Fall 2022 Graduate Courses

Last update: Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes:

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Students must submit an application, linked below each course description, in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.

Fall 2022 bridge seminar applications are due by 5pm on Monday, August 1st.

AHIS GU4517 Hadrian's Villa: An Imperial Court and Its Spaces
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar aims to understand Hadrian’s Villa by contextualizing it within the broader network of Roman imperial residences—palaces and villas alike—and by focusing on the relationship between architectural spaces and decoration on the one hand, and social practices and daily routines on the other. Basing on the findings of Columbia’s own excavations, special attention will be devoted to the cultic life at the villa, with particular emphasis on its non-elite inhabitants and the relationship between “high” and “low” forms of religiosity.
The scope of the seminar is interdisciplinary: applications of students from all departments are welcome. Familiarity with Greek and Roman art, architecture, and history is strongly recommended.

'Hadrian's Villa: An Imperial Court and Its Spaces' application form

AHIS GU4522 Black Mediterranean: 1000 Years of Artistic Interaction (ca. 600–1600)
A. Shalem
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Black Mediterranean (Mediterraneo Nero) aims to critically revisit the histories and historiographies of the Mediterranean, paying particular attention to the contributions of the African continent to the cultures of the “Inland Sea”. It seeks to call our attention to the important artistic and cultural role played by the African continent in shaping Mediterranean aesthetics and, paradoxically, to its absence from most Mediterranean studies to date. While focusing on the movement of artifacts, artisans, persons of power and slaves, as well as revisiting trade routes and military conquests, this course unveils the constant and mutual transfer of knowledge, moving between micro and macro histories. Varied historical moments are discussed, such as the translatio of the relics of Saint Mark from Alexandria to Venice, the boom in the import of ivory from Sub-Saharan spaces to Europe, the introduction of the Almohads’ aesthetic in Spain, as well as trading along the Mediterranean during the Fatimid period (around 1000 CE). Yet, other contra moments of artistic transfer (to Africa rather than from Africa) will be highlighted, such as the introduction of the Abbasid royal aesthetics of Baghdad in North Africa, the settlements of Amlfitan traders in Fatimid Egypt, the Norman looting of Tunis around 1200, Jesuits in Ethiopia in early modern times, or the Habsburg Conquest of Tunis in 1535.

‘Black Mediterranean: 1000 Years of Artistic Interaction’ application form

AHIS GU4576 The Extraordinary Bodies of Aztec Art
W. Gassaway
M 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar offers an in-depth examination of the appearance, symbolism, and ritual function of the human form in the arts of Mexico prior to the fall of the Aztec Empire (CE 900–1521). Relative to Classic Maya art, a tradition renowned for its naturalism and sophistication, the art of the later Mixtecs, Toltecs, and Nahuas (Aztecs) is often perceived as rigid and hulking, even brutish, by comparison. Featuring complex abstractions and esoteric symbolism, the Postclassic body is further distinguished by the specificity of its anomalies. From depictions of congenital illnesses to ambiguous sexualities to costumes of flayed skin, the variety of distinctive bodies, coupled with an abundance of available historical sources, make the Postclassic period the ideal lens through which to assess the most fundamental issues of Indigenous Mexican visual culture. Drawing on examples of stone sculpture, ceramics, and painted books (codices), as well as recent archaeological findings and a trove of lyric poetry, seminar readings will yield critical insights into notions of divinity, shamanic transformation, and image making practices generally. Group discussions will offer further interpretive strategies for unpacking the religious and political motivations at play in much of Postclassic art.

Grades will be based on class participation, including short weekly responses, and the final paper. While this is primarily a graduate seminar, it is also open to undergraduate students by application. Students may email Prof. Gassaway at [email protected] for permission to enroll.

'The Extraordinary Bodies of Aztec Art' application form

AHIS GU4646 Foucault and the Arts
J. Rajchman
M 4:10-6, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

‘Foucault and the Arts’ application form

AHIS GU4728 Digital Art History: New Methods for Studying European Medieval Architecture and Associated Arts
S. Van Liefferinge
W 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will explore the use of digital technologies in art history through studying new approaches to medieval art and architecture. For about thirty years, digital technologies have played an increasing role in the humanities. Recently, the phenomenon has significantly gained momentum. In the field of art history, this growth can be attributed to a wider availability of digital tools and the decreasing cost of advanced technologies. Lidar scanning, photogrammetry, virtual reality, high resolution photography, 3D modeling, and so on are now frequently part of art historical studies and publications. In this seminar, students are invited to evaluate the pros and cons of addressing digital technologies for art history. Starting from the subfield of medieval architecture, the seminar will address questions that appear today in many fields and periods of art history. The seminar will include hands-on practical experience. Students with or without technical skills are encouraged to join this seminar.

