Artistic practices are ways that human beings try to make sense of the world, of nature and of what we do and say with one another. So, in order to understand something about artistic practices, we will have to think about how such practices differ from other ways that human beings make sense of their world – such as religion, education, science or philosophy. And in thinking about what makes artistic practices distinctive, we will of course have to think not only about what such practices ‘mean’ but also about how their meaning is related to their material conditions – stone, paint, sound, the human body or the printed word; and to what effect human beings have transformed these conditions in ‘artistic’ ways through socially and historically specific forms of painting, dance, music, poetry and drama. All of which is to say: We will be asking not only what art is (or, what the ‘arts’ are), but also why we care about art, if we still do? Among some of the general issues we will explore are: What is the relationship between art and nature? How can we talk meaningfully about the differences between modes of artistic representation? How does mechanical reproduction change our understanding of art? What is philosophy’s relation to art? What does it mean to speak of art as ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’? We will discuss texts by Plato, Aristotle, Schiller, Lessing, Hegel, Cavell and others, as well as artworks by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Matisse, Beethoven and many others.
Students must register for both the lecture and discussion section of this course.
Open to Undergraduate students.