Art in the Service of the Nation: 1750-2000
This course offers a problem-oriented approach to the arts in a national context. Alternating between deep analysis of selected representative examples and a critical approach to national self-representation in comparative perspective, it aims to introduce students to the creation and display of objects ranging from ancient sculptures to contemporary performance art in the service of the nation-state. Themes will include the fabrication of national traditions in textbooks, academies of art, national patronage, histories of collecting, museum policies and practices, world’s fairs, and cultural heritage preservation in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.
Students will be introduced to artworks from across the spectrum of production and consumption ranging from ancient sculptures to contemporary performance art in order to question how the nation-state has used objects to represent and control its self-image. Assigned readings of approximately 50 pages per class will be supplemented with a series of related images. While keeping in mind a set of questions listed on the syllabus, student led discussions will critically engage with the readings and with regional museums and collections in Budapest and Vienna. A central point of the course is to give participants the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with objects and modes of cataloguing and displaying them. This will include in depth experience with museum software systems in week 5, a survey of regional exhibitions in week 6, and class convening in the Museum of Applied Arts during week 7. At the end of the course, participants will have the opportunity to present a topic of their choice relating to their final research paper.