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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2006

AMS 391 • The 18th Century American Artist

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28680 W
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
ART 3.432

Course Description

The seminar will explore the status of artists in colonial British America and the early United States. Who was an artist? What were the professional criteria and practices? What did it mean to be an American artist, at home or abroad? How did American political circumstances affect that discourse? What image of themselves did artists project (visual or verbal); how were artists represented by others; what were the stakes? We will consider leading artists (Smibert, Copley, West, Peale, Stuart and others), canonical works, and influential texts, as well as less prominent, but perhaps more representative, persons and practices. Readings will draw heavily on published primary sources (many now online, some on "open reserve" in a Fine Arts Library carrel or in the HRC), including correspondence and diaries; autobiographies and early biographies of artists; fictional representations; articles, anecdotes, and advertisements in newspapers and magazines; trade manuals and instructional literature; works of art theory, and anything else that sheds light on our subjects. We will not ignore the secondary literature, of interest especially for the historiographical and methodological perspectives such work provides.

Class members should be prepared to contribute actively to weekly seminar meetings, with periodic position papers on readings, discussion leading, and short presentations on the progress of their own researchto culminate in a final paper. Topics may be chosen from a group proposed by instructor or generated by participants; I will accept projects that exceed the circumscribed dates for group discussion (or even the defined national boundaries) if they can be meaningfully related to course content. Graduate students from other departments are particularly welcome and free to pursue research consistent with their disciplinary training. ARH Grad Students: Course will satisfy either "Modern" or Pre-Modern area requirements. For more information:


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