Birth of the Modern

Spring 2021 & 2022

Image from Birth of the Modern
Course Details

Otis College of Art and Design
Liberal Arts & Sciences

This course investigates the mechanisms of taste, value, and exclusion that have dictated art and design in the West from roughly 1850 to the present. Students will explore the ways colonialism, capitalism, structural racism, sexism, the construction of genius and celebrity, and technological acceleration have shaped the world in which we live — and how art and design have been imbricated in these practices. In an effort to disrupt privileged chronologies and canonical stylistic approaches, Birth of the Modern is structured around case studies, supporting lectures, discussions and assigned reading outlined in the Weekly Schedule section of this Syllabus. These are designed to elicit critical investigation of an object, a set of objects, or a practice, as these illuminate past and present conditions of power and privilege.