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Academics . Liberal Arts . Courses

Liberal Arts Courses

World Cinemas

Course No. ACD 374 / NCS 374 / HCS 374  Credits: 3.0

Writing on film aesthetics in 1930, a year marked by global financial crisis and mounting political conflict, Béla Balázs did not feel it was possible to speak of the “people of the world.” But if that day were ever to arrive, he predicted, film would be there “ready and waiting to provide the universal spirit with its corresponding technique of expression.” Today we talk about how technology has altered the world, making it feel smaller and infinitely expanded at the same time. But can we still say film holds the promise of universal expression? If not, what does it promise now? What, in other words, do film’s techniques of expression correspond to in our contemporary world?

In this course, we will spend time looking carefully at cinematic technique in films produced all over the world during the course of the medium’s history. At the same time we will also look carefully at the ideas and fantasies that animate “world cinema” as a label for certain kind of films without taking for granted that this phrase always means or has meant the same thing. Why do some critics and theorists embrace this term while others find it inadequate, a bad fit, something in need of qualification or replacement? What corrections and critiques have these writers offered? How do their observations change the way we see film technique and our own unexamined assumptions about how film makes the world available to each of us as viewers? May be applied to fulfill the non-western art history requirement. $25 course fee required. Formerly ACD 374X/HCS 374X.

American Crafts History

Course No. ACD 376  Credits: 3.0

This course will necessarily focus on American crafts. However, an effort will be made to incorporate other expressions (especially non-western) into the mix too. For example, there are readings in Adamson on the Scandinavian slöjd system, Bauhaus aesthetics, the Japanese concept of mingei, the Indian notion of svadharma, the Mande blacksmiths of West Africa, and subversive (feminist) stitchery, in addition to writings by Anni Albers, Karl Marx, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ellen Gates Starr, George Nakashima, Carole Tulloch, Garth Clark, and many more. Visual Culture Emphasis course.

Issues in 20th and 21st Century Art: Research, Engagement + Politics in Contemporary Art

Course No. ACD 380  Credits: 3.0

This joint course between CIA and CWRU will revolve around the main issues and questions of late 20th and 21st century art, namely:

- What is Contemporary? Possible definitions and conceptual revisions.
- Theory versus Praxis, or a more combined Art + Research model?
- Art as a thinking process | Thinking as a creative process (following the contemporary, and truly trans-historical model: “art as research” and “research as art”)
- The dynamic inter-relationship of different media, and fields of study (as in installation art, and Krauss’s “post-medium condition”).
- The anxiety of interdisciplinarity (an inquiry and examination of the efforts, as well as the resistance, towards such approach).

Artists, for the most part, no longer define themselves as medium-specific, but primarily as visual artists and researchers. Fluidity among media is currently explored in a philosophical and artistic positioning that regards indeterminacy, uncertainty, and even ambiguity as positive and productive values. Inter/Cross/Trans/Multi are, therefore, welcomed prefixes and defining elements of an artistic discourse that aims at moving beyond established categories.

Interdisciplinarity involves the combining of two or more disciplines into one activity, and it entails creating something new by crossing or thinking across boundaries. This might generate a sense of anxiety, which reflects the territorialization quite prevalent in academic and artistic arenas.

More than specifically or strictly answering these main questions, the course will attempt to open channels for exchange, debate, and discussion, raising awareness about the most relevant and pressing issues in the 21st Century art. Fulfillspost-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 380X.

Conceptual Art

Course No. ACD 383 / HCS 383  Credits: 3.0

This theme-based art history course is designed to give students an in-depth, semester-long investigation into the art movements and ideas that informed Conceptual Art's development in the 1960s and 1970s as well as its impact on contemporary art making in the decades that followed. This course will cover, but not be limited to, the so-called heyday of Conceptual Art in the 1960s and 1970s, a focus on which would otherwise reinforce the traditional modernist art historical framework that defined styles in part by limiting them to a specific time period. Significant time in the class will be devoted to investigating examples of conceptually-informed art created in the 1980s, 1990s and the early 21st century, underscoring the impact of Conceptual Art's legacy for art, craft and design today. The course will investigate the philosophies that informed conceptual art that allowed artists to problematize the conditions and encounters with art; the conventions of its visuality, and the circumstances of its production. Visual Culture Emphasis course. Fulfills post-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 483X / HCS 483X.

Changing Views: Perspectives on African Art

Course No. ACD 385X  Credits: 3.0

Through lectures, readings, and discussions, this seminar will explore important developments in the history of the reception, study, and photography of African art, from the 15th century to present day. An analysis of a number of key publications by pioneering scholars in the field will illustrate the multiple approaches that have been developed to gain insight into Africa’s artistic heritage. Special attention will be devoted to the dialogue between anthropological and art-historical perspectives on the arts of Africa. This seminar will also address the politics and ethics of the acquisition and representation of African art, as well as the methodological challenges connected to their formal and stylistic diversity, and issues of artistic production and patronage.

Media Arts + Visual Culture: Installation

Course No. ACD 387  Credits: 3.0

This course investigates the emergence, prominence and impact of the installation as a new medium in contemporary art. "Media arts" or "new media" include but are not limited to video and experimental film, performance, interactive art, digital media, and especially the installation, which itself embraces a wide range of media. We will focus on the growth of the installation from "environments" in the 1960s into a distinct artistic medium used widely since the 1980s. We will discuss the work of many recognized artists and some less familiar artists from around the world as well as corresponding theories of media within the broader field of visual culture. Using a wide range of installations as examples, particular attention will be given to the implications that new media, especially digital media, have for the creative process and the critical social issues that they raise. Visual Culture Emphasis course. Fulfills post-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 486.

Media Arts & Visual Culture: Interactive Zones

Course No. ACD 388  Credits: 3.0

What is "interactivity"? A recent publication is titled Total Interaction, but what does that mean? In this course we will look closely at the history, theory, and practice of the interactive as a facet of contemporary art, design, and media culture. We will explore thematic zones or territories of the interactive both real and imagined, including: cybernetic systems, sci-fi and popular culture, visionary design, interactive animations and massive multi-player games, convergent technology, responsive environments, and "A.I." (i.e., artificial intelligence). A previous course in modern and contemporary art or visual culture is assumed for all participants. Visual Culture Emphasis course. Fulfills post-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 488.

From the Front Row

Course No. ACD 389 / HCS 389  Credits: 3.0

Does writing about a film mean something different from writing other things? What is cinematic representation? Cinema is a cultural phenomenon but what do we mean when we say such a thing? Is film a language? What is critical theory? The aim of the seminar is to encourage undergraduate students interested in cinema to develop better written and verbal skills within the context of a broader field of cinema studies. Students will debate the essence of cinema and acquire a framework for understanding its formal qualities. In the process, they will learn to experience film as a visual language, explore its similarities to other arts, and analyze its relation to critical dialogue. FROM THE FRONT ROW; Cinema and An Approach to Critical Writing is divided into three sections or thematic discussions with each section intended to follow one another to provide a cumulative sense of the field of study. Some cross-reference is required to initiate debate and discussion. May be applied as Post 1960s art history course.

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Jonathan Rosati

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