Fall 2022 Undergraduate Courses

Last update: Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes:

Undergraduate Lectures

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

AHIS BC1001 Intro to the History of Art I (Barnard course)
G. Bryda
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 UN2108 Greek Art and Architecture
D. Schneller
T/R 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course surveys the art and architecture of the Greek world from the Bronze Age through the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic Periods. After an introduction to Minoan and Mycenaean art, the course proceeds thematically through organized lectures focusing on sculpture and architecture. In the second half of the course, students are introduced to contexts of the display of Greek art with special attention to sanctuaries, theaters, and the city of Athens. The course continues with several lectures on vase and wall painting and culminates by asking students to consider the use (and abuse) of Greek art in our time.

AHIS UN2317 Renaissance Architecture
M. Waters
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the history of architecture between roughly 1400 and 1600 from a European perspective outward. Employing a variety of analytical approaches, it addresses issues related to the Renaissance built environment thematically and through a series of specific case studies. Travelling across a geographically diverse array of locales, we will interrogate the cultural, material, urban, social, and political dimensions of architecture (civic, commercial, industrial, domestic, ecclesiastical and otherwise). Additional topics to be discussed include: antiquity and its reinterpretation; local identity, style, and ornament; development of building typologies; patronage and politics; technology and building practice; religious change and advancements in warfare; the creation and migration of architectural knowledge; role of capitalism and colonialism; class and decorum in domestic design; health and the city; the mobility of people and materials; architectural theory, books, and the culture of print; the media of architectural practice; the growth of cities and towns; the creation of urban space and landscape; architectural responses to ecological and environmental factors; and the changing status of the architect. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2602 Arts of Japan (Barnard course)
J. Reynolds
M/W 10:10-11:25, 304 Barnard Hall
Introduction to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Japan from the Neolithic period through the present. Discussion focuses on key monuments within their historical and cultural contexts.

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

Section 002
C. Zhu
T/R 11:40-12:55, 832 Schermerhorn Hall

AHIS UN2615 Survey of Dynastic Chinese Painting with Modern Comparisons
F. Murck
T/R 1:10-2:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
How did painting become the dominant expression of dynastic China, the pride of both the imperial court and the educated elite? This course will explore answers to that question through the study of selected Chinese paintings. The focus will be on influential paintings from the late Han dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911. Most paintings of the dynastic era will be introduced with a contemporary image from the 20th or 21st century. These recent works will allow us to consider continuities, ruptures, and transformations. Paintings functioned as guides to heaven and on correct behavior, entertainment, assertions of authority and legitimacy, celebrations of longevity, as well as ways to criticize and to complain. Because analogy and metaphor are fundamental to Chinese language and visual art, we will examine visual symbols, auspicious imagery, and the rhetoric of resistance. After successfully completing this course, you will be better able to articulate a research question, read more critically, write a visual analysis, and impress friends and family as you name a painting used in restaurant décor. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2702 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture
L. Trever

AHUM UN2800 Arts of Islam: The First Formative Centuries
A. Shalem
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This lecture course, open to both undergraduate and graduate students, offers a comprehensive and chronological overview of the major masterpieces of art and architecture of the Muslim world between circa 700-1000 AD. Topics concerning the rise of Arabic as the official language of the new Muslim Empire and the aesthetic transformation it went from script to calligraphy, the shaping of sacred spaces and liturgical objects, rulers’ iconographies and urban designs, as well as daily-life objects, will be discussed. Mecca, Madina, Jerusalem, Damascus, Fustat (old Cairo), Qayrawan, Cordoba, Baghdad, Samarra, Balkh, Bukhara and early Fatimid Cairo are the major playgrounds to illustrate particular moments of shifting powers and aesthetic paradigms in the early days of the Muslim empire, suggesting a more differentiate picture of the arts of Islam in the age of imagining a world-wide empire. The past narratives for these regions will be critically presented by both looking at the medieval sources and the modern historiographies for these regions and by highlighting the varied ideologies at play. Taking this critical vein of studying the arts of the early Muslim age, past narratives will be reconsidered, while enhancing our awareness to the complicated, if not sometimes manipulated, processes of giving works of arts meanings and values. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement. Discussion section required.

AHUM UN2901 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture
S. Kaligotla
T/R 10:10-11:25, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
Introduction to 2000 years of art on the Indian subcontinent. The course covers the early art of Buddhism, rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists and Hindus, the development of the Hindu temple, Mughal, Rajput and Deccani painting and architecture, art of the colonial period, and the emergence of the Modern. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement.

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 BC3682 Early Modernism and the Crisis of Representation (Barnard course)
A. Alberro
T/R 4:10-5:25, LL 002 Milstein Center
This course studies the emergence and development of Modernism in all of its complexity. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which Modern artists responded to the dramatically changing notions of space, time and dimension in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. What impact did these dramatic changes have on existing concepts of representation? What challenges did they pose for artists? To what extent did Modernism contribute to an understanding of the full consequences of these new ideas of time and space? These concerns will lead us to examine some of the major critical and historical accounts of modernism in the arts as they were developed between the 1860s and the 1920s.

Undergraduate Colloquia

Required courses for AHIS/HTAC/AHVA majors in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. Not open to Barnard or Professional Studies students.

AHIS UN3000 Majors Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Art History
N. Elcott
W 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.

