From the earliest representations in the third millennium BCE until the end of the Roman period in the fifth century CE the human body remained the foremost choice of subject for artists, patrons, critics, and the public in the ancient Mediterranean world. This course will consider cultural ideas about the body in antiquity, and trace their repercussions in the modern era. Over the course of the semester we will concentrate on 12 case studies, each representing a specific concept from an area of the Mediterranean. Topics include the “shining bodies” of bare-chested potentates in Egypt and the ancient Near East, statues that give the dead voice, the perfection and humanity of the bodies of the gods, ancient Greek science and the nude goddess, the pathos of Hellenistic athletes, and the interpretative challenge of the ambiguous and sensuous marble forms of the Barberini Faun or the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, both found in Roman contexts. We’ll consider the cross-influences of ideas about gender, class, race and the body coded in public and private art. Reading material will include ancient literature in translation as well as contemporary critical essays. Evaluation will be based on participation in discussion and group presentations, in-class writing assignments, short response papers, and a final 8-page research paper. Engaged library research of original paper topics will be supported throughout the semester.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
participation in discussion and group presentations, in-class writing assignments, short response papers, a final 8-page research paper.
open to any student, majors and non-majors, with interests in the ancient world; no experience with art history required; first-years and sophomores are encouraged
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH pre-1800 Courses