Well, I think it’s due time that I take a break from this 28-episode marathon of Breaking Bad and endless portion of orzo that have since comprised my Intersession to tell you that — BREAKING NEWS — Intersession is awesome. (And yes, contrary to common belief, there’s been more to it than sitting in bed watching Breaking Bad while eating orzo). As this three-week period is almost halfway over, I thought I’d split up this blog into two parts and explain what I’ve been up to so far!
During Intersession, you can take a combination of 1-, 2-, and 3-credit classes (for a maximum of 3 credits), but since the dorms are open to all students, a lot of people come with no intention of taking classes, giving them a lot of free time. What’s great about Intersession is that, if you choose to take classes, you can fulfill distribution credits or take a course completely outside of you comfort zone, seeing as all of the classes are pass/fail. I, on the other hand, decided to take two 1-credit Humanities courses which won’t count towards anything in particular (oops) but have given me the opportunity to take classes that I wouldn’t have the space available to take during the semester. As you come to the realization that I’m taking these classes merely for learning’s sake, I feel that I should issue an upcoming nerd alert: buckle your seat belts.
My first class, Impressionism: Cone Collection, is taught by one of the coolest Hopkins History of Art P.H.D. candidates and looks at two extremely pertinent shifts in art post-1870. The first, the introduction of (you guessed it) Impressionism, has been really interesting to learn about in a focused setting. In the past I’ve, fairly obstinately, judged Impressionism as an ‘easy’ aesthetic, but the truth is that it was a radical movement that had to go against an extremely established Académie; it would ultimately open up an awareness of surface and materiality that becomes iconic with the emergence of modern art. The second aspect is the change in gallery display theory from the Salon style to the later, more spaced-out white wall methods in order to fit the needs of Impressionism. The overarching theme of the class is 19th-century collecting, so we’ve already gone on a tour of the Walters Art Museum to learn about studiolos and Wunderkammers, and we’ll later go to the BMA to learn about the Cone sisters and their radical art collecting as well as to the Hopkins Rare Books Collection. Oookay, moving on!
My other class, DADA!: Avant-Garde Exorcism, is equally as great. We wake up bright and early (9am class WOO) and analyze Dada — a literary and artistic movement that followed WWI — by considering the writings, sound works, and visual arts that emerged in Zürich, Berlin, Paris, and later New York. They essentially rejected any art or writing of the past, any idea of pre-established ‘system’, and favored the bizarre and politicizing. Confusing? Allow me to confuse you further with an excerpt from Hugo Ball’s First Dada Manifesto (1916):
“How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada. Dada is the world soul, dada is the pawnshop. Dada is the world’s best lily-milk soap. Dada Mr Rubiner, dada Mr Korrodi. Dada Mr Anastasius Lilienstein. In plain language: the hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated. And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality.”
Ridiculous. Interpreting the texts approaches the impossible, but at the end of the day that’s kind of the point. Since the class is offered through the Department of German & Romance Languages, I’ve gotten to read some of the French originals which has been really enlightening. Dada’s basically a movement that goes against any standard art historical thinking (as intended) and has therefore been a really interesting and thought-provoking class.
Well thanks for joining me on that artsy ramble, and if you skipped over it, welcome back! So since these classes take up about two hours of my day, I’ve had a good amount of extra time to relax, cook (a lot), watch movies, work on internship and study abroad applications, and just spend time with friends. I’ll finish off this blog with a few pictures from the past week and a half, and I’ll post again next week with the conclusion to my Intersession blog — there’s a lot more exciting things to come!