Fall 2015 Undergraduate Courses

This is a preliminary list of courses. Check back for changes and additional courses.


AHIS BC1001 Introduction to the History of Art
M/W 2:40-3:55, Location TBA
Either term may be taken separately. Brief examination of the techniques of visual analysis, followed by a chronological survey of the major period styles of Western European art. Emphasis on the introduction of form and content in the works studied and on the correlation of the visual arts with their cultural environments. BC1001: Greek and Roman art; medieval art. BC1002: Renaissance to modern art.

AHIS C3001 Introduction to Architecture
P. del Real
T/R 10:10-11:25am, 612 Schermerhorn 
This course is required for architectural history and theory majors, but is also open to students interested in a general introduction to the history of architecture, considered on a global scale. Architecture is analyzed through in-depth case studies of key works of sacred, secular, public, and domestic architecture from both the Western canon and cultures of the ancient Americas and of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic faiths. The time frame ranges from ancient Mesopotamia to the modern era. Discussion section is required.

AHIS BC3673 Intro History of Photography
A. Alberro
T/R 4:10-5:25, Location TBA
Focuses on the intersection of photography with traditional artistic practices in the 19th century, on the mass cultural functions of photography in propaganda and advertising from the 1920s onwards, and on the emergence of photography as the central medium in the production of postwar avant-garde art practices

AHIS W3238 Architecture of 11th and 12th Centuries in the Digital Age
S. Van Liefferinge
M/W 11:40-12:55, Schermerhorn 832
During the first two centuries of the second millennium, new regional powers developed in Western Europe and the Mediterranean, leading to a regain of exchanges across the Mediterranean Sea. This course ignores traditional art historical borders to investigate how in the 11th and 12th centuries artists and architects developed inventive answers to the diverse needs and desires of their societies. By bringing in materials from the Western and Islamic cultures, original and border-crossing associations are sought.While the course focuses on architecture, different media are included as they provide valuable information on the cultural context of the 11th and 12th centuries. Particular attention is given to new technologies currently addressed for the study of medieval architecture. They serve as a basis for a critical discussion about the changes in method introduced by new media and technologies in the field of architectural history.

AHIS W3407 Early Italian Art  (Class Canceled)
M. Cole
T/R  10:10-11:25, Schermerhorn 501
An introduction to the origins and early development of Italian Renaissance painting as a mode of symbolic communication between 1300-1600. Artists include Giotto, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Mantegna, and Leonardo da Vinci. Emphasis on centers of painting in Florence, Siena, Assisi, Venice and Rome.

AHIS W3600 19th-Century Art
J. Crary
M/W 1:10-2:25 Schermerhorn 501
The course examines selected topics in the history of European painting from the 1780s to 1900. It will explore a range of aesthetic, cultural and social issues through the work of major figures from David, Goya, and Turner to Manet, Seurat and Cezanne. This is a no laptop, no e-device course. Discussion Section Required.

AHIS V3203 Arts of Japan
M. McKelway
M/W  10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn
Survey of Japanese art from the Neolithic through the Edo period, with emphasis on Buddhist art, scroll painting, decorative screens, and wood-block prints.

AHIS V3248 Greek Art and Architecture 
I. Mylonopoulos
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn
An introduction to the art and architecture of the Greek world during the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic periods (11th - 1st centuries B.C.E.).

AHUM V3342 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture
V. Deheija
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn
Introduction to 2000 years of art on the Indian subcontinent. The course covers the early art of Buddhism, rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists and Hindus, the development of the Hindu temple, Mughal and Rajput painting and architecture, art of the colonial period, and the emergence of the Modern. Approved for partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement.

AHUM V3340 Arts of China, Japan & Korea
D. Delbanco
M/W 11:40-12:55, 612 Schermerhorn
This course introduces distinctive aesthetic traditions of China, Japan, and Korea—their similarities and differences—through an examination of the visual significance of selected works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other arts in relation to the history, culture, and religions of East Asia. Approved for partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement.


Required course for majors. Limited enrollment. Please sign-up using this online form (active starting March 25th). Early sign-up is strongly encouraged.

Deadline for sign up: Thursday, April 9, 2015

AHIS W3895 Major's Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Art History
Z. Bahrani
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
Introduction to different methodological approaches to the study of art and visual culture. Majors are encouraged to try to take the colloquium during their junior year.

