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On September 23, 2014, John Kerry, Secretary of the State, spoke about the intentional destruction of art by ISIL (ISIS), and stated, "For the proud people of Iraq and Syria—ancient civilizations, civilizations of great beauty, great accomplishment, of extraordinary history and intellectual achievement—the destruction of their heritage is a purposeful final insult, and another example of ISIL's implacable evil. ISIL is stealing lives, yes, but it's also stealing the soul of millions." ISIL is by no means the first group to destroy works of art as a means of warfare. In fact, throughout history, especially in times of political and/or religious strife, art objects have been the target of thievery and destruction as a means by which a foe wreaks damage to its rival. Indeed, in the summer of 2020, renewed cries to remove and/or destroy the hundreds of Confederate monuments and monuments of colonizers, rang out across the US. They were, however, met with the claim that they were "erasing history." But whose history? Do monuments contain a true historical record? Why are monuments so revered and so vilified? In this course, we will examine important case studies over a wide expanse of time and place in order to understand what happened (why particular sorts of art objects were destroyed or stolen, for example) and what the outcomes were. In sum, we will discuss how and why art is a powerful tool of war and protest.
Cohen Hall 119 (View Campus Map)
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