Fall 2011 Graduate Courses

Updated on September 8, 2011.


(AHIS G4084) Mesoamerican Art & Architecture
E. Pasztory
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
A survey of the major pre-Hispanic cities of Mexico and Guatemala, including San Lorenzo, Teotihuacan, Tikal, Monte Alban, Uxmal, and Chichen Itza. Aesthetic, historical, and archaeological problems are discussed.

(AHIS G4128) Visual Narratives of India
V. Dehejia
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
This course proposes the existence of distinct modes of visual narration used by India's artists to present stories visually, both in the medium of relief sculpture, and that of watercolors on paper or plastered walls. It considers the rich corpus of Buddhist narrative reliefs, and then focuses on the relationship of text and image in the painted manuscript tradition of India.

(AHIS G4368) Gothic Sculpture
S. Murray
R 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
While we will consider all aspects of medieval sculptural production (including tombs, screen and shrines) the course will focus upon French portal sculpture of the 12th and 13th centuries. Using the thousands of high-resolution images now assembled in www.mappinggothicfrance.org we will look for the connective tissue that links portals into a coherent narrative.

(AHIS G6523) Foucault and the Arts
J. Rajchman
W 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
We will explore the work of Michel Foucault in its relations with visual art, its criticism and its history. We examine the development of his historical work, his critical aims, and his methods in and through their relations with the visual arts and art institutions: first, through his own criticism or analysis of Raymond Roussel, Manet, Velasquez, and Magritte, and views on the museum; then through his invention of new sorts of archival work, fictions and other documentary forms, and finally through his reflections on the question of artistic work as a 'technique of subjectivisation' or as 'critical act of enlightenment'. We then consider attempts to extend these aspects of his work today in new ways or in relation to new problems.

(AHIS G6870) Minimalism & Post-Minimalism
B. Joseph
R 2:10-4, 612 Schermerhorn
This course examines minimalism—one of the most significant aesthetic movements—during the sixties and seventies. More than visual art, the course considers minimal sculpture, music, dance, and "structural" film, their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects. Artists include: Carl Andre, Tony Conrad, Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Anthony McCall, Yvonne Rainer, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson.

(AHIS W4111) The Japanese Temple
M. McKelway and M. Moerman
MW 10:35-11:50, 832 Schermerhorn
No other single institution has played a more crucial role in the development and preservation of Japanese art than the Buddhist temple. This course will examine the Buddhist temple in Japan from its beginnings in the late sixth and seventh century through the early modern period. Lectures will provide students with multiple perspectives on the architecture, art, and liturgy that comprise Buddhist houses of worship in Japan. Issues to be explored include: the adoption of continental practices at Hōryūji and Tōdaiji; adaptations to the Japanese cities and landscape at Tōji, Murōji, and Sensōji; the impact of new sects such as Zen and Pure Land Buddhism in medieval Japan; and syncretism at sites such as Kumano.

(AHIS W4130) The Indian Temple
V. Dehejia
TR 10:35-11:50, 934 Schermerhorn
This course explores the emergence and development of the Indian temple, examines the relationship between form and function, and emphasizes the importance of considering temple sculpture and architecture together. It covers some two thousand years of activity, and while focusing on Hindu temples, also includes shrines built to the Jain and Buddhist faiths.


(AHIS G6009) Proseminar
D. Freedberg
Required course for first-year PhD Students in the Art History Department.

(AHIS G8008) Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity
Z. Bahrani
T 6:10-8, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar will look into concepts of the aesthetic, the image and image making in antiquity, in the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean world by means of ancient works of art, and ancient texts. The class will discuss this material within the context of recent theories of the image and aesthetics in art history, anthropology and philosophy.

(AHIS G8134) Rimpa
M. McKelway
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
The seminar will explore the arts practiced by Tawaraya Sōtatsu (d. ca. 1640), Ogata Kōrin (1658-1716), and Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828). Variously considered as constituting a "decorative" or "revivalist" movement in Japanese art, the artists now commonly grouped under the "Rimpa" (school of Kōrin) rubric appear to have been deeply concerned with Chinese painting, classical literature, and haikai poetry. Without the blood ties that forged bonds among other lineages of artists and artisans in Japan, what made the movement later named "Rimpa" so durable? Major texts, such as the seminal essays by Yamane Yūzō, will be read alongside primary documents. Students in the course will be expected to write a research paper related to works examined in public and private institutions in the seminar, and should have a reading command of modern and classical Japanese, or classical Chinese.

(AHIS G8342) Sebastiano Serlio: Theory of architecture between Italy and France
F. Benelli
T 4:10-6 832 Schermerhorn
The seminar seeks to investigate Serlio's theoretical precepts based on the classical rules and the way they impacted on the still strong gothic French architecture. Most of the sessions will take place in the Rare Book Collection of Avery Library working directly on Serlio's first editions of his treatises and on his collection of drawing. Knowledge of Italian and French is strongly recommended.

