Fall 2020 Graduate Courses

Last updated: Monday, September 14th, 2020. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.

Please confirm course modalities on the Directory of Classes: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/home.html

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4045 Collecting
A. Higonnet
T/R 8:40-9:55
This course studies the nearly universal human phenomenon of collecting. We will begin by gauging the range and basic structures of the phenomenon, looking at collections ranging from sock monkeys through anatomical waxes to ukiyo-e cards. These examples will enable us to compare and contrast theories of collecting, of which the most important will be psychological and anthropological. Moving from these general theories to the historically particular, we will next turn to the history of high-end collecting, Renaissance curiosity cabinets, and the origins of museum. The history of the art museum will then be studied in some detail, through both analysis of art museum types—principally national or municipal, private, monographic, and geographic—and through case studies of personal collections. Finally, the course will address art-work about collecting. Lectures, readings, and discussion sections will be reinforced by multiple visits to New York City museums. Discussion section required for undergraduates only.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate students and advanced undergraduate students. Interested students must submit an application in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.

Each bridge seminar description includes a link to an online application form. Students must fill out and submit their fall 2020 bridge seminar applications by 5pm on Monday, August 3rd, 2020.

AHIS GU4646 Foucault and the Arts
J. Rajchman
W 4:10-6
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.

Apply for ‘Foucault and the Arts’ using this online form.

AHIS GU4740 Re-Reading American Photographs
E. Hutchinson
T 2:10-4
New methodologies for studying the history of photography drawing on affect theory, new materialism, explorations of circulation and exchange, and other scholarly trends vex established modes of American photo history and invite an expansion of the canon. This seminar surveys recent publications in photo theory and examples of photo history, including the fall 2020 special issue of Panorama on “Re-Reading American Photographs” to deepen our engagement with photographic works from the medium’s first century (1839-1939).

Apply for ‘Re-Reading American Photographs’ using this online form.

AHIS GU4948 American Government Architecture: Governance and Governmentality
D. Abramson
M 10:10-12, 807 Schermerhorn Hall*
How do dynamics of governance shape architecture, like states’ rights in America’s federal system? And how do government centers through form, space, and symbol shape citizens’ identities and consent to be governed, aspects of governmentality theorized by Foucault and subject to resistance and reform?  Focused upon modern American architecture and urbanism this seminar is open to students’ explorations in other media, places, and times.  If feasible, field trips will go to local and/or regional sites.
*This seminar will be taught primarily remotely; perhaps exclusively. In-person classes and/or field trips may be scheduled depending upon the feasibility of student attendance and other factors.

Apply for ‘American Government Architecture: Governance and Governmentality’ using this online form.

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students.

AHIS GR5000 MODA Critical Colloquium
J. Kraynak
R 2:10-4
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
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.

HUMA GR6913 Principles of Art Humanities
N. Elcott
R 12-2pm
Art Humanities aims to instill in undergraduate students a passion and a critical vocabulary for the study of art as well as a fundamental capacity to engage the world of images and built environments. Principles of Art Humanities aims to prepare instructors to teach Art Humanities. We will study each unit of Art Humanities with an eye toward pedagogy, formal and critical analysis, and a capacious understanding of art and culture of past epochs. The course comprises presentations by the Art Humanities Chair and by weekly invited guests, as well as discussion among all participants. Required of all first-time Art Humanities instructors. Open to retuning instructors.

AHIS GR8000 Proseminar: Introduction to the Study of Art History
Z. Celik
R 12:10-2 W 10:10-12, 807 Schermerhorn Hall*
Required course for first-year PhD students.
*Some classes will be held in person, some online.

Graduate Lectures

Graduate lectures are open to graduate students. They do not require an application. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission to enroll.

AHIS GR6104 Ornament and Attention: Roman Imperial Imagery and its Reception
F. de Angelis
T 6:10-8
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? 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. Central to this argument is the notion of ornament, which already played a crucial role in the thinking of a pioneer of Roman art history like Alois Riegl, and which has been the object of renewed interest in recent art historical and architectural scholarship. The lecture will take this notion both literally, in the full semantic pregnancy of the Latin term ornamentum, and as a proxy for a mode of viewing that can be applied to figural images just as well as to abstract patterns.

