in biographies of writers, in magazine interviews, and even in the awareness of literary men, anxious to unite, by their private journals, their person and their work: The image of literature to be found in contemporary culture is tyrannically centered on the author, his person, his history, his tastes, his passions; criticism still consists, most of the time, in saying that Baudelaire's work is the failure of the man Baudelaire, Van Gogh's work his madness, Tchaikovsky's his vice: the explanation of the work is always sought in the man who has produced it, as if, through the more or less transparent allegory of fiction, it was always finally the voice of one and the same person, the author, which delivered his "confidence."

To give an Author to a text is to impose upon that text a stop clause, to furnish it with a final signification, to close the writing.

The birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.

Roland Barthes

Readings for September 5
Giorgio Vasari, “Preface to the Third Part,” and "Life of Leonardo da Vinci," Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. Gaston du C. de Vere (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 617-40.

Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007), 555-64.

Paul Barolsky, Why Mona Lisa Smiles and Other Tales by Vasari (University Park, Penn.: Penn State Press, 1991), 3-16.

New York Times on Janson

Readings for September 7
Roland Barthes, "The Death of the Author," in Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977), 142-48.

Michel Foucault, "What is an Author?" in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Random House, 1984), 101-20.

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Week 3 Style

In the drawing of a mere nostril, we have to recognize the essential character of a style.

Heinrich Wölffin

Readings for September 12
Heinreich Wölffin, Principles of Art History, trans. M. D. Hottinger (New York: Dover, 1950), 1-40.

Jas Elsner, “Style,” Critical Terms for Art History , ed. Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 98-109.

Readings for September 14
Meyer Schapiro, “Style,” Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist, and Society, New York: Georg Braziller, 1995), 51-102.

: Svetlana Alpers, “Style is What You Make It,” in The Concept of Style, ed. Berel Lang, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), 137-162.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am):  Emmet
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Lorenzo

Week 4 Iconography and Iconology

Readings for September 19
Erwin Panofsky, “Iconography and Iconology: An Introduction to the Study of Renaissance Art,” Meaning in the Visual Arts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), 26-54.

Erwin Panofsky, “Et in Arcadia Ego: Poussin and the Elegiac Tradition,” in Meaning in the Visual Arts, New York (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), 295-320.

first paper due

Readings for September 21
Louis Marin, “Towards a Theory of Reading in the Visual Arts: Poussin’s The Archadian Sheperds,” in Calligram (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 63-90.

Michael Ann Holly, “Unwriting Iconology,” in Iconography at the Crossroads, ed. Brendan Cassidy (Princeton, N.J. : Index of Christian Art, Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1993), 17-25.

Keith Moxey, “The Politics of Iconology,” in Iconography at the Crossroads, ed. Brendan Cassidy, (Princeton, N.J. : Index of Christian Art, Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 1993), 27-31.

Note: consider the differences between Erwin Panofsky’s approach to studying Poussin’s Et in Arcadia Ego and that of Louis Marin. What does each scholar use as evidence? How do they “read” the work of art? How do they discern meaning?

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Grace
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Dan & Oliver

Week 5 Semiology and Visual Interpretation

Titles are assigned to old paintings not because they illustrate a story, but a story is nonetheless invoked as a reading of the painting.

Mieke Bal

Readings for September 26
Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, trans. Wade Baskin, New York, 1966, pp. 6-17 (Introduction: II and III) and 65-78 (Part One: I and II).

Alex Potts, “Sign,” in Critical Terms for Art History, ed. Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), 20-34.

Mieke Bal, “De-disciplining the Eye,” Critical Inquiry 16, no. 3 (Spring 1990), 506-31.

Readings for September 28
Norman Bryson, “Semiology and Visual Representation,” in Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation, ed. Norman Bryson et al., New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 61-73.

Stephen Melville, “Reflections on Bryson,” in Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation, ed. Norman Bryson et al., New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 74-78.

Michel Foucault, “Las Meninas,” in The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books, 1970), 3-16.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Ross
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Patrick & Andrew

Week 6 Art as Social Relationship

Readings for October 3
Craig Clunas, “Social Art History,” Critical Terms for Art History, ed. Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003), 465-77.

