American Ceramics
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Level: Graduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Art and Design History and Theory
Department: Art and Design History
Course Number: PGHT 5738
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
This course will survey the history of American ceramics from the colonial era through the early 20th century. We will explore the cultural, political, social, and technological forces that shaped the development of the medium. To begin, we will investigate the properties of clay bodies and traditional and mechanical means of ceramic fabrication and decoration. The English and European context that set the standard for American taste and export wares made for the American market will be examined. We will study the first, ambitious but short-lived attempts to create American porcelain, as well as utilitarian earthen and stoneware made in local potteries. The technological advances in place by the mid-19th century transformed the ceramic industry, and we will study American potteries’ patriotic displays at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. This important exhibition introduced Americans to the progressive ideals of British design reform, the Aesthetic Movement, and to the arts of the Near and Far East. We will consider how these new influences resulted in a “china mania” for ceramic collecting and china-painting, and fueled the development of art pottery in the following decades. To enrich our understanding of ceramic bodies and means of production we will have several field trips: a visit to a pottery to observe pottery-making and decorating techniques; and two museum collection visits. Course requirements: a mid-term exam, 25%; a notebook recording weekly visits to study and sketch ceramics in New York area collections, 25%; a 5-7 page research paper based on a ceramic object in a museum collection, 25%; and a final exam, 25%.
Open to: All university graduate degree students.
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Graduate students.