Fall 2024 Graduate Courses

Last update: Wednesday, June 12th, 2024

Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes

Bridge Lectures

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

AHCE W4149 The Roman Art of Engineering: Traditions of Planning, Construction, and Innovation
F. de Angelis [Art History]; J. Chang [Engineering]
M/W 4:10-5:25, location tbc
This is a flagship Cross-Disciplinary Frontiers course that provides an interdisciplinary study of ancient Roman engineering and architecture. It addresses the questions of how and why infrastructure was built and critically why these questions are relevant today. Through a holistic examination of Roman buildings, monuments and infrastructure that draws upon the fields of engineering, architecture, archaeology, and history, we will articulate principles used for the construction of roads, bridges, and aqueducts, including iconic buildings and lesser-known examples. Themes that will be addressed throughout the course include: building materials and their affordances; the organization of labor and power hierarchies; the standardization of construction procedures; the epistemological premises of technological innovation and its societal consequences; the role of failure and error; the aestheticization and politicization of engineering “feats”; engineering and empire; and dissemination and transformation of engineering knowledge beyond Roman antiquity. Special lectures will be devoted to cross-cultural comparisons with other pre-modern societies across the globe. The main body of the course is organized in the form of dual lectures. In each “couplet,” the first unit (lecture A) introduces civil engineering principles; it analyzes the Roman cases both to illustrate said principles and to discuss the specific way they were understood and put to use within the frame of pre-modern technological practices. This unit is meant to familiarize students with the basic tenets of civil engineering, as well as to expose them to key technical aspects of main Roman monuments. The second unit (lecture B) examines the same engineering principles by focusing on the specific historical and societal contexts within which they were developed and applied. This unit invites students to reflect on the impact that external circumstances have on technical— often seemingly “objective”—choices; and to learn how these choices were conceptualized and made meaningful for non-specialized audiences.

AHIS GU4027 Architecture in Western Europe from 1066 until 1399
S. Van Liefferinge
M/W 11:40-12:55, location tbc
This course explores architecture in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. The time frame starts with the conquest of England in 1066 and ends with the appointment of experts in 1399 to advise on the construction of Milan Cathedral towards the end of the Middle Ages. The first historical event coincides with the creation of architecture of a bewildering scale while the second reflects the end of building without architectural treatises or architectural theory - in a modern sense. The course will also introduce students to new digital technologies such as laser scanning and photogrammetry for the study of medieval architecture. No preliminary knowledge of medieval history or architectural history is needed, and no knowledge of digital technologies or specific computer skills is expected.

AHIS GU4093 Sacred Space in South Asia
S. Kaligotla
M/W 10:10-11:25, location tbc
“Sacred” space in the Indian subcontinent was at the epicenter of human experience. This course presents Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, and Jain spaces and the variety of ways in which people experienced them. Moving from the monumental stone pillars of the early centuries BCE to nineteenth century colonial India, we learn how the organization and imagery of these spaces supported devotional activity and piety. We discuss too how temples, monasteries, tombs, and shrines supported the pursuit of pleasure, amusement, sociability, and other worldly interests. We also explore the symbiotic relationship between Indic religions and kingship, and the complex ways in which politics and court culture shaped sacred environments. The course concludes with European representations of South Asia’s religions and religious places.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are advanced courses 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 2024 bridge seminar applications are due by 5pm on Monday, August 5th, 2024.

AHIS GU4646 Foucault and the Arts
J. Rajchman
W 4:10-6, location tbc
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 GU4746 Architecture, Labor, Industry, and the (long) “American Century”
C. Zimmerman
T 12:10-2, location tbc
Like the gas flares that mark oil wells across the Texas plains, industrial buildings materialize networks of business practices. They make seemingly immaterial economic forces into concrete things, the “fruiting bodies” of subterranean infrastructures of money, labor, and natural resources transformed into “raw materials.” As industry moved across the North American continent over nearly two centuries, it took shape in buildings designed to optimize resources, manufacturing, and employment. From textiles in Amoskeag, New Hampshire to steel and cars in Pittsburgh and Detroit respectively, factories grew and changed in a continuous collective design process focused on throughput or flow. Across the Great Lakes to Toronto and Chicago, over the western plains to Edmonton, Oklahoma City, Omaha, and from there to the manufacturing tech centers of Vancouver, Seattle, and Silicon Valley, the sites of large-scale industry in North America track the changing built environment from solid production to airy virtual networks. How have architects deployed the visibility of industrial buildings through design, and to what end? In this course we consider the role of architectural appearance in New England campuses of industry, Chicago icons of modern architecture like the Marshall Field Warehouse, Detroit’s Ford Motor Company plants at Highland Park and River Rouge, New York skyscrapers of major industrial producers, and the postwar campuses of General Motors (Michigan), Boeing (Washington), and Silicon Valley tech giants. Students will deliver one site report during our field trip, short presentations on our assigned readings, and one final project. Final projects should focus on the post-WWII landscapes of industry in North America (and their extra-
territorial extensions) in a paper, a podcast, an extended blog post, a website, a detailed annotated bibliography, or an output mutually agreed upon by instructor and student.

