This immersion provides students with the opportunity to study the American arts through a variety of disciplines, including painting, architecture, film, photography, music, theatre, and mass media. Each course presents American art within the context of the broader current of American life, including its history, philosophy, social, and cultural traditions.
Notes about this immersion:
Students must take at least one course from each group.
The plan code for American Arts Immersion is AMARTS-IM.
Curriculum for 2023-2024 for American Arts Immersion
A survey of the style and meaning in American paintings from the colonial limners, through the 19th and 20th centuries, to contemporary artists. It centers on what distinguishes painting of the colonies and of the United States from the European counterpart. Lecture 3 (Fall).
In this course we examine representations of queer sexuality in art, film and popular culture beginning in the repressive 1950s, followed by the Stonewall Riots of 1969. We situate the birth of gay liberation in the U.S. in the context of the civil rights struggles, feminism and the anti-war movement. We turn to the work of Andy Warhol that looms over the post-war period, challenged subsequently by the onset of AIDS and the work of General Idea and Act-Up, on the one hand, and the more graphically provocative work of Robert Mapplethorpe, on the other. We examine the diversification of the queer community as transgendered identity asserts itself and the opening of popular culture to issues of diverse sexual identities. We explore expressions of queer sensibility outside of North America and Europe. We turn finally to the issue of gay marriage, both in the U.S. and abroad. Lecture 3 (Spring).
American Film of the Studio Era
This course examines the history and aesthetics of the motion picture in the United States between the 1890s and the early 1960s; emphasis will be placed on the analysis of both the work of major American filmmakers and the development of major American film genres during the Classical Hollywood Studio period. Among the filmmakers to be studied are Griffith, Chaplin, Hawks, Ford, Capra, Welles, Curtiz, Wilder, Donen, Sirk, Ray, Hitchcock, and Kubrick. Genres to be covered include the melodrama, silent comedy, screwball comedy, western, thriller, film noir, newspaper film, and the gangster film. The films will be studied within the context of contemporary cultural and political events, and will be discussed from several viewpoints, including aesthetic, technical, social, and economic. The ways in which gender and class are constructed through the movies will also be a major focus of study. Lecture 3 (Annual).
American Film Since the Sixties
This course examines the history and aesthetics of the motion picture in the United States since the late 1960s, when the classical studio era ended. Emphasis will be placed on the analysis of both the work of major American filmmakers and the evolution of major American film genres between 1967 and 2001. Among the filmmakers to be studied are Kazan, Cassavetes, Penn, Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Allen, Seidelman, Lee, Burton, Altman, Tarantino, Coen, and Lynch. The course will consider the evolution of such traditional Hollywood genres as the gangster film, the romantic comedy, and the Hollywood movie, study the development of new, blended genres, investigate the rise of the blockbuster, explore the rise of the Independents, and follow the aesthetic changes that occurred since the 1967. The films will be studied within the context of contemporary cultural and political events, and will be discussed from several viewpoints, including aesthetic, technical, social, and economic. The ways in which gender, race, and class are constructed through the movies will also be a major focus of study. Lecture 3 (Spring).
This course examines the ways in which culture, ethnicity, languages, traditions, governance, policies and histories interact in the production of the visual experience. We will approach the campus of RIT and the city of Rochester and their various urban spatial forms as image experiences, subject to interpretative strategies and the influence of other discourses. We will wander the well-traveled and the unbeaten paths, participating in and interrogating a wide range of our campus' and city's treasures and embarrassments, secrets and norms. In addition to these field trips, we will be reading from literature and cultural studies, as well as viewing films, advertisements and websites, and possibly attending theatrical and music performances or sporting events. Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course investigates visual culture and its imagistic response to life's crises. Problems of identity and identification will be explored and confronted through works of photography, painting, mixed media, new media and film of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Beginning with the late 19th Century vogue for images of hysterical women, crippled black-sheep family members and dead loved ones (as corpses and as ghosts), we then move on to consider the last century's fascination with pain and suffering, disease and violence, struggle and survival and then the 21st century's emphasis on terrorism. Specifically, we will focus on the gendering of images and imaging as disturbing pictures work to defy the formal and theoretical distinction between private and public, personal, and collective experience and manage the often conflicting responsibilities to self, family, religion, race, nation, and society. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Art of Dying
This course explores the experience of dying a profoundly human and universal experience as it is represented by artists who are themselves facing immanent death. The unique and deeply personal process of each dying artist is crucially informed by social, cultural and historical as well as artistic contexts. The course will focus primarily on visual artists and writers living with and dying of disease - such as AIDS, cancer and cystic fibrosis as well as mortality and age. Topics such as aesthetics, artistic media, representation, grief, bereavement, illness, care-giving, aging, and the dying process will be considered within the context of issues of race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and community values. Some of the artists covered will be Jo Spence, Hannah Wilke, Elias Canetti, Bob Flanagan, Herve Guibert, Tom Joslin, Laurie Lynd, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Salomon, Keith Haring, Frida Kahlo, Bas Jan Ader, Ted Rosenthal, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Keith Haring, Eric Steel, Derek Jarman, Eric Michaels, and David Wojnarowicz. We will also explore some of the critical theory of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Elaine Scarry, Susan Sontag, and Ross Chambers. Lecture 3 (Spring).
American Popular & Rock Music
This course examines the history and elements of popular and rock music in the United States from the end of the 19th century to current times. Emphasis will be placed on the music that was written and performed after WWII. Students will be introduced to various styles of this genre as well as an introduction to those musical elements necessary to define a rudimentary analysis of the music. Among the composers and performers to be studied are early Minstrel performers, Louis Armstrong, Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Blues musicians, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, R and B musicians, country and western, Elvis Presley, Motown, Ray Charles, folk, Jimi Hendrix, disco, punk, metal, grunge, and pop. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Survey of Jazz
This course will survey the development of American jazz music, highlighting representative composers and performers and significant works. Particular attention will be drawn to the multi-racial influences on the creation of jazz music and its relationship to American culture as a whole. Lecture 3 (Fall).
American Musical Theatre
This course is a survey of the development of the American Musical Theater, highlighting representative works, composers, librettists and performers of both the cultivated and vernacular traditions. It is further designed as an appreciation course, fostering the development of a greater appreciation for all types of stage music and the ability to better evaluate the quality of a work, the performance, and the performers. Lecture 3 (Spring).
* Students must complete one course from the Visual Culture list and one course from the Performing Arts list. The third course may be taken from either list.