Graduate Seminars

Interested students must submit an application in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission to graduate seminars is at the instructor’s discretion. Each course description includes a link to an application form for that seminar. Students must fill out and submit their fall 2020 graduate seminar applications by 5pm on Monday, August 3rd, 2020.

AHIS GR8011 Building Publics: Introduction to the Modes and Methods of the Engaged Humanities
M. Gonzalez Pendas
W 4:10-6
This course initiates students in the practices, research methods, and intellectual strategies in the interdisciplinary and multimedia field of the Public Humanities, which promotes civically engaged and public-facing modes of pedagogy and scholarly production. Today, humanists are called to operate in an expanded media field, to engage with publics well beyond academia, and to better think through the conditions of [environmental, racial, ableist, linguistic, legal, gender] inequality that concern them. Critical new arts and humanities scholarship and teaching now develops in close collaboration with communities and institutions that exist outside of academic silos and literary media, beyond campus and the canon. All the while, community organizers, activists, and policy makers the world over have long mobilized art, spatial, and literary practices as modes of community building and—at their best—as crucial to processes of emancipation. Yet disciplinary-bound methods of research and teaching prove limited for the art historian drawn to shape a public voice through aural media, the philosopher who aims at teaching incarcerated students through performance, and the literary scholar whose work engages climate justice and exhibitions spaces—to sketch but a few of the experimental and expanded modes of public scholarship that students from across the humanities are increasingly imagining.

See full course description here: Building Publics

*Instructor accepts enrollment requests via email thru Sept. 16th

AHIS GR8148 Imperial Mimesis: Imitation, Replication, and Copying in the Roman World
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8
The practice of copying is one of the most distinctive features of ancient Roman sculpture. Rather than analyzing this phenomenon simply as a problem of artistic style, this seminar will consider copies and related sculptures as manifestations of the Imperial period’s broader attitudes to form conceived as a means of cultural expression, communication, and experience. To this effect, it will focus on the performative aspects of the notion of mimesis and on its links to ideas of embodiment and enactment. It will consider both Plato’s theory of imitation and its incarnations in the Roman imperial period. In particular, it will investigate the role that mimesis played in ancient pedagogical thinking; its place within performative practices such as dance and oratory; the tension deriving from the difference in social status between different kinds of performers. Of course, artistic style will remain at the core of this exploration: instead of being understood in narrow formalistic terms, however, it will be discussed comprehensively, as a manifestation of lifestyle qua aesthetic phenomenon. Ultimately, the aim of the seminar is to achieve an anthropologically informed re-interpretation of the practices associated with the Roman copying industry—from the production of exact replicas to the use of Greek prototypes for the bodies of portrait statues, and from stylistic eclecticism to the relationship of artistic making with rhetorical theory. Special attention will be devoted to the properly imperial frame of the phenomena: what functions do imitation, replication, variation acquire within the specific cultural system of the Roman empire, and how are they affected by this context? The introductory sessions will review and discuss the most significant episodes in the history of scholarship on Roman copies, from the 19th century to the present.

Apply for ‘Imperial Mimesis: Imitation, Replication, and Copying in the Roman World’ using this online form.

GR8138 Early Dynastic Art and Archaeology
Z. Bahrani
W 4:10-6, 807 Schermerhorn Hall*
This seminar investigates the art and archaeology of the Sumerian city-states and those of the greater Near East in this era, focusing on sculpture, architecture, and the technologies and forms of artistic practices in the third millennium BC. The course also investigates the broader art historical reception of Sumerian art, its exhibition and interpretation in the early twentieth century, including by the European Avant-Garde and Surrealists, and in the context of colonialism and anticolonial art movements. The seminar participants will be expected to locate and read archaeological site reports (including in French and German) ancient historical texts and literature as well as archaeological and critical theories.

