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Introduction to "HUMAN 20 - A Colloquium in the Visual Arts"

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Thursday, August 17, 2023 10am to 11am


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Thursday, August 17, 2023 10am to 11am

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Learn more about why you should take "HUMAN 20 - A Colloquium in the Visual Arts" this Fall. Hosted by the head instructor, Professor Yukio Lippit.

HUMAN 20 is an introduction to the study of the humanities through major works of art and architecture from around the world, taught by five members of the Harvard faculty. The course was specially created for students focusing on the humanities or interested in a wide-ranging introduction to works of art and architecture and the many issues they embody.

Each week immerses students in the cultural and imaginary world of an artwork, whether it be a Japanese woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai, Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas, Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the portrait sculptures of the Ife Empire, the scientific illustrations of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard’s Self-Portrait, or the animal locomotion photography of Eadweard Muybridge. Each week, an artwork is introduced during a 75-minute lecture. Then, students attend a weekly looking lab, where they develop skills of visual observation, analysis, and description. The looking lab is followed by a discussion section where ideas from the lecture, looking lab, and selected readings will be explored further.

Humanities 20 teaches students what it means to engage deeply with an artwork, and how to think through that artwork about large questions. The course will consider: the relationship between race, visuality, and social justice; modernism; monuments and cultural memory; encounters between cultures; the relationship between art and science and time; artworks and the expression of religious beliefs; and how different cultures have thought about life, death, and the beginning of the world. The readings emphasize engagement with primary source texts which include artists’ statements, manifestoes, art criticism, religious narratives, and history.

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