An investigation of how 21st-century responses to artworks by Rubens may relate to the development of historical understanding. The seminar will investigate the tensions between the specificity of Rubens’s artworks and other actions, and broader patterns and conventions of behavior in art, politics, and the western European social fabric more generally in the first half of the 17th century. Students will examine artworks associated with Rubens, including paintings, drawings, prints, and illustrated books in Harvard and Boston collections.
Working with museum collections as well as written documents, students will explore the interplay between particular objects and larger historical themes, such as colonialism, nationalism, scientific and ethnographic exploration, or expanding commerce. Employing a range of scholarly tools, emphasizing visual and material analysis and including archival research, students will help prepare materials for a future exhibit.
Administrative responsibilities prevent me from being a principal dissertation advisor, but I serve on PhD committees in several departments, including History, History of Art and Architecture, and Sociology.
With Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.People make history through the things they make, collect, exhibit, exchange, throw away, or ignore. Over four centuries, Harvard has not only amassed books and manuscripts but art works, scientific instruments and specimens, ethnographic objects, and historical relics of all sorts. By learning how and why particular things arrived in Cambridge and what happened to them when they got here, students will discover how material objects have shaped academic disciplines,...