aesthetics syllabus fall 2007 by 9393ely

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									AVT 307-001                                           Nuh YILMAZ
George Mason University                               nyilmaz@gmu.edu
Fall 2007 T 10:30-1:10                                office hours: by appointment only
FAB B204                                              before or after the class



                                COURSE SYLLABUS
                                   AESTHETICS
It is very difficult to choose something that is absolutely devoid of aesthetic pleasure.
                                                                         —Marcel Duchamp

All the world is not, of course, a stage, but the crucial ways in which it isn’t are not easy
to specify.
                                                                           —Erving Goffman

Aesthetics is more than philosophy or theory of art and beauty; it is a way of inhabiting
space, a particular location, a way of looking and becoming.
                                                                               —bell hooks


For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call
aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states
of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.
                                                                       —Vladimir Nabokov


The impulse of modern art is the desire to destroy beauty.
                                                                        —Barnett Newman

Beauty is now underfoot wherever we take the trouble to look.
                                                                               —John Cage


You gotta rock it, pop it, ‘cause it’s the century
There is such a place that creates such a melody
World’s but a land of a master jam,
Get up and dance
                                                                       —Afrika Bambaataa


COURSE DESCRIPTION
This course will address the complexity of the contemporary aesthetic experience through
a related series of questions that drive the discourse in contemporary visual and
performing arts: How do we open ourselves to what is unfamiliar in the arts and what is
the purpose in doing so? Who decides what is of value in the arts and how are these
determinations made? How does art respond to culture and how does it lead it? Whose
voice is allowed access to speak through the arts? What is the place of beauty in the arts
and how has that concept changed over time? Just what is art anyway? In this course we
will look at how contemporary artists have presented us with answers to these questions
that are sometimes startling and difficult, sometimes pleasurable and affirming, but
always provocative and engaging.

The notion of the aesthetic will be examined as it pertains to experiences in nature, in the
environment, in the senses, in social and cultural systems, conventions and institutions,
and in works of art. Individuals’ concepts of the aesthetic will be identified and
analyzed, and the course will work at an expansion of the notion of the aesthetic to
include conceptions that go beyond “beauty” and convention. Emphasis will be placed
on examining a broad range of contemporary art and culture to engage an expansive,
amplified, and subversive experience of the aesthetic. In addition, the current cultural
wars being waged over the forms, content, and aims of contemporary art will be
examined for their suggestions of a shift in the governing aesthetic paradigms. The
student will become aware of how the contemporary practice of art moves beyond the
production of artworks to involve the artist’s disciplined efforts to observe, engage, and
interpret the processes of living.

The course aims at the creation of heightened aesthetic perception. Emphasis will be
placed on how the process of a refined aesthetic consciousness is grounded in the raw
materials of human experience and daily life, as well as in art experiences. Through
observation, contemplation, sensation, reading, writing, attendance at arts events, and
heightened self-awareness, the student will engage as an aesthetic observer of and
participant in the world.


REQUIRED TEXTS

   Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses. NY: Vintage, 1990.
   Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea. NY: Shambala Publications, 2001.
   Leonard Diepeveen and Timothy Van Laar. Art with a Difference: Looking at
    Difficult and Unfamiliar Art. Mayfield Publishing, 2001.
   Lawrence Weschler, Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of
    Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin. U of California Press, 1982.
   Other reading assignments as listed in the Course Outline. These readings are
    available on the course website at http://beauty.gmu.edu. The password is “visible.”

VISUAL MATERIALS
Videos and DVDs assigned to be viewed outside of class are available on reserve in the
Media Services area of the Johnson Center Library. (Some of these videos may also be
available for rental at independent video stores, or rent-by-mail services.)
COURSE REQUIREMENTS

   Class attendance is essential as material will be presented that cannot be replicated
    outside of class. Visual materials presented in class are not available in the library.
   Completion of assigned readings and videos, and participation in class discussion
    indicating familiarity with these materials.
   Completion of daily reading/viewing responses. See attached guidelines. Note that
    assignments are accepted in hard-copy only.
   Off-campus museum and field visits as indicated on the Course Outline. Each
    museum/field experience should generate a written response, due on the date
    indicated on the Course Outline. Please include tickets stubs, programs, and/or
    brochures that you pick up at the museums.
   Required attendance at any TWO events at the GMU Center for the Arts. See
    www.gmu.edu/cfa. (Save ticket stub and program, and include with the written
    response to the show that should be turned in at the class meeting following the
    performance.) Tickets are free for GMU students.
   Should students have to miss class for any reason, they are expected to take initiative
    in obtaining notes, assignments, and handouts from class partners (not instructor).
   Class communications will be sent via GMU email. You must activate, maintain, and
    regularly check your GMU email. You are responsible for notices sent via email.
   Internet access and all other electronic devices must be turned off in class.

