W15 Beckman - ENGLISH 124 - The Art of Absence

English 124 The Art of Absence Mary Beckman In this writing and literature course, we will study works in which absence is central — works that deal with, in both form and content, loss, lack, anonymity, silence, what's missing, what's unsaid. We'll consider the work of a spectrum of artists and writers — from Patrick Modiano to Alison Bechdel to Ana Mendieta — in a wide variety of genres — fiction, poetry, photography, film, music, etc. Questions we'll ask: How can absence serve to launch a narrative? How do authors and artists communicate via omission? How does the absent entity — be it a person, place, or thing — become, paradoxically, a charged presence in the text? In this class, you will write analytical and reflective essays designed to introduce you to key craft concerns of college writing as well as provide you the opportunity to think deeply about the course's topics and texts. We will pre-write, draft, collaboratively workshop, and revise complex arguments that help us understand our texts, our topic, and our own experiences in new ways.

Several thin coats of blue-gray acrylic paint have been applied to primed linen canvas whose weave was altered by removing threads at more or less regular intervals. She then carefully sanded down the paint to highlight the new texture and make “visible the life within the linen material.” (artist’s statement (2009), http://www.eddarenouf.com/Statement.html)
Edda Renouf
acrylic on canvas
16 3/8 x 16 3/16 in. (41.5 x 41 cm)
The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, a joint initiative of the Trustees of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and the Nation Gallery of Art, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute for Museum and Library Services
This print has rows of stencilled black text in all capital letters on black background. In pencil, the print is signed and dated (l.r.) "Glenn Lignon '92" and numbered (l.l.) "27/45". 
Glenn Ligon
etching, aquatint, spitbite, and sugarlift on Rives BFK paper
25 in x 17 1/4 in (63.5 cm x 43.82 cm);32 3/16 in x 26 3/16 in (81.76 cm x 66.52 cm)
Museum Purchase
A bulbous vessel with narrow mouth and base. The wood is burned and cracked and circled by three gold bands, two of which overlap.<br />
burnt wood vessel with gold
Todd Hoyer
Three Gold Rings, from Ringed Series
eucalyptus, imitation gold leaf
11 7/16 x 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (29 x 19 x 19 cm);11 7/16 x 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (29 x 19 x 19 cm)
Gift of Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen
A photograph depicting a man sitting nude on a porch rail with his back turned toward the camera. Bright light filters through leaves on a nearby tree.
John Dugdale
Smile For Your Lover Comes (Stone Ridge, New York)
cyanotype on paper
15 1/4 in x 13 5/16 in x 2 1/4 in (38.74 cm x 33.81 cm x 5.72 cm);15 1/4 in x 13 5/16 in x 2 1/4 in (38.74 cm x 33.81 cm x 5.72 cm)
Museum Purchase made possible by the Harry Denham Trust
A man, a woman, and a child facing the viewer with their hands folded in prayer. The man and woman sit on a mattress and look to heaven. The child stands in front of them with his head bowed. Next to the child is a diminutive cow. In the background behind the family are images of fish and birds.
Max Pechstein
The Lord's Prayer, sheet 10 - For Thine Is the Kingdom (Das Vaterunser - Denn Dein ist das Reich)
woodcut with hand-coloring on paper
23 ½ in x 16 ¼ in (59.69 cm x 41.28 cm);28 ⅛ in x 22 in (71.44 cm x 55.88 cm)
Museum Purchase
Empty beach with volleyball net set up.
Harry Callahan
Cape Cod
gelatin silver print on paper
11 in x 14 in (28 cm x 35.56 cm);16 in x 20 in (40.64 cm x 50.8 cm);11 1/8 in x 14 in (28.2 cm x 35.6 cm)
Museum Purchase
Bruce Davidson
Untitled (Child with a Doll Carriage), from "Welsh Miners"
gelatin silver print on paper
16 in x 19 15/16 in (40.64 cm x 50.64 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas M. Kenyon
This is a line drawing done in colors of red, orange, blue, yellow, brown and green, on white paper. In the top center portion of the sheet are the words, "A LIE". Below this are forms that resemble an egg, a slice of bacon, a piece of bread with a pat of yellow butter. Below these forms are some round shapes, labeled "flakes", a bowl and a carton of milk, labeled "milk".
Jean-Michel Basquiat
A Lie
colored crayons on paper
24 in x 18 in (60.96 cm x 45.72 cm);24 in x 18 in (60.96 cm x 45.72 cm);28 in x 23 in (71.12 cm x 58.42 cm)
Gift of Arthur Cohen in honor of Ben and Yetta Cohen
Edward Hopper
Night Shadows
etching on Van Gelder wove paper
10 ¾ in x 13 13/16 in (10 ¾ in x 35.08 cm)
Gift of Dr. & Mrs. S.J. Axelrod
Hana Hamplová
gelatin silver print on paper
23 1/16 in x 23 1/8 in (58.58 cm x 58.74 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Marion Hrebek Keys
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
The sleep of reason produces mosters (El sueño de la razon produce monstruos)
etching and burnished aquatint on paper
12 in x 8 in (30.48 cm x 20.32 cm);7 7/16 in x 4 11/16 in (18.89 cm x 11.91 cm);8 1/2 in x 5 7/8 in (21.59 cm x 14.92 cm)
Gift of Kurt Delbanco in honor of Nicholas Delbanco, and partial purchase with the funds from the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund
Antique- and aged-looking photograph of a dreamy, perhaps nocturnal, landscape. In the foreground, a massive tree rises up into the hazy night, and trees recede into the distance. White pock marks give the whole scene, sky and land, an ethereal starry look.
Sally Mann
Battlefields, Manassas (Lumpy Cedar)
varnished gelatin silver print on paper
40 in. x 4 ft. 2 1/16 in. (101.6 x 127.16 cm);40 1/2 in. x 4 ft. 2 11/16 in. (102.87 x 128.75 cm)
Museum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund


4 Tags & 0 Keywords

Absence — by seth@whirl-i-gig.com (February 13 2017 @ 11:56 am)
Comparative — by seth@whirl-i-gig.com (February 13 2017 @ 11:56 am)
University class selection — by seth@whirl-i-gig.com (February 13 2017 @ 11:56 am)
Visual and literary themes — by seth@whirl-i-gig.com (February 13 2017 @ 11:56 am)

Rate this Resource

AVG: 0 | Ratings: 0

& Author Notes

Creative Commons by-nc-sa (University of Michigan Museum of Art)

Last Updated

February 7, 2020 3:01 p.m.


Reporting Policy