History and Ethics of Collecting

TuTh 4:00PM - 5:15PM / 203 Frick Fine Arts Building / CRN 29404

What is worth collecting? What motivates collectors? Spanning art, archeology and material culture from the ancient world to the present day, this course explores the tensions between private property and public heritage that shape the history of collecting. Subjects will include iconoclasm and the destruction of cultural artefacts, booty and looting in times of war, cabinets of curiosity, private and corporate collectors, deaccessioning, repatriation and the ethics of public collections. Particular attention will be paid to the upheavals of World War II, the aftermath of colonialism and the role of UNESCO in prohibiting the illicit trade in cultural property. Students will encounter historical, anthropological, and art historical approaches to these issues, and gain practical experience with collection management systems and provenance research. This class is taught concurrently with HAA 1025, an undergraduate core course for the minor in Museum Studies. Graduate students enrolled in HAA 2025 will be asked to attend class regularly with the HAA 1025 undergraduates, to engage in some mentoring activities in class, and to participate in collaborative assignments in small groups with undergraduates. There will also be ca. 5 additional meetings scheduled for graduate students only and spread across the semester; this time will be used for some additional discussion, and also to develop research strategies for graduate seminar papers.

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Shirin Asgharzadeh-Fozi Jones

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Course Category

Category B: Disciplines and Intellectual Movements

Course Year