Architecture, Labor, Industry, and the (long) “American Century” application form

AHIS GU4574 Picturing a New World: Illustrated Manuscripts in Early Colonial Mexico and Peru
L. Trever
M 12:10-2, location tbc
In this research seminar we will delve into the texts and images of four remarkable illustrated manuscripts created during the first century of the Spanish colonization of Mexico and Peru. Created by various agents—Spanish friars and Indigenous authors and artists—these four bodies of work constitute some of the earliest and most important historical sources on the pre-Hispanic world of what is now Latin America, its history, and its traditions. But beyond their service as chronicles or ethnographies, these manuscripts can be examined as contested sites for the colonial negotiation of identity, culture, politics, and faith.

Our corpus includes the Mercedarian friar Martín de Murúa’s ca. 1590 and 1613 manuscripts on the history of the Incas and Peru, the native Andean author and artist Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala’s 1615 “New Chronicle and Good Government,” addressed to King Philip III in protest of Spanish colonial conditions in Peru, and the bilingual “Florentine Codex” compiled in Mexico in the 1570s by Nahua scribes and painters under the supervision of the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún.

This bridge seminar is open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Enrollment is by application. Spanish reading ability is highly recommended.

Picturing a New World: Illustrated Manuscripts in Early Colonial Mexico and Peru application form

CLST GU4515 Connecting Histories: Roman Conquests and Coinage (*pending COI approval)
L. Carbone
F 2:10-4, Schermerhorn Hall and American Numismatic Society (75 Varick Street)
Aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students, this course aims to introduce coinage and the study of coins as historical disciplines and to provide a survey of the production and use of coinage in the Roman world from the third century BCE to the 1st century CE, with specific emphasis on the Late Republican coinage and the local coinages issued in the early Roman provinces. Over the course of the second and first centuries BCE, Rome conquered most of the Mediterranean world in a whirlwind of military campaigns. However, despite the unrivaled military power achieved during the second and first centuries BCE, one of the most surprising factors in the development of Roman domination of the Mediterranean world is that the Romans conquered and ruled most of it without imposing their coinage on the conquered. Therefore, it becomes even more important to research how local coinages converged—at least partly—to create compatible monetary systems across the Roman Empire. The students will have direct access to the world-class numismatic collections at the American Numismatic Collection (over 300,000 Roman and Greek pieces) and to the Olcott collection of Roman coins housed in the RBML in Butler Library (over 4,000 Roman pieces).

Connecting Histories: Roman Conquests and Coinage application form

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students.

AHIS GR5000 MODA Critical Colloquium
J. Kraynak
R 12:10-2, location tbc
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, location tbc
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
time tbc, location tbc
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
B. Joseph
R 12:10-2, location tbc
Required course for first-year PhD students.

Graduate Lectures

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

AHIS GR6411 Postwar American Art
R. Krauss
time tbc, location tbc
With the advent of Abstract-Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism, the center of the avant-garde shifted from Europe to New York; then, in what is sometimes identified as Marshall Plan Modernism, the New York school was exported to Pari, sponsored by the International Section of The Museum of Modern Art, and the USIS.

AHIS GR6612 The Painting of Early Modern Life in Japan: Genre Painting
M. McKelway
T 4:10-6, location tbc
What is genre painting in Japan? This question is the basis for a lecture course intended as an in-depth investigation of paintings produced ca. 1525–1650 that offer ostensibly straightforward representations of urban life in unification-era Japan. “Genre paintings” (fūzokuga) would not be defined as a modern category until the late 19th century, but a corpus of works produced by a diverse group of painters during a 125-year span nevertheless coalesces in their shared interest in such universal human experiences as work, faith, and play, and stand distinct from other categories of painting, such as imagined Chinese-style landscape, religious icons, or works depicting literary themes. Fūzokuga were also valorized and were the subject of theorization and reproduction after their 17th century heyday, particularly in their generative role for images of the “floating world,” ukiyo-e. The lectures will be shaped around one or two major examples each week, and will be supplemented by viewings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other regional museums.

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 2024 graduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Monday, August 5th, 2024.

AHIS GR8105 Assyrian Art
Z. Bahrani
T 4:10-6, location tbc
The seminar will study Assyrian art and architecture of the ninth through the seventh centuries BC, with attention to the primary works of art and monuments, as well as Assyrian art practices, ancient concepts of aesthetics and image ontologies. In the first weeks of the seminar we will also study the history of the reception and collecting of Assyrian art and antiquities in nineteenth century Europe, and more generally, the relationship of European imperialism and the rise of modern scientific archaeology. The main focus of the seminar will be on the ancient works of art and architecture within their own historical context. A reading knowledge of German and French is expected. Permission of the instructor is required. Applications can be submitted to the Department of Art History. 