EVALUATION

   25% PREPARED participation in class
   15% Assigned museum and field visits
   60% Weekly Responses

Grading Standards:
 A grade of A is given only for superlative work that demonstrates a profound
   commitment to the course material, and further, that goes on to employ this material
   as a springboard for independent thought and work.
 A grade of B is given for exceptional work that completely fulfills all the
   requirements of the course in a conscientious and dedicated manner, and further, that
   demonstrates mastery of the course content.
 A grade of C is given for work that fulfills all the requirements of the course in a
   satisfactory manner, but that falls short of demonstrating rigor and mastery. This is
   the average grade.
 A grade of D is given for work that falls short of being satisfactory in terms of
   completion and/or engagement.
 A grade of F is given for work that fails to fulfill the requirements of the course as
   listed above.
                        MUSEUM AND FIELD VISITS

October 16
 African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman Collection of African Art (through
   September 2008); AND Body of Evidence (through December 2) at the National
   Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Avenue SW (http://africa.si.edu)
 Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native American Women’s
   Dresses (through January 2); AND Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes
   Our World (ongoing), at the National Museum of the American Indian on the
   National Mall, Fourth Street and Independence Ave SW (www.nmai.si.edu)
 Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, at Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution
   Avenue NW (www.nps.gov/vive)

October 23
 Going West!: Quilts and Community (October 5-January 21) at the Renwick Gallery,
   17th and Pennsylvania NW (http://americanart.si.edu)
 Earl Cunningham’s America (August 10-November 4) at the Smithsonian American
   Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW (http://americanart.si.edu)
 The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978 (October 7-December 31) at the
   National Gallery of Art/West Building, 4th and Constitution NW (www.nga.gov)

October 30
 Edward Hopper (September 16-January 21) at the National Gallery of Art/East
   Building, 4th and Constitution NW (www.nga.gov)
 J.M.W. Turner (October 1-January 6) at the National Gallery of Art/West Building,
   4th and Constitution (www.nga.gov)
 David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture (through January 21) at the
   National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW (www.nbm.org)

November 20
 Japanese Screens (continuing indefinitely) at the Freer Gallery of Art, (Smithsonian)
   Jefferson Drive at 12th Street, SW (www.asia.si.edu)
 Contemporary Japanese Porcelain (continuing indefinitely) at the Arthur M. Sackler
   Gallery (Smithsonian), 1050 Independence Avenue, 202/357-4880 (www.asia.si.edu)
   [NOTE: The Freer and Sackler galleries are connected by an underground exhibition
   space.]
                              WEEKLY RESPONSES
Written responses to the class material will document the development of your thought
over the course of the semester. These writings, which must be typed, are turned in at the
beginning of each class meeting and will form the basis of class discussion. (NOTE:
Writing is not accepted by electronic transmission.) These writings are as follows:

   1) After completing the assigned readings and visual materials, record your reactions
      to the main ideas or themes. Raise questions about what was intriguing,
      stimulating, unclear, puzzling, disturbing, or insightful about each assigned work.
      Relevant passages, events, and examples should be cited (with page numbers).

   2) In the same fashion, briefly record your reactions to materials that were presented
      in the previous class. Summarize briefly the main ideas of the discussion
      generated in the previous class. Do not simply re-write your class notes; respond
      to what was presented there. Raise questions about the discussion, and note what
      is still unclear, vague, puzzling, or disturbing. Similarly, record your insights and
      “ahas.”

   3) After attending each of the required museum/field visits, you should record your
      reactions. Include any material—program, brochure, ticket stub, etc.—that you
      may have acquired there. You should record what you saw and experienced, as
      well as your response to the event.

The weekly essay may treat each assigned subject separately, or you may choose to group
the readings and videos into an essay that analyzes them comprehensively. Either way,
list the subjects of the writing in the essay header.

All of these writings should not just address the assigned readings, videos, or museum
experiences, but they should also make connections with other materials that you are
reading, seeing, thinking about, etc. They may contain descriptions, observations,
questions, notations, drawings, etc. about aesthetic experiences; ruminations about
materials presented in class; relevant quotations; thoughts about other arts experiences
you are having; etc. You should be recording the development of your notions about
aesthetic experience.

