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Art, Dissent, Utopia

12:30 Seminar

What does a good society look like? Can art make the world a better place? This course explores the ways artists since the Renaissance have attempted to picture, and thus to shape, the ideal society. We will consider topics ranging from sixteenth-century depictions of Earthly Paradises and Arcadian hideaways, to French Impressionist visions of classless societies, to the utopian aspirations behind much modern abstract art. We will also study artists who tried to bring about social change through negative, shocking, and even violent portrayals. Movements from Berlin Dada to British Punk have sought to expose political and social corruption by making art that leaves its audience disillusioned and hungry for change. Students will examine a wide variety of artistic mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, photomontage, theater, film, and architecture; chief among the themes in the course will be the relationship between an artist's medium and his or her social message. This course connects to chapter II: Private Life and Civil Society and to chapter III: Politics, Law & Citizenship.