Fall 2021 Undergraduate Courses

Last updated: September 24, 2021. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.

Undergraduate Lectures

Undergraduate lectures are open to all undergraduate students. Graduate students may enroll in lecture courses listed at the 2000-level and above, as outlined in the program handbooks.

AHIS BC1001 Introduction to the History of Art I (Barnard course)
K. Marsengill
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.

AHIS UN2412 Eighteenth Century Art in Europe
F. Baumgartner
T/R 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will examine the history of art in Europe from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. This was a period of dramatic cultural change, marked by, among other things, the challenging of traditional artistic hierarchies; increased opportunities for travel and exchange; and the emergence of “the public” as a critical new audience for art. Students will be introduced to artists, works and media that have been part of the traditional canon of art history and to others that have remained at its periphery. The course will draw on scholarship that uses different methodologies, including feminism, postcolonialism and ecocriticism, to highlight different interpretations of works of art. Topics will include: the emergence of the art market; consumer culture and global commodities; aesthetics of nature; domesticity and the cult of sensibility; the rise of women artists and patrons; and the visual culture of revolution. The emphasis will be on France, Italy and Britain, with forays to Spain, Germany, Austria, Russia and elsewhere.

AHIS UN2415 History Painting and Its Afterlives
J. Crary
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will study the problematic persistence of history painting as a cultural practice in nineteenth century Europe, well after its intellectual and aesthetic justifications had become obsolete. Nonetheless, academic prescriptions and expectations endured in diluted or fragmentary form. We will examine the transformations of this once privileged category and look at how the representation of exemplary deeds and action becomes increasingly problematic in the context of social modernization and the many global challenges to Eurocentrism. Selected topics explore how image making was shaped by new models of historical and geological time, by the invention of national traditions, and by the emergence of new publics and visual technologies. The relocation of historical imagery from earlier elite milieus into mass culture forms of early cinema and popular illustration will also be addressed.

AHIS UN2602 Arts of Japan
M. McKelway
M/W 2:40-3:55, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
Survey of Japanese art from the Neolithic through the Edo period, with emphasis on Buddhist art, scroll painting, decorative screens, and wood-block prints.

AHUM UN2604 Arts of China, Japan, and Korea
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.

Section 001
T. Xu
T/R 10:10-11:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall

Section 002
N. Horisaki-Christens
M/W 11:40-12:55, 807 Schermerhorn Hall

AHIS BC3667 Clothing (Barnard course)
A. Higonnet
T/R 2:40-3:55, 304 Barnard Hall
Human beings create second, social, skins for themselves. Across history and around the world, everyone designs interfaces between their bodies and the world around them. From pre-historic ornaments to global industry, clothing has been a crucial feature of people’s survival, desires, and identity. This course studies theories of clothing from the perspectives of art history, anthropology, psychology, economics, sociology, design, and sustainability. Issues to be studied include gender roles, craft traditions, global textile trade, royal sumptuary law, the history of European fashion, dissident or disruptive styles, blockbuster museum costume exhibitions, and the environmental consequences of what we wear today. Discussion section required.

AHIS BC3673 History of Photography (Barnard course)
A. Alberro
T/R 4:10-5:25, 304 Barnard Hall
This course will survey selected social, cultural and aesthetic or technical developments in the history of photography, from the emergence of the medium in the 1820s and 30s through to the present day. Rather than attempt comprehensively to review every aspect of photography and its legacies in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the course will instead trace significant developments through a series of case studies. Some of the latter will focus on individuals, genres or movements, and others on various discourses of the photographic image. Particular attention will be placed on methodological and theoretical concerns pertaining to the medium. Discussion section required.

AHIS BC3675 Feminism and Postmodernism in the Visual Arts (Barnard course)
R. Deutsche
T/R 1:10-2:25, 504 Diana Center
Examines art and criticism of the 1970s and 1980s that were informed by feminist and postmodern ideas about visual representation. Explores postmodernism as (1) a critique of modernism, (2) a critique of representation, and (3) what Gayatri Spivak called a radical acceptance of vulnerability. Studies art informed by feminist ideas about vision and subjectivity. Places this art in relation to other aesthetic phenomena, such as modernism, minimalism, institution-critical art, and earlier feminist interventions in art.

