School of Fine ArtsThe William Benton Museum of Art

Instructor Toolkit

Examples of learning opportunities offered by the Museum.

AMST 1700 Honors Core: Walden and the American Landscape
Professor Christopher Clark and Professor Robert Thorson planned a visit for their American Studies class with three stations that introduced students to the links between mid-19th century American art and Transcendentalism. In one station, Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison Amanda Douberley led a focused discussion of the painting Blue Ridge Wilderness (c. 1860) by William Sonntag using the Critical Looking framework. In the second station, Dr. Clark facilitated an Object Study Session with eleven prints from the Benton’s collection that picture life in rural New England. In the third station, Dr. Thorson oversaw free-hand copying of sketches by Henry David Thoreau and others.

ANTH/LLAS 3029: The Caribbean
Dr. Noga Shemer’s anthropology class visited Ancestors of the Passage, an installation by Puerto Rican-American artist Imna Arroyo that addresses the transatlantic slave trade. The group of forty students came to the museum in two shifts, with half the class watching a thirty-minute film while the other half discussed Arroyo’s work in the museum with Benton staff. The class visit examined representations of slavery, colonialism, and their legacies through a comparison of multiple media.

ART 3210: Topics in Illustration
Assistant Professor Alison Paul made What’s the Alternative? The Art and Outrage of the 1960s Underground Press integral to the first assignment in her studio art class. Students attended an in-class lecture on political cartoons and satire. Then they visited the museum for a guided discussion of What’s the Alternative? and the related exhibition, From Hogarth to Daumier: Satirical Prints in the Benton’s Collection, 1720-1848. For the assignment, students created their own political cartoons from one of three categories: health care, student loan debt, or climate change. The cartoons were critiqued by What’s the Alternative? guest curator and political cartoonist Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish). Read more about the assignment here:

ENG 1701: Creative Writing
Creative writing instructor Pegi Shea asked her students to write ekphrastic poems inspired by original works of art displayed in the Benton. The group spent time writing in the museum as part of a self-guided class visit.

GERM 1169: Contemporary Germany in Europe
Dr. Shane Peterson selected four prints by German artist Käthe Köllwitz for an Object Study Session at the Benton. Before coming to class, students listened to a podcast about the artist. At the museum, students spent time describing, analyzing, and interpreting the prints with a worksheet, which became the basis for discussion.

ILCS 1145: Elementary Italian I
Graduate assistant Jeanne Bonner brought her Italian language class for a focused discussion of the painting Saint Sebastian (c. 1630). Using the Critical Looking framework, students analyzed the artwork and considered topics such as its site(s) of display, its potential meaning for viewers in seventeenth-century Italy, the painting’s status as a copy, and the significance of Saint Sebastian today. The visit concluded with a lesson in Italian.