Love at First Sight: Visual Desire, Attraction, and the Pleasures of Art (ARTHIST 119, ARTHIST 319, FRENCH 349, ITALIAN 149, ITALIAN 349)
Why do dating sites rely on photographs? Why do we believe that love is above all a visual force? How is pleasure, even erotic pleasure, achieved through looking? While the psychology of impressions offers some answers, this course uncovers the ways poets, songwriters, and especially artists have explored myths and promoted ideas about the coupling of love and seeing. Week by week, we will be reflecting on love as political critique, social disruption, and magical force. And we will do so by examining some of the most iconic works of art, from Dante's writings on lovesickness to Caravaggio's Narcissus, studying the ways that objects have shifted from keepsakes to targets of our cares. While exploring the visual roots and evolutions of what has become one of life's fundamental drives, this course offers a passionate survey of European art from Giotto's kiss to Fragonard's swing that elicits stimulating questions about the sensorial nature of desire and the human struggle to control emotions.