Courses Offered by Professor La Follette

AH 500 - Greek Art: Power, Myth and Mystery 
Professor La Follette 

This course explores "the glory that was Greece", the flowering of Greek sculpture, painting, and architecture from roughly the eighth century to the third century B.C.E.  We will draw on ancient Greek literature (Homeric epic, lyric poetry, early histories and philosophy, Athenian tragedy) as sources for the intellectual and cultural background of the Greek artistic achievement. Two "hands-on" assignments will help us to grasp the powerful magic of early Greek art as well as the perfect grandeur of the Classical Age.  Over the course of the semester, we will also discuss several recent controversies that affect the way Greek art is presented to, and understood by, late 20th-century audiences today.

AH 551 - The Art of Rome: Power, Spectacle and Persuasion 
Professor La Follette 

This course explores the art and archaeology of the ancient Romans, and central themes of authority (personal and political), persuasion and spectacle. It examines the way the Romans broadcast the personal power of individuals through stone portraits, the politics of the Roman state in awe-inspiring architectural spaces, and the force of the psychological via intriguingly orchestrated illusionistic frescoes painted on the walls of Roman houses. Over the course of the semester, we will also debate how and why the Romans were so phenomenally successful in winning other peoples over to their cultural habits and way of life, and analyze the ways in which popular and scholarly views of this ancient civilization have shifted. 3 credits. No prerequisites.

AH 585H - Great Themes in the History of Art: The Role of Cybertechnology in Art History 
Professor La Follette 

This seminar is intended as a journey of exploration. It is aimed at art history students of all levels who seek a better understanding of the cybertechnologies of the late twentieth century, and their application to the field of art history, and who might even wonder about the possibility of future careers combining art history and technology.

To what extent can CD-ROMs help bring us closer to works of art than ever before? Can such resources as Websites be used to teach, and if so, how best? What are some of the pitfalls as well as the advantages? These are some of the questions we'll be examining over the course of the semester. The focus of this seminar is thus on the educational as opposed to commercial application of these technologies, and the degree to which we as art historians need to shape them to suit our needs.

Topical Graduate Seminars

AH 692A - An Introduction to Ancient Architectural History 
Graduate Seminar 
Professor La Follette 

The analysis of architectural monuments is sometimes considered more daunting than other areas of art history, despite the obvious importance of architecture as an artistic medium. This seminar is designed both to open up the field of architectural history for the uninitiated and to introduce novice and enthusiast alike to its delights.

Focusing on the ancient world, we will examine the newest, technological approaches to the study of architecture (such as computer modelling and virtual reconstructions in cyberspace) as well as more traditional methods of analysis (structural, aesthetic, semiotic, social historical). Topics will vary, depending on student interests, but will include at least some of the following: the language of Greek architecture and the (lost?) meaning of the classical orders, the Roman architectural "revolution" (was it or wasn't it?), the Roman house as `memory theater', the iconography of the Greek temple and Roman villa, the transmission of architectural ideas across time and space, and the exploration of ancient architectural "mistakes". No prerequisites. RECOMMENDED FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SHIED AWAY FROM THE STUDY OF ARCHITECTURE PREVIOUSLY AS WELL AS FOR ARCHITECTURE ENTHUSIASTS.

AH695A - Rome and Nature 
Graduate Seminar 
Professor La Follette 

Most classicists would concede that the treatment of the natural world (flora, fauna, sky and landscape) by the Romans presents a striking dicotomy.  On the one hand, the works of Roman poets and artists betray not only keen observation, but also great sensitivity to nature.  Their audience presumably responded: many Roman houses, such as those excavated at Pompeii & Herculaneum, featured gardens and some, illusionistic wall paintings with nature scenes of considerable sophistication.  Yet, on the other hand, most interpretations of imperial Roman architecture and sculpture tend to emphasize how much the Roman architects/artists have deliberately and systematically tried to manipulate nature to convey a properly Roman (i.e. a man-made) message. 

This seminar will address such questions as: is the dicotomy a matter of context (public vs. private) or date (early love vs. late suppression); or is the picture of such a striking polarity more of our own making?  Could it be that the Roman picture of nature is as subtle and inconsistent as our own?  How so?  In an attempt to come up with a series of definitions of the Roman treatment of nature, we will examine selected samples of Roman art and architecture, and explore such issues as the legend of the Romans as a farmer people, the use of nature as a metaphor for social status and political power, and the use of nature as a nostalgic vehicle to connote a golden age.

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