Fall 2010 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
What is artistic style, and how did discussions addressing the characteristics of an artist’s manner or his/her “hand” begin? The purpose of this class is to address the historical (and historiographical) roots of discussions about style by reading theories of and debates about the meaning of artistic agency in Early Modern Europe. We will consider such writings from the fifteenth through the eighteenth century, but much of our energy will be devoted to the sixteenth century, particularly the late sixteenth century. It is there that, following the “perfection” of Michelangelo and the “grace” of Raphael, the self-consciousness of artmaking comes to a head in a style that nowadays is typically (though non unproblematically) labeled “Mannerism.” The term has come to mean a number of contradictory things, usually referring to a non-naturalistic artificiality calling attention to itself. As the first “ism” in art, Mannerism occupies an important place in any history of style, and it is around this topic that we will explore how one finds words to describe the style of an artist.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Weekly reading responses; longer historiographic paper; in-class presentation; leading discussion for one week of the semester.