Fall 2016 Undergraduate Courses

Updated: Thursday, July 28th, 2016. Red text denotes a new or changed course.


AHIS BC1001 Introduction to the History of Art I
J. Ackley
M/W 2:40-3:55, 304 Barnard Hall
An introduction to the art and architecture of the ancient and medieval world.  The artistic traditions of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Americas will be surveyed from the prehistoric era to c. 1400 CE.  Questions of style, content, function, and cultural and historical context will be emphasized throughout. Museum visits will play an integral role in the course. Discussion section required.

NEW COURSE, added to DOC August 2016:

AHIS BC3350 Medieval Art in the West
J. Ackley
T/R 1:10-2:25, 323 Milbank Hall
A survey of medieval art and architecture from Late Antiquity to c. 1400.  Questions of iconography, function, and historical context will be interwoven with those of style, material, and craft.  Late Antique, Byzantine, and early Islamic (Umayyad and Abbasid) art, as well as that of the Migration Era (Merovingian, Visigothic, and other Germanic cultures), will be briefly reviewed, after which the course will explore in depth the diverse artistic traditions of medieval Europe, including Insular, Carolingian, Anglo-Saxon, Ottonian, Mozarabic, Romanesque, and Gothic art.  The course concludes with a nod towards van Eyck, Alberti, and early-fifteenth-century painting.  Key thematic questions throughout include strategies of picturing, manifesting, and touching God; cross-cultural exchange between West and East; the relationship between Church and court; and the intersection of politics, religion, and economics embodied by so much of medieval art.  The course will emphasize both the figural arts of painting and sculpture and the precious arts of metalwork, ivory, and textiles; architecture will be discussed as necessary.

AHIS BC3673 History of Photography
A. Alberro
T/R 2:40-3:55, 504 Diana Center
Few media have shaped the course of modernity more powerfully than photography. Law, science, journalism, criminology, urban planning, and entertainment are but a handful of the fields remade by the introduction of photography. More ambivalent has been photography's relationship to art. Once relegated to the margins, photographic practices now occupy the center of much artistic production. This course will not attempt a comprehensive survey of the medium. Rather, we will trace central developments through a series of case studies from photography's 19th century birth to its current, digital afterlife. We will cover seminal movements and figures as well as more obscure practices and discourses. Particular attention will be paid to the theoretical and methodological questions concerning the medium. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN1007 Introduction to Architecture
M. Waters
T/R 10:10-11:25, 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 required.

AHIS UN2108 Greek Art and Architecture
I. Mylonopoulos
M/W 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn
Introduction to the art and architecture of the Greek world during the archaic, classical, and Hellenistic periods (11th - 1st centuries B.C.E.).

AHIS UN2409 Architecture 1750-1890
B. Bergdoll
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn
Major theorists and designs of architecture, primarily European, from the Age of Enlightenment to the dawn of the art nouveau critique of historicism. Particular attention to changing conditions of architectural practice, professionalization, and the rise of new building types, with focus on major figures, including Soufflot, Adam, Boullee, Ledoux, Schinkel, Pugin, and Garnier. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2500 Arts of Africa
Z. Strother
M/W 2:40-3:55, 832 Schermerhorn
Introduction to the arts of Africa, including masquerading, figural sculpture, reliquaries, power objects, textiles, painting, and architecture. The course will establish a historical framework for study, but will also address how various African societies have responded to the process of modernity. A special unit on photography is designed around the Wallach Gallery exhibition, “The Expanded Subject.” CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.

AHIS UN2601 Arts of Japan
J. Reynolds
M/W 10:10-11:25, 504 Diana Center
Introduction to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Japan from the Neolithic period through the present. Discussion focuses on key monuments within their historical and cultural contexts.

NEW COURSE, added to DOC July 2016:

AHUM UN2604 Arts of China, Korea, and Japan
M. Chusid
T/R 8:40-9:55, 832 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. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.

NEW COURSE, added to DOC July 2016:

AHUM UN2800 Arts of Islam: The First Formative Centuries (circa 700-1000)
M. Saba
T/R 4:10-5:25, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This introductory course attempts to cover the first 300 years, from circa 700-1000 AD, stressing the birth of Islam as the birth of a new aesthetic phenomenon in the Mediterranean Basin, Near East and Central Asia and its appropriations and innovations in creating a novel imperial style, while, at the same time, questioning the modern historiographies and narratives for these masterpieces.

AHUM UN2901 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture
S. Shah
M/W 1:10-2:25, 832 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. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.


