The reading assignments and images are available for this week (see page to the right for the files). You can also download a copy of the whole assignment (together with a little mini-guide to the kings we’ll be dealing with) here: Week 4 Reading Assignment.
Blog Assignment Week 4: Violence in Art
Ever since the discovery of Assyrian palace reliefs in the 19th century, observers have been particularly struck by seemingly cavalier depictions of violence and brutality; some commentators have maintained that this is a reflection of the particularly brutal nature of Assyrian society and culture, and assume that their imperial reign must have been particularly harsh, as opposed to (for example) the Persians, whose empire has been regarded more favorably by historians. Not coincidentally, Persian imperial art is practically devoid of violence. (To be fair, these opinions are also shaped by the Old Testament portrayal of Assyrians as evil and the Persians as good, especially Cyrus the Great who allowed the Jews to return from exile.) But this begs the question: what does the employment of violence in art really say about a society? Can we use its presence (or lack of presence) as evidence about the level of violence in day-to-day life of that society, or in their dealings with foreign nations/peoples? How much does art truly mirror life?
Due Wednesday, Feb 2, by 10 pm.