Prerequisites: Previous coursework in Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology or a related field is expected of all participants. Applications for the seminar must be submitted to the Department of Art History and permission of the instructor is required.

*This seminar will consist of primarily online meetings in order to accommodate those students who cannot come to campus. The seminar will also include break-out sessions that will provide in person meetings for those who are on campus and equivalent assignments for those who are joining remotely. Depending on accessibility of locations, the breakout sessions for students who are in New York may include field trips in Manhattan with small groups (of about four students). Professor Bahrani will offer in person individual meetings for the advising of student research.

Apply for ‘Early Dynastic Art and Archaeology’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8355 Colloquium on Early Modern Art History
D. Freedberg
R 2:10-4 R 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall*
*Some classes will be held in person, some online.

Apply for ‘Colloquium on Early Modern Art History’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8358 The Italian Renaissance Literature of Art: Strategies for Reading
M. Cole
W 2:10-4
Renaissance Italians wrote prolifically about the visual arts: contracts detailing commissions, treatises codifying good practice, manuals describing techniques, biographies of artists, descriptions of real and imagined painters, letters reporting on things seen, poems attacking new public works, dialogues debating different aesthetic perspectives, religious tracts on the proper use of religious imagery, guidebooks to cities. This seminar will survey the Renaissance texts that are sometimes grouped under the heading “art theory,” looking at the major genres and themes and examining the approaches that key scholars have taken in writing about them.

Apply for ‘The Italian Renaissance Literature of Art: Strategies for Reading’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8478 Globalization and Contemporary Art
J. Kraynak
W 2:10-4
By now, ‘globalism’ has become understood as a paradigm shift in contemporary art: ushered in by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the acceleration of technological change, and the spread of neoliberalism. The artworld and art history are now “global,” one is told. But how do we understand ‘globalism’—and its semantic relative, globalization—and their effects on art? This course examines this question by focusing upon the conflicts and debates that have arisen, approaching globalization as a series of competing models and theories (juridical, economic, technological, political, etc.) that are far from consensual, and continually under pressure. We will examine both the theoretical and practical impact of globalism for the production, circulation, and reception of visual art and culture: from the increasingly cross-and inter-national identity of practices; the expansion of the global biennial; to the decolonization of art and its institutions, including the museum. Throughout, we will examine the ways in which artistic practices seek to confront, interrogate, and critique (or conversely, embody) the conditions of globalized culture. Issues such as difference, diaspora, immigration and citizenship, statelessness and exile, the global industrialization of agriculture, economic and technological inequities, will be covered. To assist in our investigation, readings will be broad in scope and interdisciplinary in nature, drawn from the fields of economics, political science, philosophy and literary studies, among others. Through select case studies, we will cover advanced artistic practices, new exhibition models, and cultural phenomena––such as the culture of war and terrorism in the post-9/11 world, to the rise of East Asia as a market and method of decentralization– in the process generating different methodological perspectives from which to analyze globalization as a multi-faceted phenomenon.

Apply for ‘Globalization and Contemporary Art’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8350 Travel: Art, Architecture, and Mapping Worlds
E. Pistis
R 4:10-6, 612 Schermerhorn Hall*
This aim of this seminar is two-fold. On the one hand, it explores how travels of people, objects, and knowledge have contributed to the mapping of art and architecture as well as the making of art and architectural history on a world-wide scale. On the other, it studies how art and architectural expertise (making of views, survey drawings and maps) have contributed to the physical and mental mapping of the world. The seminar approaches issues of mobility, translation, appropriation, forgery, cultural transmission, knowledge migrations, as well as of constructions of national identities. Together with a critical approach to secondary sources, the class will focus on literary and visual primary sources, from travel accounts to cartography. The semester starts in the fourteenth century and ends in the nineteenth century, and it addresses travels (true, fabricated, or deliberately imaginary) that span—listed in alphabetic order—the Americas, China, India, Japan, and the Mediterranean.

*Some in-class meetings (optional), online synchronic meetings during class time.