Undergraduate Seminars

Seminars require an application and admission is at the instructor's discretion.  Applications for Columbia seminars should be submitted to Amanda Young in the department office (826 Schermerhorn Hall).  Applications for Barnard courses should be submitted to the Barnard Art History Department using the Barnard application form. The required application form can be found on the planning sheets and forms page.

Seminar Application Deadline: Thursday, April 9, 2015

AHIS W3889 Approaches to Contemporary Art (New course - application deadline August 3rd. Applications can be emailed to [email protected])
B. Joseph 
R 2:10-4:00, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the critical approaches to contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. It will address a range of historical and theoretical issues around the notion of "the contemporary" (e.g. globalization, participation, relational art, ambivalence, immaterial labor) as it has developed in the era after the postmodernism of the 1970s and 1980s.

AHIS BC3949 Art of Witness: Memorials(Barnard)
R. Deutsche
W 11 - 12:50pm, Location TBA
Examines aesthetic responses to collective historical traumas, such as slavery, the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima, AIDS, homelessness, immigration, and the recent attack on the World Trade Center. Studies theories about trauma, memory, and representation. Explores debates about the function and form of memorials.

AHIS BC3950Photography & Video in Asia (Barnard)
C. Phillips
W 6:10-8pm, Location TBA
East Asia is now perhaps the world's most dynamic region, and its dramatic social and economic transformation has been mirrored in the work of a host of startlingly original and innovative visual artists. The class will explore the ideas and visual idioms that inform the leading contemporary photo artists in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will begin with a historical survey of the development of photography in East Asia since the mid-19th century, but we will concentrate on the period from 1960 to the present. Figures whose work will be explored include such Japanese artists and photographers as Eikoh Hosoe, Daido Moriyama, Tomatsu Shomei, Miyako Ishiuchi, Nobuyoshi Araki, Yasumasa Morimura, Moriko Mori, Naoya Hatakeyema, and Tomoko Sawada. From China, we will examine the work of artists like Zhang Huan, Hong Hao, Yang Fudong, Lin Tianmiao, and Xing Danwen, while Korean artists to be covered include Atta Kim and Yeondoo Jung. Since many of these artists work regularly in video as well as photography, there will be regular video screenings throughout the semester.

AHIS BC3968 Art Criticism (Barnard)
J. Miller
T 11-12:50pm, Location TBA
Contemporary art and its criticism written by artists (rather than by art historians or journalistic reviewers). Texts by Dan Graham, (Art and Language), Robert Smithson, Brian O'Dougherty, Martha Rosler, Barbara Kruger and others. Also, this class considers the art and writing of each artist together.

AHIS BC3985 Intro to Connoisseurship(Barnard)
M. Ainsworth
Factors involved in judging works of art, with emphasis on paintings; materials, technique, condition, attribution; identification of imitations and fakes; questions of relative quality.

AHIS C3997 Senior Thesis Seminar
K. Jones
M 6:10-8pm, 934 Schermerhorn
Required for all thesis writers. Counts towards elective lecture credit.
For more information about the thesis, please visit the senior thesis page on our website.

AHIS C3948 Nineteenth-Century Criticism
J. Crary
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Selected readings in 19th-century philosophy, literature and art criticism with emphasis on problems of modernity and aesthetic experience. Texts include work by Diderot, Kant, Coleridge, Hegel, Emerson, Flaubert, Ruskin, Baudelaire, and Nietzsche.

AHIS W3801 Realism as Rhetoric
A. Botchkareva
W 4:10-6pm, 832 Schermerhorn
From hyperbolic tropes to philosophical ruminations, laudatory evaluations of the power of lifelikeness in art have held a prominent place in art-critical discourses across temporal, historical and cultural divides. Yet definitions of what constitutes a realistic depiction have remained rarely stated and often lacking in consensus and clarity. This course will explore the concept of realism in visual representation: we will study the historiography of critical rhetoric (literary and scholarly) that has informed our assumptions about this category; and we will challenge those assumptions – of optical illusionism and transparency of style – in favor of exploring a variety of strategies of representational realism as rhetoric in themselves. The course investigates the relationship between the cultural codes and biological preconditions of human response to visual representations by looking at realism from a set of multi-disciplinary perspectives and within a cross-culturally comparative context. We begin with an overview of primary sources, move on to contemporary art-historical scholarship and alternative definitions from philosophy and cognitive science, and spend the second half of the semester on case studies of European and Persianate engagements with various strategies of realism in visual culture.

