Reading Art


The pages collected here were originally created with generous funding to Shimer College from the National Endowment for the Humanities as a component of a curriculum development grant under the title “Great Books, Great Art.” The purpose of the grant (and the website that included these pages under that title) was to integrate significant works of visual art into the courses in Shimer College’s core curriculum, which can be viewed on the College’s website here.

The process of developing these pages began in summer workshops between 2005 and 2007 with seminars between Shimer faculty and three leading scholars in art history – James Elkins, of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Paul Barolsky, of the University of Virginia; and Elizabeth Helsinger, of the University of Chicago. These workshops involved extended explorations of how artworks in particular could enhance and broaden the academic program at Shimer College. The result of these explorations were distilled into these web pages, which present pairings of visual artworks with topics and related texts from Shimer’s curriculum

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on these pages were authored or edited by Stuart Patterson, Associate Professor of Liberal Arts at Shimer College, in the summer of 2008. Harold Stone, Professor of European History also created and edited materials in the following pages.

These pages were created primarily for use in classrooms at Shimer College. However, they have been adapted for use in classrooms anywhere, and at any grade level from middle school and up. They are intended above all as starting points for exploring lasting questions that engage the liberal arts generally through the intersection of texts and artworks.

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