Intersections of Art History and Disability Studies: Disability in Modern Art

Summer Session A, 2017

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Course Details

University of California Los Angeles
Undergraduate Education Initiatives

This course seeks to provide a broad overview of the presence of disability and its various manifestations throughout various periods of modern art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It will introduce students to the historical development and fundamental intellectual and ethical issues associated with the representation of disability in the arts and humanities as well as investigate the complex relations between artistic and humanistic expression and this major facet of society and culture. Questions this course will ask include: How might we consider an alternative version of neoclassicism, postimpressionism, cubism, Dadaism and surrealism, abstract expressionism, and conceptual art through the lens of complex embodiment? What new information might be uncovered as we examine these popular movements of modern art through the lens of a marginalized identity category such as disability? This course will introduce a new methodology and language to build a new framework around how disability might fit into the discourse of modern art as an alternative way of knowing, and how disability informs modern art by way of a radical aesthetics of representation that challenges socio-cultural norms. We will also consider how disability aesthetics informs photography, performance art, outsider art and curatorial practices. Each week, we will examine readings from different periods of modern art in dialogue with writings about disability aesthetics to re-think art history as we know it.