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Methods: Objecthood


What does it mean to be an object? Recent scholarship on the so-called material turn, including object-oriented-ontology, thing theory, and speculative realism likes to think it knows the answer. Yet as Frantz Fanon reminds us, objecthood is far more fraught and even violent than the simple imputation of agency. This seminar explores the idea of objecthood in art history, critical theory, and literature. Each week we will consider a different type of object, including paintings, photographs, furniture, props, and fetishes. How might art and material culture help us understand the processes and histories of objectification, and conversely, how might the study of objecthood open new paths of art historical inquiry that account for rather than reproduce difference? What are our ethical obligations to objects, and especially to our objects of study?