Fall 2018 Graduate Courses

Last updated: Tuesday, September 4th, 2018. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4011 Art and Archaeology of Mesopotamia
Z. Bahrani
T/R 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn
This course surveys the art and architecture of Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq and north-eastern Syria) from the establishment of the first cities and the development of the first monumental art and architecture in the fourth millennium BC through the Hellenistic conquest in the fourth century BC (the Seleucid dynasty), and the Parthian era. The lectures are organised chronologically from the Early Bronze Age until the Late Antique. Within this historical framework the lectures will focus on culturally specific concepts of representation and aesthetics, and explore the uses of the arts in politics, imperialism, private rituals and state cults. At the same time, small scale and personal arts are considered in the context of private ownership and the practices of daily life.
The course takes a broad interdisciplinary approach, intersecting methods of art history, archaeology and anthropology, and provides a preliminary introduction to some ancient texts on works of art, in translation. The lectures explore such topics as the development of narrative representation, monumental public art, architectural sculpture, and small- scale glyptic arts. The meaning and function of these and other genres are considered within their specific Mesopotamian social context. Rituals of animating images, building rituals, treatment of images in wars, cultic performance, and the import of luxury arts through long distance trade contacts will thus also be addressed in the lectures. All these aspects of the visual arts and their uses will be explored within the context of the political and social practices of Mesopotamia itself as well as within the broader context of international economic-trade relations and imperialism. No laptops or other e-devices.

AHIS GU4021 Medieval Art I: From Late Antiquity to the End of the Byzantine Empire
H. Klein
M/W 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn
This lecture course, open to both advanced undergraduates and graduate students, offers a
comprehensive chronological survey of the most important monuments of Late Antique and
Byzantine art, spanning from the earliest surviving traces of Christian art and architecture in the city of Rome and the eastern provinces of the Late Roman Empire (Dura Europos) to
the art and architecture of the Late Byzantine Empire. Topics of special interest will include
the formation of Christian art and culture in the world of Late Antiquity, the relationship
between imperial self-representation and urban design in the city of Constantinople, the
theology and function of religious images in Byzantine society before and after the
iconoclast controversy, the development of Byzantine church architecture and its function as a liturgical space, the production and use of liturgical books, sacred vessels, and the question of cross-cultural relations between the Byzantine Empire and Western Europe. This course is open to all undergraduate and graduate students without prerequisites. Discussion section required for undergraduates only.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Interested students must submit an application to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.
Each bridge seminar description on this page includes a link to an online application for that seminar. Students must fill out and submit their Fall 2018 bridge seminar application forms by 5pm on Wednesday, August, 1st, 2018.

AHIS GU4531 Tintoretto – 500 Years
D. Bodart
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
Acclaimed in his time as one of the most promising painters of his generation, but also criticized for the haste of his working method and his eccentricity, Jacopo Tintoretto is among the most complex and intriguing figures of Italian sixteenth century painting. The seminar will reconsider the singularity of Tintoretto's processes of creation in the light of his productive workshop organization and practice, according a special attention to the role of his son Domenico and his daughter Marietta.

AHIS GU4646 Foucault and the Arts
J. Rajchman
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
Michel Foucault was a great historian and critic who helped change the ways research and criticism are done today – a new ‘archivist’. At the same time, he was a philosopher. His research and criticism formed part of an attempt to work out a new picture of what it is to think, and think critically, in relation to Knowledge, Power, and Processes of Subjectivization. What was this picture of thought? How did the arts, in particular the visual arts, figure in it? How might they in turn give a new image of Foucault’s kind of critical thinking for us today? In this course, we explore these questions, in the company of Deleuze, Agamben, Rancière and others thinkers and in relation to questions of media, document and archive in the current ‘regime of information’. The seminar is open to students in all disciplines concerned with these issues.

AHIS GU4676 Slow Looking: A History of Chinese Art in Ten Objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
R. Harrist
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn and Met Museum
This bridge seminar, taught at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with the curators of Chinese Art, will focus intensely on key works that represent major art historical developments, from the Neolithic Period through the Qing dynasty. Allowing direct access to objects in the museum's storage and study rooms, the seminar is designed for students who wish to deepen their understanding of how works of art were made and perceived by their original viewers.

AHIS GU4747 Architecture and Empire in the Nineteenth Century
Z. Celik
R 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn
This course revisits some of the key moments in the European architecture of the nineteenth century with the goal of understanding the relationship between these developments and a global modernity shaped by old and new empires. In doing so, it assumes a particular methodological stance. Rather than attempting to be geographically comprehensive, it focusses on the interdependencies between Europe and its colonies; instead of being strictly chronological, it is arranged around a constellation of themes that are explored through a handful of projects and texts. Reading of primary texts is a crucial part of the course. Students will have the opportunity to hone their critical skills by reading, writing, and conducting research toward a final paper.

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students. 

