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Early Modern Horror (16th-17th centuries)
Course code: HARTG010.
Why study horror? What can we learn about the past through the confrontation of horror, abjection, and obscenity? Departing from Nicolas Poussin's Landscape with a Man Killed by a Snake in the National Gallery, London, this course proposes a visual history of pathos and metamorphosis anchored around what Noel Carroll defined as 'art-horror' and what Linda Williams referred to as 'the frenzy of the visible'. Forcing ourselves to look with critical attention at sixteenth- and seventeenth-century representations of horror--works specifically designed to elicit fright, confusion, terror, pity, and/or pain from the spectator--this course will push beyond the staid clichés about the 'Renaissance' and 'Baroque' as periods of extraordinary beauty and order and turn instead to embrace a messier, murkier, experimental, and experiential history of early modern visual culture. The course will be structured around four themes: 1) Special Affects and the Moving Image (which will look at the tension between narration and affect, on the role of gesture and theatricality, and on the staging of the passions); 2) Mal'occhio (which investigates the unsettling animation of icons, portraits, ex votos and other images set into action through ritual and ceremony); 3) Ghost in the Machine (which addresses the authority of the senses and somatic experience, the question of the early modern cyborg or the boundary between anima and machina, and how the pre-medical body was conceputalised); 4) Science Fictions: Posthuman/Premodern (which turns to how images attempted to contain fear, terror, and anxiety in the face of the unknown in a liminal period when 'science' was still looked upon with much suspicion as a form of fiction).
Assessment: Two essays of c.4,000 words.
Course tutor: Dr Maria Loh
Time and location: Tuesday 11.00 -1.00
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