Popular Literature

To examine
basic concepts and representative texts for the study of popular literature,
this course focuses on narratives about art, artists, museums, forgeries,
thefts, and the cultures and histories of art. You’ll be introduced to serial
killer fiction, the detective novel, the war memoir, biography, romance,
documentary film, and children’s literature as they are deployed to attract
individuals who might not otherwise read or study in the area of the arts. In
thinking critically about the structure of this literature, its reading
practices, and the role of production and consumption, you’ll come to
appreciate ways in which popular literature about art can be embedded in
traditional ideas of ownership and culture, or work as serious critiques of
cultural, political, and wartime practices. The course will consider the
relationship between pedagogy and entertainment as well as the tensions between
safeguarding cultural heritage and policies of exclusion. You do not need
previous knowledge about art or art history to take this course. In fact,
individuals without specialized knowledge are precisely the readers that these
authors are seeking.

Readings will be chosen from the
following:  Matthew Bogdanos,
THIEVES OF BAGHDAD; Ulrich Boser, THE GARDNER HEIST: THE TRUE STORY OF THE
WORLD’S LARGEST UNSOLVED ART THEFT; 
Dan Brown, THE DA VINCI CODE;  Harriet Scott Chessman, LYDIA CASSATT
READING THE MORNING PAPER; Tracy Chevalier, GIRL WITH A PEARL
EARRINGSara
Houghtelling, PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION;  E.L. Konigsburg, FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL
E. FRANKWEILER; Jonathan Santlofer, THE DEATH ARTIST. If available,
the documentary films THE HERMITAGE DWELLERS and THE RAPE OF EUROPASelected essays will be available
for downloading through e-reserves of Hamilton Library. Assignments will
include two class presentations, two museum or gallery visits, a midterm, a
final exam, and two short essays.