Towards a Global Art History: Encounters in the Long Eighteenth Century

As a major discipline studying material culture, art history has seen an important recent development, which can be called the “global turn.” A new wave of scholarship on the early modern period, especially the long eighteenth century, has embraced a connective art history transcending the geographic and cultural divide, shedding light on how encounters and exchanges shaped the productions of objects and knowledge. This seminar offers a historiographical survey of key literature and methodologies in this wave. Examining different inter-geographical connections and shifting perspectives, the key texts challenge the centrality of Europe as agent of intercultural exchanges and investigate diverse modes of contacts, communications, movements of objects and people, and transmissions of knowledge and styles. Instead of demonstrating an overarching methodology and a unified paradigm of exchanges, selected case studies seek nuanced languages to unravel the entangled layers and visions enabled by global flows. Each week is designed as close readings of assigned articles and in-depth discussions of relevant objects and images. Participants are expected to play an active role in leading discussions, presenting case studies, and conducting thematic, analytical research beyond required readings. 3 credits. Satisfies the chronological requirement; may satisfy the geocultural requirement, depending on final project.