This course is a seminar on life and work focusing on methodologies of production–art, creative writing, history, theory, and criticism. With an initial focus on the pivotal period from the invention of photography until the onset of World War II, the course will examine the economy of work within modern visual culture. What were the considerations at stake in capturing the “facts” of industrial production? We will examine historical definitions of work, and practices and activities from life that have typically qualified or have the potential to qualify as work (in addition to critiques of these equivalencies). The latter half of the course will be driven by considerations of these themes in relation to student and workers movements of 1968, and contemporary forms of globalization and pluralist subjectivities. One related concern will be the consideration of intersubjective relations–professional and personal partnerships, friendships, and networks–which not only influence the trajectory of one’s life, but also the research one chooses to undertake. With the awareness that a range of drives and investments inhabit one’s production, participants will be asked to reflect upon their own working practices as a means of critically engaging the affective relations governing artistic and intellectual labor. There will be an emphasis on cross-disciplinary ideas and influences–ranging from art history, film and media studies, the history of science, literature, and political history as a means of integrating theoretical approaches with a range of materials, including photography, cinema, illustrated magazines, advertisements, archives, world exhibitions, and product showrooms.
The Class: Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: Active discussion participation; rough draft (mid semester) and final research paper (20-25 pages)
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then art history majors
Distributions: Division I