Graduate Courses

Please consult SPIRE for current course offerings.

602 Evaluating Greek Art:  Ancient Culture, Scientific Technology, and Modern Politics
The visual arts against the cultural history of Greece.  The origins, unfolding, and flowering of Greek painting, architecture, and sculpture from roughly 900 to 100 B.C.  Possible museum field trip.

603 Roman Art: Power, Politics, and Society
The origins and unfolding of Roman art from the Etruscans through the late Empire, roughly 600 B.C. to 300 A.D.  Concentration on the flowering of Roman architecture and sculpture, especially portraiture, in the Late Republic and High Empire, 100 B.C. - 200 A.D., and the development of a large-scale, influential, and lasting imperial iconography.

605 Early Medieval Art
The development of Christian art in Western Europe from the early Middle Ages to the beginning of the Romanesque period.  Focus on Early Christian, Byzantine, Hiberno-Saxon, Carolingian, and Ottonian periods and the related political, intellectual, and cultural developments.

607 Romanesque and Gothic Art
The development of architecture, sculpture, painting, and the minor arts from 1050 to 1400 in France, England, and Italy.  The society in which these art forms developed; the relationship of the monuments to contemporary political, social, intellectual, and literary trends.

608 Medieval Painting
The history of the illustrated book from early Christian period through the high Middle Ages.  Problems in materials and technique; stylistic and iconographic questions.  Prerequisite:  Art-Hist 605 or 607.

610 Art and the City-State in Early Renaissance Italy
Chronological survey organized by city rather than artist, to provide a stronger sense of the social context in which works of art were produced.  How city-states develop distinctive artistic styles, and how different governmental systems favored various forms of patronage.  Cities include:  Naples, Rome, Siena, Florence, Milan, Mantua, Ferrara, Padua, Urbino, and Venice.  Central themes:  the revival of interest in classical antiquity and the development of the mathematical system of one-point perspective.

613 High Renaissance Art and Mannerism in Italy
Sixteenth-century visual arts produced in the major artistic centers of Italy, including Florence, Rome, and Venice.  The lives and works of specific artists, such as Leonardo, Raphael, Titian, and Michelangelo. Focus on the relationship between art and society.  Themes include:  the rise in social status of the artist and the notion of artistic genius; the influence of patronage and collecting; women as subjects, patrons, and practitioners of art; classicism and “anti-classicism” (Mannerism); art and religious reform; government and city planning; and the role of art in the creation of political identities.

614 Sexuality, Drama, and Invention: The Baroque Artist in Italy
The lives, careers and works of five famous Italian Baroque artists and architects: Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Guido Reni, Gianlorenzo Bernini, and Francesco Borromini. Special attention is given to the role of sexuality in the artists’ lives and works as well as in Baroque culture more broadly, and to the concepts of drama and invention in the theory and practice of Baroque art and architecture.  

618 The Play of Realism in the Northern Renaissance
Lecture types are the same as those in 318.  In addition, graduate students meet every two weeks to discuss a series of up to date specialized readings in the field; and they keep a critical journal of these readings.

619 Court, Church, and Community in Northern Baroque Art
Lecture types are the same as those in 319.  In addition, graduate students meet every two weeks to discuss a series of up to date specialized readings in the field; and they keep a critical journal of these readings.

620 Aspects of the Baroque
Selected aspects of art and architecture in England, France, Flanders, Holland, Germany, and Austria from 1600 to 1750.  Prerequisite:  Art-Hist 619 or consent of instructor.

623 European Art 1780-1880
Surveys major artists and developments from David through Impressionism; emphasis on historical context and related cultural and intellectual developments.

624 Modern Art, 1880 to Present
Introduction to directions and major issues in 20th- and 21st-century art.  Focus on movements from Post-Impressionism, Symbolism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, to post-World-War II and contemporary directions from Abstract Expressionism to Post-Modernism.

626 Criticism of Modern Art
Practical exercises and studies in the evaluation of modern painting, including supporting theory and/or relationships to the other arts.  Prerequisite:  Art-Hist 624 or consent of instructor.

627 Contemporary Art
Issues and developments in American art after 1940 from the present perspective.  Cultural and art historical context of the postwar work of American artists from Abstract Expressionism through the most recent options raised in the works themselves, artists’ writings, critics’ interpretations, public reception, and support.  Prerequisite:  Art-Hist 624.  Enrollment limited to about 20.

628 American Art to 1860
Painting, architecture, and sculpture in the English North American colonies and the United States to 1860.  Emphasis on painting.

