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Overview

In Victoria Coates’ 2016 book David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art the author argues that democracy has had a unique capacity to inspire some of the greatest artistic achievements of western civilization from the Parthenon to Picasso’s Guernica. While Dr. Coates does not maintain that this is an exclusive arrangement, or without its fair share of failure and catastrophe, ultimately democracy emerges as one of the great catalysts of western civilization. In this talk Dr. Coates will focus on two case studies from David’s Sling, Michelangelo’s "David" and Albert Bierstadt’s Rocky Mountains: Lander’s Peak, and then expand the discussion to explore how similar histories could be written about two other pillars of western civilization: the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the belief in the limitless potential of the individual.