AHIS GR5000 MODA Critical Colloquium 
J. Kraynak
R 12:10-2, 832 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 12:10-2, 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
A. Shalem
W 10:10-12, 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 GR6105 Roman Imperial Villas: Space, Imagery, and Court Life
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn
The villas of the Roman emperors, of which more than fifty are known from central Italy alone, have seldom been studied comprehensively as a phenomenon in its own right. This course will ask whether, and to what extent, these countryside residences can be linked to a specifically imperial and courtly lifestyle—a question that in turn raises the issue of the very nature of the Roman court. Using the impressive remains of Hadrian’s Villa as a fil rouge and drawing extensively on literary, epigraphic, and archaeological testimonia about imperial villas, the course will focus especially on the interaction between social practices and architectural spaces with their decorative apparatus. The imperial residence on the Palatine as well as coeval senatorial villas will serve as terms of comparison.

AHIS GR6604 Genesis of Buddhist Art in India
V. Dehejia
W 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
The course is related to the emergence of art related to Buddhism, commencing with emperor Asoka's (3rd century B.C.E.) rock and pillar edicts erected from Kandahar in Afghanistan to Amaravati in South India. Focus on the vibrantly carved stupa complexes constructed and decorated between the 1st century B.C.E. and the 5th century C.E., the many cave monastery complexes, with their rich sculpted and painted decoration, and the image of the Buddha.

COURSE ADDED 6/25/2018
AHIS GR6411 Postwar American Art
R. Krauss
R 2:10-4, room tbc
With the advent of Abstract-Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism, the center of the avant-garde shifted from Europe to New York; then, in what is sometimes identified as Marshall Plan Modernism, the New York school was exported to Pari, sponsored by the International Section of The Museum of Modern Art, and the USIS.

Graduate Seminars

Interested students must submit an application to be considered for enrollment. Admission to graduate seminars is at the instructor’s discretion.

Each graduate seminar description on this page includes a link to an application for that seminar. Students must fill out and submit their Fall 2018 graduate seminar application forms by 5pm on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018.

AHIS GR8028 Changing Faces: Portraiture in Africa, Asia, the Near East, and Beyond
R. Harrist
F 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
This graduate seminar, taught collaboratively by Professors Bahrani, Dehejia, Harrist, Shalem, Strother, and visiting speakers will focus primarily on portraiture in various media outside the Western tradition. A basic issue the seminar will address is that of understanding how this genre was practiced in traditions with greatly varying concepts of representation, self-presentation, and identity.
‘Changing Faces: Portraiture in Africa, Asia, and the Near East’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8138 Early Dynastic Art and Archaeology
Z. Bahrani
W 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn
This seminar investigates the art and archaeology of the Sumerian city-states in Mesopotamia, focusing on sculpture, architecture, material culture, and the historical scholarship and scholarly debates regarding this era. Advanced knowledge of the ancient Near East is expected of seminar participants. The seminar readings will consist primarily of archaeological site reports and historical texts, as well as secondary literature on the third millennium BC accompanied by some readings in archaeological and critical theories. Students will be expected to research and compile the bibliographies for each of the Early Dynastic sites for their presentations and final papers.
‘Early Dynastic Art and Archaeology’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8340 British Architecture
E. Pistis
M 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
This course critically examines the history of Early Modern architectural practice and theory in Britain between 1600 and 1800. It aims to rethink and energize this traditional, and often marginalized, field in light of broader, contemporary discourses on art and architectural history. While considering the formation of an architectural national identity, the course seeks to introduce new European and global perspectives. We will consider how a nascent history of architecture interacted with issues of theory, technology, science, culture, and the printing press. At the same time, the seminar will address questions of gender, as well as other social and political concerns. It will approach current debates on temporality, portability, materiality and fragmentation in architecture. Seminar meetings will center on major artists (e.g. Inigo Jones, Wren, Hawksmoor, Adam, Soane); different scales of architecture, from the city to the landscape; institutions and movements (e.g. Universities, the Royal Office of Works, Palladianism). We will of course attend to key moments in the historiography of British architecture, with special attention to early foundational literature and primary sources.
‘British Architecture’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8346 Bosch and Bruegel
D. Freedberg
R 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
In this course we will examine the radical paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder in their political, religious and ethnographic contexts. At stake will be not only the meaning of their work, but also their innovative style and technique. We will assess the influence of radical religious movements on both Bosch and Bruegel and consider the material and political functions of painting in an age of Reformation, Revolt and Iconoclasm.
‘Bosch and Bruegel’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8400 Media/Worlds: Art and Intersectionality
K. Jones
M 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
2012 marked the centennial of American artist Gordon Parks. Parks was a writer, musician, and filmmaker. He is best known, however, as a photographer, who began his career with the Farm Security Administration, worked as a photojournalist for Life magazine, and lived in Paris as a correspondent for Vogue. This course interrogates ideas of intermedia, multidisciplinarity, as well as concepts of intersectionality in the 20th and 21st centuries through the figure of Parks. We will explore the photograph as social document in the New Deal and Civil Rights eras, and consider its role as news and as a register of beauty in the periodical format. Parks' film work spanned the black coming-of-age story in the 1960s (The Learning Tree, 1969; based on his own 1963 novel), and the "insurgent visibility" of the more uncompromising figures of the Blaxploitation genre (Shaft, 1971) and the Black Power period.
‘Media/Worlds: Art and Intersectionality’ seminar application form.

