UD Professor Selected to Participate in Seminar

Jun 15, 2016 | S. Ortman

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Dr. Sean Benson, professor of English at the University of Dubuque, was selected to participate in a week-long seminar on Teaching Pre-Modern European Art in Context this summer titled, “Sight and Sound in Renaissance and Baroque Europe (c. 1300-1700).”

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) selected 21 faculty members from around the country to participate in the seminar, which will be held at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 20-24. Benson is the only tri-state area professor invited to attend.

“The seminar focuses on art and music, and my goal is to see connections between the literature I teach and other non-literary art forms of the time period,” Benson said. “In the last few years I have become particularly interested in the literary form of allegory, and I want to see how it concurrently shapes and informs music, architecture, and painting. Studying the art and music of the period will sharpen my own understanding of my discipline.”

Supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the seminar is designed for full-time faculty who regularly teach art history at smaller institutions. It will be co-led by two noted scholars: Gary Radke, professor emeritus of art history at Syracuse University, and Amanda Winkler, associate professor of music history and cultures at Syracuse.

“Strengthening the teaching of art history at colleges and universities – many of which have limited faculty resources in art history – is critical,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The seminar will have significant value for the faculty members who participate, the colleagues with whom they will share their new knowledge, and the students who enroll in their courses.”

The seminar will explore how people experienced art and music in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Special emphasis will be placed on “developing period eyes and ears” to listen to music and view art as people did in Europe c. 1300-1700. Participants will read and discuss scholarly articles and original texts from the period, as well as view European art in the museum and listen to performances of Early Music. The seminar also will explore commonalities and rivalries between the visual arts and music and their practitioners and patrons.

Throughout the seminar, participating faculty members will hone and share their educational strategies for visual analysis, conversation, slow looking, and digital interpretation.

“Since coming to the University of Dubuque, Dr. Benson has solidified the study of Shakespeare and other Medieval and Renaissance British Literature in the undergraduate curriculum,” said Dr. Mark Ward, vice president for academic affairs at UD. “Most importantly, he has done this in an interdisciplinary fashion, seeking to help students study these works within the context of the broader liberal arts. This seminar would provide useful insight on how to engage students with the visual and aural context out of which these works of literature emerged and to which they contributed.”