Ways into advanced art history: beauty & form
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Location: Keeley Street
This course has now started
Course Code: VB938
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
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What is the course about?
Beauty is a complicated matter and, from the start of modern art history in the 18th century, it has been inextricably linked to the work of art. This art history course examines the central, historical core of art historical work: what is beauty?
This course aims to make students more critically aware of how ‘beauty’ in art relies on broader cultural standards. It also looks at how the analysis of beauty in art has shaped cultural perception and expectation of what art and the work of artists is supposed to achieve. Perceptions of beauty raised in the course will become a valuable foundation for students who want to ask critical questions about the meaning of an artwork.
We develop an understanding of beauty by exploring foundational works on beauty in art, starting with the writing of Johann Joachim Winckelmann and touching on excerpts by Julia Kristeva, Charles Baudelaire, Erica Moiah James, Walter Mignolo, Jill Burke and Arthur Danto (among others). Reading will be accompanied by looking at art, of course. We will look at the art of Kara Walker, Titian, the ancient Greeks, Fred Wilson, Charles le Brun, Orlan and Dorothea Tanning (among others).
What will we cover?
• Noble simplicity and quiet grandeur: Enlightenment notions of beauty
• Designing beauty: formalism
• Assuming the beautiful: the social body in art
• The abject: the private body in art
• Display and otherness: constructing the beautiful art object
• Analysing beauty in an artwork.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss the impact of aesthetics (the social appreciation of beauty) on art/an artwork
• Describe the aesthetic theories of one or more of the major art historians we discuss in this course
• Critically engage with the subject of an artwork and question how it might relate to broader cultural concepts of beauty.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is for people who have done some art historical study before. You need a willingness to join in group discussion and consider the views of others. You will be required to use the course’s Google Classroom to access course documents and assignments, including the required readings.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught with lecture, slide presentation, activities, and group discussion. Each week we will have lecture for approximately 45 mins and discussion of texts, group activity for approximately one hour.
This course has required homework. You will be asked to read assigned pieces of art historical writing each week and be prepared to share your thoughts on these readings in group discussion. Additionally, at the end of the course, you will be asked to do an art analysis to be shared with the course cohort. The estimated time spent out of class on homework is between 1-2 hours each week.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to bring a notebook. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Ways into advanced art history: historiography
Ways into advanced art history: writing and research
A history of art in 100 objects
A history of modern art in 50 objects.
Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. In addition to her current teaching at City Lit, Sarah is a lecturer at the University of Arts London and the Tutor Coordinator for City Lit's Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah's current research is focused on translation and empathy.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.