Fall 2014 Graduate Courses

Updated on June 9, 2014.

Bridge Lectures

AHIS W4089 Native American Art and Culture
E. Hutchinson
T/Th 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This introduction to Native North American art surveys traditions of painting, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography and architecture and traces the careers of contemporary Indian modernists and postmodernists. It emphasizes artistic developments as a means of preserving culture and resisting domination in response to intertribal contact, European colonization and American expansion.

AHIS W4155 Art and Archaeology of Mesopotamia
Z. Bahrani
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
Introduction to the art and architecture of Mesopotamia beginning with the establishment of the first cities in the fourth millennium B.C.E. through the fall of Babylon to Alexander of Macedon in the fourth century B.C.E. Focus on the distinctive concepts and uses of art in the Assyro-Babylonian tradition.

AHIS W4870 Minimalism and Postminimalism
B. Joseph
T/Th 10:10-11:25, 614 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

Bridge Seminars

Limited Enrollment. Application form required

AHIS G4102 Chinese Art Under the Mongols
R. Harrist
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), when China was ruled by the Mongols, was a period of intense creativity in the visual arts of all media. Long the focus of studies devoted to China's scholar-amateur or literati artists, the period of Mongol rule has more recently inspired new approaches that attempt to deal with a much wider range of materials and that place the arts of the Yuan dynasty within a pan-Asian context. Focusing on works of art in local collections, we will address topics such as the definition of Mongol identity as expressed in the visual arts produced in China, the continuation of workshop and professional painting traditions illuminated by recent archaeological discoveries, relationships among the arts of different media, including metalwork, ceramics, and textiles. The seminar also will require students to reexamine long accepted notions of "self-expression" and the social dimensions of literati painting and calligraphy.

AHIS G4266 The Power of Ornament: Roman Imperial Imagery and Its Reception
F. de Angelis
M 11-12:50, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This lecture intends to answer questions about the nature of Roman monuments and their decoration: What was their function? And how did they actually fulfill that function? To what extent was the diffusion of Roman public imagery the outcome of a planned scheme, and to what extent should we instead see it as the unintended result of different factors? In addressing these questions, the lecture will focus particularly on the mechanisms that led to the entrenchment of imperial ideology in Roman society, moving beyond conventional narratives that frame this issue in terms of an 'acceptance vs resistance' dichotomy.
PLEASE NOTE: The format of this course allows for class discussion but does not require formal student presentations. Applications are due August 15, 2014.

AHIS G4451 The Materiality of Painting, From Titian to Velazquez
D. Bodart
Th 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Venetian painting of the 16th century was famous for its painting process—colorito—that was entirely produced through colors without the use of drawn lines. Titian was the main representative of colorito and his work reflects the emergence of visible brushstrokes in painting. This seminar will focus on the emergence of the Venetian brushstroke and its transfer to Spain, particularly as it relates to the works of El Greco and Velázquez.

AHIS G4650 Postwar Critical Theory
J. Rajchman
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Is today a time of reinvention for the critical theory that took shape after the Second World War? In this course, taking1989 as a new take-off date, we explore this hypothesis through a series of overlapping questions including: what is contemporary as distinct from modern? What is an apparatus as distinct from a medium, a media, or a machine? Is there or can there be a global art history? Can participation be critical? Focusing of the role of visual art and art institutions, their expansions and transformations, we thus address the question of the fate and the function of critical theory in the new world of information economies, new urbanizations, biennials and art-fairs.

Graduate Lectures


AHIS G6644 Structuralism, Poststructuralism, Modernism
R. Krauss
T 2:10-4, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
The discourse on Modernism in the visual arts examined in relation to the theoretical positions of structuralism and post-structuralism, specifically the work of Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida.

AHIS G6687 Dada & Surrealism
N. Elcott
M 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
Long neglected, Dada and Surrealism have emerged as twin pillars in recent revisionist histories of modern art. This graduate lecture course puts the two movements in dialogue through a unique pedagogic structure: consecutive lectures by Professors Krauss and Elcott will converge on related topics, e.g. psychotechnics and psychoanalysis, Surrealist photography and Dada montage. Each lecture will be followed by an exchange between the professors and will open onto a discussion with the students. Readings include seminal historical and critical texts as well as recent scholarship. Additional topics include: origin myths and manifestos, obsolescence and mediums, women in Dada and Surrealism, and Marcel Duchamp.

Graduate Seminars

Limited enrollment. Application form required.

