“To live is to pose.” Susan Sontag came to this scandalized conclusion from the photographs of American soldiers in Abu Ghraib beaming at the camera beside their torture victims. But she was hardly alone in equating contemporary life—and art—with posing and modeling. Warhol’s claim that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, the current proliferation of memoirs and reality shows, websites like Facebook and U-tube, and the Dove and Nike ad campaigns all bespeak a culture of modeling. Some of the most sophisticated literature, film, and art of our day explores what J. M. Coetzee calls “the real real thing,” the model behind representation.
The syllabus for this course includes, among other works: Christopher Bram’s Father of Frankenstein, Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year, Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Jennifer Egan’s Look at Me, Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Volume One, Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There, Andy Warhol’s Interviews, George Hickenlooper’s Factory Girl, Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things, visual art by Ann Hamilton, Vanessa Beecroft, Cindy Sherman, and Marlene Dumas, and theoretical texts by Jean Baudrillard, Nicolas Bourriaud, and Olafur Eliasson.
Undergraduates need to fill out a permit form and receive the approval of the Graduate Chair, their advisor, and the professor for all 500-level courses.