The Colonial Revival


This seminar focuses on the Colonial Revival in the United States, a complex cultural phenomenon succinctly described as “national retrospection” that began during the early republic and has persisted ever since. Chronologically, the course spans the beginning of the nineteenth century to the US Bicentennial in 1976, with special attention to the revival’s heyday from circa 1880 to 1940. The Colonial Revival takes many forms, encompassing decorative arts, architecture, landscape design, painting, sculpture, graphic arts, literature, photography, and film. Key practices include forming collections, staging commemorations, and preserving historic sites. Situated within the oft-cited historical context of industrialization, urbanization, and immigration, the Colonial Revival intersects discourses of regionalism, romantic nationalism, nativism, progressivism, modernism, and antimodernism. Further points of consideration include the relationship to the Arts and Crafts movement and comparable revivals in the Americas and Europe. Readings emphasize historiography, primary sources, and recent scholarship. Several classes will be held at the Brooklyn Museum. 3 credits.