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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2022-23

ARTH 40.01 American Art and Identity

Where is America? What makes America distinct? How have images of America helped to define and challenge our ideas about who “we” are? In this course we study how paintings, photographs, monuments, and other forms of visual culture have shaped the America we know today. We will trace the emergence of U.S.-American art and identity from the point of Encounter, through Independence, and up to the Centennial Celebrations of Columbus’ “discovery of America” in 1893 through discreet comparisons with developments in Mexico, and Canada. The course is organized chronologically around a series of themes that foreground the intersection between class, race, gender, and nation-building. Students will learn how to identify and analyze the key genres and styles of 19th century American art, including portraiture, photography, ledger drawing, monuments, and landscape, history, and genre painting. They will consider how character and class are constructed through the portrait; how the claims of settler nationalism are naturalized through landscape; how anxieties about racial emancipation, immigration, and gender advancement are managed through images of the “people;” how war both consolidated and radically challenged prevailing conceptions of American identity; and how minoritized populations challenged the dominant construction of “America” throughout this period. There are no pre-requisites for this course. It has been designed as an introduction to the field of American art history as well as to the discipline of Art History more generally. First year students and non-majors are welcome.



Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:ART; WCult:CI

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.