DEMOCRACY & ART
Claremont McKenna College
Prof. Martha Bayles
THE REQUIRED READINGS FOR THIS COURSE ARE ALL FOUND IN THE COURSE PACKET
AVAILABLE AT HUNTLEY BOOKSTORE
Through a broad range of readings, films, and other media, "Democracy
& Art" will explore the following questions: What is artistic excellence?
Is it compatible with democratic ideals of social equality and justice?
Are modern media and cultural diversity good or bad for the arts?
What is taste: On what basis do we judge a work (a film, novel, song, painting,
video game, poem) good or bad? Are some arts more democratic than
others? How does American popular culture compare with the ideologically-based
"people’s art" of 20th-century totalitarian regimes? Is there such
a thing as a "democratic aesthetic"?
To promote a fruitful discussion, you are required by MIDNIGHT BEFORE EACH CLASS MEETING to e-mail me 1-3 single-spaced pages of notes on the reading to be discussed in class the next day. The most reliable method is to write notes as a document (so you can save them), then send them as an e-mail message. YOU MUST BE ABLE TO USE E-MAIL TO TAKE THIS COURSE.
By "notes" I mean a serious effort to wrestle with the substance of the reading, sometimes in response to questions provided by me. I do not mean free association between minor aspects of the reading and other topics you find more congenial to think about. The goal is to relate the readings to larger themes, but this is possible only after grasping the substance.
The style can be informal. Use the first person and casual language if it aids understanding. Quote the reading but not at length. Find your own words. You must proofread your notes. Errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and mechanics will affect your grade. The notes will be graded and handed back after each class.
During several class sessions I will call on one or two students to
present their responses to works of art. You will be notified in
advance when it is your turn.
You may choose the work yourself. It can be anything: a film, novel, song, painting, video game, dance piece, etc. You may quote from it or otherwise share part of it with the class, but only briefly. The point is to articulate as fully as possible your reasons for making the value judgment you do – in other words, to explore the workings of your own taste.
Each presentation must do the following (though not necessarily in this order):
1) Give background information about the tradition, medium, or genre
from which the work comes.
2) Give background information about the artist or artists.
3) Characterize the audience for the work – or if you are not sure, offer an educated guess.
4) Describe the work in detail.
5) Explain why the work stands out from all similar works, why it is special.
6) Sketch any relevant personal connection you may have with the work.
After each presentation, you will be expected to field questions from me and your classmates – so be ready!
ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION
I will take attendance and mark down for absence and lateness. Your participation in discussions and “taste tests” will count toward your final grade.
The final will be take-home and involve writing short formal essays on assigned questions. You may quote the readings, but briefly – no more than 5 lines per quotation. The essays must be proofread, typed and double-spaced, with proper citations for all references and quotations. Errors in spelling and grammar will be marked down.
You may use your class notes as a reference for the exam, but do not reproduce your notes as a substitute for answering the exam questions. I will consider that plagiarism.
ALL WRITTEN WORK MUST BE HANDED IN ON TIME. I do not give extensions except under unavoidable circumstances. Late papers not given an extension will be penalized one grade level per 12-hour period. That means that if an "A" paper due at midnight misses the deadline but comes in before noon the next day, it will be graded "A minus." If it comes in before midnight that evening, it will be graded "B plus.” And so on.
I take very seriously academic honesty and intellectual property rights. Cheating, plagiarism, and misuse of sources will result in a failing grade and referral to the Academic Standards Committee.
GRADES WILL BE BASED ON:
50% Notes on Reading
30% Attendance, Participation, Taste Tests
20% Final Take-Home Exam
CLASS 1 / Jan. 22 – Introduction and Overview
CLASS 2 / Jan. 29 – Aristocracy and Democracy
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, JAN.28
Stuart Miller, “Hierarchy” and “Tradition and Character,” in Painted in Blood: Understanding Europeans, pp. 71-116
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Volume II, Part i, chs. 9-19; and Part iii, chs. 1-2 and 5), pp. 561-567, 572-580, 454-458, and 465-493
CLASS 3 / Feb. 5 – Mimesis or Catharsis?
