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Anthropology 133R

Aesthetic Systems
Summer Session A
MW 9-11:05 a.m.
No class July 4, 2011
Angela Orlando

Course Description:
In a tangible but sometimes cryptic manner, visual art and ethnographic artifacts convey information about people’s
cultural identity and values, their individual interpretations of the world, and their personal expressions of ideas and
emotions. In this class, we will learn to read Western and non-Western art objects as “texts,” and to better understand
the significance they hold for the people who make and/or use them. Then, we will examine art and ethnographic
artifacts as social objects, considering their creation, acquisition, display, and eventual discard to be events in the
objects’ life histories. Finally, we will discuss issues of authenticity and appropriation, museums, and the roles of art
and ethnographic artifacts in the global market.

Our intent is to both deepen our understanding of theoretical discussions and examine the application of these insights
in our own research. Each student will generate a response paper to critically assess the course’s concepts, and will
write another paper about an individual piece of art or ethnographic artifact and its role in its social context.

Required Books:
Anderson, Richard and Karen L. Field 1992 Art in Small-Scale Societies: Contemporary Readings. Prentice Hall.

Myers, Fred 2002 Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art. Duke University Press.

Highly recommended:
Tilley et. al

All other readings will be available on the course website.

Course Website: I will use our private class website to communicate important announcements and to post readings.
The course website address is located above. Make sure you have an email account on file with UCLA or you will not
receive correspondence.

Academic Integrity: Please consult UCLA’s academic honesty code at I expect honest participation in this course, and for everyone to
take responsibility for his or her actions.

Accommodation: If you feel you have trouble writing or taking notes, please contact the Office of Students with
Disabilities and myself to request a disability-related accommodation. The web site is

Attendance and Participation: Your participation in the course makes it

I do not allow texting or Internet use in class.

Assignments: This class has one response paper (7-10 pages) and one 7-10 page written take-home final. The
response paper counts for 40 percent of your grade (40 points possible). A typed hard copy is due in class on July
11.The final is a take-home essay exam. I will administer it to you on July 18. You will type your essay and bring it to
class on July 27. There are 60 points (60 percent of your grade) possible on the final. The final will be
cumulative, asking you to synthesize course concepts.

I don’t accept late papers, but I DO accept early papers if you know you have to miss the day it is due. Even if you
have a valid reason for missing a class, you are still responsible for submitting hard copies of the assignments on the
date that they are due. I take 10 percent off for every day they are late.

Grading: There is no curve for the class. There are 100 points possible.
97-100 = A+
93-96 = A
90-92 = A-
87-89 = B+
83-86 = B
80-82 = B-
77-79 = C+
73-76 = C
70-72 = C- and so on
Date Before Class In Class Topic and/or
Assignments Due
Monday, Get the textbooks and familiarize yourself with the website Go over syllabus
June 20
(Week 1) Course Introduction: What are

Wednesday, Read & be able to discuss Anthropological Perspectives of

June 22 Coote, Jeremy. Marvels of Everyday Vision: The Anthropology Aesthetic Systems
(Week 1) of Aesthetics and the Cattle-Keeping Nilotes. (in Morphy)

Munn, Nancy. Visual Categories: An Approach to the Study of

Representational Systems. (in Morphy)

Witherspoon, Gary. The Semiotical Geometry of Navajo

Weaving. (in Anderson and Field)
Monday, Read & be able to discuss Creativity, Cognition and
June 27 Kuhn and Steiner. 1998 Middle Paleolithic ‘Creativity’: Expression
(Week 2) Reflections on an Oxymoron? in Mithen, ed. Creativity in
Human Evolution and Prehistory

Koss, Joan D. Artistic Expression and Creativity in Puerto

Rican Possession Cults. (in Anderson and Field)

Layton, Robert. The Anthropology of Art. Chapter 5: Creativity

of the Artist. pp. 193-239
Wednesday, Read & be able to discuss Art, Ethnographic Artifacts, and
June 29 Morphy, Howard. From Dull to Brilliant: The Aesthetics of Cultural Meaning
(Week 2) Spiritual Power among the Yolngu.
Get Response Paper Topic
Smith, Kenneth W. The Kites of Santiago Sacatepequez (in
Anderson and Field) Museum Trip!

Myers, pages 1-54


July 4
(Week 3)
Wednesday, Read & be able to discuss Art, Ethnographic Artifacts, and
July 6 Cultural Meaning (Continued)
(Week 3) Salvador, Lynn. “The Art of Being Kuna” (pages TBD)

Chibnik, Michael. 2003. “Crafting Tradition: The Making and

Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings.” Austin: University of
Texas Press (pages TBD)

Myers, pages 55-80

Monday, Read & be able to discuss Individual Artists’ Lived
July 11 Experiences
(Week 4) Foster, Hal “The Artist as Ethnographer?” in Marcus and Myers

Cohadas, Marvin. Elizabeth Hickox and Karuk Basketry: A Paper 1 Due in Class
Case Study in Debates on Innovations and Paradigms of
Authenticity. In Phillips and Steiner

Ettawageshik, Frank. My Father’s Business. In Phillips and


Myers, pages 81- 119

Wednesday, Read & be able to discuss Art and Ethnographic Artifacts
July 13 as Social Entities
(Week 4) Kopytoff, Igor 19XX “The Cultural Biography of Things.”
Film: “Herb and Dorothy.”
Bourdieu. 1988 “Distinction” (Pages TBD)

Myers, pages 120-208 (SKIM Chapters 5 and 7)

Monday, Read & be able to discuss External Determinations of
July 18 Value: The Art Market
(Week 5) Price, Sally. “Primitive Art in Civilized Places.” University of
Chicago Press. Get Final Paper Topic

Steiner, Christopher. “On the Creation of Value and

Authenticity in the African Art Market” (in Marcus and Myers)

Sullivan, Nancy. “Inside Trading: Postmodernism and the Social

Drama of Sunflowers in the 1980s Art World”

Myers, pages 230-254

Wednesday, Read and be able to discuss External Determinations of

July 20 Value: Tourism and
(Week 5) Silverman, Eric Kline. “Tourist Art as the Crafting of Identity in Appropriation
the Sepik River (Papua New Guinea).” In Phillips and Steiner

Nicks, Trudy. “Setting the Stage for Tourist Souvenir Sales.” In

Phillips and Steiner.

Graburn, Nelson. The Evolution of Tourist Arts. In XXXXX

Myers, pages 255-277

Monday, Hobswam on Andean weaving co-ops Indigenous Agency in the Art
July 25 World
(Week 6) Lachmann, R. 1988 “Graffiti as Career and Ideology.” American
Journal of Sociology.

Ivory, Carol S. “Art, Tourism and Cultural Revival in the

Marquesas Islands.” In Phillips and Steiner
Wednesday, Work on paper Film: “Exit through the Gift
July 27 Shop.”
(Week 6)

Final Paper Due in Class

Course Evaluations