Required course for Columbia majors. Please sign up using this online form. Responses will be accepted beginning Monday, April 4th, at 10am. The form will deactivate on Monday, April 11th, at 5pm. Admission is at the instructor's discretion. Early sign-up is strongly encouraged.

AHIS UN3000 Majors’ Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Art History 
Z. Strother
R 10:10-12:00, 832 Schermerhorn
Introduction to different methodological approaches to the study of art and visual culture.
AHIS UN3000 is not open to Barnard or Professional Studies students.

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars require an application, and admission is at the instructor's discretion. Applications for Columbia undergraduate seminars can be submitted to Emily Benjamin in the department office at 826 Schermerhorn Hall. The application form can be found on the undergraduate planning sheets and forms page.

Applications for Barnard undergraduate seminars can be submitted to Elisabeth Sher at the the Barnard Art History Department using the Barnard Art History seminar application form.

Columbia and Barnard Undergraduate Seminar Application Deadline: Monday, April 11th, 2016

AHIS BC3950 Photography and Video in Asia 
C. Phillips
W 6:10-8, Diana Center 501/2
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 andYeondoo 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 I 
J. Miller
T 11-12:50, Diana Center 501/2
This course is a seminar on contemporary art criticism written by artists in the post war period. Such criticism differs from academic criticism because it construes art production less as a discrete object of study than as a point of engagement. It also differs from journalistic criticism because it is less obliged to report art market activity and more concerned with polemics. Art /Criticism I will trace the course of these developments by examining the art and writing of one artist each week. These will include Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland, Allan Kaprow, Robert Morris, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Smithson, Art & Language, Dan Graham, Adrian Piper, Mary Kelly, Martha Rosler, Judith Barry and Andrea Fraser. We will consider theoretical and practical implications of each artist’s oeuvre.

AHIS BC3985 Intro to Connoisseurship
M. Ainsworth
M 9-10:50, Met Museum
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 BC3988 A Virtual Enlightenment
A. Higonnet
T 9-10; lab 10-11:50, 501/2 Diana Center
The Met’s period rooms must, for conservation reasons, remain behind cordons, visible only at a distance and in gentle light. Digital technology has the potential to reveal hidden aspects of the Met’s treasures. Craft can be demonstrated with high-resolution details, function and motion can be explored in space, rooms can be re-populated with the people who made, served, and used their contents. The course starts with common work on basic readings. A revolution in scholarship on the material world of the Enlightenment allows a new and deeper understanding of what have been called the decorative arts. Four seminar sessions, focusing on real objects and techniques, take place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
K. Jones
W 4:10-6, 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.
Application due: Monday, August 22nd, 2016

AHIS UN3203 10 Medieval Maps: Knowledge, Imagination, the World
J. Hartnell
T 12:10-2, 832 Schermerhorn
Maps help us to conceive of abstract concepts in tangible visual form. Be it geographical notions of the globe or the heavens, or more complex outlines of the body, the mind, time, even history, a map helps to bound and give features to otherwise inexplicable space and knowledge. This course uses these cartographic ideas as a starting point for understanding the visual, intellectual, and imaginative cultures of the Middle Ages.

NEW COURSE, added to DOC July 2016. No application deadline; interested students should attend the first day of class:

AHIS UN3307 Architectural Practice and Challenges in Europe, 1633-1732
E. Pistis
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar focuses on how European architecture responded constructively and experimentally to the new challenges and problems of the early modern world. The course investigates the watershed century between 1633 and 1732, with an emphasis on Italy, Britain, and France. It starts with the astonishing experimentations of Bernini and Borromini and ends with the generation of daring architects such as Nicholas Hawksmoor, Filippo Juvarra, and Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Each class meeting will address a specific question, investigating some of the most fascinating chapters in the history of architecture through a variety of lenses, from the analysis of structural elements, design processes, and urban contexts, to the study of architecture's material, cultural, political, and social dimensions. Addressing crucial issues of the period, the course will examine the most influential architects, patrons, institutional forces, and key works, as well as the dynamics of temporal and geographical migration of architectural knowledge, throughout Europe and beyond. It will also reflect on architecture's interactions with other forms of art and fields of knowledge.

AHIS W3423 Artists/Design/Exhibitions
K. Lotery
T 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar examines the history of the exhibition as an artistic medium, focusing primarily on the period 1945-the present. We track the exhibition form as it evolves from space of public debate, propaganda display, and scientific demonstration to an aesthetic format capable of bringing heterogeneous spheres of culture into physical, material dialogue with the bodies of spectators. This seminar operates under the assumption that exhibitions remain active demonstrations of the political conflicts and utopian aspirations of past moments, representing concrete attempts to stage new public spaces and new forms of communication between object, image, and viewer.