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, FEB. 4
Plato, Republic (Books VII and X), pp. 193-197 and 277-291
Aristotle, Poetics, pp. 29-69
(NB: p. 69 got included in next week’s Poetics reading)
CLASS 4 / Feb 12 – Classicism: Ancient Rules for Art
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, FEB. 11
Plato, Republic (Book III), pp. 63-82
Aristotle, Poetics, pp. 69-141
Extra credit reading: Alexander Pope, Essay on Criticism
CLASS 5 / Feb 19 – Romanticism: Breaking the Rules
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, FEB. 18
H. G. Schenk, “The Revolt against the Eighteenth Century,” in The Mind of the European Romantics, pp. 1-45
Friedrich Schiller, “Concerning the Sublime,” from Essays, pp. 70-85
CLASS 6 / Feb 26 – The Electronic Media
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, FEB. 25
Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” in Understanding Media, pp. 23-35
W. Russell Neuman, “The Psychology of Media Use,” in The Future of the Mass Audience, pp. 79-114
CLASS 7 / March 5 – Commerce
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, MARCH 4
Erich Fromm, “Alienation,” in Marx’s Concept of Man, pp. 43-58
Karl Marx, “Alienated Labor,” in Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man, pp. 93-109
Peter Landesman, “A 20th-Century Master Scam,” in New York Times Magazine (July 18, 1999)
CLASS 8 / March 12 – Does Art Serve Power?
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, MARCH 11
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Volume I, Part ii, ch. 6), pp. 250-256
Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author” and “From Work to Text,” in Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, pp. 1466-1475
Michel Foucault, “From Truth and Power,” in Norton Anthology of Theory
and Criticism, pp. 1667-1670
**** SPRING BREAK (MARCH 14-25) ****
CLASS 9 / March 26 – “Mere” Entertainment
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, MARCH 25
Robert C. Toll, “The Emergence of a Common Man’s Culture,” in Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-Century America, pp. 3-23
Gary Giddins, “The Entertainer as Artist,” in Satchmo, pp. 26-47
Steven Watts, “The Entertainer as Artist: Sentimental Modernism” and “Of Mice and Men: Art Critics and Animators,” in The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life, pp. 101-142
CLASS 10 / April 2 – Modernism and the Avant-Garde
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, APRIL 1
Roger Shattuck, “Turn of a Century” and “Four Men: Four Traits,” in The Banquet Years, pp. 18-42
Clement Greenberg, “Avant Garde and Kitsch,” in Art and Culture, pp.
**** SATURDAY, APRIL 5 ****
TRIP TO NORTON SIMON MUSEUM, PASADENA
BUS LEAVES 9:15 AM – PRIVATE TOUR 10-11:30 AM – FOLLOWED BY LUNCH
“FOUR KINGS: GALKA SCHEYER AND THE BLUE FOUR”
**** TUESDAY, APRIL 8 ****
RECEPTION AND DINNER BEGINS 5:45 PM
LECTURE BEGINS 6:45 PM
VITALY KOMAR & ALEX MELAMID: “Making a Living Making Fun of Art”
CLASS 11 / April 9 – Totalitarian Art in Soviet Russia
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, APRIL 8
Richard Grenier, “Eggs for the Soviet Omelette: The Russian Avant-Garde of the 1920s,” in Capturing the Culture, pp. 291-294
Boris Groys, “The Russian Avant-Garde: The Leap Over Progress” and “The Stalinist Art of Living,” in The Total Art of Stalinism, pp. 14-74
Class visitors: Komar & Melamid and Professor Donal B. O’Sullivan
**** WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16 ****
NO CLASS – FILM NIGHT
THE ARCHITECTURE OF DOOM
DOCUMENTARY ON NAZI CULTURE BY PETER COHEN
CLASS 12 / April 23 – Totalitarian Art in Nazi Germany
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, APRIL 22
George L. Mosse, “Hitler’s Taste,” in The Nationalization of the Masses, pp. 183-206
Jost Hermand, “Art for the Popular: The Nazi Concept of a Truly Popular Painting,” in High and Low Cultures, pp. 36-56
Class visitor: Professor Jonathan Petropoulos
Extra credit readings: Robert C. Toll, “The Evolution of the Minstrel
Show” and “Puttin’ on the Mask: The Content of Black Minstrelsy,” in Blacking
Up, pp. 25-57, 234-263; and Phyllis Rose, “Savage Dance,” from Jazz Cleopatra:
Josephine Baker in Her Time
CLASS 13 / April 30 – The Transgressive Impulse
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, APRIL 29
Roger Shattuck, “The Divine Marquis,” in Forbidden Knowledge, pp. 227-299
Patrick J. Kiger, “Snorkling in the Cesspool: A Search for the Bottom in the Rising Tide of Vulgarity,” in Los Angeles Times (August 20, 2000)
CLASS 14 / May 7 – Profiles in Democratic Art
NOTES ON THESE READINGS DUE MIDNIGHT TUESDAY, MAY 6
Ralph Ellison, “The Little Man at Chehaw Station,” in Going to the Territory, pp. 3-38
Isaiah Berlin, “The Pursuit of the Ideal,” in The Crooked Timber of Humanity, pp. 1-19
FINAL EXAM (TAKE HOME)
DUE 5 P.M. WEDNESDAY, MAY 14
****HAVE A GREAT SUMMER****