History of Art 8001 - ART, PAIN, CATHARSIS


Since the discipline’s formation, a persistent theme in art history regards the relationship between aesthetics and illness. Premodern images offer unique perspectives on historical attitudes towards aberrant conditions and bodily states, even offer specific training in empathy or the exorcism of symptoms. This course examines such topics from antiquity to the early modern period, covering Western European and Mediterranean settings. It will generate fresh approaches to the issue of premodern art and psychosomatic experience by focusing on the afterlife of the ancient Greek concept of catharsis or “purification.” Our focus will not be solely on the response or use of objects for such healing or therapeutic purposes but also on how artistic process relates to desires for catharsis as well. Adjacent issues include premodern theories of healing and matter, melancholia and embodiment, emotion and ekphrasis, and intersections between medicine and ritual.

Professor Ravi Binning

Class # 33334
MONDAYS 2:15 - 5:00