Antiquarianism and Neo-Antiquarianism


Fall 2014


3rd Floor Classroom


Peter N. Miller

This course will focus on the phenomenon called, somewhat uncertainly, “antiquarianism.” Since the European Renaissance, this term has stood for a study of the past through its material remains. For this reason it has connected with a variety of disciplinary, aesthetic and intellectual movements in which materiality and antiquity have been significant. Building on recent comparative projects in which both Miller and Shanks participated (viz, the Getty's World Antiquarianism), the course will begin by surveying the engagement with “antiquities” and the “antique” in earlier eras, including prehistoric ones, and across the globe. Next, a careful analysis of the heyday of antiquarianism in early modern Europe will help build out a concrete definition of the term and its practice. Some history of the transformation of antiquarianism into, on the one hand, successor culturalist disciplines and, on the other, into archaeology, will follow. The bulk of the class will be devoted to “neo-antiquarianism”: to forms and practices which neither describe themselves as antiquarian nor which appear genealogically related to the study of antiquities. At this level, a phenomenological approach will be required to see what marks these as related. In so doing, we return to the consequences of the universalism implicit in the global and trans-historical reality of using past material culture to make meaning in the present: that it always means something different. The course will be taught as simultaneous video-linked seminars by Shanks at Stanford and Miller at the BGC.

3 credits.