Week 4 – September 15

Homework due today:

  1. Listen to the ‘How To’ video on Thesis Statements and Formal Analysis
  2. Attend the live Zoom lecture ‘Carceral Imagery and Imprisonment in Art History’ (if you’re an expert, don’t forget to post here)
  3. Optional Reading: Michel Foucault, Chapter 3: Panopticism, Discipline and Punish, 1979

Please note that BC has no scheduled classes today, but we will still meet. If you cannot make the class session you will not be marked off from participation points. The lecture will be recorded and posted here for you to watch at your convenience. 

2 thoughts on “Week 4 – September 15

  1. Today’s class was very interesting because the prison system isn’t really talked about. Much less analyzing these unique pieces of art. As we previously stated in class, the sketches and the actual pictures of the prison model looks very inhumane. In my opinion, prisons are very inhumane. I’m not excusing crime, but the conditions these prisoners have to live in are very rough. No one really speaks about the abusive power. There’s a difference between rules and or discipline and punishing for power. I think it’s a tough topic because crime should be taken into account but prison is scary. Is that the intention? The amount of monitoring and surveillance is obviously absurd but honestly we are all being watched, prison or not. This is a very interesting topic and having those discussions in class really made me think about doing this topic for my formal analysis paper.


  2. Expert Week 4 – Carceral Imagery and Imprisonment
    As an African-American mother of 2 sons, my interest in this week’s lecture stems from the mass incarceration rates of people, particularly men, of color. I was looking for some insight into the history of prison complexes. There were several interesting topics and pieces of art, but I was particularly intrigued by the Panopticon Prison, Presidio Modelo (Model Prison), in Cuba.
    It made me wonder what types of crimes had to have been committed in order to end up in such a place. There is an ongoing debate on whether prison should be for punishment or rehabilitation, or for both, but it appears the Panopticon was for punishment. As I stated during the lecture, the tower in the center of the prison gives off a sense of this omniscient presence to be feared by the prisoners. Knowing that someone could see your every move must have created a sense of psychological imprisonment in addition to the actual physical imprisonment. The size of each prison cell was barely large enough to turn around in, let alone lay down and rest or sleep.
    The symmetry of each cell placed perfectly on top of one another was a portrayal of simplicity and conformity which is what is expected of the “model” prisoner – to conform.
    I felt this was in stark contrast to Le Carceri d’Invenzione (Imaginary Prisons: Piranesi’s Prints). From these I got a sense of complexity and disorder at first look. I attributed this to the medium and the dark shading, but also to the spacing in the prints. There is this huge amount of space depicted with the high arching ceilings and then a sense of chaos within from all of the different steps and levels; it’s almost maze-like. Piranesi’s intent is worth further research on the matter.


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