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4061 Ink Painting in China and Japan
R Harrist, M. McKelway
M/W 4:10-5:25, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
An intensive examination of ink painting in China and Japan. Meeting twice weekly, the class will encompass both instruction in painting with brush and ink and lectures and discussions of the history and theory of ink painting. Open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students.*
*Please note, this particular bridge lecture course requires a seminar application form. Preference will be given to students who have taken prior courses in East Asian Art. Undergraduate applications can be submitted to Emily Benjamin in the department office at 826 Schermerhorn Hall. The application form can be found on the undergraduate planning sheets and forms pageApplication Deadline: Monday, August 1st, 2016

NEW COURSE, added to DOC July 2016:

AHIS GU4077 Modern Brazilian Architecture, 1890-2006
R. Anelli
M/W 10:10-11:25, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Introduction to the designs and theories of Modern Brazilian Architecture, from its origins in the modernization process of late Nineteenth Century to the contemporary work of Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Oscar Niemeyer and Lina Bo Bardi in the late Twentieth Century. Special attention to the integration of arts and technics in the construction of modern national identity through international dialogue (Europe, United States, Latin-America, Third World and USSR). Key architecture, urban and landscape designs will be analyzed to explore the relation between structure and form, building and urban space in a fast growing underdeveloped country.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students, and require an application. Undergraduate applications can be submitted to Emily Benjamin in the department office at 826 Schermerhorn Hall. The application form can be found on the undergraduate planning sheets and forms page. Bridge seminars will count as seminar credit for majors.

Application Deadline: Monday, August 1st, 2016
AHIS GU4546 Gilles Deleuze: Thinking in Art
J. Rajchman
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze has emerged as one of the richest, most singular adventures in post-war European thought; Foucault considered it the most important in France, and more generally, in the 20th century. In all of Deleuze's work there is a search for a new 'image of thought.' But how did art figure in this search, and how did the search in turn appeal to artists, writers, filmmakers, architects, as well as curators or critics? In this seminar, we explore the complex theme of 'thinking in art' in Deleuze, and its implications for art in the 21st century or for the global contemporary art of today.

AHIS GU4561 Ceramic Arts of Korea and Japan
S. Lee
M 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Ceramics were an important part of the cultural life in East Asia. This course examines the artistic and social significance of ceramics in Korea and Japan from about the eleventh century through today. We will study key wares from each culture as well as significant moments-and products-of inter-cultural exchange. Additionally, we will explore the modern perceptions and presentations of Korean and Japanese cultures, especially in the West. Class will be held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art a couple of sessions during the semester to look at objects in storage and on display in the galleries.

NEW COURSE, pending addition to DOC. No application deadline; interested students should attend the first day of class to be considered for enrollment:

AHIS GU4587 Architecture and Empire in Istanbul/Constantinople
M. Saba
F 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will examine the built environment of İstanbul (Constantinople), one of the world’s longest-lived imperial centers, from its establishment as the new capital of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the fourth century C.E., to its heyday as the center of the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century, to its remaking as a modern city in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries under the later Ottoman Sultans. The city’s fortifications, street systems, public squares, churches, mosques, palaces, and gardens will be explored with several questions in mind: how did Byzantine and later Ottoman architects use the built environment to solidify notions of power and project ideals of beauty? How did the strategies of imperial presentation change over time? To what extent did the city’s physical features (both geographic and architectural) dictate its development over time? In addition to exploring questions of İstanbul/ Constantinople’s architectural history specifically, assigned readings also serve to introduce larger theoretical and methodological issues in the fields of architecture, art history, cartography and historiography.

AHIS GU4590 Rock-Cut Architecture of India
V. Dehejia
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
For a period of over a thousand years, a favored mode of architecture across India was to create monuments by excavating into the rock of the mountainside. This course examines the rock-cut mode of architecture, adopted by Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains, that remained popular right up to the tenth century when it yielded precedence to structures built by piling stone upon stone.

AHIS GU4627 Life of a Cathedral: Notre-Dame at Amiens
S. Murray
T 10:10-12, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
Like a great city, the cathedral brings together multiple segments of society in lively collaboration and conflict. We will explore the three overlapping worlds of the cathedral: the world of the clergy (owners and principal users), the world of the layfolk (parishioners, townsfolk and pilgrims) and the world (most mysterious) of the architects, or master masons. The semester is thus divided into three parts: each class will be preceded by an intense look at a specific aspect of the life of the cathedral and a reading presented by one of the participants as specified in the schedule below. Participants in the class will also be invited to contribute to the development of a new website on the cathedral, designed for the use of Art Humanities students.