AHIS G8008 Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity
Z. Bahrani
Th 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
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 G8131 The Rhetoric of the Avant-Garde in Japan
J. Reynolds
M 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will examine ways in which the concept of "avant-garde" has informed art practice and art criticism in Japan from the 1920s to the present. The class will consider various media, including architecture, photography, painting, sculpture and performance. We will discuss the use of manifestos and other typically avant-garde strategies emplyed by groups such as the Bunriha, Mavo, the Gutai-ha, and Mono-ha and will consider the importance of institutions such as the Sogetsu Arts Center and Yomiuri Independent Exhibitions in the production and dissemination of visual culture. We will debate whether work in "traditional" media by figures such as Yagi Kazuo, Tange Kenzo, and Morita Shiryu is consistent with claims of "originality" and "progress" that are so central to the rhetoric of the avant-garde. We will also explore the potential of avant-garde practice as a form of social critique through the work of figures such as Okamoto Taro, Akasegawa Gempei, Tomatsu Shomei, and Ono Yoko. Reading knowledge of Japanese is not required, but students with Japanese language will be strongly encouraged to apply those skills to research projects. Permission of the instructor required for enrollment.

AHIS G8214 Beyond Beauty: Violence and Goriness in Greek Art
I. Mylonopoulos
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Severed heads of young boys thrown at enemies, necks of virginal maidens slashed by warriors' swords, children stabbed to death by their own mothers, tongues of raped women cut by the abusers: these are not the images one expects to encounter in Greek art, which is still almost exclusively and rather anachronistically associated with beauty, symmetry, and formal perfection. And yet, violent themes of death and abuse in all their gory details populate the world of Greek images from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period. The aim of this seminar is to offer an alternative—more real—view of Greek art and understand its violence and goriness as parts of its (at least) two faces, to add, as it were, the lightless night of violence to the luminous day of athletic, heroic, and divine bodies. Violence in art will be placed in a broader political, historical, and intellectual context. In addition, violence in art will be understood as a powerful visual means for the construction and destruction of images of dangerous Otherness: the aggressive barbarian (Persians), the uncontrolled nature outside the constraints of the polis (Centaurs), and the all too powerful or independent female (Amazons). Open to advanced undergraduates.

AHIS G8647 Manet
A. Higonnet
W 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
Edouard Manet (1832-1883) represented the modern life of mid-nineteenth century Paris. How can we understand the many ways in which his paintings and prints interpreted crucial issues of middle-class, metropolitan, capitalist, and gendered European culture? How has the discipline of art history returned over and over again to Manet's art in order to understand its own methods, values, and purposes? What did Modern mean to Manet, what has it meant to art history, what could it mean to us? The seminar involves close looking at individual paintings and several visits to New York and Boston museums. Reading knowledge of French required.

AHIS G8709 In Front of the Object
A. Shalem
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate level seminar explores our interaction with art objects in the museum. It does so by studying the object as the subject of our inquiring gaze while paying attention to its material, production technique, shape and formation as related to time and style, and its specific decoration and, in some cases, its inscription as the strategies, through which messages and meanings are transmitted. Each of the meetings will take place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the new gallery for the arts of Islam, and will be devoted to one single object. Different materials will be discussed, such as glass, ceramic, bronze, ivory and wood as well as illuminated manuscripts' pages. The museum context will be also critically discussed as an interactive space, in which the art object is deliberately reinvented to answer particular cultural demands and to narrate stories and histories. The museum's making of the art object a masterpiece, marvel, and iconic and authentic item will be also addressed.

AHIS G8736 Modernity and Melancholy
J. Crary
W 11-12:50, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will use modern thematizations of melancholy and memory as an opening onto problems in the work of Gericault, Baudelaire, Meryon and Nerval. Theoretical writings by Benjamin, Kristeva, Ricoeur, Agamben, Sartre, Starobinski, Lepenies and others will also be important. Students will make oral presentations on specific art works and texts. Reading knowledge of French recommended.

CLST G9000 Classical Studies Research Seminar
F. de Angelis
F 9-10:50, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The Classical Studies Research Seminar offers students of the Classical Studies Graduate Program the opportunity to present their research and receive feedback on it. It is mandatory for CLST students who are in their dissertation phase to present their work once every academic year in the CLST Research Seminar or CLST Research Group.

Core Graduate Courses

AHIS G6009 Proseminar
K. Moxey
Th 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for first-year PhD Students in the Art History Department.

AHIS G8889 M.A. Methods Colloquium
F. Baumgartner
Th 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for all first-year M.A. students. This course examines the range of methods employed by art historians in order to understand artworks, including formalism, iconography, Marxism, feminism and post-colonialism. Through the critical reading of texts from Antiquity to the present, we will not only study the history and developments of the methods of art history, but also begin to define our own theoretical positions. Our collective task will be to discuss the critical issues that have shaped the field of art history (the canon, vision, otherness, to name a few), while putting them in conversation with artworks from different traditions and time periods.

AHIS G8990 Critical Colloquium
K. Minturn
M 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
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.