Introduction to Art Worlds I - Draper Program

Introduction to Art Worlds I
Draper Program, New York University
Course Number: G65.1106 Fall 2007
Monday 6:20-8:20, 14 Univ. Place Map Rm.
Course Description
This course starts from the premise that any artwork or event is enabled by a range of
shared cultural assumptions as well as by concrete social, political and economic
relationships. In this first semester of the two-course sequence on art worlds, we focus
on the contexts of artistic production. We begin by surveying major strains of critical
thought on artistic production, and read seminal works on culture from the domains of
critical theory, the sociology of art and culture, art history, and anthropology. Our
approach will be multi-sited as well as multi-disciplinary, as we consider art worlds as
complex circuits of production, dissemination and reception.
The first part of the semester is devoted to refining our understanding of the shape and
dynamics of such cultural circuits, and considering methodologies for studying art
worlds. Of particular interest to us will be the variety of iterations of the relationship
between art and social and political engagement, especially in the works and analysis of
various avant-gardes. In the second part of the semester we will increasingly turn to
works that explore the complexity of specific art forms, including Abstract
Expressionism (Guilbaut) and Contact Improvisation (Novack).
In this course, students will develop their own techniques and approaches for
representing art worlds through writing. Throughout the course, students will be
expected to develop their own scholarly description and analysis of a particular art world
or art world concern. Our theoretical readings will provide shared vocabulary and
possible frameworks, while specific ethnographic and historical treatments will furnish
examples of possible approaches. The mid-semester in-class presentation of research
proposals and annotated bibliographies will afford each student an opportunity to refine
their project with the benefit of their colleagues, and the final research paper will be the
culmination of the project.
(Full syllabus available in the Draper office.)