CLST 006-301 | Inescapable Classics: Reimagining Antiquity Through the Visual Arts
Ralph Rosen | Vartan Gregorian Professor of the Humanities
The legacy of Greco-Roman traditions in Western culture is everywhere apparent. Whether in the realm of political or legal systems, philosophical and scientific discourse, mythological dreamscapes, psychology, literary genre or aesthetic theory, the contribution of Greek and Roman culture is routinely invoked sometimes to admire, other times to lament. It forms a highly complex narrative of reception and influence, shaped by historical contingencies, individual talents and temperaments, and continually shifting conceptions of what these contributions actually were. This seminar will trace the evolution of the Classical tradition, in all its varied and inconsistent manifestations, primarily through the visual arts. It will be a museum-based course, organized around four important Philadelphia museums or collections: (1) The Penn Museum (for ancient artifacts), (2) Penn s manuscript collection within van Pelt Special Collections (where we will examine original manuscripts of the Medieval and Renaissance periods that transmit Classical culture), (3) The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and (4) The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, both of which house many examples of painting and sculpture deeply informed by the Classical tradition.