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HSAR 693 01 (21186)  
Popular, Prosaic, Profane: European Art 1250–1550
Christopher Wood
W 3.30-5.20 LORIA 360
Spring 2013 
 
Hans Blumenberg argued that modern art did not open onto its full potential until it introduced subjective and self-realizing experience as its content. Adapting Husserl's concept of the life-world (Lebenswelt), Blumenberg suggested that we need to be open to the idea of "pre-critical" experiential reality if we are going to understand the momentum of art in the modern world. This seminar tests this hypothesis by taking as its topic the introduction of factual reality, the rhythms of everyday life, sensual and affective experience, and the lay, vernacular point of view into sacred art in Europe of the late middle ages and early modern period. One guiding text is Erich Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, which despite its fame has never had much resonance in art history. The seminar addresses the representation of domesticity, labor, and leisure; portraiture; anecdote and storytelling; "popular culture," "folklore," and "folk art"; satire and parody as secularizing forces; exoteric vs. esoteric religion; the boundary between sacred and profane. This is a research seminar; students are expected to conduct original research using primary sources.