Field Seminar: Readings in Early Modern Visual and Material Culture

This jointly-led seminar introduces students to selected perspectives in the study of European visual and material culture from roughly 1500 to 1800. Our readings will include both classic texts that have helped establish key methodological frameworks, and more recent case studies that have applied and adapted these perspectives to a broad array of period images and objects. These will include: social, cultural and anthropological approaches to images, ornament, and material culture, from Geistesgeschichte to the ‘Period Eye’; issues of gender and race; consumption and workshop practice; the agency of objects in social and religious ritual and their extended lives in time and across space. Students will be able to engage with the whole gamut of early modern material and visual life: from the craftsman’s atelier to the courts, from works of high art to ephemera, from religious relics to modes of dress, food and table culture, medicine and the body, commerce, travel, and cultural interchange. Visits from scholars pursuing related projects will shed light on the practical aspects of conducting research, including how textual, visual, and material evidence is accessed in libraries, archives, historic sites, and museum collections, and how it is evaluated and deployed in support of new scholarly arguments. Participants will take an active role in seminar meetings by leading discussions of assigned group readings, offering individual critiques of additional suggested readings, and presenting case studies of objects or images illustrating the application of a particular approach.

3 Credits. Satisfies pre-1800 requirement.