What does it mean to be represented in the national capital? This course examines the history of portraiture in Washington, D.C. We will look at depictions of national leaders and ordinary Americans and consider what public displays reveal about private lives and the condition of political structures in America. What is lost and gained when your likeness is “taken”? How important is it for portraits to be “real”? Human and civil rights struggles; virtual reality in an era of globalization, balkanization, and digital technology; surveillance and privacy rights; and concerns about the human habitation of the city all will be covered.
Visual and verbal “portraits” likely will include paintings of George Washington; monuments commemorating war heroes; Depression-Era photographs; writings by Langston Hughes, Edward P. Jones, Marjorie Williams, Katherine Graham, and Anthony Calypso; scenes from movies (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Talk to Me, Shattered Glass, Selma); newspaper profiles; recent art exhibitions ("Asian American Portraits of Encounter"); and musical selections (e.g., Hamilton).
Note: Credit will not be granted for both HONR248J and HHUM205.