These writings should constitute a record of developments in your thinking that the
course materials may invoke and provoke. Be open, responsive, creative, and thoughtful.
Taken together, these responses should document the development of your personal
aesthetic.

More than half of your grade will be based on these written responses. They will be
evaluated on the basis of the authenticity of the writing, the thought and care
demonstrated, the completeness and quality of presentation, and evidence of intellectual
development.
                  GUIDELINES FOR CLASS DISCUSSION

NOTE: There are varying comfort levels with speaking extemporaneously in a group. If
you are reluctant to speak in class, please challenge yourself to offer oral commentary.
Your insights and questions are vital to our collective success.

Class discussion will be structured around the idea of a seminar, i.e., each member of the
class is responsible for contributing to discussion of the readings, films, and assignments.
(Note: Participation is worth 25% of your final grade.) Each class member is responsible
for the success or failure of the discussion. The following guidelines will be followed in
class discussion:
 You must bring assigned readings to class, as well as something to write with and on.
 You must come on time and come prepared.
 You must discuss carefully and be prepared to listen as well as to talk
 Discussion will be grounded in readings and videos, and will remain focused and
    structured.
 Respect for the opinions of other class members forms the basis of class discussion.
 If, for some reason, you have come to class unprepared, identify yourself as such and
    listen to the discussion.


Use the following guidelines for class preparation:
 Mark your books when reading to note passages of interest or curiosity or confusion.
 Make a list of questions about the reading, noting relevant page numbers.
 Come to class prepared to discuss the reading and videos in detail, focusing on
   specific passages from the texts and videos.
 Come prepared with written assignments for each reading, video, or outside
   assignment.
 After each class, write again about the reading, video, or discussion. Note how the
   discussion has affected your thinking about the subject.
                     Ethics, University Policies, Honor Code
In accordance with George Mason University policy, please turn off all pagers, beepers,
cellular telephones, and other wireless communication devices before class begins.


Each student is responsible for her or his own work on assignments and creative projects.
A willingness to learn from and share ideas with other students is important and it is
equally important that students do their own work. The use of stock images is allowed as
long as the images and textures fall within fair use as defined by copyright law.


                                     HONOR CODE

Students in the class are bound by the Honor Code, as stated in the George Mason
University Undergraduate Catalog. The Honor Code requires that the work you do as an
individual be the product of your own individual synthesis or integration of ideas. As a
university faculty member, I have an obligation to refer the names of students who may
have violated the Honor Code to the Student Honor Council, which treats such cases very
seriously.

Using the words, ideas, music, or art of others without giving them credit is plagiarism, a
very serious Honor Code offense. It is very important to understand how to prevent
committing plagiarism when using material from a source. No grade is important enough
to justify cheating, for which there are serious consequences. If you feel unusual pressure
about your grade in this or any other course, please talk with me or to a member of the
Counseling Center staff.


                          STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see
me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 703-993-2474. All academic
accommodations must be arranged through the DRC.
                                 COURSE OUTLINE
      NOTE: Course outline is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class or via email.




August 28
 Introduction to the course
 In-class screening: Christo’s Islands


September 4
READING:
 Calvin Tomkins, “The Gates to the City”
 http://www.christojeanneclaude.net/tg.html
 Jeanette Winterson, “Art Objects”


September 11
READING:
 Calvin Tomkins, “After Shock: What Has Damien Hirst Done to British Art?”
 Ackerman, "Introduction" (xv-xix) and "Smell" (3-63)
 Diepeveen and Van Laar, Chapter 1 “Art Museums”
 Gene Weingarten, “Pearls Before Breakfast”


September 18
READING:
 Ackerman, “Touch” (65-123)
 Peter Schjeldahl, “A Theft in Norway”
 Ellen Dissanayake, “What Is Art For?”
 Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens”


September 26
READING:
 Diepeveen and Van Laar, Chapter 2 “Western Art and Other Cultures”
 Lucy R. Lippard, “Doubletake: The Diary of a Relationship with an Image”
 Robert Farris Thompson, “Hip Hop 101”
 Satish Kumar, with Suzi Gablik, “Ten Thousand Artists, Not One Master”
Suggested Reading: Terry Smith, “Visual Regimes of Colonization”
VIDEO:
 Amandla (ML3917.S6 A446 2003)
October 2
READING:
 Ackerman, “Taste” (127-172)
 Peter Schjeldahl, “Notes on Beauty”
 Laurie Fendrich, “Why Abstract Painting Still Matters”
VIDEO:
 Sketches of Frank Gehry (DVD on reserve)


