2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Anatomy of Abjection

Spring quarter

Faculty: Laura Citrin social psychology, women's studies, Shaw Osha (Flores) visual art

Fields of Study: aesthetics, art history, cultural studies, gender and women's studies, psychology and sociology

Spring: CRN (Credit) Level 30374 (16) Fr; 30376 (16) So - Sr  

Credits: 16(S)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


“These gestures, which aim to establish matter as fact, are all associated with making something dirty. Here is a paradox: a fact is more purely defined if it is not clean….the truth of things is best read in refuse.”-Roland Barthes on Cy Twombly

In Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror (1982), she introduced the concept of the abject, that which is situated outside the symbolic order, that which breaks down the boundaries between self and other, and that which is repellent and simultaneously desirous.  Utilizing the abject as a rich source for aesthetic and psychological inquiry into the body and embodiment, we will explore the ways that seemingly opposing dualisms—such as normal/dysfunctional, inside/outside, order/disorder, dirty/clean, raw/cooked, black/white, citizen/alien —function in our lives.  These dualisms will enable a discussion of such social psychological themes as cultural alienation, marginalization, stigma, disgust, purity, and moralization.  Through the study of art, visual culture, and art history, we will work to translate a larger narrative on these themes into material form through visual art.

The program will explore notions of epistemology (ways of knowing, ways of producing knowledge) and consider ways of seeing as a form of epistemology.  Utilizing a social psychological approach, we will explore connections between the psychology of the individual and the larger historical, cultural, political and social context in which she resides (looking and seeing broadly); and utilizing an aesthetic/visual culture approach, we will examine art and art history via close reading (looking and seeing very closely). 

In this interdisciplinary program, all students will learn the fundamentals in 2D representation and figure drawing, as well as the fundamentals of social psychological research methodology.  A final project will engage both practices/approaches by creating art that is informed by psychological research, and research that is informed by aesthetic/visual ways of seeing and knowing.

Potential readings include: Julia Kristeva’s, Powers of Horror; Craig Houser, Leslie Jones, Simon Taylor, and Jack Ben-Levi’s Abject Art: Repulsion and Desire in American Art; William Miller's The Anatomy of Disgust; social psychological experiments by Paul Rozin on disgust; Freud's Totem and Taboo; Sander Gilman's The Jew's Body; Mary Douglas' Purity and Danger; Victoria Bynum’s, Unruly Women; and Barbara Creed’s, The Monstrous Feminine.

Maximum Enrollment: 48

Required Fees: $150 for overnight field trip.

Preparatory for studies or careers in: the arts, cultural studies, and social sciences.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: No Required Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
March 21st, 2011 Fee added.
January 26th, 2011 New program added.