IMPORTANT! Revised schedule of classes, reading and writing assignments

Please review carefully, very carefully, the following revised schedule of classes, events, reading and writing assignments, and due dates for papers. I will hold you responsible for following it to the letter! Also, please remember to submit $25 to me NO LATER THAN November 21st!

Seminar 1:  Revised Schedule of classes and assignments

Tuesday, November 5th            Discussion of Walter Benjamin: “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

Thursday, November 7th            Discussion of Frances Berenson, “Understanding Art and Understanding Persons” and Peter Schjeldahl, “Shapes of Things”

N.B. ALL students must post comments on the Berenson reading.

Tuesday, November 12th            Discussion of John Berger, Ways of Seeing, pages 1-81. The piece by Berger, “The basis of all painting and sculpture is drawing” I did not distribute, so do not worry about it.

Thursday, November 14th            11:00 a.m. Lehman Brass Quintet Concert in the Recital Hall of the Music Building, 3rd floor

12:30 p.m. Jose Roldan solo performance of his “Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned” in the Lovinger Theatre

Tuesday, November 19th             Discussion of John Berger, Ways of Seeing, pages 83-155. and Linda Nochlin,  “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” also Gould, pages 137-155.

N.B. ALL students must post comments on the Nochlin piece.

Thursday, November 21st              Discussion of Frank Sibley, “Aesthetic concepts” and  discussion of Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and 5 Pointz

N.B. ALL students must post comments on the Sibley piece

Tuesday, November 26th            NO CLASS MEETING

Wednesday, November 27th         As this is a Friday schedule we will use the opportunity to attend the Magritte exhibit at MOMA in the afternoon

Tuesday, December 3rd            Discussion of The Nutcracker versions by Hoffman and Dumas. Please bring the Penguin Books 2007 version translated by Joachim Neugroschel to class with you.

Tuesday December 3rd   N.B. Second writing assignment due. (Absolutely no late papers!)

 Thursday, December 5th            No Class Meeting.  Meet for The Nutcracker performance by the New York City Ballet at 7:00 p.m., David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center

Sunday, December 8th             Snapshot Event at Macaulay, 67th Street

Tuesday, December 10th            Review of The Nutcracker performance

Response Logs Due

William Kentridge video “Anything is Possible”


Thursday, December 12th            Summing Up & Final Paper Due

















| Leave a comment

Walter Benjamin

We’d like you to do something a little different for this reading, which we’ll discuss in class on Thursday, 10/31. Instead of posting questions online, post your comments and reactions before class – say, by Tuesday 10/29 – and read what your peers have written.

Then, come in to class with questions on which you’d like our discussion to focus.

You can find the reading, titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in the packet with Kramer’s “Classical Music and its Values.”


Pictures at an Exhibition

As you know, you’ll soon (Thurs 10/24) be attending a performance of the New York Philharmonic, including a setting of Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Before you head there, here are a few resources related to that piece, to help you frame the experience:

kennedy center mussorgsky screenshot
1) For program notes to accompany a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition, the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC put together a brief history. Among other things, they explain that the “pictures” were part of a show in memoriam of the artist Victor Hartmann, a friend of the composer, who died young. View the notes here:

hartmann pictures screenshot

2) Many of the images themselves have been lost, but notes were taken at the time as to what they looked like. Later historians have tried to collect what we do know and pair it with the images we still have from Hartmann. Here’s one such collection: Click on the individual photos to enlarge them.

| Leave a comment

Important Announcements: Reminders & Possible Schedule Changes

Next Tuesday, October 22nd, Seminar 1 meets at its regular time but in the Lehman Art Gallery. Please be sure to be on time as we will be getting a tour of the “Morphology of the Print” exhibit.

On Wednesday, October 23rd, we will attend the theatre performance at 3:30 in Lehman’s Studio Theatre. You must arrive a few minutes before 3:30 to get decent seats, but more important, they’ll give your ticket to someone waiting if you’re not there at the latest 10 minutes before showtime. If you have a conflict for the Wednesday show, which runs without intermission for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes let me know on Tuesday. You can then attend an alternate performance as the show runs from Thursday through Sunday. But check the times: Thursday & Friday at 7:30 p.m. I’m not sure for Saturday and Sunday.

