Some say that the word “Baroque” derives from a Portuguese term denoting a misshapen pearl: a treasure that is asymmetrical, beautiful, and enchantingly strange. The Baroque style that prevailed in the European empires during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries fostered an aesthetic of irregular forms, highly emotional and dramatic effects, and stark contrasts of light and dark. The troubled painter Caravaggio, the Mexican nun-poetess and mystic Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and the German Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher all encapsulate this crucial cultural moment. This course will examine the arts of the Baroque period from a global perspective: each week we will travel to different locations around the world to examine its shifting contours. From Mexico City to Rome, we will explore the different iterations of this distinctive style via painting, sculpture, architecture, poetry, fashion, music, optical instruments, and even stage design. These histories will lead us to examine the Baroque's continued impact on twentieth and twenty-first-century scholars, artists, and filmmakers.
- Professor: Samuel Luterbacher