3 credits. Student option grading.
Recent events in the USA and across the globe have drawn attention to the dynamic and highly political role that statues play within public life. But why do so many societies create statues, and why do they set them up in prominent spaces? How do statues work? And why do they loom so large in the public imagination? Looking both to Ancient Greece and Rome and the modern West, this course examines the social, political, religious, and erotic power attributed to statues across diverse periods and contexts, paying special attention to current events in the USA. We will explore topics including the foundational role of statues for political states (from the Athenian Tyrannicides to the Statue of Liberty), the commemorative function of statues (such as victory monuments and war memorials), the destruction of statues (from Christian iconoclasm to Confederate monuments), creative "statue-hacks" (from Rome’s Pasquino to Wall Street’s "Fearless Girl") and objects of cult (from Olympian Zeus to weeping Madonnas). The course will encourage students to consider statues relevant to themselves and their communities, including the Cornell cast collection, statues on campus, and those in your own home town.