629 American Art 1860-1940
Painting, architecture, and sculpture in the United States from 1860 to 1940.  Emphasis on painting.

634 History of the Decorative Arts
Historical survey of the decorative arts from the Middle Ages into the present century; emphasis on the European and American period styles of the 18th century onward.  Various media of the decorative arts, including furniture, glass, textiles.

635 History of Photography
Introduction to the history of the medium from 1839 to the present.  Lectures focus on the social and cultural factors underlying each type or form of photography, relation of the medium to other arts, and visual analysis of the images themselves.

642 19th-Century Architecture:  Reform, History, and Technology
This lecture class surveys the practice of architecture in Europe and America from the mid-eighteenth-century to 1914.  It looks at the economic, social, and political forces that led to the creation of new building types, institutions, and technologies peculiar to the nineteenth-century by focusing on figures and movements such as Schinkel, Ruskin, Viollet-le-Duc, Frank Lloyd Wright, Haussmann’s Paris, Olmsted’s Central Park, the Gothic Revival, Arts and Crafts, and Art Nouveau.  A particular emphasis will be placed upon the architect’s role as a critic seeking social reform.  Valuable for anyone concerned with design.

643 20th-Century Architecture: Modernism, Capitalism, and Globalism
This lecture course examines the architecture, design, and theory of the 20th century from 1914 to the present with a primary focus on the Modern movement.  It places canonical buildings in the context of ideas and historical forces by focusing on the positions staked out by critics, historians, and founding figures such as Wright, Mies, and Le Corbusier.  Students will develop a working vocabulary of terms, a familiarity with the building technologies of the century, and skill at reading architectural images and plans.  Essential for anyone concerned with design.  An art history survey course and Art-Hist 342 are helpful.

644 Vernacular Architecture
Seminar.  Concentrates on American Colonial architecture of New England and a variety of vernacular structures in later periods:  e.g., barns, windmills, factories.  For students of architectural preservation and renovation, as well as art history.

647 History of Islamic Art and Architecture I
History of Islamic art from its origins in the Byzantine and Sasanian traditions of the Near East, to its development under the Arab Empire and under subsequent Turkish and Persian dynastic patrons through the 13th century.  The Islamic world from Spain to India; emphasis on the central Islamic lands of the Near East.  Media include architecture, painting, textiles, ivories, ceramics, glass and crystal, and others seldom encountered in the study of Western art.  Background in either art history or Near Eastern history useful.  Alternates with Art-Hist 648.

648 History of Islamic Art and Architecture II
Continuation of Art-Hist 647.  The artistic expression of the various Islamic peoples from the 14th through 18th centuries through important art works and related historical material.  Alternates with Art-Hist 647.

654 Art of Buddhism
Moving across South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Silk Road, and East Asia, the spread of Buddhist art might be understood as one of the earliest forms of a truly global art.  This course surveys monuments of architecture, sculpture, and painting associated with major Buddhist practices and sects.   Topics include narratives of the historical Buddha; iconographic programs of ritual sites and sacred spaces such as caves, temples, and monasteries; cosmographic and sacred geographies; and the material cultures of ceremonial and ritual implements. 

671-675 Great Themes in History of Art and Architecture
Changing treatment of central themes, issues, and problems in art history.  Topics change; offerings usually available in Modern and Islamic.  List of current offerings available in the Department Main Office, 317B Bartlett.  Prerequisite:  upper-level survey course on theme to be examined, or consent of instructor.  See below for some of the great themes courses the Department has offered in recent years.

