The Colonial Revival


Fall 2013


5th Floor Classroom


Catherine Whalen

This seminar focuses on the Colonial Revival in the United States, a complex cultural phe­nomenon succinctly described as “national retrospection” that began during the early re­public and has persisted ever since. Chronologically, the course spans from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the US Bicentennial in 1976, with special attention to the revival's heyday from circa 1880 to 1940. The Colonial Revival takes many forms, encompassing decorative arts, architecture, landscape design, painting, sculpture, graphic arts, literature, photogra­phy, and film. Key practices include forming collections, staging commemorations, and preserving historic sites. Situated within the oft-cited historical context of industrializa­tion, urbanization, and immigration, the Colonial Revival intersects discourses of regionalism, romantic nationalism, nativism, progressivism, modernism, and antimodern­ism. Further points of consideration include the relationship to the Arts and Crafts movement and comparable revivals in the Americas and Europe. Readings empha­size historiography, primary sources, and recent scholarship. Visits to museum collections required. 3 credits.