Thursday, August 15, 2013

Classics 2B03: Greek Art and Archaeology Sneak Preview

Viewing the Greek Art and Archaeology (Classics/Art History 2B03) class list on Avenue to Learn recently, I was pleased to see a number of familiar names and an equal number of names that will soon be attached to familiar faces. Classics 2B03 provides an overview of Greek Art and Archaeology from the Bronze Age through to the Roman Period; it is designed to provide familiarity with the material culture and specific cultural contexts of Ancient Greece. The class focuses primarily on the Archaic and Classical periods (ca. 700-323 BC), a time that corresponds with the rise and floruit of the Greek polis, and the age that witnessed the most rapid and notable developments in architecture, sculpture, coinage, and pottery.

Along the way, one of the themes of the course will be the expansion of the Greek world and the establishment of overseas settlements. We will examine the context of the foundation, the early development and the separate internal development of western Greek art and architecture. We will also explore the forces that brought the Greeks into contact with other cultures around the Mediterranean, including the Phoenicians, Persians, and Etruscans.

We will dedicate class time to that fateful year 480 BC and the bridge from the Archaic to the Classical period and the attendant political, social, religious, and artistic shifts that mark this very significant division. The High Classical period is dominated by the Periklean Acropolis, and I think I will be able to put together a Powerpoint or twelve on the topic. For the Hellenistic period, I am particularly interested in investigating new foundations and look at the pre-planned, monumental, designs as a new direction in Greek urbanism.

The goals of the course are 1) to introduce students to the major monuments of Greek antiquity and consider the context in which they were created, 2) to introduce main scholarly issues and current methodology in Greek Art and Archaeology, and 3) encourage the application of new approaches to this material.

There is one more particularly noteworthy change to the class and that is the adoption of a new textbook: Richard Neer, Greek Art and Archaeology, c. 2500-c. 150 BC, New York, Thames and Hudson, 2011 (available from the McMaster Campus Store soon). Prof. Neer’s book is a thoroughly modern textbook on Greek Archaeology that provides a broad cultural context in addition to insightful analyses of the artifacts themselves. I am looking forward to getting your feedback on the text and exploring all of Greek Art and Archaeology with you.