‘Digital Art History: New Methods for Studying European Medieval Architecture and Associated Arts’ application form

AHIS GU4742 African American Visual and Decorative Arts, 1650–1900
K. Jones
R 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This course surveys the earliest forms of visual production by North Americans of African descent, spanning the period from 1650-1900. Our focus encompasses decorative arts and crafts (furniture, pottery, quilts), architecture, and the emerging field of African American archeology, along with photography and the fine arts of painting and sculpture. We will consider how certain traditions brought from Africa contributed to the development of the early visual and material culture of what came to be called the United States. We will also reflect on how theories of diaspora, and resistance help us understand African American and American culture in general.

‘African American Visual and Decorative Arts, 1650–1900’ application form

AHIS GU4743 Colonial Visual Systems: Constructing a "New World"
R. G. Newman
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will examine the visual organizational systems used by Europeans during their colonization of the Americas, specifically the Caribbean. These systems were used in several ways: first to classify that which Europeans had never encountered through botanical and zoological illustration, then, as tools to assert control over groups of people and land through mapping practices and ethnographic illustrations. As such, the course will examine the broad history of colonialism and the transAtlantic slave trade, beginning in the early fifteenth century and ending with twentieth-century tourist photos. The course will study the ways these visual systems were marshaled to create narratives that persist to this day, including the construction of race and use of the Picturesque as a pro-slavery tool that rendered the Caribbean as a pastoral haven. Stressing the development of image analysis skills and primary source materials, the main requirement will be a final 15-20 page paper. Over the course of the semester, we will work on developing this paper together; the end goal is that students will have a paper they can use for conference presentations or even rework for publication. At the end of the course, the student will be versed not only in colonial history but in the ways visual systems have functioned to construct systems of power and control.

‘Colonial Visual Systems: Constructing a New World’ application form

AHIS GU4761 Kimono Style at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Japanese Textile Art and Fashion
A. Higonnet; M. Bincsik
T 10:10-12, Met Museum
In conjunction with an exhibition at the Met, and co-taught with Met curator Monika Bincsik, this bridge-level seminar studies the esthetics and history of the Japanese kimono, from the seventeenth century to the present. Issues of political context, use, accessorizing, gender identity, sumptuary rank, and textile technology will be addressed.  Most class sessions will be held at the Met.

‘Kimono Style at the Met’ application form

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students.

AHIS GR5000 MODA Critical Colloquium
J. Kraynak
R 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The Critical Colloquium is a required course for all first-year MODA students. The seminar intends to deepen students’ understanding of the discipline of art history, its history and its continued evolution. Combining seminar sessions featuring close readings of texts, with guest speaker presentations, the class serves as a number of purposes for first year MODA students. First is to probe the nature of scholarship, the relations between art history and criticism, and the shifting methodologies deployed in the analysis of art. The second part includes visits by leading and emerging writers and scholars who engage with the class, sharing their expertise and recent research and publications. Each year, the thematic focus slightly alters––among recent topics include the rise of theory; alternative historiographies; multiple modernities; contemporary methodologies––allowing students to gain insights into the dynamic nature of the field, and how its canons and methods are continually challenged. Recent guest speakers inlcude scholars Eddie Chambers, Tatiana Flores, Suzanne Hudson, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Anneka Lenssen, Fred Moten, Nada Shabout, and Irene Small; artist Glenn Ligon, critic and editor, Ben Eastman, among others.
NB: the Critical Colloquium is does not permit enrollment from students who are not in the MODA program.

AHIS GR5002 M.A. Methods Colloquium
F. Baumgartner
R 12:10-2, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
This course begins with a reflection on the practice of art history today, through the interrogation of two related issues: the canon and art history as a narrative. This preliminary reflection, informed both by foundational texts and recent interventions in the field, will help us establish a critical framework for our examination of the different methodological models that art historians have been using to interpret the visual arts. Through the close reading of texts dating from the sixteenth century to today that reflect a broad range of theoretical perspectives, we will study the history and recent developments of art history as a scholarly discipline, from biographical, iconographical and Marxist accounts to feminist, postcolonial and intersectional analyses. We will also think about how to articulate one’s critical position. For that purpose, we will discuss the concepts that have shaped the field of art history – authorship, vision, otherness and globalism, among others – while putting them in conversation with the visual arts from different time periods and geographical areas.

HUMA GR6913 Principles of Art Humanities
Z. S. Strother
R 12:10-2, Core Office
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. Bahrani
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for first-year PhD students.

Graduate Lectures

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

AHIS GR6407 Minimalism and Postminimalism
B. Joseph
T 10:10-12, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines minimalism—one of the most significant aesthetic movements— and subsequent developments during the sixties and seventies. More than visual art, the course considers minimal sculpture, music, dance, and "structural" film, their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects. Artists include: Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Anthony McCall, Tony Conrad, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Richard Serra, Beverly Buchanan, and Nancy Holt.