Undergraduate Colloquia

Required course for Columbia AHIS/HTAC/AHVA majors. Please sign up using this online form. The form will open on Tuesday, March 30th at 10am. 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
A. Shalem
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course is an introduction to the theories and methods of art history and visual culture. It is required for undergraduate majors.

AHIS UN3000 is open to Columbia College and General Studies undergraduate majors in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. It is not open to Barnard or Professional Studies students.

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars are open to CU and Barnard undergraduates. Students must submit an application in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.

Department of Art History and Archaeology seminars: Each undergraduate seminar description includes a link to an online application form. Interested students must fill out and submit their Fall 2021 undergraduate seminar applications by 5pm on Friday, April 9th.

Barnard Art History seminars: Interested students must attend the first class session for the roster selection process.

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
M. Cole
R 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Required for all thesis writers. This year-long course counts towards one elective lecture course requirement. For more information about the senior thesis program, please visit the senior thesis information page.

AHIS UN3017 Architecture and Deception
E. Pistis
M 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Fittingly in the age of fake news, this seminar addresses how lying, deception, concealment, and forgery have shaped the history of architecture and its historiography. It deals not only with architects’ lies, but also with how their architecture can be deceptive in many different ways. It also analyses how architectural narratives—including biographies—and historical accounts have been shaped by falsehoods and distortions. While addressing philosophical issues that remain relevant to our present, the course will examine some of the most influential architects and key works of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century—a pivotal time within intellectual history for the definition of the concept of ‘truth’ and also, therefore, of its opposite. Students will learn how to make use of the many lenses through which architecture can be investigated. The goal is not only to acquire a foundation in European architectural history, but also, more broadly, to develop the skills necessary to analyze architecture and to deal with original architectural objects and texts, as well as to cultivate a critical attitude towards architectural literature.

‘Architecture and Deception’ seminar application form.

Course Moved to Spring 2022:
AHIS UN3104 The Art of the Gods: Images of the Divine in the Ancient Mediterranean
A. Ekserdjian

AHIS UN3413 Nineteenth-Century Criticism
J. Crary
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines a diverse selection of texts that have a crucial bearing on the formation of concepts of modernity and on new aesthetic practices in nineteenth-century Europe and North America. Using works of art theory, fiction, poetry, and social criticism, the seminar will trace the emergence and development of new models of cultural and subjective experience and their relation to social and historical processes. Readings include work by Diderot, Schiller, Shelley, Carlyle, Poe, Baudelaire, Ruskin, Emerson, Huysmans, Pater, Nietzsche and Henry Adams.

‘Nineteenth Century Criticism’ seminar application form.

AHIS UN3614 Landscape and the Visual Arts in China
R. Harrist
W 10:10-12, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the study of landscape in the visual arts of China, focusing on specific sites that have acquired lasting cultural significance through the interactions of myth, ritual, literature. Although the seminar will concentrate on representations of these sites in painting and woodblock illustrations, students will analyze also works of poetry, travel writing, and geographical texts. Methods of analysis from art history, anthropology, the history of religion, and environmental history all will play a role in the seminar. Recent scholarship on the history of tourism, pilgrimages, and travel writing in China will receive special attention. The extraordinary importance of landscape in the arts of China makes this seminar an essential offering in the departmental curriculum, which includes courses dealing with landscape in the West but does not include comparable courses in the field of Asian art. The seminar will complement and reinforce instruction offered in undergraduate lecture courses on the arts of China and will be open to students who have studied Chinese literature, history, or religion. It differs from other courses in Chinese art now listed in the catalogue in being organized thematically rather than chronologically. The seminar requires no knowledge of Chinese, but students who can read the language will be guided to appropriate sources.

If the course is taught online, students will be required to keep their webcams on throughout each class session. We will take appropriate breaks.

‘Landscape and the Visual Arts in China’ seminar application form.

AHIS UN3615 Imperial (Re)Visions: Art and Empire in India
T. Kuruvilla
T 12:10-2, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar aims to teach students how to look at, think about, and engage critically with the visual culture of British India. Together, we will examine the repercussions of the Anglo-Indian colonial encounter on the disciplines of painting, decorative arts, photography, and architecture. We shall not only study the objects themselves, but interrogate the cultural, political, and intellectual circumstances under which they were produced, circulated, collected, and displayed. Finally, we will explore the legacy of the British empire today—its influence on contemporary art, the politics and practices of museum displays, repatriation debates, and beyond.

