ARTH 426
Pictures That Rocked the Nation: Courbet and Manet in Second Empire France Fall 2009
Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed ARTH 426 / WGST 426
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

How do we recognize or see diversity in the works of canonical artists? If modernist painting has often been understood to put pressure on existing power relations, the stylistic innovation that defines it has just as often been used to veil its controversial subject matter. The aim of this course is two-fold: 1) to call attention to difference through comparative analysis and to consider how and why identifying it is meaningful; 2) to detail the changes in historiography since the 1970s that have enabled discussions of difference (sex, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality) and the challenges they present. The course demonstrates that the Second Empire (1851-1870) in France was an especially fertile period for innovations in style and subject matter that generated both outrage and incomprehension. In the wake of the revolution of 1848, realism and its rallying cry (“il faut être de son temps”) brought home subjects that heretofore had been safely displaced to the classical or exotic worlds as they were imagined by the West. The Second Empire coincided with the birth of mass culture so that artists had access to new types of imagery and increasing contact with racy and controversial subjects. This course will investigate polemical works by Gustave Courbet (i.e. Burial at Ornans, Origin of the World) and Edouard Manet (i.e. Olympia, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian) through the lens of critical writings of the 1850s and 1860s (i.e. Baudelaire, Proudhon, Zola) as well as revisionist writings from the 1970s to the present (Carol Armstrong, Homi Bhahba, T.J. Clark, Lee Edelman, Diana Fuss, Sander Gilman, Zine Magubane, Linda Nochlin, and Gayatri Spivak). We will consider the relationship of Manet’s and Courbet’s works to academic ones, including orientalist paintings by Ingres and Gérôme, and to vanguard pictures of the next generation (i.e. the homoerotic work of Caillebotte and Bazille, the “sex workers” of Degas’s toilette scenes). Finally, we will examine the legacy of Courbet and Manet during the period when difference began to be represented in the work of artists such as Judy Chicago, Yasumasa Morimura, Cindy Sherman, Samuel Fosso, and Carrie Mae Weems.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1583
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: weekly 1- to 2-page position papers; oral presentation and final research paper, 10-15 pages
Prerequisites: ArtH 101-102 or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: students with course work in French history or literature and/or Women's and Gender Studies
Distributions: Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ARTH; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGST
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH 426 Division I WGST 426 Division II

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