Jun 20, 2024  
2017-2018 University Catalog 
2017-2018 University Catalog [Archived Catalogue]

AHST 311 Dirty Pictures: A History of Art Censorship

Division of Liberal Arts

3 credits 45.0 hours
300 level undergraduate course

There has been some form of art censorship, virtually everywhere in the world, as long as there has been art. For centuries visual artworks deemed offensive have been altered or destroyed, their audiences restricted and their creators fined, imprisoned, harassed, and/or physically harmed. The purpose of this course is to examine important cases of art censorship, to try and understand why this phenomenon has been so widespread and long-lasting and to consider its implications within, and beyond, the art community today and for the future. After briefly surveying the history of art censorship in the Western world from antiquity through the mid-20th century, this course will focus on five recent case studies - particularly notorious instances of art censorship that occurred in the U.S. between 1982 and 2004. We will examine the basic facts of each case, then review and discuss the principal responses it has generated and its subsequent implications, from several points of view. Some of the complex questions to be explored will include: Exactly what constitutes ‘censorship’? Under what circumstances might censorship be justified? Should different criteria be applied to potentially controversial public art, vs. the art displayed in art galleries and museums?

Prerequisites COMP*102, COMP*102E, COMP*112, or COMP*112H

This course is not repeatable for credit.
This course can fulfill an art history elective, liberal arts elective, or free elective requirement.