Adrian W. B. Randolph, “Homosocial Desire and Donatello’s Bronze David,” in Engaging Symbols: Gender, Politics, and Public Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 139-92.

Readings for October 5
Dana E. Katz, “Searching for Simon,” The Jew in the Art of the Italian Renaissance (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvanis Press, 2008), 119-57.

Victor Turner, “Liminality and Communitas,” Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969), 94-130.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Gerry & Jinduo
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Christina

Week 7 Gender/Bodies/Boundaries

For the most part, feminist theory has assumed that there is some existing identity, understood through the category of women, who not only initiates feminist interests and goals within discourse, but constitutes the subject for whom political representation is pursued. But politics and representation are controversial terms. On the one hand, representation serves as the operative term within a political process that seeks to extend visibility and legitimacy to women as political subjects; on the other hand, representation is the normative function of a language which is said either to reveal or to distort what is assumed to be true about the category of women. For feminist theory, the development of a language that fully or adequately represents women has seemed necessary to foster the political visibility of women. This has seemed obviously important considering the pervasive cultural condition in which women's lives were either misrepresented or not represented at all. (1)

If one "is" a woman, that is surely not all one is; the term fails to be exhaustive, not because a pregendered "person" transcends the specific paraphernalia of its gender, but because gender is not always constituted coherently or consistently in different historical contexts, and because gender intersects with racial, class, ethnic, sexual, and regional modalities of discursively constituted identities. (3)

My suggestion is that the presumed universality and unity of the subject of feminism is effectively undermined by the constraints of the representational discourse in which it functions. (4)

Judith Butler

Readings for October 10
Judith Butler, “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire,” in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 1-34.

Linda Nochlin, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” in Women, Art and Power and Other Essays (New York : Harper & Row, 1988), 145-78.

No readings for October 12
Discussion of research proposals. Note you must come prepared to discuss your original thesis statement as well as the research you have completed to date.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Emma Jane & Coriander
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Kat & Precious

Fall Break October 14-22

Week 8 Colonial/Postcolonial Interactions

Identity is not as transparent or unproblematic as we think. Perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent, we should think, instead, of identity as a 'production', which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation. This view problematizes the very authority and authenticity to which the term, 'cultural identity', lays claim.

Stuart Hall

What is at issue is the performative nature of the production of identity and meaning: the regulation and negotiation of those spaces that are continually, contingently "opening out," remaking the boundaries, exposing the limits of any claim to a singular or autonomous sign of identity or transcendent value--be it truth, beauty, class, gender or race...[W]here identity and difference are neither One nor the Other but something else besides, in-between...

Homi K. Bhabha

Readings for October 24
Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1978), 1-49.

Linda Nochlin. “The Imaginary Orient,” The Politics of Vision. Essays on Nineteenth-Century Art and Society (New York: Harper & Row/Icon, 1989), 33-59.

Readings for October 26
Zeynep Çelik, “Colonial/Postcolonial Interactions,” in The Third Text Reader: On Art, Culture, and Theory, ed. Rasheed Areen, Sean Cubitt, and Ziauddin Sardar (London, New York: Continuum, 2002), 61-72.

Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. by J. Rutherford (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1990), 222-237.

Dana Leibsohn, “Colony and Cartography: Shifting Signs on Indigenous Maps of New Spain,” in Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450-1650, ed. Claire Farago (New Haven: Yale, 1995), 265-281.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Carrie
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Paulina & Nicholas

Week 9 Seeing and Surveillance

The term "gaze" alerts us to the fact that a work of art, like a person, can seem to gaze or be gazed at. Within a work, gazes can be exchanged.

A work would confront the beholder, making the beholder responsible for the effect of the work, the act of looking and being seen becoming the subject of the work. This dependence on the beholder for its effect, however, gave the work the inauthenticity associated with acting for an audience as in theater.

