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Grant programs:Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants
Keywords: goethe (ANY of these words -- matching substrings)
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AQ-50988-14

Trustees of Hampshire College (Amherst, MA 01002-3359)
Karen R. Koehler (Project Director: September 2013 to June 2016)
NEH Enduring Questions Course on Differing Conceptions of Art Over Time

The development of a course for third-semester students on differing conceptions of art from prehistoric times through the present day.

The development of a course for third-semester students on differing conceptions of "art" from prehistoric times through the present day. Drawing from selected texts in philosophy and literature, as well as examples in music, film, architecture, performance, and design, the class on the question, What is art? examines whether art is fundamental to the human psyche or vital to the look of the world we live in. In the first of five sections, Origins, students consider the urge to produce art. They view Werner Herzog's film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which explores the earliest cave paintings though the lens of contemporary desires, and compare early fertility figures with contemporary performance art. This section concludes with essays on critical theory by Martin Heidegger and Theodor Adorno. In the second section, Authenticity, students discuss essays by Walter Benjamin and Jonathon Keats while investigating the stylistic effects and legal ramifications of appropriation in the work of visual artists Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Shepard Fairey. Shakespeare's King Lear is paired with film adaptations by Andrew McCullough, Jean Luc-Goddard, and Akira Kurosawa as encouragement to consider how cultural differences are expressed in the act of dramatization. The third unit, Spirituality and the Transcendent, focuses on the ideas of eighteenth-century aesthetic philosophers Kant, Burke, and Goethe, and the poetry and pictures of William Blake, Francisco Goya, and William Wordsworth. The fourth unit, Mimesis, explores the relationship between real life and representation in readings from Plato, Susan Sontag, and Jacques Lacan and portraits ranging from Roman busts to Leonardo, Picasso, and Arbus. Participants also read Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The final unit, Commitment, explores the socio-political dimensions of art with selections from Diderot and Marx, as well as Tolstoy's treatise "What is Art?" and Sartre's "What is Literature?" Examples of political art include the paintings of Jacques Louis David, Russian revolutionary cinema, and two polemical novels, William Morris's News from Nowhere and Emile Zola's The Masterpiece. Arthur Danto's After the End of Art and Hans Belting's Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art are used to open up a dialogue on artistic production and intention. The course concludes with an analysis of two films: Exit Through the Gift Shop, a study of the elusive artist Banksy, and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a documentary on the Chinese political dissident and experimental performance artist.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Totals:
$22,000 (approved)
$22,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2014 – 12/31/2015


AQ-50660-12

New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)
Martha Dana Rust (Project Director: September 2011 to March 2017)
NEH Enduring Questions Course on "What Is Memory?"

The development of an undergraduate honors seminar on the question, What is memory?

Martha Rust, an associate professor of English with a specialty in medieval literature and a background in nursing, and Suzanne England, a professor of social work with an interest in gerontology, develop a course on memory as a source "from which we draw both in acting as morally astute agents in the present and in envisioning new possibilities for the future." In approaching the subject, the course addresses such subsidiary questions and issues as, Where does memory exist in the brain, and what are its connections with sensory organs? Why do our memories change, and how accurate are they? What is the connection between memory and the self-and with language and story-telling? Can a preoccupation with memories forestall beneficial growth and change? and What events are best forgotten and how do we go about forgetting them? The course is divided into six units, the first three on memory in its "untrained and personal states" and the last three on the "training of memory, its uses and abuses." The first unit approaches childhood memories through readings in Augustine's Confessions, Eric Kandel's In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind, and Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich. The second unit, on the idea of memory, draws on David Bloch, Aristotle on Memory and Recollection; Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory; Sigmund Freud, "Screen Memories"; John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Plato, Theaetetus; William Wordsworth, "Tintern Abbey"; and W.G. Sebald, Vertigo. In the third section, on the science of memory, the class reads more from Kandel's book, studies Jamie Ward's The Student's Guide to Cognitive Neuroscience, and views Akira Kurosawa's film Rashomon. The fourth unit, on memory in art, draws on additional chapters from Augustine, Borges's "Funes the Memorious," Thomas Bradwardine's "On Acquiring a Trained Memory," and A. R. Luria's The Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a Vast Memory. The fifth section, on cultural memory, includes Italo Calvino's "World Memory," Primo Levi's The Drowned and the Saved, and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the final unit, on forgetting, the class utilizes Janna Quitney Anderson, "Does Google Make Us Stupid?"; Alice Munro, "The Bear Came Over the Mountain"; and Sarah Polley's film version of Munro's story. Professors Rust and England draw on the materials in the course bibliography to grow intellectually in such areas as cultural memory studies and the practice of memory in a variety of time periods; in addition, Professor England benefits from Professor Rust's nursing background and knowledge of cognitive neuroscience and Professor Rust benefits from Professor England's scholarly expertise. The course includes a website and an electronic discussion board to foster intellectual community.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Totals:
$25,000 (approved)
$24,744 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2012 – 8/31/2016