Oceania: Art and Material Culture

This course will introduce the art and material culture of the inhabitants of one third of the surface of the Earth—Oceania— focusing on their encounters with incoming peoples from other parts of the world from the eighteenth century onwards, notably those of European origin. These encounters had far-reaching consequences for all concerned, including changes in the uses of materials, social organization, religious practices, and governance. The work of the seminar will include first-hand investigation of Oceanic items during visits to the Brooklyn Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Three weeks will be devoted to each of four themes. We begin with “The Importance of Place,” proceed to “Materials and Techniques,” followed by “Cultural Encounters,” and conclude with “Challenges for Museums.” All four themes will address encompass art and material culture from Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. 3 credits. Satisfies the non-Western requirement.