This course will observe the influence of history and culture on the church’s understanding of a theology of beauty and the arts. Students will trace the development of this theology of aesthetics from ancient to modern church history. Close attention will be given to the theological posture of the church toward understanding the importance of and the practical application of aesthetics in the church and in ministry.
|1.11||Introduction and Syllabus|
|1.13||An Aesthetic, Imaginative Anthropology||Cal Seerveld, “Obedient Aesthetic Life” in Rainbows in a Fallen World (PDF)|
|1.16||OFF: MLK Day|
|1.18||Eros, Love, and Beauty||Plato, Diotima|
|1.20||Divine Beauty: Beatific Vision||Thiessan, Part 1, 6|
|1.23||Picturing God: Icons or Iconoclasm?||Thiessan, Part 3, 5, 8|
|1.25||What is Beauty?||The Witness of Beauty, Part 1-3|
|1.27||Field Trip: Art Museum|
|1.30||What is Beauty?||Hildebrand, “Debating Beauty” |
Wilson, “Beauty as a Transcendental” in Vision of the Soul
|2.1||Why Beauty? In class: Dana Goia, “Why Beauty Matters?”||View: Carnes, “On Beauty”|
|2.3||Why Beauty? In class: Scruton, Why Beauty?||Fujimura, “Culture Care” in Comment Magazine|
|2.6||Modern Reductionism||What Are You Looking at?, Ch. 1|
|2.8||Sentimentality in Art||Begbie, “Beauty, Sentimentality and the Arts” in A Peculiar Orthodoxy|
|2.10||Field Trip: Black Mountain Art Museum|
|2.13||Christian Art: The Grotesque||Nichols, A Key to Balthasar, 12-33 |
Taylor, “Beauty as Love”
Weiss, “Shape-shifting Jesus”
|2.15||The Grotesque in Action||O’Connor, “Parker’s Back” (PDF)|
|2.17||Toward Sacramental Art||O’Connor, “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”|
|2.20||What’s It Mean to Be a Christian Artist||Maritain, “Reflections on Religious Art” in Art and Scholasticism |
O Connor: “The Church and the Fiction Writer
|2.22||A Letter to Artists||Pope John Paul, “A Letter to Artists”|
|2.24||A Christian Aesthetic||Sayers, “Toward a Christian Aesthetic” in Letters to a Diminished Church |
O’ Connor: “Writing Short Stories”
|2.27||Christian Creativity||JRR Tolkein, “On Fairy Stories” |
JRR Tolkein, “Leaf by Niggle”
|3.1||Evaluating the Arts||Seerveld, “Redemptive Artistry in Contemporary Culture” in Bearing Fresh Olive Branches|
|3.3||The Dangers of Art in Worship||Taylor, “The Dangers of Art in Worship” in For the Beauty of the Church|
|3.8||Field Trip: Basilica of St. Lawrence|
|3.10||Field Trip: Art Museum||Due: Artist Interview|
|3.13||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Intro and Ch. 1|
|3.15||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 2|
|3.17||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 3|
|3.20||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 4|
|3.22||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 5|
|3.24||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 6|
|3.27||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 7|
|3.29||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 8|
|4.2||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 9|
|4.5||A Theology of Making||Fujimura, Ch. 10|
|4.7||OFF: Good Friday|
|4.12||Field Trip: Art Museum|
|4.14||The Community of the Beautiful||García-Rivera, Ch. 1|
|4.17||The Community of the Beautiful||García-Rivera , Ch. 3|
|4.19||The Community of the Beautiful||García-Rivera , Ch. 5|
|4.21||The Community of the Beautiful||García-Rivera , Ch. 6|
|4.24||The Community of the Beautiful||García-Rivera, Ch. 7|
|4.26||Art as Liberation||Wolterstorff, “Liberation” in Art in Action|
|4.28||Christianity, Place and Art||O’ Connor: “The Fiction Writer and His Country” and “The Regional Writer”|
|4.30||Field Trip: Art Museum||Taylor, “The Worship Arts and the Mission of the Church” in Glimpses of the New Creation|
Academic Journal (54%)
Each time there is a reading, you are required to take notes.
First, I want you to jot the flow of the reading: what points does the author make? How?
Second, I want you to be ready to discuss those points in class. For example: what questions does the reading bring to mind or that you’d like to ask? What’s one point you want to expand or think worth discussing and class? Is there a topic you’ve learned in another class that connects to something you read? Show me you’re processing and engaging on a deeper level with the text.
Art Exhibit Reflections (20%)
In your academic journal, reflect on the pieces you saw during our museum visits in a page or two.
Interview an Artist (10%)
By the end of the semester, I want you to spend time with an artist (visual, musical, or written) for about an hour and find out about their craft. How’d they get started? What motivates them? How does faith influence their art? Does it?
Write out your questions, and turn in the questions you asked, as well as a brief (~400) about what you learned.
Final Project: Art Criticism or Art Creation (30%)
Final: Explore a theological concept in an aesthetic way.
For example: A Creative essay. Short story. Painting. Video. Poem. Song.
A series of poems covering Holy Week.
A creative essay on the interrelations of the Trinity.
A painting of a biblical scene.
An imaginative short story of the disciples debating the interpretation of Jesus’ parables.
A video displaying brokenness and redemptive aspects of family.
A collection of documents (painting, poem, story) that illustrates lament.
A close read of a particular object of art
Each aesthetic document must be accompanied by a well-researched paper explaining the theological concept in a traditional manner. What is the doctrine or theological concept? What is its history? How has it been described? How does your document re-imagine it or add or reflect the traditional interpretation? Etc. Etc.
The paper should be around 2000 words using source material from class and other theological material.
You will present your artifact in class and explain what you attempted to portray.