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Heritage, Souvenir, Fetish: Theories and Practices of Collecting

ARHA 375
Spring 2018 not offered
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

The practice of collecting, stemming from the basic human desire to gather and possess objects, can be found in every society from ancient to modern times. Whether it is objects of cultural heritage, personal souvenirs, or fetish items, the act of collecting constitutes a concrete and tangible statement of ourselves and our relationship to the world while serving as a symbol of the society and times to which we belong. In this seminar, we will examine different traditions of collecting by studying examples from various historical periods in East Asia, Europe, and the United States. These collections range broadly from cultural relics to natural specimens and fine art. We will discuss our case studies in their specific sociocultural context and extract theories and practices commonly shared by them. For each case study, we will analyze the ways in which the collection was formed and organized and how various ideas and concerns were conveyed through collecting. We will explore critical issues, especially those regarding authenticity and forgery, materiality and collecting systems, individual identity and cultural heritage, the relationship between ruins and memory, and that between longing and fetishism. Building on the discussion of these issues, students will also investigate their own case studies. The goal of this seminar is to probe into the nature of collecting and to develop analytical skills to comprehend the significance of a given case.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA ART
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (CSCT)

Last Updated on JUL-22-2024
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