ARTH 588
The Scene of Decapitation in European Art (1600-1900) Spring 2023
Division I

Class Details

From Goliath to Medusa, from Judith to Salome, from the invention of the guillotine to the mythology of the executioner under “Oriental despotism,” the “scene” of decapitation has long stood as a central focus of European art, visual culture, and letters. This course examines that scene as an artistic, psychological, and intellectual problematic across painting, sculpture, and other media, with particular although not exclusive attention to the nineteenth-century. Although part and parcel of the larger spectacle of juridical punishment, the scene of decapitation arguably constitutes its own series, and for this reason has attracted numerous artists and a prestigious, multi-disciplinary literature. Artists include (but limited to) Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, ThĂ©odore GĂ©ricault, Gustave Moreau, and Henri Regnault. Readings by Freud, Kristeva, Bersani, and many others, including a large body of art historical literature. Weekly readings, discussion, oral presentation, and research paper on a relevant topic from 1600 to 1900.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 12
Class#: 3640
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class presentation; research paper (approx 20pp)
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then advanced art history major undergrads
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800 Courses

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