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IDSEMUG 1870 - Going Baroque: Baroque Theater, from Ambiguity to Hyperbole

Mannered, adorned, intricate, elusive, eccentric, subversive, reactionary—these are all qualities often associated with the Baroque aesthetic, a complex and resilient artistic movement that swept the European continent from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries. While the Baroque may accommodate such labels, it also resists the fetters of definitions. In this course, we examine the controversies that animate the Baroque period: how did an aesthetic of excess come to inform architecture, politics, religion, the visual arts, and specifically for our intent, the theater? How might the Baroque period be considered a living tension between Ambiguity, closely associated with the Renaissance, and Hyperbole, understood here as monumentalism and dogmatism? We look at texts that embrace, but also decry the Baroque aesthetic turn, and we try to understand how this appetite for grandeur, for excess, for unbridled expressivity still mediates the sensibilities of our post-modernity. This course posits that the Baroque was neither a style nor a period, but a shift in sensibility, a philosophical veering, resolutely modern, that never left us. Alongside recent critical essays on the topic, we examine plays, prose and poetry, music and art by, among others, Shakespeare, Dryden, Burton, Donne, Corneille, Racine, Molière, Calderon, Aphra Behn, Montaigne; Monteverdi, Palestrina, Purcell and Vivaldi; Velasquez, Holbein, Caravaggio and Cranach. Class Notes: FULFILLS GALLATIN DEGREE REQUIREMENT: HUMANITIES, EARLY MODERN.
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