Special Course Descriptions
American Studies



ART 394-10/AMS 394-10 American Pictures
Adam Goodheart and Donald McColl, instructors

This special-topics seminar will explore American history and culture by closely examining a series of images from American art and visual culture, spanning more than 300 years. Together, we will look at how portraits and landscapes, photographs and prints, history paintings and national monuments, can serve to illuminate questions of politics, racial identity, human interaction with nature, and the artist's role in society, to name a few examples. Students will be encouraged to develop their own ideas about the images on view, informed by readings from relevant literary and art-historical texts, short sound recordings and film clips. The idea for this course is inspired by the American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by Washington College in partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The American Pictures series pairs great works of art with leading figures of contemporary American culture. Each lecture features an eminent writer, critic, historian or artist who unravels the meaning behind a single, powerful image - revealing, in the process, how artworks inspire creative minds in many different fields. As part of the class, students will travel together to Washington, D.C. to attend this year's three "American Pictures" lectures, and to meet with curators and directors of the two Smithsonian museums.