Rutgers University IUDC Courses Spring 2013
Art History: Tapestry
Prof. Laura Weigert
This seminar provides an overview of tapestry and explores the methodological and theoretical issues the medium prompts. The historical focus of the seminar spans from the emergence of the tapestry industry in the fourteenth century to the height of the Brussels’ workshops in the sixteenth century. Through the analysis of contemporary documents and individual works, our goal will be to circumscribe and articulate the distinct characteristics and historical conditions of the medium, while isolating the ways in which it engaged with and paralleled those of other forms of artistic production in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Scheduled to coincide with Catherine Myers’ CHAPS seminar “Materials,” we will devote attention to debates relating specifically to the conservation and restoration of tapestries and visit the textile conservation labs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery in Washington. Our broader discussion of the medium will incorporate contemporary interpretive models of performance, spatiality, and intermediality. Students will be permitted to choose tapestries from later periods as the topic of the final paper.
1. Active particpation in every seminar meeting and excursion.
2. One presentation that provides a general introduction to the tapestry or tapestries under discussion this week.
3. One presentation that introduces the topics under discussion that week.
4. A final research paper, no longer than fifteen pages in length, preceded by a preliminary title, preliminary bibliography, and one-page abstract.
5. A twenty-minute presentation of this research project.
English: Sexuality and the Sacred, 1050-1610
Prof. Larry Scanlon
Alexander Library McDonnell Room
The current moment in an unsettled one for sexuality studies. After two decades of vibrant and expanding inquiry and debate, for many practictioners, queer theory and related approaches seem to have reached something of a crossroads. Has queer theory run its course? Has it lost its political edge? Has it achieved a common methodology? Should that even be a concern? Has its understanding of sexuality been too narrow, or too theoretically tendentious? Has it been too cavalier in relation to empirical standards?
This course will provide a comprehensive introduction to the problem of gender and sexuality in later medieval culture. It will also include some consideration of the continuities between medieval tradition and early modernity. Contrary to long-standing received opinion, medieval Christianity was intensely interested in sexuality. This course will attempt to chart that interest as broadly as possible. We will examine works in a wide variety of genres, including romance, lyric poetry, allegory and dream vision, penitential manuals, hagiography, spiritual autobiography, mystical and contemplative treatises, and biblical paraphrase. These works range from the classically canonical, such as The Pardoner’s Tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets; to the more recently canonized, female-authored, such as The Book of Margery Kempe and Aemila Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum; to the relatively obscure, such as Amis and Amiloun, and John Bale’s The Three Laws of Nature, Moses and Christ. We will also look more briefly at the language of te most importatn conciliar decrees, and ecclesiastical and lay legislation throughout this period.
The course will engage with the wealth of scholarship on this period of time, but it will also engage with the pressing theoretical questions I noted above. It will offer its inquiries in dialogue with the most influential recent contributions to queer theory, including Virginia Burrus’s Sex Lives of Early Saints, Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim, Lee Edelman’s No Future, Carla Frecerro’s Queer/Early/Modern, Elizabeth Freeman’s Time Binds, Lynn Huffer’s Mad for Foucault, and Karma Lochrie’s Heterosyncracies. We will be particularly interested in the tension between theoretical models and empirical evidence, and throughout we will be putting particular pressure on the status of historicism as a methodology and its relation to historical understanding. More specific topics of inquiry will includ ideals of Christian transcendence and their conceptula dependence on sex and gender; gender specific understandings of sin and the body; the reception of the Sodom story; the notion of natural law; identity formation and the construction of narrative; the penitential sources of medieval sexual theinking and their subsequent influence.
Requirements: ten page paper, response papers, and a presentation.
History: Colloquium in Women’s and Gender History
Prof. Leah DeVun
This colloquium considers how we understand the experience of embodiment. What happens to our basic beliefs about gender, race, and even humanity if the “naturalness” of the body is questioned? Readings will explore a range of themes, including sexual and racial difference, disability, disease, body modification, posthuman and immaterial bodies, human-animal boundaries, and other topics.