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March 08, 2006


eva lake

Yes yes yes!

Half Brother Clovis

When I see "outsider art" in that context, I wonder if they're really talking about comic books, or anime. I doubt that most of today's undergraduates are into quilts. Knitting on the other hand...


Knitting remains disturbingly popular.

I don't think they're necessarily thinking about comics or anime, but that they are working with an idea of art that is basically contemporary, or at least 20th century. Which, you know, art history intro courses aren't going to be the best place to use to explore.

And, oh - thanks, eva.


I'm not going to second-guess someone else's syllabus, especially in another discipline, but I don't see the point of extensive inclusion of cinema in intro-to-art-history/visual culture classes. Film as an art (or television as a communication form for that matter) really does demand a different vocabulary. There are times when it's totally legitimate to approach film from an art-historical vantage (avant-garde filmmaking by plastic artists, mise-en-scene tied to modernist architecture and applied arts), but sometimes when people who are interested in the plastic arts talk about cinema, the specifics of form (editing, sound, camerawork) get thrown out the window, and you're left with an overemphasis on mise-en-scene, framing and theme.

Am I being unfair?

I realize that this is tangential to your main point, which I agree with. I like your observation about the twentieth-century (at least post modernity) assumptions of "visual culture" studies.


I don't think you're being unfair at all. While I'm sure there are some people who can make it work, I think you're absolutely right that dragging film into an art history class brings questions of apples and oranges. Most times, it probably would not be done well, or with a sense of film as a distinct medium.

mise-en-scene tied to modernist architecture

As you probably know, there's someone where you went to grad school who makes a specialty of this topic, and does it quite well.


As you probably know, there's someone where you went to grad school who makes a specialty of this topic, and does it quite well.

Indeed - I really should read Dietrich Neumann's work. I've also noticed that the Film-Architecture bug has caught on Harvard Film Archive, too, probably for Giuliana Bruno's courses.


"And yet; while I'm sure some students do clamor for newer media and outsider art, it doesn't seem to me that the typical Art History 101 course is really the place for those concerns."

I agree and I disagree. By its very nature, Survey is broad reaching, all-encompassing, over-whelming shit. It wouldn't be called survey if it cherry-picked some high points and moved on. With that said I don't think that I'm 100% on board with film being included in Survey courses, at least straight up Intro. to Western Art I & II. Perhaps a mentioning of the media as a form of expression during periods x, y, and z wouldn't be too bad, but actually covering the material might be a bit too much. If students are so interested in film or "outsider art" etc, then they should a) take a contemporary to modern survey course (most institutions offer them at the 2000(200) or 3000(300) level, or b) they should just take a film or modern course. Plain and simple. Art History will appeal to those who are actually interested in a discipline design to facilitate and understanding of the visual image and its contextual home in history. For those that are not intrigued or interested in sucha media...they can find another way to fulfill their arts distribution requirement. It is not the job of an Intro class to pander to students modern cyber/gaming/anime hobbies, it is the job of Intro to cover the widely held canon to art movements and periods from Prehistoric to Contemporary.

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