This course looks at the indigenous, colonial, maritime, and missionary histories that connect New England to island nations in the Pacific in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rather than thinking of Hawai’i and Massachusetts merely as opposite ends of United States colonial expansion, we will focus on the heterogenous cast of historical actors-from queens to whalers-who interacted in these places and generated new forms in architecture, painting, printmaking, the decorative arts, textiles, and publishing. Particular attention will be paid to the politics of Hawaiian visual culture and the histories of Williams alumni in Hawai’i, but the readings, discussions, and student papers will not be limited exclusively to those subjects. Our time together will be split between lecture and class discussion, with some meetings devoted to archival research and object-based case studies in collections on campus. As a group, we will establish a corpus of objects and conceptual frameworks for analyzing what “Pacific-New England” means and how that might challenge our existing assumptions about regional art histories. Finally, we will experiment as a class with the best ways to convey what we’ve learned through our collective inquiry-whether in different forms of writing or by workshopping more creative approaches.
The Class: Format: Seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in discussion, two short papers, final research project, and presentation; note: one required field trip, scheduled in consultation with the students
Enrollment Preferences: none
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: This course traces the ways that systemic biases regarding race, religion, gender, and class impacted and continue to affect relations of power, wealth, and ultimately sovereignty in the United States and in Hawai'i.