Fall 2023 Undergraduate Courses

Last update: Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes

Undergraduate Lectures

Open to all undergraduate students. Graduate students may enroll in lecture courses at the 2000-level and above, as outlined in the program handbooks.

AHIS UN2108 Greek Art and Architecture
I. Mylonopoulos
M/W 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 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
T/R 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will study the 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 UN2427 Twentieth Century Architecture
Z. Celik Alexander
M/W 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines some of the key moments of architectural modernity in the twentieth century in an attempt to understand how architecture participated in the making of a new world order. It follows the lead of recent scholarship that has been undoing the assumption that modern twentieth-century architecture is a coherent enterprise that should be understood through avant-gardist movements. Instead, architecture is presented in this course as a multivalent and contradictory entity that has nonetheless had profound impact on modernity. Rather than attempting to be geographically comprehensive, the course focusses on the interdependencies between the Global North and the South; instead of being strictly chronological, it is arranged around a constellation of themes that are explored through a handful of buildings, cities, and landscapes as well as texts. Reading primary sources from the period under examination is a crucial part of the course. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2602 Arts of Japan
M. McKelway
T/R 10:10-11:25, 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
C. Zhu
T/R 1:10-2:25, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHIS BC1001 Intro to the History of Art I (Barnard course)
G. Bryda
M/W 2:40-3:55, location tbc
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 BC3667 Clothing (Barnard course)
A. Higonnet
T/R 2:40-3:55, location tbc
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.

ARCH UN3120 City, Landscape, Ecology (Barnard course)
R. Ghoche
T/R 4:10-5:25, location tbc
City, Landscape, Ecology is a thematically driven course that centers on issues and polemics related to landscape, land settlement and ecology over the past two centuries. The course interrogates our changing attitudes to nature from the 18th century to the present, focusing on the artistic and architectural responses to these perceptions. It aims to demonstrate the important role that artists and architects have played, and are to play, in making visible the sources of environmental degradation and in the development of new means of mitigating anthropogenic ecological change. City, Landscape, Ecology is divided into three parts. Part I explores important episodes in the history of landscape: picturesque garden theory, notions of “wilderness” as epitomized in national and state parks in the United States, Modern and Postmodern garden practices, and the prevalence of landscape in the work of artists from the 1960s to the present. The purpose here is to better understand the role that territorial organization plays in the construction of social practices, human subjectivities, and technologies of power. We then turn to ecology and related issues of climate, urbanization and sustainability in Part II. Here we will look at the rise of ecological thinking in the 1960s; approaches to the environment that were based on the systems-thinking approach of the era. In the session “Capitalism, Race and Population Growth” we examine the history of the “crisis” of scarcity from Thomas Robert Malthus, to Paul R. Ehrlich (The Population Bomb, 1968) to today and look at questions of environmental racism, violence and equity. The course concludes with Part III (Hybrid Natures). At this important juncture in the course, we will ask what is to be done today. We’ll examine the work of contemporary theorists, architects, landscape architects, policy makers and environmentalists who have channeled some of the lessons of the past in proposing lasting solutions to our land management and ecological crises of the present and future.

Undergraduate Colloquia

Open only to AHIS/HTAC/AHVA majors in the Department of Art History and Archaeology.

Interested students must sign up using the Fall 2023 Majors Colloquium Sign-Up Form which will open at 10am on Monday, April 3rd, and close at 5pm on Wednesday, April 12th. Early sign-up is strongly encouraged.

AHIS UN3000 Majors Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Art History

This course is an introduction to the theories and methods of art history and visual culture. It is required for undergraduate majors.

Section 001
M. Gamer
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall

Section 002
M. Cole
R 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall

Undergraduate Seminars

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 2023 undergraduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Wednesday, April 12th.

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

AHIS UN3103 Roman Villas: The Art and Architecture of an Ancient Lifestyle
B. Fowlkes Childs
T 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The villa—the countryside residence that Roman aristocrats used both for running landed estates and as a leisure retreat from city life—is one of the most characteristic features of the ancient classical world. From the late Republic on, it was the locus where a new and distinctive lifestyle was developed. The seminar is designed to introduce students to the main aspects of the architecture and figural decoration of Roman villas by focusing on well-known examples from the Vesuvian area.

