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Icons of Western Culture: Mona Lisa to Marilyn Monroe

(25) Icons of Western Culture: Mona Lisa to Marilyn Monroe - Maria Teresa Prendergast, Department of English

This reading and writing-intensive course focuses on four figures that have become cultural icons—the Mona Lisa, Hamlet, the Eiffel Tower, and Marilyn Monroe.  The seminar will focus on the following questions:  What did these figures initially signify to their cultures?  What were the cultural/historical processes by which these figures developed into their current status as cultural fantasies, fetish objects, idols, and/or clichés?  What happens when we look carefully at these figures that have become so popular as to be almost invisible?  Readings and visual texts will cover such interdisciplinary areas as literature, visual culture, film criticism, art history, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies.