COVID-19: Essential Information

Cynthia Packert

Christian A. Johnson Professor of History of Art

 work(802) 443-5232
 Fall Term 2021- Monday 4:15 p.m. - 6:15 p.m., Tuesday 3:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m., and by appointment
 Mahaney Arts Center 123

Cynthia Packert is the Christian A. Johnson Professor in the History of Art and Architecture.  She teaches courses on all aspects of Asian and Islamic art, with a particular focus on India. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1988, and has been teaching at Middlebury College since 1989. She is the author of The Sculpture of Medieval Rajasthan (E.J. Brill, 1997) and several articles on Indian art and iconography. Her research focuses on the visual culture of Hinduism, and she has also published The Art of Loving Krishna: Ornamentation and Devotion (Indiana University Press, 2010).  Her current project is focused on new Hindu temples in India and the North American diaspora, with special attention on the BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu community. 





Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1529 - Wondrous Worlds of Islamic Art      

The Wondrous Worlds of Islamic Art
In Fall 2018, the Middlebury College Art Museum will host “Wondrous Worlds,” an exhibition of Islamic arts featuring an unusually broad range of arts and crafts from all parts of the Islamic world, from the distant past to the contemporary present. Our seminar will work closely with the exhibition to learn about the basics of Islamic faith and practice. We will also engage the exhibition themes of Internationalisms, Quran, Calligraphy and Book Arts, Hospitality, Architecture, and the Body Beautiful. Further, we will learn about contemporary arts, graphic novels, music, and film, and practice calligraphy and geometric design. 3 hrs. sem. ART CMP CW

Fall 2018

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HARC 0102 - Monuments and Ideas/Asian Art      

Monuments and Ideas in Asian Art*
This course is an introduction to the study of Asian art history through an investigation of selected art works, considered individually and in broader contexts. This course chronicles the evolution in painting, sculpture, and architecture, and other media of Asia. It is designed for those who wish to build a broad acquaintance with the major works and ideas of Asian art in their historical settings and to develop tools for understanding these works of art as aesthetic objects and bearers of meaning for the societies, group, or individuals that produced them. Registration priority given to first and second year students. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.. AAL ART CMP HIS NOA

Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

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HARC 0204 - Approaches to Islamic Art      

Approaches to Islamic Art
A survey of major expressions of Islamic art from the inception of Islam to the present, from all parts of the Islamic world. This is not a traditional survey; rather, it focuses on key monuments and important examples of portable and decorative arts: mosques, tombs, palaces, manuscript illumination, calligraphy, metalwork, textiles, ceramics, etc. We will consider their meanings and functions in their respective socio-historical contexts, and we will also analyze the impact of patronage and region. We will try to understand what general principles unify the richness and diversity of Islamic art: what is Islamic about Islamic art? Finally, we will address the issue of contemporary Islamic art. (No prerequisites). 3 hrs. lect. AAL ART MDE

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

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HARC 0227 - Indian Painting      

Poetry, Piety and Power: Indian Painting 1200-Present
This course considers the history, context, style, and significance of a broad spectrum of Indian painting traditions. We will look closely at Jaina and Hindu religious illustrations, the evocative courtly and religious imagery from the Rajput and other regional kingdoms, the extraordinarily refined and naturalistic Mughal imagery, the influence of colonialism, and the development of modern and contemporary works. 3 hrs. lect. AAL ART HIS SOA

Spring 2018, Spring 2020

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HARC 0268 - Arts of Asia      

Arts of Asia
This course considers South and East Asian art history from its most ancient origins in India, China, and Japan to the present. This is not a comprehensive survey; rather, it focuses on cross-cultural connections through selected art works, considered individually and in broader contexts. We will chronicle the evolutions of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other media of Asia, focusing especially on painting, sculpture, architecture, and decorative arts. We will pay particular attention to the impact of religious and royal patronage, Buddhism and Hinduism, the Silk Road, Asian aesthetics, and specialized techniques such as ink painting and woodblock printing. Works of art will be studied in terms of style, religious meaning, and social and historical contexts. 3 hrs. lect. AAL ART CMP HIS NOA