(AHIS G8357) Art for the Emperor: Dialoguing through Monuments in Ancient Rome
F. de Angelis
T 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
This seminar will address the peculiar fact that the overwhelming majority of public monuments in the Roman imperial period—from the Ara Pacis to the Column of Trajan, from the Arch of Titus to that of Constantine—was not commissioned by the emperor, but for him, in response to his deeds and benefactions. The seminar will interpret these monuments as elements of a symbolic communication system that contributed in establishing the roles of the various historical actors—the emperor, the senate, the Roman people, local communities, professional groups, etc.—and will explore the consequences of this vision for our understanding of Roman state art.

(AHIS G8455) Italian Baroque Painting
M. Cole
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
This course will look at painting in the period ca. 1580-1630, focusing on central Italian easel pictures in regional collections. Each student will be asked to present on two objects and to prepare a final research paper or book review. Reading knowledge of Italian will be helpful. Flexibility for travel required.

(AHIS G8576) Performing Pictures: Theatricality, Tableaux Vivants, and Media Interaction, 1800-2000
C. Grewe
R 1-2:50, 930 Schermerhorn
From its inception on the French stage in the second half of the 18th century and the provocative "attitudes" struck by Emma Hart, the later Lady Hamilton, the tableau vivant has problematized the role of the body in art, while challenging notions of high and low art, copy and original, mimesis and illusionism, picture and performance. At the same time, this new genre has hovered peculiarly between a para-artistic amateur practice deeply embedded in popular culture and an appropriation by avant-garde movements, including film, photography and performance art. This class uses this peculiarly hybrid genre as a vehicle to explore the persistence and transformation of key problems in aesthetics and artistic practice across two-and-a-half centuries, from the Enlightenment stage to the yearly festivals at Laguna Beach. The interaction, definition, and redefinition of media and problems of artistic expression are key to this project, which cuts across disciplinary fields in art history and visual culture.

(AHIS G8659) Issues in European Art, 1945-1968
K. Cabañas
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
Issues in Postwar European Art focuses on a particular issue within artistic practice in Europe in the postwar period. This year the seminar will examine changing notions of the "material" and "immaterial" in the art of Europe in the years 1945–1968. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, artists were coping with the memory of technology's destructive potential. By the mid-1950s unprecedented industrial development and economic growth soon shifted their focus: The memory of the war's devastation was replaced by enthusiasm for the various countries' economic booms. Moreover, with the turn to an increasingly image-oriented society, reality was subject to new forms of mediation including advertising, weekly magazines, film and television. These changes prompted a range of reactions in the art and theory of this time, from unfettered optimism to explicit critique.

(AHIS G8686) Methods: Post-Medium Condition
R. Krauss
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
By the 1970s four things had occurred to evacuate modernism's certainty that aesthetic seriousness was grounded on a self-critical response on the part of an artist to his own medium. These were: post-modernism; conceptual art; the rise of Duchamp's importance over that of Picasso; and deconstruction's erosion of the possibility of self-presence. This situation will be the background for thinking a way past these formidable blockages. Texts will include Heidegger, Derrida, Thierry de Duve, Jean-Luc Nancy, among others.

(AHIS G8739) Visual Time
K. Moxey
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
When and where is the time of Art History? Can we continue to subscribe to an evolutionary narrative in an age of globalization? What does history look like when told from the midst of time rather than at its end? If modernism is over, what does heterochrony look like? This seminar examines ways in which contemporary philosophers, anthropologists, art historians, and other cultural critics, face the temporal dilemmas of contemporaneity.
Course syllabus 

(AHIS G8752) Iconoclasm
Z. Strother
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
Why do images arouse such fury? Nothing is what it seems.  Ironically, the destruction of art is one of the few issues that cuts across the discipline, permitting art historians from almost every field to engage one another as well as social scientists. This seminar delves into a number of the key debates that have developed since the 1990s across the historical, religious, and cultural spectrum, both through assigned readings and through student research. It concludes by examining the paradoxical relationship of iconoclasm to the museum and to modernism. (Students from outside art history should contact the professor directly and forego the department application process.)

(AHIS G8765) Issues in Performance Art
K. Jones
W 6:10-8, 934 Schermerhorn
Wedged between the rudiments of theater and the gestures of visual art, performance art came to prominence at the end of the twentieth century. Our concentration in this course will be on artists and practices after 1960. However, we will also consider the roots of this form in the first part of the twentieth century. Central to our investigations will be discussions surrounding performance as catalytic process, as temporal art, and issues of the body as form. African American performance will be the focus for this semester. We will also take advantage of Performa09, The Third Biennial of New Visual Art Performance which takes place November 1-22 and will be held at various venues around the city.

(AHIS G8990) Critical Colloquium
K. Cabañas
Required course for all first-year Modern Art M.A. students. The structure of the colloquium combines reading and analysis of texts by major theorists and critics. Each week discussions focus on key terms and analytical lenses in the history of art and art criticism. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by critics and writers, just as it draws on the expertise and participation of Columbia faculty. The aim is to develop students' critical thinking and for them to learn directly from leading practitioners writing about modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, writers for Artforum, Grey Room, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, and October, among other venues, regularly participate in the colloquium.