Undergraduate Courses

Please see SPIRE for current course offerings.

100 Survey of Art: Ancient to Renaissance (ATD)
First half of a survey of art history from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Chronological and systematic approach; either a basis for more detailed study of individual periods in upper-level art history courses, or a solid general foundation for a heightened appreciation of the heritage of art. More professionally oriented than ARTHIS 115. Background for upper-level art history courses; required of majors. May register for Honors.

110 Survey of Art: Renaissance to Modern (AT)
Historical survey of art, architecture, and urban development from the Renaissance to the present; the social context in which style has developed. Discussion of the same material from a critical and topical point of view. Background for upper-level art history courses; required of majors. May register for Honors.

115 Introduction to the Visual Arts (ATD)
The discipline of art history and the tools of visual analysis it employs. Focus on issues such as Classicism, “primitive” art, realism, and modernity, presented in roughly chronological order. Discussion of these issues in relation to contemporary visual culture.

118 Introduction to Architecture and the Built Environment
This is an introductory lecture course that is a foundation both for those who have a general interest in architecture and for those who will pursue architecture, design, preservation and planning as a career. It is organized in a fashion that is both thematic and chronological covering the period from antiquity to the present. Lectures and discussions compare the history of buildings, complexes and cities from the Western tradition in Europe, the Near East and America with selected non-Western cultures (China, Japan, India). In addition to an awareness of the built environment, students will develop research skills, learn to read architectural plans and develop a working vocabulary of architectural terms.

190A Venice: Art, History, Environment
A unique city, seemingly floating on water, Venice has gone from being the capital of a world emporium of trade to the center of Disneyworld-like tourism. This course traces the history of the city and its empire from the time of its founding after the fall of the Roman Empire to the present day. Topics covered include: the city's construction on water; its fantastical architecture; its famous tradition of painting by artists such as Bellini, Titian and Tiepolo; the invention of glass-making, the printing press, and map-making; the culture of Grand Tour and the masked ball in the eighteenth century; and the modern period of economic decline and cultural romanticization. We will conclude by considering contemporary problems of preserving and revivifying this world wonder in the face of climate change. No prerequisites.

190B Art and Visual Culture of East Asia
This course surveys the visual culture and art of China, Korea, and Japan. It fulfills general education requirements in arts (AT) and global diversity (G). We begin with archaeological findings from the late Neolithic cultures and end with the early twentieth century transcultural encounters  that formed modern art in East Asia. Emphasizing global interconnections and exchange across East Asia as well as other parts of the world, we consider how visual expression constructed a wide range of perspectives on death and the afterlife, faith and devotion, society and community, empire and governance, and the pressures of market economies. Topics include the spatial cosmologies of early tombs, the spread of Buddhist art as cosmopolitan exchange, imperial patronage of painting and architecture, elite social spaces created through calligraphy and gardens, and the depiction of urban spectacle in print culture. All readings in translation.

302 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. May register for Honors.

303 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. May register for Honors.

305 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.

307 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. 

310 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.

313 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.

314 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.  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.  

318 The Play of Realism in the Northern Renaissance
Topical survey of the art of the Renaissance in Northern Europe: van Eyck and disguised symbolism, late Gothic spiritualism; Bosch and the fantastic; Durer and the Reformation; the rise of landscape and the art of Pieter Bruegel. Primary attention to painting the expressive value of the works in a cultural context. May register for Honors.

319 Court, Church and Community in Northern Baroque Art
Survey of 17th century painting outside Italy. Emphasis on Velazquez, Poussin, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermer. Meaning and function of the art in historical and cultural context. May register for Honors.

320 Aspects of the Baroque
Selected aspects of art and architecture in England, France, Flanders, Holland, Germany, and Austria from 1600 to 1750. 

323 European Art 1780-1880
Surveys major artists and developments from David through Impressionism; emphasis on historical context and related cultural and intellectual developments. May register for Honors.

324 Modern Art, 1880-1980
Introduction to directions and major issues in 20th 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. 

326 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: ARTHIS 324 or consent of instructor.

328 American Art to 1860
Painting, architecture, and sculpture in the English North American colonies and the United States to 1860. Emphasis on painting. May register for Honors.

329 American Art 1860-1940
Painting, architecture, and sculpture in the United States from 1860 to 1940. Emphasis on painting. May register for Honors.

334 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. 

335 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. 

342 19th- Century Architecture: Reform, History and Technology
This lecture class surveys the practice of architecture in Europe and America from 1750 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.

343 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.

344 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.

347 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 it’s 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 ARTHIS 348.

348 History of Islamic Art and Architecture II
Continuation of ARTHIS 347. The artistic expression of the various Islamic peoples from the 14th through 18th centuries through important art works and related historical material. Any one of three 100-level art history courses, or ARTHIS 347 or a course in Islamic history desirable. Alternates with ARTHIS 347.

354 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. 

370 Junior Year Writing Course
Course projects which give practice in different types of art historical writing (catalogue entry, book or exhibition review, interpretive essay, technical report) combined with in-class exercises in the writing of analytical and explanatory prose. Topic focuses from semester to semester on a period, culture, and/or individual artist. Required of all art history majors in their junior year.

381-389 and 671-675 Great Themes in Art History
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 Art History 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 the program 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 twentieth-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. 
  • 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: Contemporary Women’s Art and Criticism
    Seminar. Directions and definitions of women artists’ work from the 1970’s to the present in the social and critical context in which it developed. Feminist theory and art criticism central to each phase examined. 
  • Great Themes: History of Prints
    Seminar. History of printmaking as fine art; emphasis on major printmakers, Durer, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Goya. Issues of collecting and prints as vehicle of popular and propagandistic communication. Required field trips. 
  • Great Themes: Landscape and Contemporary Art   
    How does the genre of landscape relate to concerns of contemporary artists? This seminar proposed many theoretical approaches to postmodern concepts of land and nature in earthworks, performance, environmental art, landscape painting, contemporary 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.

397A 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 or their careers. ARTHIS 110 or 115 recommended as background.

495B – American Art of 1920s & 30s
This seminar for undergraduates will investigate painting and photography in the United States between the world wars, from about 1920 to 1940. Attention will also be devoted to sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, film, and literature during the period. Individual painters under discussion will include: Georgia O’Keefe, Charles, Sheeler, Charles Demuth, Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Edward Hopper, Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Ben Shahn, and Stuart Davis. Among photographers whose work we will discuss are Alfred Stieglitz, Walker Evans, Edward Weston, and Dorothea Lange. We will consider realism in contrast to modernism and abstraction, Precisionism and the machine aesthetic, Art Deco, the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance, Regionalism, the WPA and other responses to the Great Depression, and responses to nature in an age of urbanism. Enrollment is limited; no particular knowledge of American art is required; survey knowledge of the visual arts is a prerequisite.