Writers have long been fascinated, inspired, and puzzled by the visual arts. In this course, we will study two genres of writing—poetry and the creative essay—that have enjoyed long and productive relationships with painting, photography, and sculpture. What attracts writers to art? How might language render (or fail to render) visual experience? How might writing help us see art in new ways? How might art objects inspire new ways of writing? With these questions in mind, we will read poems, essays, and art criticism by a variety of writers, visit several of Chicago’s excellent museums, and conduct regular writing experiments in both poetry and prose. By the end of the course, you will develop a portfolio of your own writing about art. Authors and artists considered may include William Carlos Williams, Roland Barthes, John Berger, James Schuyler, Barbara Guest, Frank O’Hara, Charles Simic, Martha Ronk, Kevin Young, Pieter Breughel, Joseph Cornell, Cy Twombly, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and others. Museums visited may include the Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smart Museum of Art, and the Renaissance Society.
High School Students
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