Fall 2023 Graduate Courses

Last update: Monday, August 21st, 2023

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Bridge Lectures

Open to undergraduate and graduate students. Bridge lectures do not require an application.

AHIS GU4021 Medieval Art I: Late Antiquity to the End of the Byzantine Empire
H. Klein
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

*This course will be offered in sequence with Medieval Art II: Romanesque to Gothic in Spring 2024. Students may take both courses in sequence or either course separately.

AHIS GU4042 African American Artists in the 20th and 21st Centuries
K. Jones
T/R 4:10-5:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
This course is a survey of visual production by North Americans of African descent from 1900 to the present. It will look at the various ways in which these artists have sought to develop an African American presence in the visual arts over the last century. We will discuss such issues as: what role does stylistic concern play; how are ideas of romanticism, modernism, and formalism incorporated into the work; in what ways do issues of postmodernism, feminism, and cultural nationalism impact on the methods used to portray the cultural and political body that is African America?

AHIS GU4044 Neo-Dada and Pop Art
B. Joseph
T/R 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the avant-garde art of the fifties and sixties, including assemblage, happenings, pop art, Fluxus, and artists' forays into film. It will examine the historical precedents of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Carolee Schneemann and others in relation to their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects.

AHIS GU4062 Chinese Art: Center and Periphery
J. Xu
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course introduces you to the rich and diverse tradition of Chinese art by focusing on materials and techniques. We will discuss a wide array of artistic media situated in distinct cultural contexts, examining bronzes, jade, ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and textiles in the imperial, aristocratic, literary, religious, and commercial milieus in which they were produced. In addition to developing your skills in visual-material analysis, this course will also acquaint you with the diverse cultures that developed in China’s center and periphery during its five thousand (plus) years of history. Emphasis will be placed on understanding how native artistic traditions in China interacted with those in regions such as the Mongolian steppe, Tibetan plateau, and Central Asia.

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

Open to undergraduate and graduate students. 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 2023 bridge seminar applications are due by 5pm on Monday, August 7th.

AHIS GU4533 The Routes of Charles V
D. Bodart
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
In the public speech announcing his abdication, on October 25, 1555, emperor Charles V gave an impressive summary of the incessant travels that governed his political life: “I went nine times through Germany, six times to Spain, seven times to Italy, four times to France, twice to England, and twice to Africa, for a total of forty journeys or expeditions, not to mention the less important visits I paid over the years to islands and obedient provinces. I therefore have crossed the Mediterranean Sea eight times and sailed the ‘Hispanic Ocean’ three times”. Along these routes, the seminar will explore the sites of cross-cultural encounters in the world of Charles V and investigate their composite artistic productions. Retracing the cartography of the dynamic web of interconnections that was to shape the political and geographical "monster" of the Spanish Hapsburg Empire, as Fernand Braudel calls it, the seminar aims to discuss the paradigms of this early modern model of globalization.

The Routes of Charles V application form

AHIS GU4546 Gilles Deleuze: Thinking in Art
J. Rajchman
W 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 application form

AHIS GU4581 Modernity by Art: Materiality, Imagination, and Convergence
K. Scheid
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will introduce students to epistemological and methodological questions about modernity, community, and artistic practice through case studies from the Middle East (particularly Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Turkey). The course bridges art history and anthropology to examine the material and imaginative ways that Middle Eastern communities produced the modern, experienced it, and became progenitors of it, yet often from its “outside.” How did modernity become an urgent time frame and a call for social change? What did decolonizing communities want from “art,” and why was art important to many sociopolitical mobilizations of the 1920s-1960s? What new types of community, identity, economy, and spirituality did artists proffer? How do these relate to the maps, timelines, and categories we rely on to understand globalization and the contemporary today? What obstacles did artists face in their projects for social relevance, and what new entanglements did their negotiations create? The course will provide students with original materials and non-canonical artwork to prompt discussions of how we think about modernity cross-culturally and the stakes in art research today. Thus, it will also encourage students to reflect on what modernity and art mean to them and how they locate themselves in our unequally shared political world.

