Fall 2010

Arts of Spain


Natasha Staller (Section 01)


We begin with Goya, from royal commissions to the harrowing “pinturas negras.” Our primary focus will be visual arts: Picasso’s paintings, Gaudí’s architecture, Almodóvar’s films.  We also will consider García Lorca’s poetry, Saura’s  flamenco music and dance, as well as religious rituals.  We will read very probably the most bizarre autobiography ever written (by Dalí.)  We will address the diversity of Spain’s political, linguistic and cultural centers, and consider how this complicates any discussion of nationalism or a Spanish “mentality.”  We will explore how gender was imagined, reading anthropological texts on machismo and primary tracts about powerful, dangerous women (brujas.)  We will address the importance of concepts like duende, the legacy of literary themes and characters (La Celestina, Don Quijote), as well as the “anxiety of influence” toward Golden Age giants like Velázquez and Zurbarán. Our period was marked by conflict: an empire lost, the defeat by Napoleon, civil war. Holy wars, anti-clerical insurrections, economic vicissitudes, all came into play, as did battles waged in nature’s realm, the cosmic order. We close with the artistic efflorescence of Spain’s nascent democracy. We will read closely, discuss rigorously.  Whenever possible, we will study original objects, including an array of prints at Amherst’s Mead Museum. We will meditate on the ways in which beliefs, fears and dreams were given form, as we revel in some of the greatest works ever made. There will be frequent response essays, a five-page paper, and a somewhat longer paper which will be an opportunity for students to explore what they found most exciting. No prior knowledge of Spanish or art is required. We will take a required field trip Friday, October 1, to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts--with its paintings by El Greco, Velázquez , Zurbarán, Picasso, and the most extensive collection of Goya images on paper outside of the Prado. Fall semester.  Professor Staller.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010