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ARTH 800L/3 A - Aesthetic Theory and Art History

Texts, Issues and Methodologies

Dr. Kristina Huneault and Dr. Dominic Hardy
Fridays 9:00 - 12:00 (Fall) and Wednesdays 9:00-12:00 (Winter)
EV-3-760 in the Fall 2010 term / UQAM in Winter 2011
Course starts September 10th

Please note that this full-year course will be given on Fridays in the Fall term at Concordia and on Wednesdays in the Winter term at UQAM.

This reading-based course will explore a broad spectrum of writings by major figures in continental aesthetics and Anglo-American and French art history, creating the ground for an exchange between philosophical and art historical traditions.

Contemporary writing about art often assumes familiarity with a range of philosophers but art history students have comparatively few opportunities to encounter such texts first-hand. In the fall term students will explore a broad spectrum of writings by major figures in continental aesthetics, from Kant to Deleuze, with a particular emphasis on the twentieth century. These writing focus on the central aesthetic question of the relation between 'subjective experience and the condition of belonging to the object world' (Cazeaux, 2000, xvi), and they will enable students to develop a familiarity with philosophers who have been particularly influential on our understanding of modern art and experience. Throughout the first term students will have the freedom to enounter these writings in a non-instrumentalised way, while simultaneously working to identify and refine a philosophical question that underpins their own thesis research.

In the winter term, the focus of the reading will shift from philosophical texts on art to art historical texts that engage with philosophical concerns. Seminar discussions will explore how leading art historians have utilized the perspectices of aesthetic theory to enrich their critical practice -- but have done so in ways that are methodologically particular to art history. Thus, for example, the writings of Georges Didi-Huberman can be productively understood in relation to the phenomenological concerns of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, studied in the first term; likewise, Martin Jay's analysis of the economy of vision takes on a new light when considered in relation to the writings of Marx and Adorno. Throughout the second term, students will work to develop and articulate a specifically art historical methodology with which to address the philosophical question(s) embedded in their thesis research.

The core reading list for the course, developed and proposed by the instructors, will be finalized in conjunction with the students.

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