APPLY BY SEPT. 1: Modernity by Art: Materiality, Imagination, and Convergence application form

AHIS GU4744 Art and Fashion: The Body, Architecture, Textile
L. Werier
T 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This bridge seminar examines topics in and tensions between art and fashion in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The course will first explore clothing’s relationship to the body. This course will consider how artists investigate and critique the materials of fashion and spaces of visual merchandising: textiles, shop windows, and the department store. Topics include but are not limited to: voguing/ball culture, Queer coding and clothing, fashion photography, and site-specific installation. We will investigate the museum through the practices of collecting, curating, and the rise of blockbuster fashion exhibitions. Indigenous perspectives on display and sacred storage will be discussed. Art and fashion are embedded within their historical, political, and social contexts, and throughout this course, we will consider topics from a global perspective.

Art and Fashion: The Body, Architecture, Textile application form

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students.

AHIS GR5000 MODA Critical Colloquium
L. Werier
R 12:10-2, 930 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 12-2, 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. Celik Alexander
NEW TIME: F 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for first-year PhD students.

Graduate Lectures

Open to graduate students. Interested undergraduates may contact the instructor for permission to enroll.

AHIS GR6104 Ornament and Attention: Roman Imperial Imagery and Its Reception
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHIS GR6413 The Real Picasso
R. Krauss
W 2:10-4, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
Picasso’s work is  the great kaleidoscope through which 20th-century art passes: from its beginnings in Cubism through which the world is given as though through cut crystal; to the commercial forms of collage; to the presage of surrealist anguish; and, finally, to an untoward neo-classicism. The result of this restless exploration is the invention of multiple formal languages, which need to be deciphered in spite of the perverse literature on the subject which insists on transposing this into the art-historical language of iconography. The literature is rich with the analytic struggles between the great Picasso scholars: William Rubin, Leo Steinberg, and Picasso’s biographer, John Russel. The skirmishes over the “iconography” of cubism extends to the interpretation of the work’s relation to “primitivism.” This controversy has given rise to yet a new vector on Picasso’s work: structuralism and semiotics.

Graduate Seminars

Open to graduate students. 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 2023 graduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Monday, August 7th.

AHIS GR8203 Materiality and the Sacred
H. Klein
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The 'material turn' in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and the rise of 'thing theory' as a distinct field of study, has, over the last two decades, re-invigorated the study of relics and reliquaries, 'things' that oscillate between inanimate 'objects' and animate 'subjects'. Building on a rich body of historical, art historical, and anthropological literature, this graduate seminar explores the 'material rhetoric' of a distinct collection of Western medieval reliquaries and liturgical objects that from part of the so-called Guelph Treasure, the largest and culturally most significant ecclesiastical treasures to survive from Medieval Germany.

Materiality and the Sacred application form

AHIS GR8343 Art and Reformation
M. Cole
R 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Carlos Eire has recently argued that the history of Europe from 1450 to 1650 can be written as a history of reformations. Might a similar claim be made about the visual arts? This course will examine critiques of religious images emerging from various reform movements and practices that responded to these: at one extreme, censorship and iconoclasm, at the other, creative approaches that resulted in new forms of art. The course will center on Italy, though students are welcome to work on related material in other places.

Art and Reformation application form

AHIS GR8452 Viollet-le-Duc and the Culture of Drawing in 19th-Century Architecture
B. Bergdoll
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar focused on the architect, theorist, and restorer E.E. Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) will explore the centrality of the theory and practice of drawing to his diverse activities and interactions with other disciplines and graphic discourses of the 19th century.  From the moment Viollet-le-Duc refused the route of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academy, with their own highly codified drawing practices, his positions and explorations took place as much through distinctive modes of drawing and projection as through voluminous theoretical writings.  Interconnections with artists, with scientists – particularly in geology, botany and comparative anatomy – and to the cultures of display in the 19th century will be central themes.  The seminar will be framed by two symposia, one presented at the Bard Graduate Center where Barry Bergdoll and Martin Bressani (McGill University, Montréal) are co-curation a 2025 exhibition on the drawings of Viollet-le-Duc, the other a symposium presented jointly by the students of this seminar and a parallel one taught by Prof. Bressani at McGill.

