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ARTH 668 Theories and Methodologies in Art History: Art, Embodiment & the Senses

  • Thursdays, 2:45 - 5:45 pm 
  • Instructor: Dr. May Chew

This seminar is mobilized around the following inquiry: do we think with and as bodies, and at the same time beyond dominant understandings of what a body is, and can do? While focusing on the body as a locus of meaning in creative practice and cultural theory, we also examine how sense and sensation have been socially and historically constructed in the first place. This includes examining how sensory hierarchies have been shaped by imperial histories and scientific discourse; informed by discourses of race, gender, class, ability; and increasingly augmented through technological mediation. Relatedly, we consider how emergent sensibilities, economies of attention, and therapeutic management are continuously re/shaping our understanding of embodiment. We investigate how sensorial experiences have been choreographed in institutional, commercial, and everyday contexts, while also focusing on how art can accommodate diverse forms of embodiment, and how audiences are summoned through sensorial engagement. Art allows us an opportunity to probe what it means to be “moved” by aesthetic and sensorial encounters, and how such experiences can reaffirm or challenge bodily and subjective boundaries. Together, we will work towards developing a sensitivity to multisensorial experiences, at the same time expanding our linguistic & conceptual capacities to understand and analyse such experiences.

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