The study of art history and material culture offers students the tools to interpret, critique, and navigate our media-saturated world. These disciplines encourage students to analyze the ways that our symbolically-charged visual environments shape how we think and act. Three primary goals inform my teaching: first, I want my students to sharpen their visual skills and build their critical vocabulary about art and material culture so that they can continue to develop these abilities beyond the classroom. Second, I make the development of critical reading and writing skills a priority. Finally, It is important to create an atmosphere of intellectual generosity in the classroom by facilitating formal debates and asking students to share their ideas in direct conversations with each other.
WHAT IS VISUAL STUDIES?
(for advanced undergraduate students)
This seminar challenges students to develop independent ideas about how the eye, mind, and image work together to inform our conception of the world. By asking “What is visual studies?”, we will examine various approaches to the myriad, and sometimes opposing, ways that human beings understand sight, the concept of visuality, and visual technologies. We will also discuss the politics of vision, of looking, and of not being seen by considering ways that race, gender, sexuality, ability, and class impact vision and its study.
Through a synthetic approach to the problem of vision, we will examine various aspects of the interplay among art, visual perception, cognition, theories of vision and their history, and the history of visual practices. Students will discuss and write about various approaches to vision, bridging together far-flung and near-neighbor disciplines—including cognitive science, psychology, philosophy, art history. Key authors include Descartes, James Elkins, Jonathan Crary, Laura Mulvey, bell hooks, Jack Halberstam, Harun Farocki, and Nguyen Tan Hoang.
INTRO TO WESTERN ART: PREHISTORY TO RENAISSANCE
(introductory course for undergraduate students)
How does art of the past impact us today? What can images tell us about cultures of different times and places? This course offers a survey of major developments in painting, sculpture, and architecture from across the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Europe from prehistory (ca. 15,000 BCE) through the late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance (ca. 1450 CE).
Lectures and hands-on activities will allow students to work directly with collections at the Penn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Schoenberg Manuscript Collection.
ART, GENDER, AND THE BODY IN THE ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN
(for advanced undergraduate majors/graduate students)
This course introduces various issues on gender and the body in the art and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean (5th-1st c BCE). Topics under discussion include nudity, masculinity and femininity, as well as gendered labor and violence. Throughout the semester, we will explore how sex, sexuality, and gender intersected with other markers of difference (race/ethnicity and status) to impact the material choices, display habits, and viewer-experiences of art in the past. To that end, we will study paintings, sculpture, luxury objects, and architectural space alongside archaeological and textual evidence. Additionally, we’ll visit the Penn Museum galleries to look closely at and learn with objects in person. The course will also engage modern theories, concepts, and approaches to the body and gender, and how they have been brought to bear—or not—to the study of the past.
Key texts include Lee (2014) Body, Dress, and Identity in Ancient Greece, Dubois (1988) Sowing the Body: Psychoanalysis and Ancient Representations of Women, and Voss and Casella, eds. (2012) The Archaeology of Colonialism: Intimate Encounters and Sexual Effects.