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 the investigation of Oceanian items in New York museums. 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 art and material culture from Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. 3 credits. Satisfies the geocultural requirement.