‘Imperial (Re)Visions: Art and Empire in India’ seminar application form.

AHIS BC3910 Contemporary Photography and Related Media (Barnard course)
J. Lehan
W 12:10-2, 502 Diana Center
An introductory survey of contemporary photography and related media through the framework of current exhibitions in New York City. Exhibitions of photography and video play a particular role in mirroring the present moment, which finds political themes front and center. Prevalent are exhibitions that redress (art) historical erasure, present counter histories, or take direct aim at specific governmental policies. Through group outings to NYC galleries and museums (approximately 8 trips) we will take stock of which artists are showing, in what contexts, and unpack both artistic and curatorial strategies. In addition to class discussion of what we’ve seen, during our time in the classroom we will look back at the select landmark photography exhibitions, to chart evolutions in the medium and their interrelation with politics.

AHIS BC3968 Art Criticism I (Barnard course)
J. Miller
T 11-12:50, 502 Diana Center
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.

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4110 Modern Japanese Architecture
J. Reynolds
M/W 10:10-11:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will examine Japanese architecture and urban planning from the mid-19th century to the present. We will address topics such as the establishment of an architectural profession along western lines in the late 19th century, the emergence of a modernist movement in the 1920s, the use of biological metaphors and the romanticization of technology in the theories and designs of the Metabolist Group, and the shifting significance of pre-modern Japanese architectural practices for modern architects. There will be an emphasis on the complex relationship between architectural practice and broader political and social change in Japan.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate 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 2021 bridge seminar applications by 5pm on Monday, August 9th, 2021.

AHIS GU4503 Exhibition Planning and Programming, Subject: Childhood
A. Higonnet
W 12:10-2, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This bridge seminar studies the history of childhood, through a 2022 Boston Institute of Contemporary Art exhibition. To Begin Again was planned to consider how we imagine childhood in our present moment. How do 20 of today’s major artists, many of whom are parents, and belong to an inclusive range of backgrounds, represent the beginnings of human life? Now, the socially stratified consequences of Covid-19 on families and education are also at stake. Due to Covid-19, the timing of the ICA exhibition has allowed an interval in which to re-think what exhibition programming might consist of, in light of the exhibition’s subject, and recent history. Thanks to a Harvard Radcliffe Institute grant, a virtual seminar will convene museum, childhood and education experts to discuss best practices and new possibilities. Students will attend the workshop as well as an artist’s talk, and meet with the exhibition curator, as well as several museum education professionals, to understand how a museum exhibition comes into being. Assignments will include practicing aspects of research and writing necessary to a successful exhibition. A crucial resource and practicum for the seminar will be a website of the museum programming seminar, funded and managed by the Harvard, Radcliffe Institute, to which seminar graduate students will contribute.

‘Exhibition Planning and Programming, Subject: Childhood’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4546 Gilles Deleuze: Thinking in Art
J. Rajchman
M 4:10-6, 807 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.

‘Gilles Deleuze: Thinking in Art’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4727 Medieval Monuments and Memory
M. Boomer
W 12:10-2, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
The medieval world was filled with monuments that defined both the places people lived and traveled through and the ways they understood their communities. This course investigates how architecture and sculpture shaped medieval perceptions of the past and how medieval patrons hoped to make a mark on the future. Case studies will explore the commemoration of local figures, the commemoration of the dead, the definition of political identities, the presentation of older architectural elements inside new structures, the creation of new stories to redefine preexisting sites, and other relevant topics. We will also discuss how modern restorations, neo-medieval monuments, museum collections, and political discourse impact how medieval monuments are made meaningful today.

‘Medieval Monuments and Memory’ seminar application form.

Courses in other departments which may be of interest:

CLST UN3041 The Ancient City and Us: Archaeology of a Relationship
F. Cassini
R 6:10-8, 502 Northwest Corner Building
The object of this course is Greek and Roman cities in their historical and trans-historical dimensions. In studying their social, economic, and political features, we will discuss models and approaches to this historical form of the city and compare it with other pre-modern and modern examples in world history. The course, open to undergraduate students of different departments and various backgrounds, will ultimately serve as an exercise in historical estrangement to look with fresh and informed eyes at the cities of today.