ARTH 541
Aesthetics After Evolutionary Biology: Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud Fall 2017
Division I
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This interdisciplinary seminar examines the rise of evolutionary biology, a new explanatory paradigm that solidified in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century, and its ramifications in art and aesthetic theory in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will consider how natural histories of creation, and corresponding reclassifications of the human as a species category, went hand in hand with a reconceptualization of the aesthetic faculties, and the processes of art’s production and reception. A core component of this seminar will be the close study of key texts by Charles Darwin, and two thinkers who were among the most radical in extending his key insights into the domain of aesthetic theory–the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. These primary texts will provide points of departure for studying the work of a number of innovative practitioners working across a range of media, among them the composer Richard Wagner, the Neo-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat, the architect Adolf Loos, the choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, and the art historian Aby Warburg. Methodologically a major aim of this seminar is to think together critically about the nature of art’s relations to other domains of cultural production such as science or philosophy, and to interrogate what it means, both practically and epistemologically, to pursue “interdisciplinarity” as a strategy for art history.
The Class: Type: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 12
Class#: 1928
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: seminar presentations, research paper
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: graduate students, then advanced undergraduate students
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: PHIL Related Courses

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