Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitates high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
According to Pierre Bourdieu’s book The Love of Art, art museums provoke different reactions from upper and lower socioeconomic classes: The wealthier class seeks spiritual and moral enlightenment, dislike informational labels next to the paintings since they disrupt the aesthetic experience, and prefer solitary contemplation of the art. The working class, on the other hand, tends to travel together in groups and discretely reads the paintings’ labels to avoid attracting attention to its socioeconomic identity. This group feels excluded because it lacks the educational background to analyze art, frequently relying on academic resources such as guidebooks, directions, and tour guides. I want to create a Flash Seminar to discuss this idea because it is essential to include everyone, regardless of status and ethnicity, and to generate meaningful learning opportunities. Art museums provide insight into the changes in artistic styles over time, the thoughts, ideas, and emotions of the artists conveyed through their works, and the pieces’ social and economic implications. The working class, however, misses out on this experience because they feel foreign in art museums.
In my Flash Seminar, I want to explore how American art museums can create inclusive spaces catering to all socioeconomic echelons, particularly the working class, and provide opportunities for them to personalize their aesthetic education and experience; it would be interesting to examine how international museums approach this dilemma as well because their cultures and beliefs may shape the solution differently. As America grows more racially diverse, examining international museums and implementing their methods would help American museums to be even more inclusive by welcoming people of different races, too. Published in