CMPM GR8483 Introduction to Comparative Media (also AHIS and ANTH)
N. Elcott; B. Larkin
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
Comparative media is an emergent approach intended to draw upon and interrupt canonical ideas in film and media theory. It adopts a comparative approach to media as machines and aesthetic practices by examining contemporary media in relation to the introduction of earlier technologies. The class also extends our focus beyond the U.S. and Europe by examining other cultural locations of media innovation and appropriation. In doing so, it decenters normative assumptions about media and media theory while introducing students to a range of media practices past and present.
‘Introduction to Comparative Media’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8484 Digitization and (Anti)Democracy
J. Kraynak
W 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
The idea that technology—in particular information technologies—is democratizing is a truism whose origins go back to the postwar era. With the rise of digitization—i.e. the Internet, social media—this utopianism has accelerated, promising user autonomy, decentralization, and new forms of engagement and participation that will inevitably shape community and make the world a better place. This course seeks to problematize these claims by examining theories of digitization, democracy, and technical society. It questions the universalism that underlies such utopianism—in particular with regards to matters of race, gender, and ethnicity—approaching technologies as socially symbolic meanings that both build upon and produce new forms of knowledge, potentially engendering political inequality and anti-democracy. Welcoming students from departments across the university, the course aims to generate a cross-disciplinary dialogue about these issues in relation to art, culture, and society.
‘Digitization and (Anti)Democracy’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8485 Architecture In and Of the Museum
B. Bergdoll
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar will examine the relationship of architecture to the rise of the modern art museum since the Enlightenment. On the one hand the museum’s spatial organization and formal expression were integral to the stakes of cultivating a new aesthetically aware citizen and of crafting spaces of culture. On the other the project of a museum of architecture remained fraught with difficulties and paradoxes.
‘Architecture In and Of the Museum’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8503 African Art and the Realpolitik of Decolonizing Art History
Z. Strother
R 10:10-12, 832 Schermerhorn
Scholar activists have spearheaded efforts to “decolonize” the discipline of art history since the 1970s, pushed by the Civil Rights Movement. Africanists were among the first to embrace the concept of “art practice” through study of performance, body art, and assemblage; to introduce video and other experimental display strategies into art museums and classrooms; to make the “ethnographic turn.” And yet, for reasons of race, methodology, and medium, the experimental nature of African art history has not been foregrounded in histories of the discipline. The first half of the seminar will analyze the reception of critical and often controversial interventions into art history by Africanists through texts and exhibitions. It will question the power relations that make possible and curtail the generation of alternative art histories. The second half of the course will focus on the latest literature – how does the study of African art continue to push boundaries?
‘African Art and the Realpolitik of Decolonizing Art History’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8604 Japanese Photography
J. Reynolds
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
This course will examine the history of Japanese photography from the middle of the 19th century to the present. The seminar will be organized both chronologically and thematically. Throughout its history, photography has been a powerful medium for addressing the most challenging issues facing Japanese society. Among the topics under discussion will be: tourist photography and the representation of women within that genre in the late 19th century, the politics of propaganda photography, the construction of Japanese cultural identity through the representation of “tradition” in photography, and the interest in marginalized urban subcultures in the photography of the 1960s and 1970s. Although the course will be focused on Japan, the class will read from the literature on photography elsewhere in order to situate Japanese work within a broader context.
‘Japanese Photography’ seminar application form.

NEW COURSE 7/20/2018
AHIS GR8614 Ukiyo-e Prints, Paintings, and Illustrated Books
J. Carpenter
R 3-5, Met Museum and 934 Schermerhorn
This course surveys the development of ukiyo-e from its roots in genre painting of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, through the development of color woodblock printing, to its confrontation with Western art in the 19th century. While introducing works of the major print artists and painters, we discuss the major genres of ukiyo-e, including actor and courtesan portraits, parody prints (mitate-e), poetry prints (surimono), bird-and-flower prints, landscape prints, and painting.  We also explore legend and history, concepts of parody in art, and gender issues as they relate to Japanese popular culture of the early modern period. Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world”, also had an impact on Western artists of the 19th century. Degas, Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec all show indebtedness at one phase or another of their careers to the Japanese color print. In lieu of an application interested students should attend the first class for the roster selection process.

AHIS GR8701 Directions in Late Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art: Caribbean Art
A. Alberro
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar will consider recent publications on modern and contemporary Caribbean art and culture. Particular attention will be given to the emphasis the new writings place on national identity. We will question whether the recent authors imagine a national and regional problematic, or a transnational one? We will begin with an overview of the recent debate around the effects that the globalization of culture that has put defenders of a cosmopolitan art against those of a particularist localism, nationalist populism, and foundational conceptions of cultural identity have had on Caribbean art and art history. This will entail an exploration of an “antagonistic cosmopolitanism” that understands artists operating from the edges of the modernist art world as among the most sensitive to the newest aesthetic invention. Finally, we will read through a number of recent volumes by scholars of Caribbean art, assessing the methodologies mobilized by the authors and the merits of their arguments.
‘Directions in Late Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art: Caribbean Art’ seminar application form.