Evolution of an idea or a discipline central to the humanities. Content varies from year to year. For University Honors Program students only. Offered: Sp.
Skin: A Cultural History through Art The course focuses on exploring various aspects of the cultural history of the skin through art. Being the largest human organ, the skin acts as an interface with the outside world. The course will consider prevailing concepts, theories and implications in biology, philosophy and the social sciences, as well as historic and contemporary interpretations in visual art. The main focus is on experiential learning by in-depth research and studio practice (art making project).
Course content: I. Brief overview of the anatomy and physiology of skin (lecture) II. Skin in Western thought (research and discussion) - Boundary metaphors (dichotomies of inside-outside, the body in the world, subjective- objective experience; permeability; penetration; history of anatomy: conventions and breakthroughs from Vesalius 1543 to the mid-1800s) - Skin as container: returning image of flayed skin in art: St Bratholomew, Marsyas) - Skin as canvas/ mirror: a site of inscription (identity, markings, skin color) III. Tactility - The largest sensory organ: experience of the world around (touch and tactility) - The body of the future: teletactility (Orlan and Stelarc, Stahl Stenslie)
Student learning goals
Have an overview of the most important cultural concepts and ideas both historic and contemporary. Be able to discuss these in class.
Develop in-depth research related to specific area of interest.
Attain familiarity with artists and artworks, and a toolkit to describe and interpret artworks.
Explore ideas through a making project.
General method of instruction
Lectures, discussions, site visits (Seattle Art Museum, Health Special Books Collection Library, Special Collections at the Henry Art Gallery), research and making assignment.
No previous experience with art making, biology, or philosophy is required.
Class assignments and grading
Research project: written analysis of chosen special topic (5 page paper) Short research project: presentation of a chosen contemporary artist Art making project: second skin
Participation: 35% Research paper: 25% Art making project: 20% Presentation: 10% Professional attitude and effort: 10%