Summer 2006

ARTS 636
Art and Culture in America's Gilded Age

Noble,Nancy J.

06/26/2006 - 08/10/2006
Tuesday & Thursday 01:30 PM - 04:30 PM

Davison Art Center 100

We will explore American painting, sculpture, and material culture within the complex historical and cultural context of the Gilded Age. Late 19th century America was a period of unfettered capitalism, industrialization, and urbanization. Against this background, we will investigate the goals and achievements of artists such as Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Remington, Childe Hassam, Thomas Dewing, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and William Merritt Chase. We will consider how art of the period relates to increasing incorporation and industrialization; the growth of the city contrasted with the myth and/or reality of the simplicity of rural life; the creation of competing national and regional identities (New England, The West); immigration, modes of assimilation, and rising nativism; the spiritual dimensions of American culture in an age of ruthless competition and lavish celebrations of personal wealth; and the myth and reality of America as a classless, egalitarian society. Other topics will include "hysterical" women and men in "crisis;" artists' self-conscious marketing of themselves to an expanding consumer society; the growing power of the media and the critic; and the role of the patron as collector and philanthropist.

Readings will be drawn from the work of contemporary writers such as William Dean Howells, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Henry James, Henry Adams, and Sarah Orne Jewett. We will also read current art historical texts, including: Sarah Burns, Inventing the Modern Artist: Art & Culture in Gilded Age America, Martin Berger, Man Made: Thomas Eakins and the Construction of Gilded Age Manhood, Elizabeth Johns, Winslow Homer: The Nature of Observation, as well as shorter works by Sally Promey, David Lubin, Griselda Pollock, Jules Prown, Michael Leja, Kathleen Pyne, Alexander Nemerov, and others.

Students will be responsible for regular response essays, leading one class discussion, and a research paper due at the end of the semester.


Nancy Noble (B.A. Wellesley College; M.A. Univeristy of Massachusetts, Amherst; Ph.D. candidate, University of Deleware) is visiting instructor of art history. Her essays on works by Eugene Benson, William Merritt Chase, William Morris Hunt, Chauncey Bradley Ives, Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow, Hiram Powers, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and Elihu Vedder appear in American Artists Abroad and Their Inspiration (New London: Lyman Allyn Art Museum, 2004).


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Martin Berger, MAN MADE: THOMAS EAKINS AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF GILDED AGE MANHOOD (University of California Press), Paperback

Sarah Burns, INVENTING THE MODERN ARTIST: ART AND CULTURE IN GILDED AGE AMERICA (Yale University Press), Paperback

Elizabeth Johns, WINSLOW HOMER: THE NATURE OF OBSERVATION (University of California Press), Hardcover

READING MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323

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