AHIS W3805 Ethiopian Art in Global Networks
Z.S. Strother
M 12:10-2pm, 930 Schermerhorn
Ethiopia has fired the imagination for centuries as the home of Prester John, Queen of Sheba and the Ark of  the Covenant, the Books of Enoch and Jubilees, a special dispensation from Prophet Mohammed in the Hadith & as the one African nation state to escape colonialism through defeat of Italy at the Battle of Adwa in 1896. This course examines the fascinating history and history of representations of Ethiopia in relation to its rich visual culture with special sensitivity to past and present networks of exchange with Byzantium, Jerusalem and Palestine, the Mediterranean, South Arabia, and India. There will be units on the burial complexes of the ancient state of Aksum, rock cut churches of Lalibela, illuminated manuscripts (both Christian and Muslim), and modernism. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of New York collections for their research projects. (Graduate students and students outside of art history are welcome to apply; they should contact the professor directly.)

AHIS W3823 The Body in Medieval Art
J.S. Ackley
M 10:10-12pm, 832 Schermerhorn
Medieval concepts of the human body differed significantly from today’s definitions and theorizations.  Additionally, the “medieval body” was not a stable, monolithic entity, but rather a shifting constellation of ideas and practices that waxed, waned, and coexisted throughout the Middle Ages.  Such diverse attitudes helped inform the representation of the body in art, a representation that simultaneously depended upon conventions of style, craft, medium, artistry, and preciousness.  “Body” signals not only earthly bodies—sexed, fleshly, corruptible, and soon to decay—but also the soul (equally fragile), as well as heavenly, angelic, and divine bodies, including that of Christ.  This course attends both to medieval strategies of representing these bodies and the corresponding intellectual contexts, within Western Europe from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages.  The bodies to be examined include, and are not limited to, saintly, gendered, racialized, clerical, monstrous, virginal, heretical, sickly, healthy, courtly, resurrected, and uncircumscribable bodies.  Late Antique, medieval, and early-modern primary-source material will be complemented by recent work by Caroline Walker Bynum, Michael Camille, Judith Butler, C. Stephen Jaeger, and others; our study of the medieval body will be cognizant of gender-, sexuality-, race-, and performance-critical methods.

AHIS W3866 Frank Lloyd Wright and the Place of Public Assembly: Projects and Critical Reception on an International Stage
B. Bergdoll
T 2:10-4pm, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will focus on the development of Frank Lloyd Wright’s built public architecture through an examination of key projects and their critical reception not only in the United States but abroad.  The aim is to develop not only a knowledge of Wright’s career, work, and influence, but also to develop critical skills in understanding the relationship between the study of built architecture and it’s design history.  Equally we will develop an understanding of the role of the study of reception in architectural history. 
The structure of the seminar will be an alternation between sessions in the drawings collection of Avery Library to study at close hand materials from the Frank Lloyd Wright archive (drawings, photographs, books) and sessions to read primary and secondary literature on Wright’s work, emphasizing the evolution of critical reception from commentary contemporary with the projects to the evolution of the project in the vast literature on Wright that has developed since his death in 1959.   At midpoint of the class our attention will focus for a week on Wright’s work exhibiting his own work, to work with the hypothesis that Wright was as much involved in designing buildings and he was in designing his reputation and reception. 

Bridge Lectures

Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application.

AHIS W4048 Mesoamerican Art and Architecture 
A. Gannaway
T/R 11:40-12:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall 
The arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the Americas during the first half of the 16th century precipitated the collapse of the famously powerful and sophisticated Aztec Empire. Having been preceded by thousands of years of rich cultural development, this impressive pre-Columbian society was but one of many that thrived in ancient Mesoamerica, a region comprised of present-day Mexico and northern Central America. This course surveys the diversity of artistic and architectural traditions that arose in this area during the period before European contact. Emphasis will be placed on the way in which selected works operated in their original social contexts through exploration of the aesthetic strategies, materials and technologies employed in their creation, as well as the wide range of interdisciplinary methodologies art historians use to arrive at these conclusions. Some aspects of the post-conquest legacy of ancient Mesoamerican art will also be considered via its representation in modern art and popular culture.