Students must sign up using the Fall 2022 Majors Colloquium Sign-Up Form. The form will open on Thursday, April 7th, at 10am and close on Thursday, April 14th, at 5pm. Early sign-up is strongly encouraged.

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars are open to Columbia and Barnard 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 undergraduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Thursday, April 14th.

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
D. Bodart
R 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Required for all thesis writers. Counts toward elective lecture credit. For more information about the senior thesis program, please visit the Senior Thesis Information Page

AHIS UN3012 Restitution or Repatriation of Cultural Heritage: New Directions?
Z. S. Strother
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Heated debates over restitution or repatriation of cultural heritage are reshaping museum practice and the law itself. It is an issue that has or will affect every branch of art history. Many museums have already become embroiled in the question of “who owns antiquity?” or who owns goods seized by the Nazis. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (1990) has mandated the return of thousands of individuals, funerary artifacts, and cultural objects to Native American tribes. In particular, this seminar is timed to assess the impact of the report released in Nov. 2018 in France recommending a policy of “swift” and permanent repatriation of African cultural heritage acquired during the colonial period to concerned nation states. The course will put into conversation histories drawn from diverse fields in the hope of developing some principles to negotiate competing moral and political claims.

‘Restitution or Repatriation of Cultural Heritage: New Directions?’ application form

AHIS UN3410 Approaches to Contemporary Art
B. Joseph
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the critical approaches to contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. It will address a range of historical and theoretical issues around the notion of "the contemporary" (e.g. globalization, participation, relational art, decolonization, Afrotropes, and artists publications) as it has developed in the era after the postmodernism of the 1970s and 1980s.

‘Approaches to Contemporary Art’ application form

AHIS UN3456 Picturing People: Photography and the Body in the United States
K. Fein
M 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
How did changing modes of representation reflect and contribute to shifting conceptions of embodiment and identity? This advanced undergraduate seminar explores the complex relationship between photography and the human body in the United States since the introduction of photography in 1839. Moving decade by decade, this course traces the development of photography alongside social and political change that altered how human bodies were understood, represented, inhabited, and controlled. We will examine a variety of photographic genres that figure the body, including personal portraits, ethnographic images, identification images, documentary photography, and fashion photography. Alongside the close examination of photographs, we will read key primary sources, scholarship in art history, and theoretical texts. Two field trips—one to Columbia’s Art Properties and one to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—will give us an opportunity to have our own embodied encounters with historical photographs. Although the course explores the period between 1839 and 1970, we will reflect upon the legacy of historical photographic practices in the years since and in the contemporary world.

‘Picturing People: Photography and the Body in the United States’ application form

AHIS UN3461 Handicraft and Contemporary Art
J. Bryan-Wilson
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar examines the resurgence of craft within contemporary art and theory. In a time when much art is outsourced — or fabricated by large stables of assistants — what does it mean when artists return to traditional, and traditionally laborious, methods of handiwork such as knitting, jewelry making, or woodworking? Though our emphasis will be on recent art (including the Black feminist reclamation of quilts, an artist who makes pornographic embroidery, a cross-dressing ceramicist, queer fiber collectives, do-it-yourself Indigenous environmental interventions, and anti-capitalist craftivism), we will also examine important historical precedents. We will read formative theoretical texts regarding questions of process, materiality, skill, bodily effort, domestic labor, and alternative economies of production. Throughout, we will think through how craft is in dialogue with questions of race, nation-building, gendered work, and mass manufacturing. The seminar is centered around student-led discussion of our critical readings.

*Interested students should email Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson for permission to enroll

AHIS UN3703 Sin autorización: Themes in Contemporary Cuban Art
G. Unger
W 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This course is planned in conjunction with the exhibition Sin autorización, to be on display at the Wallach Gallery in Fall 2022. Using the exhibition and its works as a guide, this class focuses on main themes within Cuban art from the last few decades. Rather than proceeding in chronological order, each unit will address a theme present both within the greater history of contemporary Cuban art and works from the exhibition itself. The course will make use of public programming for the exhibition, as well as direct access to the artists included in the exhibition, through in-class visits and workshops, as possible. While we will focus on contemporary art from Cuba, we will begin by grounding our study within Caribbean cultural theory and important scholarship in Caribbean art history. Using Caribbean theory will help to contextualize and situate contemporary Cuban art within the greater field of art history and cultural theory. 

Sin autorización: Themes in Contemporary Cuban Art’ application form

AHIS BC3968 Art Criticism (Barnard course)
P. Marshall
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 ODoherty/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 artists oeuvre.

Barnard application due Thursday, April 8th:

'Art Criticism' application form 

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.

*Interested students should email Prof. Gassaway at [email protected] for permission to enroll.

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

Courses in other departments which may be of interest:

UKRAINIAN GU4122 Ukrainian Avant-garde, 1910–30
M. Shkandrij
R 4:10-6, 1201 International Affairs Building
Many of the greatest avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century came from Ukraine. Whether they remained in the country or emigrated to Western Europe and North America after 1917, they made major contributions to painting, sculpture, theatre, and film-making. This course traces the avant-garde’s development from pre-war years in Paris to the onset of Stalinism in the early thirties. It discusses the movement’s political choices, the contribution of Jewish artists, and the work of emblematic figures such as David Burliuk, Mykhailo Boichuk, Kazimir Malevych, Vadym Meller, Ivan Kavaleridze, and Dziga Vertov. The course surveys the avant-garde’s influence on later Soviet and contemporary art.