American Studies | Colloquium in AMST: American Art 1860-1900-The Gilded Age
G620 | 11206 | Burns


This course surveys the often-turbulent decades after the Civil War,
when  rapidly unfolding developments in American society transformed
the US from a relatively provincial and agrarian republic into an
expanding urban, industrial, and ultimately imperial power.  This
climate of accelerating change and social instability had a profound
impact on art.  By the end of the century, collisions between
tradition and modernity, nativism and cosmopolitanism, and high
culture and popular culture had extensively reshaped the world of
American art, which went from home-grown to high style in little more
than a generation.

In class, we will examine a number of key players (along with various
satellites) who grappled with the critical aesthetic and social
issues of this tumultuous time. These include Winslow Homer, Thomas
Eakins, James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Mary
Cassatt.  Among the themes to be examined are the nature of realism;
art and commerce; art and selfhood; racial and sexual politics of
art; art for art’s sake; and the “modernization” of the artist.  The
objectives of this course are to bring students into close engagement
with works of art, modes of criticism, and issues of interpretation,
and to introduce them to examples of recent scholarship in the field.

Course format: lecture/discussion.  Course work includes readings
from required text and articles on e-reserve; mid-term, final, term
paper, and Oncourse activities.