This two-semester advanced undergraduate seminar will provide students with a unique and intensive opportunity to participate in the curation of cultural programming at Slought Foundation, a non-profit contemporary arts organization affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. The course will combine critical theory and practice by providing students with classroom instruction about the theoretical issues involved in presenting contemporary culture and hands-on experience in realizing contemporary exhibitions, symposia, and publications. Weekly readings will address and examine the historic and contemporary avant-gardes, as well as work by leading artists, cultural critics, and curators. The course has been structured in such a way as to span critical genres such as art history, literary study and curatorial practice, such that students will actively consider and problematize the idea of “genre” though questions such as: how does writing about art differ from writing about literature? What kinds of divisions of skills and practices are discernible under the general rubric of cultural study, or cultural theory, or cultural journalism? In addition to assigned readings, students will also gain exposure to contemporary curatorial practices and methodologies through studio visits with artists and writers and trips to galleries and museums in Philadelphia and New York. At Slought Foundation, students will actively contribute to the realization of a variety of projects including, but not limited to: a campus-wide retrospective of Paris-based installation artist Braco Dimitrijevic; a publication based on the Evasions of Power symposium (March 2006), in collaboration with the Departments of Architecture and Art History at Penn and Goldsmith’s College in London; a series of exhibitions about Slought Foundation that will travel to galleries and museums in cities including Buenos Aires, Paris, and Tel Aviv in 2008; as well as a dynamic selection of ongoing Slought Foundation programs including concerts as well as public conversations among critical critics and theorists.
Course requirements include a short writing exercise each week in response to assigned readings, a final paper for each semester, and participation in the realization of programming at Slought Foundation. Familiarity with contemporary art is not required but is encouraged. In addition to weekly classroom instruction, please note that students will also be expected to attend and actively participate in additional course-related activities each week. Enrollment in this two-semester seminar is limited to 10 students and permission from the instructor is required.