Fall 2017 Graduate Courses

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4044 Neo-Dada and Pop Art
B. Joseph
T/R 10:10-11:25, 614 Schermerhorn
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. Admission to bridge seminars is at the instructor’s discretion. The graduate student application form for bridge seminars can be found here, and should be submitted to Emily Benjamin in the main office for the Department of Art History and Archaeology at 826 Schermerhorn Hall.

Applications for Fall 2017 bridge seminars are due by Tuesday, August 1st, 2017.

CLST GU4514 Roman Coins and History: A Hands-On Seminar on an Unpublished Collection
L. Carbone
F 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
Aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students, this course aims to introduce coinage and the study of coins as historical disciplines and to provide a survey of the production and use of coinage in the Roman world from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD, with specific emphasis on the Late Republican coinage. The study of the unpublished R.B.Witschonke Collection, consisting of 3,713 provincial coins mainly dated between 2nd century BC and 1st century AD, will offer the students a unique opportunity to study hands-on the Roman coinage in the Provincia Asia and its relationship to the political, social and economic history not only of this province, but also of the Empire as whole in the period of time encompassed by the Collection. The best original papers resulting from this research will be included in the forthcoming catalogue of this collection. The students will also have direct access to the world-class numismatic collections at the American Numismatic Collection (over 170,000 Roman and Greek pieces) and to the Olcott collection of Roman coins housed in the RBML in Butler Library (over 3,000 Roman pieces).

AHCL GU4541 Post-War Critical Theory: Re-inventions
J. Rajchman
W 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn
Is today a time of reinvention for the critical theory that took shape after the Second World War? In this course, taking 1989 as a new take-off date, we explore this hypothesis through a series of over-lapping 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 the function of critical theory in the new world of information economies, new urbanizations, biennials and art fairs.

AHIS GU4583 The Craft of Ivory
A. Shalem
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
Studying the art of ivory in the Middle Ages provides art historians with the wide spectrum about the history of styles and craftsmanship. The relatively huge amount of the surviving material enables us to tell a relatively coherent story about the production of this material. In the focus of this seminar are the products of the so-called medieval Islamic ivories, mainly those produced in the Arab Mediterranean and the Levant. These artifacts are usually datable between the 7th and the 14th centuries. The discussions in the class will concentrate on carved, incised, painted, and wood and ivory intarsia objects as well as on issues concerning trade, availability, meanings, iconographies, patronage, ownerships, as well as the relationship of this material to other substances, such as wood, textiles, metal and precious stones.

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students. 

AHIS GR5000 MODA Critical Colloquium 
F. Baumgartner
R 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
Required course for all first-year Modern Art M.A. students.. The Colloquium features reading and analysis of texts by major theorists, critics and artists, organized through three components: 1) an introduction to the different interpretive methods and models shaping the discourses of art history and criticism 2) a presentation of major theoretical concepts and terms that are utilized in relation to the analysis and interpretation of art and culture 3) an examination of rhetoric, language and different models of critical writing from philosophy/theory; to art history, scholarly writing and criticism; to recent online formats and the blogosphere. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by scholars, 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. Guest writers from Artforum, Grey Room, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, and October, among other venues, regularly participate in the colloquium.

AHIS GR5002 M.A. Methods Colloquium
F. Baumgartner
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
This course examines the range of methods employed by art historians for the interpretation of art, including biography, iconography, social art history, psychoanalysis, feminism, gender studies, and post-colonialism. Through the critical reading of primary and secondary sources, 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 (aesthetics, style, materiality, vision, otherness, etc.), while putting them in conversation with artworks from different traditions and time periods.

AHIS GR8000 Proseminar: Introduction To the Study of Art History
Z. Bahrani
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
Required course for first-year PhD students.

Graduate Lectures

Graduate lectures are open to graduate students only. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission to enroll.

AHIS GR6104 Ornament and Attention: Roman Imperial Imagery and its Reception
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 934 Schermerhorn
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. With the help of selected case studies the lecture will argue that Roman official art owed its success and diffusion—both within and beyond the public realm—to distracted reception just as much as to the attention it commanded.

AHIS GR6200 Gothic Architecture
S. Murray
W 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
How have "Gothic" edifices been represented in words and images? This course examines great monuments of Gothic architecture and considers the historiography and theories that they have generated. Our approach is based upon the premise that the notion of “Gothic” has been constructed as much with words and stories as with masonry, wood and glass. We will try to find a balance between the intense engagement with the buildings themselves, many of them now available with newly-created high-resolution photographs and panoramic views, and the theories and stories that have been woven around those buildings. In order to narrate the story of Gothic we will bring on three eyewitnesses and the buildings they represented: Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, Gervase, monk of Canterbury and Villard de Honnecourt, with this extraordinary images of Reims, Laon and Cambrai Cathedrals. In this way we will encounter a series of great buildings belonging to the period 1140 to 1240 and we will also consider the way these buildings may be woven together within a story or plot and how they relate to the larger field of architectural production. We will also consider the production of Gothic and the production of meaning.  We will extend the story of Gothic to embrace the phenomenon of “change” both in regional manifestations and in the continuing “development” of forms associated with Late Gothic.

