Spring 2009: Ocular Anxiety: Visuality in the Nineteenth Century

This course looked at moments of both optimism and skepticism about the ability of the brush, the pencil, and the camera to capture what the eye could see and what it could not.

H266B011.0 Ocular Anxiety: Visuality in the Nineteenth Century Course can be used to fulfill a requirement in History of Art at Bryn Mawr.

Taught By: Rachel K. Oberter Department: Independent College Programs

The nineteenth century was an age of "ocularcentrism." At this time, a culture of looking emerged with the development of new visual technologies and the opening of art museums. This was the heyday of the illustrated book and the beginnings of photography. The visual was not only used to make sense of the external world, but also to reveal the realm of the invisible. In the middle of the century, Europeans and Americans alike had great confidence in vision. Yet as the century drew on, there were increasingly moments when this confidence wavered. This course will look at moments of both optimism and skepticism about the ability of the brush, the pencil, and the camera to capture what the eye could see and what it could not.