Spring 2018

The Earthly Paradise

Listed in: Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-452  |  European Studies, as EUST-452  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-452


Natasha Staller (Section 01)


(Offered as ARHA 452, EUST 452, and SWAG 452)  Shortly after the Franco-Prussian War--when there were more bloody corpses in the streets of Paris than at the height of the French Revolution--Monet and some others invented Impressionism.  Rather than grab horror by the throat, as Goya and Picasso did in Spain, they created an earthly paradise.  To this end, some ecstatically immersed themselves in nature; others tapped the gas-lit pleasures of the demi-monde

We will revel in the different visions of Monet, Degas, Renoir, as well as of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse--the Symbolist and Fauvist artists who followed.  We will feast on the artists’ images, originals whenever possible (including Monet’s Matinée sur la Seine at the Mead). We will study their words--Van Gogh’s letters, Gauguin’s Noa Noa, Matisse’s “Notes of a Painter”--and analyze the ways in which they transformed their experiences into art.

There will be at least one required field trip, on a Friday.  This is a research seminar: each student will choose an artist, whose paradise she will study in depth, and share as a class presentation and substantial paper.

We will consider the centrality of beauty and joy in the creation of art and life.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Staller.

If Overenrolled: Priority to majors. If other slots are available, I will look for students from a range of years and disciplines, to maximize exciting discussions.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018