American Studies | Looking at Winslow Homer
G751 | 23511 | Burns


Since the late nineteenth century, Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
has quite consistently occupied one of the highest niches in the
pantheon of American artists ranked great by scholars, curators,
connoisseurs, critics, and collectors.  Yet the meanings of his art
have been mutable, bearing dramatically different connotations at
different times, always contingent on the observerís own historical,
political, racial, sexual, professional, and personal circumstances.
Such mutation of meaning is hardly unique to Homer.  His life,
career, and oeuvre are of particular interest, though, because of
his culturally constructed status as a great American painter, a
great realist painter, a great modern painter, and a great masculine
painter -- all four terms in themselves subject to endless
contention.
The purpose of this seminar is to engage with some of the
important themes, issues, problems and pitfalls in the study of
Homerís art, while becoming familiar with available resources,
collections, and bibliographic tools.  We will sample historical
criticism and recent scholarship, comparing, contrasting, and
evaluating the relative merits of (among others) biographical,
social-historical, psychoanalytical, and formalistic modes of
inquiry into the painterís life and work.
Equally important, we will spend time looking intensively and
analytically through our own eyes at individual works as
paradigmatic Homer ďproblem pictures.Ē  Course work: weekly
readings, discussions, informal exercises; research project
entailing in-class report and final paper.
Jointly offered with FINA-A643