week 1: arts of looking (at art)

Course Calendar: 

Week 1-4 deadlines are 11:59 pm Eastern US time. If you are elsewhere in the world and this time is a problem, please let me know and we’ll work out an alternative.

Travel dates are firm.  The course runs May 22 – July 1.

Travel to Amsterdam is on June 19.  First meeting in Amsterdam is 10 am June 20. Fly-out date is July 1 (no assignments on that day). Details below.


Week 1: The arts of looking (at art)

Note: all articles are easily found in GW Library databases. Cut/paste author’s name & article title into the main search box, then look for it under Article results. You will need to log into the Library website to access the PDFs. If you have any trouble, please contact a librarian immediately.

Monday 22 May

Read these two articles (everyone reads both):

Celeste Brusati, “Perspectives in Flux: Viewing Dutch Pictures in Real Time,” Art History 35.5 (2012): 909-933.

Harry Berger, Jr., “Supposing Rembrandt’s The Night Watch,” Virginia Quarterly Review 83.1 (2007): 178-195.

Browse Dutch paintings on the Rijksmuseum website. Find one to focus on; spend 5 minutes looking at it only, then spend 5 minutes taking notes. Use those as you write the reflection below.

Post to the blog: Create a new post (top right “Write” button–make sure you’re logged in to WordPress & then go to the course blog). Post to your initial take on these two articles, about 200 words or so: What do you think of Brusati’s method of viewing? Does this resonate with or contrast with your  ways of looking at art? What do you think of Berger’s methods of analysis? How do they differ from Brusati’s? What do you think about Berger’s first-person narrative style? (Note: please insert a copy of the image you used, with a link to it.)

Tuesday 23 May

Find a peer’s post with no replies yet, or only one (not two). Comment on their post (button at bottom of their post) by extending the conversation: What insights do you find in their post? Where you do agree or disagree with their interpretation or application of the frameworks in those articles? What are you thinking about your own ideas now that you’ve read their post? Where could you go beyond what they’ve said?

Do this again, the second time to another peer’s with no posts or only one (not two). By the end, each of you will have two peers’ comments on their post.

Wednesday 24 May

All read:

Susie Protschky, “Dutch Still Lifes and Colonial Visual Culture in the Netherlands Indies, 1800-1949,” Art History 34.3 (2011): 510-535.

Plus, undergrads choose one of these two; Grad students read both:

Hanneke Grootenboer, “How to Become a Picture: Theatricality as Strategy in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Portraits,” Art History 33.2 (2010): 320-333.

Carol Zemel, “The ‘Spook’ in the Machine: Van Gogh’s Pictures of Weavers in Brabant,” The Art Bulletin 67.1 (1985): 123-137.

Post a comment to YOUR OWN original post, referring back to peer’s comments and/or your earlier post by reflecting on this new reading: What do these new points of view contribute to your understanding of how to look at art? How do they contrast or contradict the others? What do you make of these differences? Which seem most productive to you? Why? What are you doing when you’re looking at art?

Also: please see email from Blackboard. Attach one of the relevant image to your original post, please. And please insert your Wp username (or real name, if you like) on each new post going forward.

Thursday 25 May

Brief replies to two peers, as above:  What are their best ideas? What should they expand upon? What do you think they should revise or abandon for their essay?

Browse others’ continued threads as well, including how they responded to your comments.

And please be sure to read all my comments on all threads. I’m posting comments and questions there that are applicable to all of your work in progress.

Saturday 27 May

Create a new post:  1200-1500 word essay (grad students 2000 words) revising any ideas from your posts, using peers’ responses and mine to guide you. Draw explicitly on at least two of the readings, highlighting the uses and limitations of their approaches or frameworks–as you see them--in looking at art (or at least at the art you took as an example). In general, your model here is public intellectual art criticism, along the lines of Roger Lewis’s essays on architecture in The Washington Post. Your audience is the public: people like yourself and your peers who like to think about how to look at art.

Give it a good title. Pick a relevant image to add your post (so the blog will look pretty!).

Modified MLA style: Acknowledge authors in your own prose (e.g., “Brusati suggests a framework that . . .”) with parenthetical page citations. Refer to art by artist and title; its usually helpful to give the year. List all sources, including the art, in a list below your essay, headed “References” (not counted in word count).