A course that explores how the languages of text and image can interrogate as well as clarify each other. We will focus on three key bodies of work: the paintings of Vermeer; a massive graphic novel by Charlotte Salomon, a 22 year old woman who died at Auschwitz; and Alfred Hitchcock's revision of his novelistic source for âPsychoâ.
ENGL 377: ART & LITERATURE
Instructor: Edward Snow email@example.com
Materials List: Paintings of Vermeer, ed. Wheelock (handed out in class)
Charlotte Salomon, Life or Theater ( " " " " )
Visits to museums: Menil and MFA
In this course we will spend lots of time looking closely at a few things: paintings by Vermeer, sculpture by Degas, a film by Hitchcock, and a fantastically moving and complex “autobiographic graphic novel” by Charlotte Salomon, who was murdered at age 23 at Auschwitz. Our goal will be a detail-oriented attention in which thought and feeling intertwine, and in which "meaning," instead of clamping down on the work of art, shimmers at its edges. It will feel a little like Zen: we'll try to slow down, become patient, bring the right side of the brain into play.
We'll also be concerned with the strange fascination visual experience holds for language: much of the "literature" part of the course will consist of writing about art, by poets and fiction writers as well as critics. The course, accordingly, will be writing-intensive, and encourage various experiments in the way description can be a form of thinking. There will be weekly short assignments as well as three longer papers (but no midterm or final).
No prior background in either art or film is required or needed for this course: all I would ask is that you be unafraid in your responses.
P.S.: There will also be a field trip: on a Thursday afternoon we’ll visit the Menil Museum, then eat at the café there (no charge!), then drive over to the MFA for a look at some of their best pieces there.