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The Secret Lives of Statues from Ancient Egypt to Confederate Monuments (ARCHLGY 96, CLASSICS 96)

104A
Subject: 
ARTHIST

Statues, human-shaped sculptures, walk a fine line between being inert matter and living entities. Throughout human existence, humans have recognized that statues are not alive even as they understand that statues are capable of becoming potent allies or enemies. They are capable of engendering profound emotional responses, embodying potent ideas, and co-opting the past in service of the present. However, the same materiality that endows statues with these exceptional capacities also makes them vulnerable to humans intent on acquiring otherwise-expensive materials cheaply, commiting sectarian violence by proxy, and obliterating the material manifestations of others┬┐ memories.nnIn this course, we will study sixteen (groups of) statues thematically. To do this, we will draw on a wide variety of disciplines, including archaeology, art history, history, law, media studies, museum studies, and religious studies, to articulate how people in diverse places and times have revered and reviled statues precisely because they are uncanny objects that seem to have an all-too-human kind of agency. In so doing, we will gain appreciation for and insight into how and why the statues in our own lives are significant.