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Stokstad’s Art History

Choose a work of art in Volume 2 of Stokstad’s Art History and write down its figure number. It will probably be helpful for you to read what Stokstad says about your work, but you shouldn’t need to do any additional research. This is meant to be a thinking-exercise, and should even be (I dare say) kind of fun.

1.-Why did you pick the work you did?

2.-If in the future you had the opportunity to write a research paper about the work you picked, what would you focus on?

3.-If you could ask the person who made the work three questions, what would you ask?

4.-Apply a Sociological/Marxist approach to your work. See page 11 of Donna Reid’s Thinking and Writing about Art History, within the content page of D2L course site. Using your particular work, what would a Sociological/Marxist interpretation focus on?

5.-Apply a Formalist approach to your work. See page 11 of Donna Reid’s Thinking and Writing about Art History, within the content page of D2L course site. Using your specific work, what would a Formalist interpretation focus on?

6.-If you were a curator of a themed exhibition that features your work, what kind of exhibition would you organize, what would be its theme (I am using the word “theme” in a very broad, “loose” and flexible way). Describe the exhibition in a couple of sentences, what would be its title?

7.-Name three other works within the text book that would fit within your themed exhibition. In a sentence, explain how these works fit into your overall scheme for your exhibition.

Questions 8-10.
In case you chose a “Non-Western” work from any of the following chapters (24, 25,26, 27, 28, 29) for questions 1-7, pair it up with a “Western” piece (i.e. an example of European or American art) from any of the following chapters (18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 30, 31, 32, 33). In case you chose a “Western” work for questions 1-7, pair it up with a “Non-Western” work. (For questions 8 – 10, if you want to, it is alright to choose a different work from the one you have been dealing with in questions 1-7).
8.-How are these two works similar visually?

9.-What do the two works in your pairing share in terms of how they are “used”? For this question it might be useful to read what Stokstad says about your works.

10.-What does your particular pairing tell you about the “issues” a and/or “problems” of using such categories as “Western” and “Non- Western” in the first place?

Sample Solution

1th Century Scotland was deemed a very much patriarchal society. There was a clear concept of hierarchy in society, which Shakespeare demonstrates at different points within the play. The witches have been said to represent women’s attempt to gain power in a society that’s set up to give power only to men. In Jacobean society, women would have been towards the bottom of the Chain of Being and certainly below men. Similarly to Lady Macbeth in act 1 scene 5, the Witches endeavour to make appear increasingly manly in an attempt to acquire more power. Shakespeare gives the characters of the witches beards (You should be women, yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so’) to symbolise this desire. Macbeth’s hallucinations, or visions present the impact of the supernatural. One example of a hallucination is when Macbeth asks, ‘Is this a dagger which I see before me’. The fact that Macbeth is seeing a floating dagger, in his mind is another demonstration of the supernatural. Here, the supernatural is essentially pressing Macbeth to murder Duncan. Shakespeare could be purposefully highlighting how evil the supernatural is as it is not only telling him to kill – but commit the act of regicide, which in the 11th Century, was possibly the worst crime anyone could commit, along with communicating with the supernatural. During Macbeth’s soliloquy he questions if the dagger is just ‘a dagger of the mind’ or a ‘false creation’. This causes Macbeth to question his own psychological state and whether the dagger is just a hallucination, caused the pressure of Duncan’s homicide and the pressure placed on him by his manipulative and cunning wife, Lady Macbeth. The audience at the time will have been shocked by this as Jacobean society saw king’s as almost holy since they respected the divine right of kings. Furthermore, here, Shakespeare is displaying the power that the supernatural has over events in the play since Macbeth has been driven to insanity by a supernatural prophecy.

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