Course Detail

195:277: Avant-Garde: Dada to Punk Rock

This interdisciplinary course serves as an introduction into the various European avant-garde movements at the beginning of the 20th century and their reverberations in our contemporary culture. We will consider innovations in art, music, film, and literature, beginning with German Expressionism, followed by Italian Futurism, the international Dada movement, and French Surrealism through its late expressions in American Pop Art of the 1960s and Punk Rock of the 1970s. We will look at the various ways in which these movements discover the irrational, the pathological, the unconscious, the precarious and the abandoned as revolutionary and subversive gesture with the utopian potential of changing the world. Readings include literary works by Frank Wedekind, Fillippo Tommaso Marinetti, Gottfried Benn, Emmy Hennings, Hugo Ball, Guillaume Apollinaire, Kurt Schwitters, and André Breton; artworks by Marcel Duchamp, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, John Heartfield, and Andy Warhol; films by Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), Hans Richter (Ghosts Before Breakfast), Luis Buñuel (An Andalusian Dog); music by The Sex Pistols, The Misfits, David Bowie, and others. The coursework will be accompanied by several interdisciplinary guest lectures.

By the end of this course students will be able to: recognize pertinent characteristics of modernist artworks and relate them to a broader understanding of early 20th century culture and history; demonstrate an understanding of the structure, meaning, and form of vanguard artworks and their underlying intellectual concepts. Assessment will be based on participation in class and evaluation of assigned written work. Taught in English. No prerequisites. This course satisfies SAS Core Curriculum Requirements AHo and AHp.

Assignments: Class participation and regular blog posts (15%), 3 response essays, 5pp. each (45%); short presentation or online project (15%), final paper, 10-12pp. (25%)