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Lecture 19

ARTH 301 Lecture Notes - Lecture 19: Post-Structuralism, Intersectionality, Interconnectivity

Art History and Visual Culture
Course Code
ARTH 301
T'ai Smith

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ARTH 300
Nov 7
Rethinking Form (after formalism)
To accompany Professor Mansoor’s lecture: The Politics of Abstraction
Importance of Hegel in formalism
Wolfflin established parameters for formalism in style. One can juxtapose two
images and through juxtaposition of styles/forms one could develop kinds of
partners that belong to historical moments
(einrich Wolfflin’s basic pairs of concepts, for two contrasting types styles:
Classic vs Baroque
Linear vs painterly;
Plane vs. recession
Closed form vs. Open form;
Multiplicity vs. unity;
Absolute clarity vs. relative clarity
Formalism has become a bad word. Levine is interested from her literature studies
in forms, she is driven slightly by pragmatism
Levine as undergrad studied structural and post-structuralism
Formal analysis of image. Drive meaning out of formal patterns and specificity of
different artworks
Professor Caroline Levine Forms: Whole, Rhythm , Hierarchy, Network
Power belongs to distributed array of across in society. Individual subjects are
disciplining themselves not to be penalized (go to prison) in self-disciplinary
An artificial neural network is an interconnected group of nodes, akin to the vast
network of neurons in a brain.
Term network uses to describe arrangement of elements distributed of connections
among nodes
Networks can be material or immaterial
Work of French philosopher Gian Francier imposes hierarchy
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Jeremy Bentham, Plan for the Panopticon, ca. 1787
Panopticon: idea of power reduced to a diagram. Bentham theorized it, someone
else draw it after. Attempted to be cheaper than prisons of this time, it’d require
fewer staff, prisoners would self-discipline
Foucault Discipline and Punishment: the Panopticon… is the diagram of a
mechanism of power, reduced to its ideal form
Politics is a formal operation
 influential ideas about how forms work pp.  drawing on literary and cultural
1. Forms constrain
Impose powerful controls and containments
2. Forms differ
As in the study of poetic prose: distinct patterns of rhyme and meter
3. Various forms overlap and intersect
Various forms may operate at once
Theories of intersectionality, for instance, think about how different social
hierarchies overlap [i.e., gender, race, class], sometimes powerfully
reinforcing one another.
4. Forms travel
Can survive across cultures and time periods, sometimes enduring through
vast distances of time and space
back and forth across aesthetic and social materials.
precisely because they are abstract organizing principles, shapes and
patterns are literable portable. They can be picked up and moved to new
contexts p. 7
5. Forms do political work in particular historical contexts
Forms reflect or respond to contemporary political conditions
they shape what it is possible to think, say, and do, in a given context
Potentially adapt and reframe themselves
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