Fall 2021

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HARC 0318 - Mughal Art      

Imperial Splendor: the Art and Architecture of India's Mughal Empire
The Mughal empire, founded by a new dynasty of Muslim rulers, claimed control over much of north India in the 16th century. Under their dominance, new forms of art and architecture flourished. In this seminar we will critically explore such topics as: the style and symbolism of Mughal art and architecture; the influence of Persian and Indian Rajput visual forms; the biographies and ambitions of the Mughal rulers; the role of women in the Mughal court; and the interactions between Muslim and Hindu visual cultures, as well as the important contributions made by European art. We will pay special attention to how art and architecture played a central role in imperial self-definition and the construction of a specialized Mughal history, placing those works in their political, social, and cultural contexts. 3 hrs. lect. AAL ART HIS SOA

Spring 2019, Spring 2021

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HARC 0347 - Aesthetics of Asian Art      

The Aesthetics of Asian Art: Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?
In this course we will consider select Asian (Indian, Chinese, Japanese) and Islamic artworks in the Middlebury College Museum of Art’s permanent collection to explore the fundamental question: “Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?” Are standards in beauty universal, or are they always relative? We will ask how the act of beholding is entwined with cultural assumptions and conditioning and will address those assumptions through an intensive combination of close looking, critical analysis, and comparative consideration of a diverse range of artworks and aesthetic traditions. Comparisons will be made with select works of Western art in the museum. (not open to students who have taken HARC 0102) 3 hrs. lect./disc AAL ART CMP NOA

Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021

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HARC 0352 - The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly      

The Good, Bad, and Ugly: Gods, Goddesses, and Demons in Indian Art
Indian mythology and epic literature abounds with stories of conflicts between the forces of good and evil. There are multiple forms of Hindu gods and goddesses who battle an array of evil and colorful demonic foes, and each cosmic battle embodies a profound philosophical lesson about relative values and complex moral choices. We will explore the meanings and myriad creative expressions of this rich terrain through a lively variety of artistic depictions—in mythological literature, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, television, film, graphic novels, and contemporary arts. 3 hrs. sem. AAL ART SOA

Spring 2021, Spring 2022

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HARC 0510 - Advanced Studies      

Advanced Studies
Supervised independent work in art history, museum studies, or architectural studies. (Approval Required)

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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HARC 0540 - Independent Museum Studies      

Supervised Independent Work in Museum Studies
This practicum builds upon the Museum Assistants Program (MAP), the hands-on museum education program at the Middlebury College Museum of Art. In MAP, the Curator of Education trains students to conduct tours of the Museum’s permanent collection and of special exhibitions for audiences of peers, school groups, and the general public. Combining service learning with the opportunity to both support and learn more about the arts, students gain expertise in public speaking, art history, and public programming. HARC 0540 should be taken concurrently with the second semester of MAP. The class will culminate with a public presentation on a museum-related topic evaluated by a faculty member of the Department of History of Art & Architecture. (Approval required)

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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HARC 0710 - Senior Thesis Research Seminar      

Senior Thesis Research Seminar
In this course students will conceive, undertake research, and plan the organization of their senior thesis in art history or senior museum studies projects. Seminar discussions and workshops will focus on research strategies, conventions in art historical writing, project design, and public presentation skills. (HARC 0301; Approval Required) 3 hr. sem.

Fall 2019

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HARC 0711 - SNR Thesis: Research/Writing      

Senior Thesis: Research and Writing
This course is a continuation of HARC 0710 which consists of ongoing, supervised independent research, plus organizing, writing and presenting a senior thesis. (HARC 0301 and HARC 0710). WTR

Winter 2018

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HARC 1009 - Bollywood and Beyond      

Bollywood and Beyond: Topics and Themes in Indian Cinema
‘Bollywood,’ the term given to the Indian film industry juggernaut in Bombay (Mumbai), India, has gained an avid following of millions of viewers worldwide. In this course we will provide a critical consideration of the history and development of this popular Indian film industry. We will focus on such topics as the construction of an Indian national identity, notions of gender, idealized beauty, caste, class, religion, social norms, globalism, modernity, politics, nationalism, and fundamentalism. Films are subtitled and no knowledge of another language is expected. Lectures, discussion, and readings will accompany screenings. AAL ART SOA WTR

Winter 2022

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Department of History of Art & Architecture

Edward Vazquez, Chair

Michaela Davico, Department Coordinator

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753