  • Great Themes:  The Body in Modern and Contemporary Art
    For the first part of the course, each session will consider one body part:  hands, eyes, skin, etc.  Concentrating on American and European 20th-century art, the approach will also include cross-cultural and interdisciplinary elements.  Examples of possible juxtapositions include legs by Robert Gober and Hans Bellmer, the electrified hair paintings of Surrealist Leonora Carrington with Senufo (Ivory Coast) coiffures, or Yayoi Kusama’s phallic sculptures with works by Brancusi and Louise Bourgeois.  Key questions will be:  What are the implications of parceling out the body?  What symbolic investment is made in particular parts of the body?  How is the hierarchy of the body viewed differently in specific cultures and historical moments?  What relationships do the various parts of the body have to identity, gender, politics, the senses, etc.?  In the final few weeks of the course, the body will be “reintegrated” by drawing on the thematic threads that have emerged:  the hybrid body, the body in pain, body and machine, the body in performance, and so on.
  • Great Themes:  Contemporary Women Artists
    In this lecture course, women artists and women’s “place” in the art world from 1945 to the present is the primary focus.  The formative role of the feminist movement in contemporary art, as well as the recent interplay of postmodern theory and identity politics, will inform thematic considerations of contemporary art made by women. ,The representation of women artists in contemporary popular culture and the reception and historicization of women’s art work will also be considered.  Prerequisite:  Art-Hist 100, 110, or 115. 
  • Great Themes:  Survey of African Art
    This survey will be organized geographically with a concentration on West and Central sub-Saharan Africa.  The scope will be limited enough to enable an in-depth consideration of the role of art and its relation to the contexts and world views of particular cultural groups, but broad enough to give a sense of the rich diversity of both traditional and contemporary African art practices.  Special attention will be paid to the performative aspects of masking; to the role art plays in shaping gender roles and in healing and divination; to the contrast of  hierarchical, royal vs. less formally structured village traditions; to the impact of colonization and post-colonial independence on African art; and to contemporary legacies of traditional art forms.
  • Great Themes:  History of Prints
    Seminar.  History of printmaking as fine art; emphasis on major printmakers, Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Goya.  Issues of collecting and prints as vehicle of popular and propagandistic communication.  Required field trips.  Prerequisite:  previous courses in art history.
  • Great Themes:  Landscape and Contemporary Art    
    How does the genre of landscape relate to concerns of contemporary artists?  This seminar proposes many theoretical approaches to postmodern concepts of land and nature in earthworks, performance, environmental art, landscape painting, photography, and installation.  Traditional approaches to landscape such as the pastoral and sublime will be put into dialogue with contemporary practices.  Artists to include Smithson, Holt, de Maria, Mendieta, Christo, Beuys, Goldsworthy, Ukeles-Laderman, the Bechers, Crewdson, Wall, Gursky, and Hamilton.  Students will read from and discuss a range of interdisciplinary texts to work out new methodologies for this artwork and will present seminar papers.
  • Great Themes: Orientalism
    Orientalism deals with the imagery of the Islamic world in the art, literature, music, and thought of Europe from the high Middle Ages through the twentieth century.  In addition to examining the views of the late Edward Said, the course incorporates other points of view, but the concentration is on works of visual art in many different media.  This is primarily a course about attitudes reflected in art, and not about theory.  This course meets twice weekly; there will be two short papers, a longer paper, a mid-term and a final examination.  It is helpful but not formally required to have had basic courses in art history and/or Middle East studies; in case of doubt, talk it over with Professor Denny.

692A Winslow Homer and American Culture of the Gilded Age
The course is an interdisciplinary seminar that considers the paintings, watercolors, and graphic work of Winslow Homer within the framework of American culture from about 1860 to 1910.  Emphasis is given to understanding the aims and achievements of Homer relative to contemporaneous artists and selected writers in the historical context.  Participants will complete a midterm take-home essay, make an in-seminar presentation, and submit an article-length paper based on original research.

694B Thomas Eakins and His Contemporaries
This seminar will focus on Thomas Eakins and his art within the context of American culture from the Civil War to the turn of the century.  Secondary emphasis will be on such contemporaries as Winslow Homer, Eastman Johnson, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Anshutz, and August Saint-Gaudens.  At issue will be, for example:  the nature of American realism; the relationship between painting and photography; responses to the Civil War and Reconstruction; the Colonial Revival; the Centennial and Columbian exhibitions and definitions of a national art; modern constructions of labor, science, technology, leisure, history, learning, masculinity, athleticism, and spirituality.  Participants will be expected to contribute to discussions, complete a midterm take-home exam, make an in-class presentation, and prepare an article-length paper based on original research.

697A Impressionism and Post-impressionism
Introduction to modern art of the later 19th century through the major figures of these two movements. Analysis of their techniques, subjects, and the shape of their careers.

705 Studies in Medieval Iconography
This seminar will have a dual focus.  Three sessions will cover methodological approaches to art history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The other sessions will be devoted to the cult of the saints throughout the Middle Ages.  Attention will be paid not only to the usual tradition in the figural arts and architecture, but also to the political, religious, and social setting within which the cult evolved.  Modern methodological approaches will be examined in this context.

