Monday, August 23, 2004

A quick appeal

I'd like to solicit my reader(')s' aid in setting up my Honors Composition class.
For this class, I am having my students write about and conduct research on paintings. I choose the painters; they'll select images by one of those painters and discuss them in groups and in their writing. Many of these students--the vast majority, in fact--have not looked seriously at art, much less tried to write about it. I want them to LEARN, dammit, but the goal is not that they become art historians. Rather, I want them to try their hand at writing about something that they don't know much about and that will force them to pay attention to what they are observing, what they think about what they see, and why they think that way.
Here are the painters I've selected so far, in no particular order: Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer, de Hooch, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Manet, Andrew Wyeth, Hopper, Winslow Homer, Magritte, Degas, O'Keeffe, and Escher. As you can see, I've chosen, broadly speaking, "representational" artists that I think are both approachable and thought-provoking. I've left abstractionists out for this group, though I will offer students the option of choosing one if they wish.
Any response(s) you might have would be helpful. The class will meet tomorrow (Tuesday), so ideally I'd like to hear from you before then; but the list is by no means set in stone. Thanks in advance.
In other news . . .
The new place is slowly assuming an order. Our dog reminds me, at least, constantly that a cat's chief virtue as a pet is that, if it deems a human activity to be boring, it will leave you the hell alone. Every human activity, for our puppy, is enormously fascinating, and increases exponentially in its fascination level in proportion to the amount of quiet and concentration the human activity requires. We will have phone service--and, thus, internet access--today. Mrs. Meridian's old apartment remains to be cleaned, and at my place there are some dishes, pictures and clothes, and that's about it. Co-habiting has thus far been most pleasant, though not without the occasional misstep (living alone has affected us more deeply than we had been aware of). But so far, so good.
Once the semester gets under way, I'll be posting more regularly than I have been of late.
Thanks (again) for reading.
And a belated thanks to The Smartest Monkey, Quixotic Optimism, and AMakeshiftHeart for linking to this blog. I regard your links as votes of confidence in what is going on here (whatever that is); my hope is that those who find this blog via your links will find, and will continue to find, the occasional something of interest that will cause them to return once in a while.


Anonymous said...

I hate Manet and O'Keeffe. The others I am either neutral about, or tend towards liking. When I was in college I took two art history courses and we had to write research papers about a specific piece of art in each course. I couldn't decide what to do, so I allowed my teacher to choose for me (first I wrote about the Aphrodite of Knidos, and the second about the Marriage-a-la-Mode series by Hogarth). I think it enriched my learning experience because it wasn't something I would have chosen to write about and I probably wouldn't have been exposed to it otherwise.

That said, I loathe Manet and O'Keeffe. But the intent of art is to cause a reaction, good or bad, so maybe I'm responding appropriately. I love Dali and Kahlo, and I really think they should be added to your list simply because I like them.

So I started out planning to tell you that I thought you should let them write about whomever they wanted to write about, and then talked myself out of it. If you let them pick, you'd probably end up with so many identical papers about Vincent van Gogh anyway.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to tell you that that was me posting about this one too...sorry!


Anonymous said...

I would second the addition of Dalì as well as Magritte. Whilst I can see why you would want your students to look at more 'traditional' art first, I also think that for your more imaginative students, commentary on surrealism could produce some very intersting results. La condition humaine, for instance, or this one (my personal favourite).
That said, you should attempt to limit the number of people who choose the same artist. I assume you're doing that anyway, and of course you should try not to force anyone to write about an artist that does nothing for them.
I really like Turner, for instance, but I wouldn't have a clue what to write about any of his work. Although, if coerced into producing a commentary on one of his works, this one, say, or this one, I expect I could do it.

Sorry for rambling on like this. All I really wanted to do was suggest a few artists, and wish you luck with your class, as well as your cohabitation. Puppies probably aren't great when you're trying to move in, but they make up for it afterwards. What breed is he?

Oh, and hurry back to the HoL forum, dammit! ;)