Margaret Olin

Through his concept of the period eye Baxandall emphasizes the cultural-constructedness of vision, characterizes a set of viewing norms, and charts the manner in which artists responded to those norms in their works. Thus, although the social- and cultural-historical data that Baxandall harvests to produce the period eye is extensive, the concept’s explanatory focus is explicitly limited: it seeks to describe stylistic choices and developments. That said, the phrase possesses an inherent breadth, as if its temporal span and the panoramic opticality that it evokes can capture the essentials of a particular period’s visual culture.

Adrian Randolph

No Readings for October 31
Margaret Olin, “The Gaze,” Critical Terms for Art History, ed. Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003), 318-29.

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Random House, 1977), 195-228.

Readings for November 2
Marvin Trachtenberg, Dominion of the Eye (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), ix-xviii, 27-41, 245-62.

Fabrizio Nevola, “Surveillance and Control of the Streets in Renaissance Italy,” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, vol. 16, no. 1/2 (Fall 2013), 85-106.

second writing assignment due

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Lyds & Mollie
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Aliza & Lauren

Week 10  Taste

No readings for November 7
class canceled

Readings November 9
Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984), 28-41, 56-63.

Richard A. Goldthwaite, “The Reasons for Building: Needs and Tastes,” in The Building of Renaissance Florence: An Economic and Social History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), 67-112.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Sherry & Lucky
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Gage

Week 11 The Spatial Imagination

Buildings are appropriated in a twofold manner: by use and by perception—or rather, by touch and sight. Such appropriation cannot be understood in terms of the attentive concentration of a tourist before a famous building. On the tactile side there is no counterpart to contemplation on the optical side. Tactile appropriation is accomplished not so much by attention as by habit. As regards architecture, habit determines to a large extent even optical reception. The latter, too, occurs much less thorough rapt attention than by noticing the object in incidental fashion. This mode of appropriation, developed with reference to architecture, in certain circumstances acquires canonical value. For the tasks which face the human apparatus of perception at the turning points of history cannot be solved by optical means, that is by contemplation, alone. They are mastered gradually by habit, under the guidance of tactile appropriation.

Walter Benjamin

Urban spaces acquired their meanings in part through their relationship to the built environment.

Sharon Strocchia

Readings for November 14
Katherine Taylor, “Architecture’s Place in Art History: Art or Adjunct,” Art Bulletin 83, no. 2 (June 2001): 342-46.

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1991), 33, 68-85.

Helen Hills, “Convents and Conflict: Conventual Urbanism in Naples,” and “Conventual Optics of Power,” Invisible City: The Architecture of Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Neapolitan Convents (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 120-60.

No readings for November 16
Group presentations in selected spaces on the Reed campus. You will decide where class will be held.

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Lindsey
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Ryan (Kobler) & Megan

Week 12 Collecting Culture

Readings for November 21
Lisa G. Corrin, “Mining the Museum: Artists Look at Museums, Museums Look at Themselves” in Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson, ed. Lisa G. Corrin. Baltimore: The Contemporary & New York: The New Press, 1994: 1-22.

Leslie King-Hammond, “A Conversation with Fred Wilson” in Mining the Museum: An Installation by Fred Wilson, ed. Lisa G. Corrin. Baltimore: The Contemporary & New York: The New Press, 1994: 23-34.

James Clifford, “On Collecting Art and Culture” The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988: 215-51.

No readings for November 23
Happy Thanksgiving

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presenters (9:00-10:20am): Emma & Aurora
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Alicia

Week 13 Visual/Material Culture

The production of a discourse of visual culture entails the liquidation of art as we have known it.

Susan Buck-Morss

No readings for November 28
class canceled

Readings for November 30

Bill Brown, “Thing Theory,” in Things, ed. Bill Brown (Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 2004), 1-22.

Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass, “Introduction: Fashion, Fetishism, and Memory in Early Modern England and Europe,” and “Composing the Subject: Making Portraits,” in Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 1-14, 34-58.

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Huffington Post on Peter Norton Family Christmas Art Projects

MoMA Store & Peter Norton Family Christmas Art Projects

Object Stories at the Portland Art Museum

The Colbert Report meets MoMA design

presenters (9:00-10:20am): Henry
presenters (10:30-11:50am): Natasha & Ryan (Gamblin)

Week 14 Film

No readings for December 5
In-class screening of The Best of Antiques Roadshow