Viollet-le-Duc and the Culture of Drawing in 19th-Century Architecture application form

AHIS GR8467 American Landscapes of Extraction
E. Hutchinson
M 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
In this seminar, we will investigate this through the exploration of works that engage the history of extraction in the Americas in their subject matter, use and/or materiality. Combining theoretical readings with recent examples of ecocritical art history, we will discuss different models and motivations for this work and put these methods into use in object labels for the Wallach Art Gallery exhibition “The Hudson: Art, Industry and Ecology” and in individual research papers.

American Landscapes of Extraction application form

AHIS GR8469 Photography, Identity, Status
N. Elcott
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar will explore how photography has shaped, authenticated, and interrogated identity and status from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics include: the rise of mug shots, IDs, facial recognition software (including Artificial Intelligence / AI), and other repressive forms of photo-based identification; anthropological and other forms of photo-based typologies of race, ethnicity, nationality, and other identities; and a range of honorific studio practices that aim to consolidate social status. Special attention will be paid to August Sander and contemporary artists.

Photography, Identity, Status application form

AHIS GR8613 Early Modern Japanese Ceramics
M. McKelway; M. Arakawa
T 4:10-6, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
A hands-on graduate seminar to investigate the revolution that occurred in Japanese ceramics around 1600. Topics to explore will include: the legacy of medieval ceramics, especially the “six ancient kilns” (rokkoyō); the role of the arts of tea (chanoyu) as a catalyst for technical innovation and stylistic invention; intraregional commerce in Japan and objects imported from China, Korea, and Southeast Asia; the role of modern archaeology; and the question of transmateriality, or whether and how the related arts of painting, lacquer, and textiles affected the conception and design of clay objects. We will conduct regular visits to local public and private collections throughout the semester to examine objects firsthand. Reading knowledge of Japanese strongly recommended.

Early Modern Japanese Ceramics application form

AHIS GR8744 “Pre-Columbian” Art History Now: The State of the Field
L. Trever
T 10:10-12, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
In this graduate seminar we will assess the state of the field of “Pre-Columbian” art history—that is the history of art and architecture of the region that is now considered Latin America until about 1550. We will read important recent and foundational texts and discuss the intellectual possibilities and ethical stakes of this field of Americanist art history moving into the twenty-first century. The final assignment will be a long-form review essay.

“Pre-Columbian” Art History Now: The State of the Field application form

AHIS GR8811 History, Heritage, Post-Disaster Preservation
Z. Bahrani (Art History and Archaeology); Z. Celik (History)
R 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Post-disaster heritage preservation is becoming an increasingly urgent matters as a result of both wars and environmental catastrophes. This seminar introduces themes, issues, theories, methodologies and technologies of historical preservation and restoration of heritage architecture, monuments and historical landscapes in post-disaster situations. Centered on the historical landscapes and built environment of the region affected by the February 2023 earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, the seminar will explore the range of responses and approaches. Weekly meetings will discuss practical aspects of post-disaster response such as damage assessment surveys, uses of building materials, long-term maintenance and monitoring. They will also learn about the histories of the region, and analyze theoretical discussions around monuments, memory, development and urban environments, and the politics of heritage. Students will produce a final report about a region, site or city, assigned by the instructors.

Admission into the seminar is by application and permission of the instructors only. Applications for the seminar must be submitted to the Department of Art History by Monday, August 7th, 2023.

History, Heritage, Post-Disaster Preservation application form