Christian A. Johnson Professor of History of Art
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.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
FMMC 0203 - Bollywood and Beyond
Bollywood and Beyond: Topics and Themes in Indian Cinema
Bollywood, the term given to the Indian film industry juggernaut in Bombay, India, has gained an avid following of millions of viewers world-wide. In this course we will seek to obtain a critical understanding of the history and development of the popular Indian film industry. We will explore the ideas and ideals of Indian art and visuality, notions of gender, idealized beauty, caste, class, religion, social norms, globalism, modernity, nationalism, and fundamentalism. Films are subtitled and no knowledge of another language is expected. 3 hr lect./disc., and readings will accompany evening screenings.
FYSE 1399 - The Ramayana
The Ramayana/: A Tale of Love, Valor, and Duty*
The Ramayana (‘Journey of Rama”) is an ancient, yet still powerfully relevant, Hindu epic that narrates the story of Prince Rama, a divinely human avatar (descent) of the cosmic deity Vishnu. Rama’s ultimate destiny is to triumph over evil, but his victory is fraught with moral dilemmas about fate, loyalty, duty, gender relationships, the definition of an ideal man and ideal woman, and the conflict between good and evil. Close readings, analysis, and discussions of the epic will be augmented with imagery drawn from different media, both historical and contemporary. Connections will be made to contemporary politics and social issues. 3 hrs. sem.
Fall 2013, Spring 2014
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..
Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014
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.
Spring 2012, Spring 2014
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.
Fall 2010, Spring 2015
HARC 0264 - Art Change Global Environment
Art, Change, and the Global Environment
As threats to the global environment become ever more urgent, visual artists are increasingly addressing issues such as climate change, depleting resources, recycling, pollution, political tension, and social identity. In this course we will explore the rich and tenuous relationship among art, change, and the global environment by focusing on recent creative developments in Africa and India. We will work with a visiting exhibition, "Environment and Object: Recent African Art" at the Middlebury College Museum of Art, and will consider artistic developments in India aimed at rehabilitating the environment while affecting social change.
HARC 0303 - Krishna
Krishna and the Art of Devotion
Krishna, the beloved blue-skinned god of Hindu India, has been the focus of intense religious devotion for centuries. A rich artistic tradition of paintings, sculpture, poetry, music, dance, and drama represents the god in all his various aspects, illustrating and reenacting his life story and mythology. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will explore the history, theology, iconography, and aesthetics that inform these diverse artistic productions. Topics covered will include iconographic analysis, the relationship between text and image, sectarianism and patronage, the idea of a sacred utopia, and the significance of aesthetics and visuality in Indian art and religion. We will focus on images and artistic productions produced from the 16th century to the present day. 3 hrs. sem. (Not open to students who took HARC 0300 in Spring 2010)
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.
HARC 0321 / RELI 0321 - Tibetan Buddhist Art ▲
The Art of Tibetan Buddhism
In this course we will explore the fascinating imagery of Tibetan Buddhist art, with special attention paid to the rich visual language of tangkas—devotional paintings on cloth of Buddhas, Buddhist deities, spiritual teachers (lamas), and cosmic diagrams (mandalas)— which were used as aids for visualization and meditation. Topics will include the history of Tibet, the growth of Tibetan Buddhist sects, and the development of distinctive stylistic and iconographic characteristics as seen in tangkas, religious sculpture, ritual implements, and monastic architecture. This course will be offered in conjunction with a visiting exhibition of Tibetan tangkas at the Middlebury College Art Museum. 3 hrs. sem./3 hrs. screening.
HARC 0510 - Advanced Studies ▲ ▹
Supervised independent work in art history. (Approval Required)
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015
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. To register for this course students have completed two semesters 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; HARC 0100 or HARC 0102, and two semesters of MAP)
HARC 0711 - Qualif. Paper/Resrch/Writing ▹
Qualifying Paper, Research, & Writing
This course is a continuation of HARC 0710 which consists of ongoing, supervised independent research with an advisor, plus organizing, writing, and presenting a qualifying paper, which will be due on a Friday, two weeks before the end of classes. (HARC 0301 and HARC 0710)
Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Winter 2015
HARC 1009 / HARC 0203 - Bollywood and Beyond ▹
Bollywood and Beyond: Topics and Themes in Indian Cinema
Bollywood, the term given to the Indian film industry juggernaut in Bombay, India, has gained an avid following of millions of viewers world-wide. In this course we will provide a critical consideration of the history and development of the popular Indian film industry. We will focus on such topics as the ideas and ideals of Indian art and visuality, notions of gender, idealized beauty, caste, class, religion, social norms, globalism, modernity, nationalism, and fundamentalism. Films are subtitled and no knowledge of another language is expected. Lectures, discussion, and readings will accompany screenings.
Fall 2011, Winter 2015