AHIS W4144 Artistic Interactions: Europe and the "Orient" (711-1517)
A. Shalem
M/W 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn (NEW DAY/TIME)
With the Muslim expansion into the Mediterranean Basin, the capture of the Iberian Peninsula in 711, and, later on, the conquest of Sicily and South Italy by the very beginning of the 9th century, the Christian Latin West came into direct contacts with the new Muslim Empire. Moreover, diplomacy between the Carolingian and the Ottonian courts with potent Muslim powers in Baghdad and Cordoba, wars and conflicts in the age of Crusade, and extensive trade ventures between western Europe and the “Orient” in the High Middle Ages brought about a new aesthetic common language – a sort of artistic lingua franca – that strongly shaped the art of Christian Europe and that of the Muslim world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. In this series of lectures the artistic interactions between Europe and the world of Islam will be chronologically discussed. In addition, contact zones, such as important trade centers, and particular frontier regions located on the verges of the Christian and Muslim worlds will be highlighted as the major interactive spaces for artistic exchanges and mobility of people and objects.

AHIS W4848 Neo-Dada and Pop Art
B. Joseph
TR 4:10-5:25, Location TBA 
This course examines the avant-garde art of the fifties and sixties, including assemblage, happenings, pop art, Fluxus, and artists' forays into film. It will examine the historical precedents of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Carolee Schneemann and others in relation to their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. As with other seminars, they require an application. Applications can be submitted to Amanda Young in the department office (826 Schermerhorn Hall) The required application form can be found on the planning sheets and forms page.

Bridge seminars will count towards seminar credit for majors.

Application Deadline: Monday, August 3rd

AHIS G4136 What's the Matter? Reading Medieval and Early Modern Sources on Materiality and the Making of Artifacts
A. Shalem
T 6:10-8pm, 930 Schermerhorn
This graduate level seminar focuses on specific medieval and early modern sources, mainly translations of Arabic sources, on materials and the making of objects in the world of Islam. It will cover issues concerning the making and shaping of precious stones and precious materials into objects of art, the working with particular materials such as glass and rock crystals, and even the making of copies and fakes. In addition, other materials like metalwork, lacquer and ceramics will be also addressed. Students will be asked to read and discuss in each of the meetings a specific tractate, which usually focuses on one particular material. The text will be critically discussed with aiming at thinking beyond the text’s informative values and mainly trying to embed it within a wider context of the human knowledge of materials techniques in the pre- and early modern era.

AHIS G4213 Greek Art and Architecture Seen Through the Eyes of Pausanias
I. Mylonopoulos
T  4:10-6 pm, 934 Schermerhorn (NEW DAY/TIME)
There can be no doubt that Pausanias’ work, his ten books on Greece, is among the most important sources for the understanding of ancient Greek art and architecture. Modern scholarship has viewed Pausanias as an intellectual traveler, an antiquarian, an art historian or a historian of religion. His work has been called pedestrian, accurate but unimaginative, naïve, descriptive, and even the product of ekphrasis. However one would like to appreciate Pausanias, Classical archaeology and art history heavily must depend on him, since the vast majority of works of art and architecture that he describes/mentions are either entirely lost or badly preserved. The bridge seminar will attempt to bring together Pausanias’ text and the results of art historical and archaeological research in major Greek cities and sanctuaries. Despite Pausanias’ obvious interest in all things “ancient” and “Greek,” the seminar will attempt to understand the ancient traveller as a Greek from Asia Minor who wrote his work within the political, social, and intellectual frame of second-century Roman Empire. Ultimately, the seminar will seek to understand the art, architecture, and topography of Greek cities
and sanctuaries through the eyes of a Roman.

AHIS G4264 Etruscan Art
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8pm, 930 Schermerhorn
The Etruscans are primarily known to us through the artifacts they produced and used. Consequently, the study of their art provides a unique access key to their civilization. From the Villanovan period in the 9th c. BCE down to the end of the Hellenistic age in the 1st c. BCE, this seminar will examine all major historical developments of Etruscan art with a special focus on crucial issues such as the relationship between art and craftsmanship, issues of stylistic periodization, the special link to Greek art, the contexts and functions of Etruscan art, the social, political, and religious embeddednes of Etruscan artifacts, Etruscan notions of the body, divine anthropomorphism, gender issues, the modern historiography of Etruscan art and its intellectual backgrounds. Particular attention will be devoted to Otto Brendel, one of the great protagonists of the study of Etruscan art, who taught at Columbia from 1956 to 1973.

The aim of the seminar is twofold. In the first place, it is meant to provide a systematic overview of the history of Etruscan art and artisanship and make participants acquainted with the variety of genres and artifact typologies that characterize it—from terracotta architectural sculptures to wall paintings in tombs, and from votive figures to engraved mirrors. At the same time participants, by engaging in formal analyses of representative selections of Etruscan works and monuments, will learn how to retrieve historical information starting from a close observation of the object.