Graduate Seminars

Graduate students must submit an application, linked below each course description, in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.

Fall 2022 graduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Monday, August 1st.

WMST GR6100 Queer Feminist Theories of Art
J. Bryan-Wilson
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
What happens when we understand art as an active producer of theory, rather than as an object to which theory might be “applied?” This seminar proposes that recent art has catalyzed and shaped advanced feminist and queer thought, and asks how visual art practices have been engines of theoretical propositions about the entanglements of genders, sexualities, racialization, desire, state power, archives, migration, utopias/dystopias, loss, anger, visibility/opacity, world-making, etc. We will focus our speculations around a series of case studies from around the world to think about how insistently intersectional feminist, trans, and queer knowledge is embodied, generated, and performed within works, acts, and objects themselves. Modeling more horizontal methods of learning in alignment with queer feminist pedagogies, students will participate in building our reading list and will collaboratively lead discussions. Artists/artist’s groups might include Asco, Sadie Barnette, fierce pussy, Jeffrey Gibson, Félix González-Torres, Glenn Ligon, Candice Lin, Julie Mehretu, Yasumasa Morimura, Zanele Muholi, Senga Nengudi, Cecilia Vicuña, and Martin Wong.

This class is being held by the ISSG department. Please contact them for instructions on how to enroll.

AHIS GR8207 The Church of San Marco in Venice: Art, Architecture, and the Liturgy, ca. 827–1550
H. Klein
M 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar will explore the history, art, architecture, and liturgy of the ducal chapel and state church of San Marco in Venice. Built to house the body of the Evangelist St. Mark within the precinct of the ducal palace shortly after its translation from Alexandria in 828/29, San Marco was heavily indebted to Byzantine art and architectural traditions. Accordingly, the seminar will focus on Venetian perceptions of Byzantine art and culture from the time of the foundation of San Marco to the collapse of the Latin Empire of Constantinople in 1261 and beyond. Particular emphasis will be placed on the function of Byzantine architectural spolia and saintly relics as markers of cultural and religious identity, the invention and visual manifestation of cult traditions, and changes made to the sacred topography of San Marco as a result of Venice’s political ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean and on the terraferma.

'The Church of San Marco in Venice: Art, Architecture, and the Liturgy, ca. 827–1550' application form

AHIS GR8313 Renaissance Print Culture and the Architectural Treatise
M. Waters
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the relationship between architectural culture and the technology of printing in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe. Studying manuscripts and drawings, printed books, and woodcuts, etchings, and engravings, we will explore how print shaped architectural thought and practice and analyze a range of architectural treatises in terms of medium and content. In doing so, this seminar will place these objects in relation to other illustrated manuals that proliferated in the Renaissance and interrogate a number of critical issues such as the materiality of text and image; copying, codification, and the didactic role of print; and technology and nature of media in the Renaissance. Close object-based study will be central to the class and numerous sessions will utilize collections in New York (Avery Library, RBML, New York Public Library, Morgan Library, and Metropolitan Museum of Art).

‘Renaissance Print Culture and the Architectural Treatise’ application form

AHIS GR8476 Methods Seminar: Roland Barthes
R. Krauss
T 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

'Methods Seminar: Roland Barthes' application form

AHIS/CMPM GR8483 Intro to Comparative Media
N. Elcott; R. Morris
R 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

‘Intro to Comparative Media’ application form

AHIS GR8604 Japanese Photography
J. Reynolds
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
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’ application form

AHIS GR8901 Early Indian Afterlives
S. Kaligotla
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar combines close looking and reading with writing imaginatively. With the help of an array of textual and visual material we explore how early South Asians thought about death, dying, and the afterlife. Students will be encouraged to react to these primary sources in order to develop their writing muscles and incorporate a range of ekphrastic stances into their writing. You have the option to write weekly creative texts for which prompts will be given or produce a critical reading response. Final projects can be either a research paper or a longer creative work such as a literary essay, poem sequence, short story, film, or mixed media project. Topics of discussion include the moment of death and the kinds of death valorized by various social groups, rituals of mourning and remembrance, the iconography of death, conceptions of afterworlds and their inhabitants, the afterlives of objects and persons, and such Indic concepts as rebirth, karma, samadhi, and nirvana. We will read literary, political, religious, and art-historical texts, and consider Buddhist, Hindu, and Jaina perspectives as well as contemporary prose and poetry. Visual examples run the gamut: memorial buildings, relics and reliquaries, prints capturing the rewards and punishments of the afterlife, mandalas and cosmological maps, and the striking portrayals of the god of death and ghosts and ghouls on temple walls, paintings, and textiles.

'Early Indian Afterlives' application form

AHIS GR8734 Art of the Vessel: Maya and Moche
L. Trever