AHIS GR6410 Art, History, and Neuroscience: The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproducibility
D. Freedberg
T 4:10-6, 612 Schermerhorn
This course will assess the potential of the cognitive neurosciences to illuminate critical problems in the humanities, and in the study of the history of art and images. Until very recently, such an integrative approach was viewed with deep skepticism. Even now, the epistemological divide remains an obstacle, on the grounds that the reductionism of the sciences militates against the contextual sensitivity regarded as central to the humanities.

In this course we will examine the ways in which cognitive neuroscience expands our understanding not only of the history of art, but also of the use of images in a world of digital technology. Central to the course will be an examination of how images arouse the emotional and embodied responses they do, and the degree to which the former relate to the latter. We will consider emotional and physical empathy with images, as well as the question of the degree to which detachment from empathic responses and their cognates stand at odds with esthetic and political judgement. Such questions have long stood at the core of the study of images, from Walter Benjamin on to Susan Sontag and many others now.

Issues of the aura of images and the degree to which habituation diminishes or enhances the impact of images remain essential to the understanding of how they work. So too does the relationship between automatic and self-aware responses, and how this affects personal and public discernment of the messages they convey. All these questions are illuminated by current research in the cognitive neurosciences. They also offer tools for the understanding of current issues such as “fake news”, the political uses of extreme forms of imagery as propaganda, and the degree to which they depend – or not – on the neural substrates of motor and emotional involvement of viewers.

Graduate Seminars

Graduate seminars require an application, which can be found here. Admission is at the instructor's discretion. Applications for graduate seminars must be submitted to Chris Newsome in the main office for the Department of Art History and Archaeology at 826 Schermerhorn Hall.

Applications for Fall 2017 graduate seminars are due by Tuesday, August 1st, 2017.

AHIS GR8100 Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity

Z. Bahrani
W 4:10-6, 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.

COURSE ADDED (4/14/2017)
AHIS GR8128 Edo Period Painting
M. McKelway
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will examine visual expressions of sinophilia and eccentricity in Japanese painting of the Edo period. Through an investigation of both original texts and modern studies of such artists as Ike Taiga, Itō Jakuchū, and Nagasawa Rosetsu, the seminar will also explore how such factors as the social background, personal networks, religious faith, and degree of literacy of Edo-period painters found expression in their art. Using Tsuji Nobuo's Kisō no keifu (The Lineage of Eccentricity) and more recent publications in Japanese and western languages as a guide for discussions, the course will concentrate on painters active in mid-late Edo period (late 17th- early 19th century) Kyoto and Edo. Students in the seminar will be encouraged to work directly with actual works in the Metropolitan Museum and other collections in New York.

AHIS GR8203 Materiality and the Sacred: The Case of the 'Guelph Treasure'
H. Klein
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
The 'material turn' in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and the rise of 'thing theory' as a distinct field of study, has, over the last two decades, re-invigorated the study of relics and reliquaries, 'things' that oscillate between inanimate 'objects' and animate 'subjects'. Building on a rich body of historical, art historical, and anthropological literature, this graduate seminar explores the 'material rhetoric' of a distinct collection of Western medieval reliquaries and liturgical objects that from part of the so-called Guelph Treasure, the largest and culturally most significant ecclesiastical treasures to survive from Medieval Germany.

COURSE ADDED (6/28/2017)
AHIS GR8301 Michelangelo

M. Cole
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
No artist has been more important to our framing of the Italian Renaissance than Michelangelo Buonarroti. A tower figure and a central reference point for sixteenth-century painting, sculpture, and architecture, he was regarded in his time both as the culmination of art's history and as the beginning of an entirely new era. The major exhibition of Michelangelo's drawings that opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in November provides an occasion for a reevaluation both of Michelangelo's work and of the way scholars old and new have written about the period.

AHIS GR8314 Armor as Art
D. Bodart
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
In the Early Renaissance, armor underwent a technical revolution, which transformed the body of the warrior into a moving statue, entirely covered by shining large metal plates. Armor served defensive and offensive purposes in warfare, but it was also a luxury item that could be worn in festivals. Armor offered a display, changing the image of the man (or occasionally, the woman) who wore it. Ornaments, first engraved and gilded, later embossed in high relief, covered progressively its whole surface, wrapping the wearer’s body with images. Those images could have symbolic, religious, apotropaic functions; they gave eventually to the modern warrior the image of the ancient hero. Armor could also be used as artifact in ex-voto or reliquaries, or be entirely "artful", part of another work's fiction, such as heroic statues. Not least, armor was a central motif of Renaissance pictures, where it came to be associated with a range of topoi. Based on a cross-analysis of works, primary sources, technical and scientific data, historical and theoretical issues, the course will look at the ways in which armor constituted both an object and a subject of art.