On Thursday, October 24th our class is  supposed to meet in the Costume Shop, at our regular time, but I am attempting to change the date to the following Tuesday, October 29th. I will let you know on Tuesday. If we change our Costume Shop visit, we will move the Walter Benjamin reading to October 31st.

And last, remember that we have the performance at the NY Philharmonic on Thursday, October 24th at 7:30.

| Leave a comment

Questions for “The Nose”

Gogol’s Nose: Considerations



1.You have read Gogol’s Overcoat and his Nose.  Both stories are about loss. How do they differ? Tragic and comic?  

2.Gogol’s admirers called him a “realist” because of his social criticism. Is the Nose a realistic piece?  Is there criticism of society?

3.Dostoevsky said of himself and other nineteenth-century writers, “we all came out of Gogol’s Overcoat.”  He had in mind, it seems, the psychological realism of the great Russian novelists.  Can you see the roots of this realism in the Overcoat or the Nose?

4.How does Gogol portray the bureaucracy and bureaucrats of Nicholas I’s Russia in each story?

5.Shostakovich changed the setting of the Nose from the Russia of Nicholas I to the Russia of Stalin. How are these two settings comparable?  By modernizing the setting, was Shostakovich perhaps preserving something essential in Gogol’s story?

6.One critic (Simon Volkov) has concluded that Shostakovich turns Gogol’s hero (who is presented rather dispassionately) into a tragic figure and gives him a “heartbreaking, passionate aria.”  Kovalev in the opera is tortured by the establishment, punished and turned into a pariah.  Does this change the impact of Gogol’s original?

7.Look up (Google) this site on the artist William Kentridge (who created this production of the opera) and check out the essay “Serious Play.”  See the commentary on Shostakovich and the Russia of his time. 

8.There is a copy on this site of the libretto for the opera which the Russian writer Zamyatin helped write (author of the dystopian “We” – progenitor of Brave New World and 1984).  Is there an element of the anti-utopian in this opera?

9.Look up Russian constructivism and modernism. How does Shostakovich fit in this  early Soviet cultural milieu?

10.Considering the stories of the operas you know, does the plot of the Nose seem like opera material?  What should you expect at the Met?

11.For your amusement check out Russian animators’ attempts to retell the story of The Nose “Animated Gogol.”

R. Whittaker

| Leave a comment

the blog is open!

Did you know? If you want, you can post about any art you see in NYC: just add a new blog post, and check the box for the “Around NYC” category. To add images or sound to your post, click the “Add Media” button above the edit box.

Looking forward to hearing more about your aesthetic adventures!

| Leave a comment

schedule for week of 9/17

Confused about who’s writing what, when? Here’s what we wrote on the board at the end of class:


Readings involved

Post Questions


Talk in Class

Reflect after Class

Tues 9/17 Dewey and/or Anderson and/or Diamond group 1
(by 9/13)
group 2
(before 9/17)
group 3
(on 9/17)
group 4
(after 9/17)
Thurs 9/19 Williams and/or Cortázar group 2
(by 9/17)
group 3
(before 9/19)
group 4
(on 9/19)
group 1
(after 9/17

In other words, Tuesday’s class will be a catch-up / continuation of today’s, so if you’ve already done your blog task, you’re good to go. (Since there are no posts yet about Diamond, that can be an optional additional post — perhaps from the Reflect & Reconnect group, which in this case is group 4.)

We’ll begin moving the rotation forward for Thursday’s class. Group 2 will take the lead with Engage & Interrogate, posting early enough to give group 3 something to respond to.

Hope this helps!

| Leave a comment

Date change for Compass Rose

Hi, everyone,

The date of “The Compass Rose” in Ryan’s Pub is Thursday, September 19th, not the 24th as I had thought. Please update your calendars.

| Leave a comment

Welcome to the Class!

Announcements and updates will appear here.

| Leave a comment