ARTH 522
Festivities in the Early Modern World Fall 2023
Division I
Cross-listed HIST 422
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

In 1860, Jacob Burckhardt put festivals at the center of his influential study of Renaissance Italy. In the century and a half since, scholars have enriched and deepened our understanding of festivities across early modern Europe and the world during the era of early global interaction (ca. 1400­­-1800). In this seminar we will seek to establish why festivities were so intrinsic to early modern culture, and what work they did. To what extent was performing a form of knowledge? How did festivity mediate early global interaction? We will consider, moreover, the many ways in which ephemeral events were commemorated in paintings and prints, and to what extent historians can recapture the early modern festivity today. Beyond Europe, we will investigate how the festival cultures of the Americas, of Africa, and of Asia interacted with European festival traditions, whether in Goa, Pernambuco, or Mexico City. Ultimately, we will ask: what might an early modern cultural history focused on festivities reveal? We will approach this history through a combination of primary materials drawn from the holdings of Williams College’s Chapin Library and secondary readings, which will range from classics in the field to the most recent scholarship. Students will take turns delivering presentations on preselected objects of the week. By semester’s end each student will complete a 15-to-20-page research paper on a festival of their choosing.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 16
Expected: 16
Class#: 1523
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Engaged participation in discussions; in-class presentation; proposal and bibliography; research paper.
Prerequisites: For undergraduates, at least two prior courses in or related to History or Art History.
Enrollment Preferences: Priority for Graduate Art students. Four seats are reserved for undergraduates, with preference given to junior and senior majors in Art History and History. Undergraduates should email a brief statement of interest to [email protected].
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ARTH 522 Division I HIST 422 Division II
Attributes: ARTH pre-1800

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