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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "AH 399"
COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in Art History: Collection Building and Museum Studies "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Sarah Linford
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 10:00 AM 11:15 AM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: One previous course in Art History or permission of the instructor
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of concern in the field of Art History. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of concern in the field of Art History. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

This course explores what we do with “culturally significant” objects and why. We look at the histories and meanings of ownership and collecting, as of ordering and displaying, in private and especially public venues. Through thematically chosen case-studies, we explore the ordering and constructing of knowledge through the conditions of display and the varieties of classification that precede the modern museum. We then consider the modern museum, from the Enlightenement onwards, by drawing on the disciplines of art history, communications, anthropology, sociology, cultural and intellectual history, politics, economics and, especially, “museum studies” — by opposition to traditional “museology.” Contemporary debates on the issues of authenticity, availability and identity inform our study of today’s hot catch-phrases: experience, immediacy, globalism. 

 

The circulation of cultural goods in private and public spheres is as old as are goods themselves.   

Case studies from the Ancient world and the Western Middle Ages address these pre-museal forms of display, including looting, venerating, and reusing objects.The varieties of private collections in the age of Reason (and of classical economics) introduce an idea that will be central to this course: displayed collections are narratively structured. This leads us to consider how art museums reveal the social and cultural ideologies of those who construct, finance, work for and visit them in modern and contemporary eras. Ultimately, we challenge both the modern museum’s claim that its objects and messages are “truthful,” and recent attempts to abandon master narratives — about art, science, or cultures.


LEARNING OUTCOMES:

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of concern in the field of Art History. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

To understanding collecting practices and cultural institutions as art historical, poltical, anthropological, sociological, spatial/architectural and financial entities;

To help students “read” museums as socially constructed and culturally constructing;

To familiarize students with the history of collecting, museums and museum practice critically;

To view museum practice as shaped by multiple contexts, stakeholders, users and disciplines;

To enquire into the power of cultural institutions to shape how varied publics understand their world;

To introduce students to work in the industries/sectors of museums, galleries, auction houses and cultural heritage.


TEXTBOOK:
NONE
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
ParticipationParticipation is essential to this course. This means: doing the readings and contributing to class discussions.5
RESEARCH PRESENTATIONA 15-mn presentation of your research topic (with slides, full bibliography and specific research question). Research topics and their bibliographies must be approved by the Professor.20
MIDTERM EXAMINATIONSee our Moodle course site for detailed guidelines and practice exam. We will also dedicate one class to reviewing the material and doing a practice exam.25
RESEARCH PAPERA 7-page critique of a well-documented historical exhibition or Professor-approved gallery installation. See detailed “paper-how to” on our Moodle course site. 25
FINAL EXAMINATIONSee our Moodle course site for detailed guidelines and practice exam. We will also dedicate one class to reviewing the material and doing a practice exam.25

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of concern in the field of Art History. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern.
May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

Attendance is mandatory.


ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

 

Note: classes meet M W 10-11:15

The full syllabus, with required and recommended readings, paper and exam guidelines must be downloaded from our Moodle course site.

All required readings and slide lectures are equally posted on that site.

 

Week 1.1: Monday, January 18th

COURSE PRESENTATION AND INTRODUCTION

 

Week 1.2: Wednesday, January 20th

OWNING AND REPRESENTING

Looting, circulating, venerating, representing, consuming: case studies from the Ancient world and the Middle Ages; varieties of private collections before the modern “museum.” 

 

Week 2.1: Monday, January 25th

COLLECTING

Cabinets of curiosities, Wunderkammern, anatomical theaters, apothecaries' shops and alchemical workshops, collections of monsters, rarities and exotic specimens, antiquities and theaters of machines.

 

Week 2.2: Wednesday, January 27th

KNOWING

Antiquarianism, the Enlightenment; ordering knowledge as ordering the World

 

 

Week 3.1: Monday, February 1st

CLASSIFYING

From ordering to classifying; narrative as “performative” display

 

Week 3.2: Wednesday, February 3rd

DEFINING SELF

Collection and display as nation-building

 

Week 4.1: Monday, February 8th

DEFINING OTHER

Orientalism, Primitivism, the “ethnic” arts and global art history

 

Week 4.2: Wednesday, February 10th

THE POLITICS OF HISTORY

Rewriting history, rerouting memory (case studies Prada exhibitions of art under Fascism; the Musée d’Orsaydebates)

 

MAKEUP Friday, February 12th (makeup day for Monday, April 5th) 

THE MODERN ART MUSEUM

Reifying high modernism(s) 

 

Week 5.1: Monday, February 15th

THE END OF STORYTELLING?

From master narratives to relativism (case studies: Tate, GNAM, Pompidou, MoMA)

 

 

Week 5.2: Wednesday, February 17th DOUBLE CLASS 8:45am-11:15am

Visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM): permanent collection and temporary exhibition

> meet at 8:45 am sharp on the museum steps, Viale delle Belle Arti, 131

https://www.google.com/maps/place/National+Gallery+of+Modern+and+Contemporary+Art/@41.917042,12.482169,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x2cf2aafd0eff0128?sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwil3Nif98rmAhXVoVwKHTqoDA4Q_BIwE3oECB8QCA

Access:  Tram 2, 3 or 19 Galleria Arte Moderna stop 

Bring your student ID.

 

(Week 6.1 Monday February 22nd: no class held because of Monday’s double class- use this time to review for the midterm!) 

 

Week 6.2: Wednesday, February 24th

MIDTERM EXAMINATION REVIEW

 

Week 7.1: Monday, March 1st

MIDTERM EXAMINATION

 

Week 7.2: Wednesday, March 3rd

MONEY 

Cultural capital and economic capital; economies of art public and private

 

(Week of March 8th is Spring Break)

 

Week 8.1: Monday, March 15th

INSTRUMENTALIZING THE CONTEMPORARY

Contemporary art in historical collections, against the “museal”

 

Week 8.2 Wednesday, March 17th 

HERITAGE, EXPERIENCE AND AUTHENTICITY

The Museum without Walls and the return of the universal museum; from “cultural capital” to “cultural experience”

 

Week 9.1, Monday, March 22nd

PUBLIC OUTREACH 

Destination museums, education and community-building

 

Week 9.2: Wednesday, March 24th

NUTS AND BOLTS (1)

 Museum-writing: from wall labels and texts to exhibition catalog entries and essays and other institutional publications

 

Week 10.1: Monday, March 29th

NUTS AND BOLTS (2)

Press releases and artists' statements; art history "versus" art criticism

 

Week 10.2: Wednesday, March 31st

NUTS AND BOLTS (3)

Industry periodicals; museum, gallery, foundation, fair archives and DBs as tools for art historical research, curating and collecting

 

(Week 11.1: no class held on Monday, April 5th; makeup class was held Friday, February 12th.)

Week 11.2: Wednesday, April 7th

Working with dead artists

 

Week 12.1: Monday, April 12th

Working with living artists

 

Week 12.2: Wednesday, April 14th

Historical and Contemporary: A Compare and Contrast of Actors and Decision-Makers

 

Week 13.1: Monday, April 19th

Research presentations (1)

 

Week 13.2: Wednesday, April 21st

Research presentations (1)

 

Week 14.1: Monday, April 26th

COURSE REVIEW

 

Week 14.2: Wednesday, April 28th

FINAL EXAM REVIEW and RESEARCH PAPER DUE