AHIS GR8315 The Fragment
E. Pistis
M 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar uses the broad framework of ‘the fragment’ to analyze studies of the ancient world, the creation of private collections of antiquities, the origin of public museums, as well as artistic and aesthetic approaches to disiecta membra and the matter of fragmentation in architecture. It deals with the fragment as both a received and created object, but also as a hybrid of these two categories. It examines fragments as part of a lost whole, replete with historical and symbolic values, and as an individual, relatively autonomous entity. Exploring the fragment as a category with a trans-historical approach, the seminar brings art and architecture into dialogue with the management of knowledge, the making of history, the mapping of antiquity, the designing of museums, and the creation of spaces for learning. At the same time, it analyzes the role of fragments and fragmentation in artistic practice. Students can work on different periods and contexts.

AHIS GR8401 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 employed 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 GR8413 Black British Art and Theory
K. Jones
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course considers the development of visual culture in this European outpost of the African Diaspora. Of interest is the way the discipline of cultural studies, which evolved in postwar Birmingham, intersected with the rise of black consciousness throughout Britain in the 1980s. How did the interactions of intellectuals and artists at this moment in the late 20th century lead to the creation of strong postcolonial theory and practice? Readings include works by Bhabha, Carby, Gilroy, Hall, Maharaj, and Mercer. We will look at visual production by Bhimji, Boyce, D-Max, Fani-Kayode, Julien, Kempadoo, Piper, and Pollard among others. We will also discuss selected exhibitions and publications that supported this movement.

AHIS GR8439 Style Revolution, Digital Edition
A. Higonnet
M 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar creates a digital critical edition of some extremely rare revolutionary fashion plates. Recently rediscovered at the Morgan Library, these 1797-1804 plates represent the most radical changes in the entire history of clothing, for men and especially for women. They come from the Journal des Dames et des Modes, a magazine that taught all Europeans how to look, read, and entertain themselves as modern individuals. Offered in partnership with the Morgan Library and the Columbia Digital Humanities Center, the seminar both explores the issues of revolutionary consumer culture, and teaches digital skills. How was fashion as we know it invented and how did it transform identity? What might digital critical edition consist of? Can it be newly visual and materialist?

AHCL GR8441 Torture, Art, and the Political Imaginary
B. Joseph
R 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
This course will investigate the impact of the “political imaginary” associated with torture within contemporary aesthetic practices such as the depictions of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero, Gina Pane or Chris Burden’s performances, and Trevor Paglan’s research-based practices. How might the imaginary of a “body in pain” impact the aesthetic engagement with, and depiction of, the body in other places, contexts, and social milieus? Drawing from Foucault, Butler, Scarry, and others, the class will examine theories of power, discipline, and control; the ethics of describing and depicting pain, torture, and death; and the notions of “bare” and “ungrievable” life. 

AHIS GR8476 Methods Seminar: Roland Barthes
R. Krauss
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
The structuralist method was given its most eloquent form by Roland Barthes who was awarded the Chair in literary semiology at the College de France, in 1979. The seminar will examine the gamut of Barthes’ contribution to structuralist concerns, from the “fascist” binary to photography.

AHIS GR8443 Eco-Art History
E. Hutchinson
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
What should art history look like in the anthropocene? How might we attend to the non-human forces contributing to the conceptualization, commissioning, creation, display and reception of works of art?  In this course we will interrogate the agency of artists' materials and the physical environments in which works are created and viewed; artists' attempts to collaborate with the non-human; art works designed to document, inform about or forestall environmental damage; the relationship between colonial or neoliberal social formations and the environment as evidenced in works of art or their creation and reception; the place of the aesthetic in eco-criticism.

AHIS GR8609 Calligraphy in East Asia
R. Harrist, M. McKelway
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
The goal of this class is to study major developments in the history of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy from the beginning of writing in East Asia through the modern period. In addition to examining the works of individual calligraphers, we will attempt to understand how the history of calligraphy has been written, both in East Asian and in the West, how calligraphy conveys meaning, and why it has been valued above all other arts in China and Japan. We will give special attention to works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where several seminar sessions will be held.

AHIS GR8903 The Body, Human and Divine, in the Art of India 
V. Dehejia
W 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar explores the centrality of the human form, male and female, human and divine, in the artistic tradition of India. It focuses on the idealized and stylized body which was never based on studies from life, and establishes the vital importance of adornment, a concept associated with auspiciousness. It raises questions about the use of the phrase "sacred space," pointing out that such spaces invariably carried imagery that had little or nothing to do with the sacred.