Topic varies.
Section 301 - SEM
ARTH787-401 (cross-listings Comp-Lit and English to be added) We are used to thinking of the camera as a controlling and even aggressive device: a mechanism for “shooting” and “capturing” the world. And since most cameras require an operator, and it is usually a human hand that picks up the apparatus, points it in a particular direction, makes certain technical adjustments, and clicks the camera button, we often extend or transfer this power to our look. Photography consequently seems another chapter in the history of what Heidegger calls “modern metaphysics”--a history that begins with the cogito, that seeks to establish man as the “relational center” of all that is, and whose “fundamental event” is “the conquest of the world as a picture.” However, photography’s earliest practitioners and viewers had a very different understanding of the medium. They saw it as a new kind of image-making—one whose agent was Nature, whose goal was self-disclosure, and whose intended viewer was man. They also conceptualized this image-making in graphic rather than ocular terms, and stressed the differences between it and their perceptions. Surprisingly, they did not question its veracity, nor did they attempt to resolve the discrepancy between what they saw and what the photograph showed them by doubting their own sensory perceptions. They understood what Descartes was unwilling to grant: both opened onto the same world, the one they inhabited. For a brief time, at least, this world seemed inexhaustible. 
Although these ideas disappeared with the industrialization of photography, they continued to reverberate in other domains: in philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, painting, sculpture and drawing. Artists and writers also began making photographs “by other means,” and the obsolescence of the medium has now freed it to become again what it was in 1839. We will begin this seminar with a discussion of selected texts by René Descartes and Martin Heidegger, and some early writings about photography. We will then turn to a number of psychoanalytic and philosophical texts that are about photography, informed by photography, and/or include photographs (Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, Walter Benjamin’s “Little History of Photography,” Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, James Agee and Walker Evans’s Now Let Us Praise Famous Men, and W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz). We will conclude the seminar with a discussion of some contemporary artists who work in, or with, photography: Gerhard Richter, Vija Celmins, Roni Horn, and Vera Lutter. Admission to this seminar is by permission of the instructor
T 0130PM-0430PM
  • COML787301
  • ENGL790301
Section 401 - SEM
ARTH787-401 (cross-listing with GSWS) This seminar addresses the art and collaborative performances of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Yvonne Rainer (among others), with special focus on the period of the fifties through the early seventies. How did these artists respond to this period of social and cultural transformation, which witnessed the emergence of civil rights, feminist, and queer rights struggles, the anti-war movement, the rise of consumerism, and the expansion of new media? Among the topics we will explore are: new models of authorship, the embrace of everyday life and its materiality, the exploration of chance techniques and the aesthetics of silence, experimentation with new technologies and media, the relation of art to politics, and emerging forms of participation and conceptual art. Although the artists central to this seminar are all American, their links to, and reception by, artists in Europe will also be addressed.
W 0330PM-0530PM
  • GSWS787401
Section 207 - REC