This is a 4-session course at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, held on Friday evenings (1st - 22nd June), led by me (Nigel Warburton) and timed to coincide with the Surreal Things exhibition. Online booking for this course is now open.
4 consecutive Friday evenings 1st June – 22nd June at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Exhibition Road, London.
Led by Nigel Warburton Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University
To introduce and explore some key themes from Surrealism
To discuss these themes in relation to philosophy
To examine these themes in relation to particular works in the Surrealism show
This course does not pre-suppose any prior knowledge of philosophy or Surrealism. There will be suggestions for further reading, but no obligatory reading associated with the course.
Method This course will be taught through a variety of interactive sessions. Students will be encouraged to discuss and explore the various themes through structured small group activities supplemented by short lectures and plenary discussions. Teaching will take place both in a classroom and within the exhibition itself. Students will be encouraged to engage both with philosophical ideas and with the objects on display.
The Themes (a provisional list) The themes below may need to be adapted in the light of the content of the exhibition.
1. CHANCE: The methods of surrealism include free association and other forms of automatism. In this session we will explore philosophical ideas about artistic intention and chance, fatalism, and interpreting the accidental.
2. DREAM: Dreams and dream-like imagery inspire many surrealist works. The second session of the course is devoted to an exploration of the relation between dreams and reality.
3. DESIRE: Sexual desire, its complications, sublimations and manifestations fuels surrealism. In this third session we will explore some of philosophical explanations of the nature of desire relating these ideas to works in the exhibition.
4. TABOO: Like many artists, the surrealists challenged the status quo, They did this most dramatically by confronting taboos. In this session we will explore the meaning of taboo, and philosophical questions about offence, and the limits of artistic freedom.