October 16
READING:
 Louis Menand, “The Reluctant Memorialist”
 Maya Lin, Boundaries
 Christopher Wright, “The Continued Mauling of the National Mall”
Suggested Reading: Maria Sturken, “The Wall, The Screen and The Image”
VIDEO:
 Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (*NA737 .L48 M39 1995)
FIELD VISIT:
 Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, at Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution
   Avenue NW (www.nps.gov/vive)
MUSEUM VISITS:
 African Vision: The Walt Disney-Tishman Collection of African Art; AND Body of
   Evidence, at the National Museum of African Art, 950 Independence Avenue SW
   (http://africa.si.edu)
 Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native American Women’s
   Dresses; AND Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World at the
   National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall, Fourth Street and
   Independence Avenue, SW (www.nmai.si.edu)

October 23
READING:
 Ackerman, “Hearing” (173-225)
 Diepeveen and Van Laar, Chapter 3 “Outsider Art”
 Lawrence Weschler, “A Parkinsonian Passion: Ed Weinberger”
FILM:
 In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger
MUSEUM VISITS:
 Going West!: Quilts and Community (Note: opens October 5) at the Renwick
   Gallery, 17th and Pennsylvania NW (http://americanart.si.edu)
 Earl Cunningham’s America (through November 4) at the Smithsonian American Art
   Museum, 8th and F Streets NW (http://americanart.si.edu)
  The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978 at the National Gallery of Art/West
   Building, 4th and Constitution NW (www.nga.gov)October 30
READING:
 Ackerman: “Vision” (227-285)
 Jed Perl, “The Art of Seeing”
 Martin Jay, “Scopic Regimes of Modernity”
VIDEO:
 Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film (*NC1429 .W3 A539 2006) [Note: This film is
   240 minutes]
MUSEUM VISITS:
 Edward Hopper (September 16-January 21) at the National Gallery of Art/East
   Building, 4th and Constitution NW (www.nga.gov)
 J.M.W. Turner (October 1-January 6) at the National Gallery of Art/West Building,
   4th and Constitution (www.nga.gov)
 David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture (through January 21) at the
   National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW (www.nbm.org)


November 6
READING:
 Stephen Melville, “Phenomenology and the Limits of Hermeneutics”
 Christopher Shultis, “Silencing the Sounded Self: John Cage and the Intentionality of
   Nonintention”
 Edward Morris “Three Thousand Seven Hundred Forty-Seven Words about John
   Cage”
VIDEO:
 John Cage: I Have Nothing to Say and I am Saying It (* ML410 .C24 J64 1990)

November 13
READING:
 Anthony Vidler, “Interpreting the Void”
 Branden W. Joseph “Robert Morris and John Cage: Reconstructing a Dialogue”
 Branden W. Joseph “John Cage and the Architecture of Silence”

VIDEO:
 Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time (*NB497 .G64 R58 2004)

November 20
READING:
 The Book of Tea
MUSEUM VISIT:
 Japanese Screens (continuing indefinitely) at Freer Gallery of Art, (Smithsonian)
   Jefferson Drive at 12th Street, SW (www.asia.si.edu)
 Contemporary Japanese Porcelain (continuing indefinitely) at the Arthur M. Sackler
   Gallery (Smithsonian), 1050 Independence Avenue, 202/357-4880 (www.asia.si.edu)
November 27
READING:
 Diepeveen and Van Laar, Chapter 4 “Art with a Difference”
 Rachel Dutton and Ron Olds with Suzi Gablik, “Doin’ Dirt Time”
 Nick Hornby, “Nipple Jesus”
VIDEOS:
 Degenerate Art (*N6868.5 N37 D43 1995)
MUSEUM VISIT:
 Black Box: Mircea Cantor (September 17-December 9) AND Morris Louis Now: An
   American Master Revisited (September 20-January 6) at the Hirshhorn Museum and
   Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue at 7th Street SW, 202/633-1000
   (http://hirshhorn.si.edu).

December 4
READING:
 Ackerman: “Synesthesia” (289-299) and “Postscript” (301-309)
 Dorothy Allison, “This Is Our World”
VIDEO:
 Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (*TR850 .V58 1994)

								
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