HAA 171X - Exoticism & Orientalism





Ewa Lajer-Bucharth

Tuesday, 12:00pm - 2:30pm


The course explores cultural and artistic engagement with the trope of the “other” in 18th- and 19th-century France, Britain, and elsewhere. Paintings, prints, travel and costume books, architecture, and design will be discussed in broader social and cultural contexts. While considering different interpretive paradigms, we’ll focus on the most recent approaches that depart from fixed binary oppositions and monolithic treatment of the “Orient” versus the “Occident.” Special emphasis will be placed on the distinction between the 18th- and the 19th-century modes of engagement with foreignness and cultural difference. Among the issues discussed are: the relation between art and colonialism, the politics and poetic of representation, curiosity, mediation, translation, cross-cultural practices, fashion, identity, sexuality, scale, visual geography, and space (including that of World Fairs). Artists include Delacroix, Gauguin, Gérôme, John Frederick Lewis, Liotard, Renoir, Matisse, Watteau, David Wilke, and many lesser-known painters, photographers, designers, and architects. We will work directly with the objects at the Harvard Art Museum Study Room and in the Special Collections Room at the Fine Arts Library. A class excursion will offer us an opportunity to study works of art in the rich collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.