Discussion

Topics: John Berger, Art critic, Ways of Seeing Pages: 2 (466 words) Published: September 10, 2013
English 1A: Discussion Topics John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” Topic 1: Berger argues that there are barriers to vision, problems in the ways we see or don’t see original works of art, problems that can be located in and overcome by strategies of approach. For this topic, discuss what, as you read Berger, gets in the way when we look at paintings, and what it is that we might do to overcome the barriers to vision (and to history). Imagine that you are speaking to someone interested in art, but someone who has not read Berger’s essay. Topic 2: Berger writes that “Original paintings are silent and still in a sense that information never is.” Given that Berger describes original paintings as silent in this passage, it is clear that paintings begin to speak if one approaches them properly, if one learns to ask “the right questions of the past”—in other words, if one fights against what Berger calls “mystification.” For this topic, discuss this arguably most important of Berger’s ideas. Topic 3: For Berger, what we lose if we fail to see properly is history: “If we ‘saw’ the art of the past, we would situate ourselves in history. When we are prevented from seeing it, we are being deprived of the history which belongs to us.” It is not hard to figure out who, according to Berger, prevents us from seeing the art of the past. He says it is the ruling class (or the symbolic “art historian”). It is difficult, however, to figure out what he believes precisely gets in our way and what all this has to do with “history.” For this topic, then, explain what, according to Berger, gets in the way when we look at pictures, paintings, or images, and what this has to do with history. Topic 4: The sections regarding the influence of “reproduction” on our collective perspective are important ones because they help buttress the general discussion of “mystification” throughout “Ways of Seeing.” For this topic, evaluate John Berger’s views on reproduction. What are they, exactly? And...
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