Fall 2013, Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters
... and for what purpose are there poets in a lean time ...—Hölderlin, "Bread and Wine"
We will study art history, literature, philosophy and music in their social and historical contexts in order to understand the Romantic avant-garde thinkers and artists, outsiders in 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, and their tenuous but fruitful dialogue with mainstream culture and the emerging popular culture of the laboring class. We will emphasize French Romanticism, but will also consider the pan-European nature of the phenomenon. This era offers a figurative battlefield where concepts of art, nature and self, order and chaos, locked swords, testing the limits of rational thought. French language study will be an important component of our weekly work; students will study French at one of four levels, from beginning to advanced.
The 19th century was an era of immense political change spanning revolutions, empires and finally the establishment of democracy at home, just as European imperialism spread across Africa and Asia. We will study ways in which average women and men crafted their own identities and responded to the larger social forces of industrialization, the creation of a new working class, the solidification of gender and class roles, the rise of modern cities and the redefinition of the criminal, the socially-acceptable and the outsider.
In fall, our work will begin with the paintings, poems and ideas of the early Romantics. The Romantics privileged feeling, intuition and empathy. Like adepts in an ancient mystery cult, they sought to commune with Nature. Romantic philosophers, from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche, spoke of Becoming rather than Being. Rejecting Classical order, clarity and restraint, they envisioned a pure art, beyond language and depiction, which speaks musically through color, passion, suggestion, enigmatically, as do dreams.
In winter, focus will turn to the late Romantics. Decadents pushed the Romantic temperament and aesthetic to extremes through self parody and the aesthetic of fragmentation. Symbolists attempted to express the inexpressible through their art. Yet Mallarmé, Wilde and Yeats, Moreau and Gauguin, among others, helped prepare the “rites of spring” of the dawning 20th century, the arising vanguard of modernist and postmodern movements.
In spring quarter, students may pursue individual research/creative projects on campus or may travel to France for 10 weeks. There they will study in a Rennes, Brittany, language school, do cultural and historical study in Paris and Lyon, as well as make side trips for research of their own.
In this program, students will gain a significant grasp of key ideas in art, history and thought within their context, and will have the opportunity to specialize, creating advanced work in their choice of history, art history or writing and literature. We expect strong interest and background in humanities, and considerable self-discipline and motivation. The workload, including French language study, will be substantial and rigorous. Students will work in interdisciplinary all-program sessions and assignments, as well as choose one of three possible seminar groups. These emphasize: 1) literature and philosophy, 2) history, and 3) photography and visual arts, practice and theory.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day
|April 3rd, 2013||Shaw Osha has joined the teaching team; enrollments have been increased.|
|February 1st, 2013||Bob Haft has joined the teaching team for fall quarter.|