The Art History department is abuzz over some new courses being offered this semester, courtesy of Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian and Islamic Art History and Visual Culture, Mona Damluji. New course offerings include Energy and Culture (ARTH 398), Mediating Islam (ARTH 298), and Architectures of Islam (ARTH 298-03).
Damluji earned her PhD from University of California, Berkeley in May 2013 and has been teaching at Wheaton ever since. Prior to that, she completed her undergraduate studies at Tufts University, but surprisingly, she did not always plan on studying art history.
“I was actually a psychology major for my first two years,” she recalls. “And then for a requirement, I took my first art history class, and I would say that’s the course that changed my life… I found out that you could actually study the world through visual culture.”
The first course, Energy and Culture, is perhaps not what comes to mind for most people when thinking about art history – what could the energy industry possibly have to do with art? But the course emphasizes that energy shapes modern life, sometimes in unexpected ways. It will explore the history of the industry from a cultural perspective and examine how artists such as architects and filmmakers view its influence on our lives today.
The other two courses pertain to Islam and art. Damluji describes the first of these courses, Architectures of Islam, as “an introduction to humanities in the Islamic world and a history of the emergence of Islam and its spread throughout the world.” The second is Mediating Islam, a course that examines how Islam is portrayed in the media – particularly in the U.S. for U.S. audiences. The second half of the semester will look more at how Islam is portrayed by media produced by Muslims all around the world “to take back the idea that only the west can represent the rest.”
Though these are art history courses, they are truly interdisciplinary in nature. Courses in architecture, Damluji points out, can be of interest to students in math, history, the arts, engineering, political science, and others. Mediating Islam, for example, also ties into film and new media studies.
These new art history courses are of particular importance because, as Damluji says, “There’s really a lack — particularly in the humanities — of courses that are offered on the East in general. In political science and history, there are a lot of really strong faculty who are offering regular courses, but particularly in visual culture, art history, film and new media studies, things that are thinking about the visual representation of those parts of the world … it’s just not being offered.”
Though she will not be able to continue teaching these courses after this year, she is hoping that the East continues to see more representation in courses offered at Wheaton – particularly in the visual arts.
Categories: Arts and Culture