Roman Villas: The Art and Architecture of an Ancient Lifestyle application form

AHIS UN3319 The Architect’s Library-Laboratory
E. Pistis
R 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
Between the seventeenth and the eighteenth Centuries, libraries of European architects could contain hundreds of books, prints and drawings. These multimedia collections played a crucial role in shaping both architectural knowledge and practice. This seminar challenges the interpretation of architects’ libraries as static repositories of information, and it analyses how they were in fact sorts of laboratories, in which architects experimented in both the creation of knowledge and the production of designs. In these dynamic places, objects were not only collected, but also used, manipulated and produced, according to a variety of tools, skills and materials. The seminar will explore how these objects' meanings were not only shaped by their makers and the material manipulations of their owners, but also by their physical proximity to other works on desks and library shelves. The classes will take place at the Avery Library, which will become a laboratory for testing ideas and readings.

The Architect's Library-Laboratory application form

AHIS UN3413 Nineteenth-Century Criticism
J. Crary
M 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines a diverse selection of social and aesthetic responses to the impacts of modernization and industrialization in nineteenth-century Europe. Using works of art criticism, fiction, poetry, and social critique, the seminar will trace the emergence of new understandings of collective and individual experience and their relation to cultural and historical transformations. Readings are drawn from Friedrich Schiller's Letters On Aesthetic Education, Mary Shelley's The Last Man, Thomas Carlyle's "Signs of the Time," poetry and prose by Charles Baudelaire, John Ruskin's writings on art and political economy, Flora Tristan's travel journals, J.-K. Huysmans's Against Nature, essays of Walter Pater, Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy and other texts.

Nineteenth-Century Criticism application form

AHIS UN3462 Ecology, Art, and Empire
A. Zivkovic
M 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Looking at material that speaks to historic encounters and legacies of European imperialisms, this course explores how visual practices manage natural relationships across colonial and postcolonial conditions (c.1800-present). Studying art and other visual material “ecologically” reveals interconnections of people, plants, living beings, and inorganic entities within their specific contexts. Each unit will expose students to contemporaneous thinking about ecology, empire, and the construction of the human across texts, artists, and key objects. We will study a wide range of visual material, including maps, decorative objects, surrealist films, 1970s performances, contemporary Caribbean art, and other artworks that emerge out of imperial entanglements between Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Part one of the course explores how 18th-century landscape imagery supported European imperial conquest around the globe and inspired indigenous resistance. Part two examines how 19th-century evolutionary theory and global botanical trade produced new ideas of hybridity in fin-de-siècle Europe. Lastly, part three examines how modern and contemporary art (20th century to present) has turned towards “elemental media” in a radical reframing of art’s human bias.

APPLY BY SEPT. 1: Ecology, Art, and Empire application form

AHIS UN3708 Beyond El Dorado: Materials, Values, and Aesthetics in Pre-Columbian Art History
L. Trever
M 12:10-2, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
In this seminar, we will investigate ancient and indigenous art, materials, and aesthetics from areas of what is today Latin America. Taking advantage of New York’s unrivaled museum collections, we will research Pre-Columbian gold and silver work, as well as equally precious stone, shell, textile, and feather works created by artists of ancient Mexico, Central America, and Andean South America. We will also study latter-day histories of collecting, reception, display, appropriation, and activism that shape contemporary understandings of Pre-Columbian art.

Beyond El Dorado: Materials, Values, and Aesthetics in Pre-Columbian Art History application form


Barnard Seminars

Open to Columbia and Barnard undergraduates. For questions about Barnard courses, contact the Barnard Art History Department

Fall 2023 undergraduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Wednesday, April 12th.

AHIS BC3856 Medieval Craft, Science, and Art (Barnard course)
G. Bryda
W 10:10-12, location tbc
This undergraduate seminar investigates the history of science through the study of artworks and monuments and the materials and techniques of their manufacture. Because the course’s method hinges on the marriage of theory and practice, in addition to discussions in the seminar room, several sessions will take the form of workshops with artisans and conservators (e.g. stonemasons, illuminators, gardeners), or “laboratory meetings” where students will conduct their own hands-on experiments with materials as part of Professor Pamela Smith’s Making and Knowing Project. Topics to be explored include but are not limited to: metallurgy and cosmogeny, paint pigments and pharmacology, microarchitecture and agriculture, masonry and geology, manuscripts and husbandry, and gynecology and Mariology.

Medieval Craft, Science, and Art application form

AHIS BC3968 Art Criticism (Barnard course)
J. Miller
T 11-12:50, location tbc
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 artist’s oeuvre.

Art Criticism application form

AHIS BC3984 Curatorial Positions, 1969–Present (Barnard course)
V. Smith
R 10:10-12, location tbc
Contemporary exhibitions studied through a selection of great shows from roughly 1969 to the present that defined a generation.  This course will not offer practical training in curating; rather it will concentrate on the historical context of exhibitions, the theoretical basis for their argument, the criteria for the choice in artists and their work, and exhibitions’ internal/external reception.

Curatorial Positions, 1969–Present application form

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