American Studies | Seminar in American Studies / Topic: Problems in American Art--Fun Fantasy, & Foreign Bodies: Anatomizing the Visual Culture of Americanfal07
G751 | 22352 | Sarah Burns


(4 cr. hrs.)
Jointly offered with FINA-A643
What makes a picture funny, and how as art historians and students
of American culture can we take humor seriously? In this seminar we
will attempt to come to theoretical, interpretative, and critical
grips with the under-studied and still largely unexamined corpus of
American comic art, its producers, its consumers, and its cultural
functions, beginning in the 18th century and continuing through at
least the first half of the twentieth, and comprising all media,
from painting to political caricature, cartoons, popular prints,
trade cards, posters, advertising, illustration, comics,
photography, and assorted ephemera. We will attempt to define and
analyze the mechanisms of irony, satire, parody, slapstick, whimsy,
and wit, explore the realms of cuteness and the grotesque, and
survey the borderlines where humor shades into disgust and fear.
Course work, in addition to weekly discussions of issues and
readings, will include short-term mini-projects and a longer
research report and paper.