A Colloquium in the Visual Arts

, University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (Japanese, 1760–1849), Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei), Edo period, c. 1831. Woodblock print; ink and color on paper. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Robert Gregg Stone, 1949.146.24.

University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

Humanities 20 is an introduction to the study of the humanities through major works of art and architecture from around the world: everything from ancient Persian sculpture to modern stop-motion photography. The course is taught by six members of the Harvard faculty: Jinah Kim, Joseph Koerner, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Yukio Lippit, Jennifer Roberts, and David Roxburgh.

Each week, the students immerse themselves in the cultural and imaginary world of a single artwork. Following an expansive lecture on the work, the students gather in this gallery for “looking labs,” in which they develop skills of close observation, description, and visual analysis.

The course teaches students what it means to engage deeply with an artwork, and how to think through an artwork about big questions in human culture: social justice, gender, modernity, religious belief, cross-cultural encounter, the nature of time, the relationship between art and science, and how different cultures have thought about life and death and the beginning and end of the world.

The University Teaching Gallery serves faculty and students affiliated with Harvard’s Department of History of Art and Architecture. Semester-long installations are mounted here in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate courses, supporting instruction in the critical analysis of art and making unique selections from the museums’ collections available to all visitors.

This installation is made possible in part by funding from the Gurel Student Exhibition Fund and the José Soriano Fund. Modern and contemporary art programs at the Harvard Art Museums are made possible in part by generous support from the Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., Fund for Modern and Contemporary Art.