HISTART 216 - Contested Spaces: Art, Architecture, Politics
Section: 001
Term: FA 2019
Subject: History of Art (HISTART)
Department: LSA History of Art
Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course unpacks spaces of contestation and encourages students to think critically about how specific sites and objects have participated in the construction of class, race, and gender. Building on the histories of art and architecture, the course proposes the category of“space” as an alternative to the geographic, aesthetic, and analytic categories that have shaped the canons of these two disciplines. The readings address the architecture of those excluded from these canons, while problematizing agency and authorship in art and architectural history. Through close attention to the way objects and sites structure social relations and index broader networks of power, economy, and governance, we use a relational approach to world history.

Each lecture addresses a type of “space” central to the formation of modernity in the Americas. We discuss these spaces by way of student presentations on objects and sites from different historical times and geographical locations. The course first introduces notions of forum, commons, and protest through a theoretical discussions, a historical overview, and uses this introduction as a primer to the course’s own policies of inclusion and and participation. The first part of the course focuses on notions of otherness as they breach public and private spheres. We start in 1492, a moment of encounter that generated contacts, trade and exchange and led to the construction of modernity and its myths. We trace the networks of colonial trade and slave exploitation, connecting distant sites and reciprocal influences. We explore the kitchen as a source of both community and segregation, and the closet as a metaphorical construction of secrecy and forbidden sexuality. In the second half, we turn to institutional spaces, following the critique of Michel Foucault and Tony Bennett with more recent discussions on the prison industrial complex. Here we insist on a non-western-centric history of pedagogical spaces and objects, and broaden the concept of prison as a territory of confinement and segregation. The use of a core spatial construct as the base of each lecture enables the course to range broadly within a long date span while also offering students concrete, in-depth knowledge of key objects and sites, concluding with a contemporary point of view. By examining these contested spaces, we challenge canonical narratives and reveal the fundamental role of class, race, and gender struggle in the construction of modernity.

*This course was designed by FAAC (Feminist Art and Architecture Collaborative: Tessa Paneth-Pollak, Olga Touloumi, Martina Tanga, Ana María León) and has been modified by Ana María León for use at the University of Michigan

HISTART Distribution Requirements: D. Europe and the US, E. Latin America, 4. Modern and Contemporary

Intended Audience:

Undergraduate students interested in the ways in which space and its representation informs, enforces, and potentially upends difference in race, class, gender, and body ability.

Class Format:

Lecture in combination with small group discussions, class conversations, and website engagement with parallel courses in other institutions.

HISTART 216 - Contested Spaces: Art, Architecture, Politics
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 1:00PM - 2:30PM
002 (DIS)
M 3:00PM - 4:00PM
003 (DIS)
Tu 11:00AM - 12:00PM
004 (DIS)
Tu 12:00PM - 1:00PM
005 (DIS)
M 4:00PM - 5:00PM
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