Apply for ‘Travel: Art, Architecture, and Mapping Worlds’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8504 Masquerade: Rhetoric/Theory/Practice
Z. Strother
M 10:10-12
This graduate seminar situates the study of African masks within a much larger theoretical literature on masquerading. The figure of “the mask” has played a surprisingly important, albeit unacknowledged, role in 20th century criticism in everything from theories of play, performance, gender performance, and the carnivalesque. In addition, the mask keeps reappearing in 20th century avant-garde practice, in painting, in photography, in theatre, and installation displays. Our goal is to examine African practice with fresh eyes and more sophisticated questions after having appraised the impact of Western assumptions on the representation of African masquerade.

Apply for ‘Masquerade: Rhetoric/Theory/Practice’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8657 Japanese Colonialism and East Asian Visual Culture
J. Reynolds
M 2:10-4 F 9:10-11
This seminar will address visual media as a manifestation of the colonial relationship between Imperial Japan and its colonies between the 1870s and 1945. The class will begin with an examination of the newly established Meiji government’s annexation of Okinawa and Hokkaidō and will then consider Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria. How did the colonial regime use visual media to promote it imperialist project? To what degree did colonial subjects adopt colonial visual modes of discourse? To what degree was it possible within that discourse for colonial subjects to resist or subvert Japanese domination? The seminar will analyze institutions such as museums and international expositions, tourism, and the folk craft movement.
Students will be encouraged through the papers and through class discussion to sharpen their skills in visual analysis. The seminar is a collaborative effort and all members of the class are encouraged to engage with the research projects of their classmates. The seminar is limited to students with graduate standing. No specific prerequisites are required, but coursework in modern art history and Japanese studies are highly recommended. Reading knowledge of Japanese, Chinese, or Korean could prove useful for student research, but is not required.

Apply for ‘Japanese Colonialism and East Asian Visual Culture’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8661 Problems in Kano Painting
M. McKelway
T 4:10-6, 807 Schermerhorn Hall*
"Problems in Kano Painting" will begin with the work of Kano Motonobu and will seek to address the question of how this clan of painters managed to secure its position as official painters to Japan's rulers for nearly three centuries—a phenomenon unique in the history of art. We will also explore such topics as the ways in which it expanded its painting repertoire beyond its origins in monochrome ink painting, what is meant by an "academic" painting tradition in the Japanese context, its systems of training, promotion, and the economics of their enterprise, and the institutionalization of the Kano project through the writing of art historical treatises.

* Mostly in-class meetings, some online meetings.

Apply for ‘Problems in Kano Painting’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8714 Post-Columbian: Ancient Latin America in Art since 1800
L. Trever
W 10:10-12
In this graduate seminar we will examine the histories of modern and contemporary artists’ engagements with the forms, media, techniques, and imagery of “Pre-Columbian” or “Pre-Hispanic” (that is, ancient to early modern) indigenous art traditions of what is now Latin America. We will proceed roughly diachronically and by medium as we move from nineteenth-century re-imaginings of Inca, Aztec, and Maya pasts for nationalistic, imperialistic, and popular purposes, through modernist appropriations, later Chicano and Chicana movements, and to contemporary re-inventions of Pre-Columbian art as new forms of Latin American and Latinx expression, commentary, and critique. We will consider the ways artists have used forms of the past in a range of political, social, and aesthetic contexts, and ask what agency iconic forms of the past may have exerted, and continue to exert, on the present. Readings on modern episodes in this “Post-Columbian” history will be paired with scholarship on ancient art and visual culture, as we also entwine understandings of early artworks with later histories and with profiles of living artists.

Apply for ‘Post-Columbian: Ancient Latin America in Art since 1800’ using this online form.

AHIS GR8902 Visual Narratives in Indian Art
V. Dehejia
W 2:10-4
This course proposes the existence of distinct modes of visual narration used by India's artists to present stories visually, both in the medium of relief sculpture, and that of watercolors on paper or plastered walls. It considers the rich corpus of Buddhist narrative reliefs, and then focuses on the relationship of text and image in the painted manuscript tradition of India.

Apply for ‘Visual Narratives in Indian Art’ using this online form.