711 Problems in Italian Art: The Enigma of Giorgione
This course examines Giorgione’s oeuvre as the site of a number of methodological and theoretical problems in the discipline of art history.  We will begin with the most basic issues of documentation, attribution, and dating.  From there we move on to considering social-historical context, iconography, and other methods of interpretation.  Particular attention is given to the new genres Giorgione is believed to have established—the pastoral landscape, the reclining nude, and the half-length portrait-like image—and to the contention that Giorgione invented a new kind of painting specifically intended for private collectors.  Finally, we will consider the impact of these innovations on the next generation of artists and patrons. 

718 Selected Topics in Northern Renaissance Art
All students complete a series of critical readings and write a research paper on a topic of their choice (also presented orally to class).  Recent topics include:  critical problems in early 15th-century Flemish painting; critical problems in early 16th-century German art.

719 Selected Topics in Northern Baroque Painting
All students complete a series of critical readings and write a research paper on a topic of their choice (also presented orally to class).  Recent topics include Rembrandt and Dutch art.

725 Problems in Contemporary Art
The seminar will explore the emergence of Postmodernism in the visual arts and the critical and theoretical issues that have defined it.  We will coordinate discussion of artists and postmodern theories and practice from the 1960s to the present, focusing on concepts such as deconstruction, text, pastiche, simulacra, spectacle, difference, fragmentation, multiculturalism, schizophrenia, abjection, and hyperspace.  We will debate the relevance of these concepts in current artistic practice.  Readings will include essays by critics and historians who have defined or interpreted these and related themes (e.g. Barthes to Krauss, Jameson to Foster).  Artists considered include Antoni, Gober, Haacke, Hatoum, Hirst, Halley, Salle, Sherman, Kruger, Holzer, Levine, Simpson, Durham, Kelley, Kelly, Koons, Polke, Richter, Wodiczko, and Whiteread.

743 20th-Century Architecture
This graduate level seminar interprets important modernist buildings and projects through a selection of texts from the “high modern” postwar years in Western Europe, America, and Japan drawn mostly from Joan Ockman and Edward Eigen’s anthology, Architecture Culture.  Each week is a “capsule” for a particular movement, geographical area, or typology.  The class examines tendencies (Brutalism, Neo-Liberte, etc.), theorists and historians (Giedion and Banham), seminal figures (Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies), and bellwethers (Kahn, the Smithsons), and concludes with the rise of a postmodernist critique (Venturi).  The goal is to achieve a familiarity with modernist themes of the postwar period.  Graduate students only.  No pre-requisite, but familiarity with modernism helpful.  Auditing Art-Hist 343, 20th-Century Architecture is highly recommended.

781 Methods of Art History
Intended for M.A. candidates in History of Art and Architecture, this seminar deals with major developments in the discipline of art history in the 20th century:  connoisseurship, stylistic analysis, iconography, iconology, and various contexts for critical study and interpretation.  There are readings in classic methodology (Berenson, Wölfflin, Panofsky), plus a number of other more recent works, many taken from the text Art History and its Methods, edited by Eric Fernie.  Students will keep a critical journal of these readings, write a comparative analysis of two catalog entries, and complete a longer 20-page state of research paper on a particular field, problem, or artist.  The state of research paper will also be presented to the class.

791A American Landscape and Genre Painting Before 1860
This seminar will address the ideological dimensions of landscape and genre painting in the United States in, principally, the Jacksonian and antebellum periods.  Emphasis will be given to the art of Thomas Cole and the development of the Hudson River School, as well as to the art of William Sidney Mount within the cultural context.  Readings are drawn from methodologically diverse historical studies and a few key literary texts.  Issues for discussion include: American reinterpretations of European art; the city and the wilderness; the agrarian ideal; the rise of tourism and industrialization; the moral, social, and spiritual dimensions of American nature; the concept and reality of the frontier; patronage; natural history and science as artists’ concerns; immigration and modes of enculturation; reformism; race and gender in genre art; the degree to which landscape and genre artists expressed a shared ideology.

791C The Renaissance at Home: The Art and Architecture of Domestic Space in Italy

This course explores current issues in the interdisciplinary study of Early Modern Europe through the prism of the Italian palazzo (house/palace).  A topic of considerable scholarly interest of late with major exhibitions and many conference panels and books devoted to it, the palazzo was not just an important form of Renaissance architecture, but also arguably the driving force behind the production of much Renaissance painting, sculpture, and decorative arts.  We will examine the house as a social and political space, the design of the architecture, and the decoration of the interior space, proceeding from larger questions about consumption, family and urban planning towards the study of particular kinds of palaces, rooms, and objects.

791G Asian Art
Critical topics in East Asian art history.  Recent topics include Aesthetic Revolutions in Modern Chinese Art