Assyrian Art application form

AHIS GR8315 The Fragment
E. Pistis
W 2:10-4, location tbc
This seminar uses the broad framework of ‘the fragment’ to analyze studies of the ancient world, the creation of private collections of antiquities, the origin of public museums, as well as artistic and aesthetic approaches to disiecta membra and the matter of fragmentation in architecture. It deals with the fragment as both a received and created object, but also as a hybrid of these two categories. It examines fragments as part of a lost whole, replete with historical and symbolic values, and as an individual, relatively autonomous entity. Exploring the fragment as a category with a trans-historical approach, the seminar brings art and architecture into dialogue with the management of knowledge, the making of history, the mapping of antiquity, the designing of museums, and the creation of spaces for learning. At the same time, it analyzes the role of fragments and fragmentation in artistic practice. Students can work on different periods and contexts.

The Fragment application form

AHIS GR8369 From Grotesque to Caricature
D. Bodart
R 4:10-6, location tbc
“Can we wonder that we find it hard to decide whether the grotesques are meant as jokes or as monsters?” asked Ernst Gombrich of Leonardo’s drawings. The question underscores the polysemy of the term grotesque, which is now used to denote the many forms and representations of ridiculous ugliness, ranging from physical and physiognomic deformation to Mikhail Bakthin's aesthetic principle of the "corporeal and material low". In the Renaissance, the grotesque was still closely linked to its recent etymology, which referred to the fanciful, extravagant decorations that defied the laws of nature and were discovered in the “grottoes” of Nero's Domus Aurea towards the end of the fifteenth century. The seminar will explore the comic and creative principles of these different categories of the grotesque in the early modern period and investigate how they contributed to the official birth of  caricature with the Carracci. During the course, students will have the opportunity to explore New York’s drawings and prints collections and to participate in the conception of a small ephemeral exhibition.

From Grotesque to Caricature application form

AHIS GR8370 Topics in Early Modern Sculpture
M. Cole
R 2:10-4, location tbc
This seminar will examine some of the distinctive questions that emerge around sculpture as a medium in the period from ca. 1400-1700. Discussions will focus on the conception of individual objects, on relevant art theory from the period, and on major contributions to the modern literature. Although much of the course material will be Italian, participants are welcome to pursue research projects on any connected tradition.

Topics in Early Modern Sculpture application form

AHIS GR8406 The Museum as History: From the Modern to the Decolonial
J. Kraynak
W 12:10-2, location tbc
This course analyzes the museum as a historical institution and its evolving role. Beginning with the founding of the “modern” (i.e. public) art museum in 17th and 18th century Europe, it traces the expansion of “encyclopedic” museum from Europe to North America, its Enlightenment roots and role in Empire building; the rise of progressive reform movements in early 20th century; the influence of modernist aesthetics, as well as political movements––from Black power to Indigenous self-determination––that led to the creation of alternative institutions. The rise of globalization and recent calls for decolonization are examined as challenges to museums of the Global North, and relations with Global South. Addressing the museum as discourse, issues such as nationalism, colonialism, restitution, cultural heritage, capitalism, and digitization will figure in readings and discussion.

Applications from Ph.D./M.A. students in Art history, including in the Consortium and related CU programs are encouraged; background in art history required.

The Museum as History: From the Modern to the Decolonial application form

CMPM GR8483 Introduction to Comparative Media
Z. Celik Alexander [Art History]; S. Andriopoulos [Germanic Languages]
M 12:10-2, location tbc
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.

Introduction to Comparative Media application form

AHIS GR8714 Post-Columbian: Ancient Latin America in Art since 1800
L. Trever
W 10:10-12, location tbc
In this graduate seminar we will examine the histories of modern and contemporary artists’ engagements with the forms, media, techniques, and imagery of “Pre-Columbian” or “Pre-Hispanic” (that is, ancient to early modern) indigenous art traditions of what is now Latin America. We will proceed roughly diachronically and by medium as we move from nineteenth-century re-imaginings of Inca, Aztec, and Maya pasts for nationalistic, imperialistic, and popular purposes, through modernist appropriations, later Chicano and Chicana movements, and to contemporary re-inventions of Pre-Columbian art as new forms of Latin American and Latinx expression, commentary, and critique. We will consider the ways artists have used forms of the past in a range of political, social, and aesthetic contexts, and ask what agency iconic forms of the past may have exerted, and continue to exert, on the present. Readings on modern episodes in this “Post-Columbian” history will be paired with scholarship on ancient art and visual culture, as we also entwine understandings of early artworks with later histories and with profiles of living artists.

Post-Columbian: Ancient Latin America in Art since 1800 application form

AHIS GR8812 Cities of Knowledge: Orientalizing Manhattan
A. Shalem [Art History]; Z. Jamaleddine [GSAPP]
T 2:10-4, location tbc
In this course, graduate students from different disciplines will explore the ‘Orient’ in Manhattan. The course involves the active search for and analysis of Manhattan's urban space to survey its ‘Oriental’ buildings, monuments, parks, public inscriptions, and even ephemeral, everyday spaces that carry the sense of the ‘Orient’ to the city. Cities are physical places, yet, they are also assemblages of different layers of time, and geographies. These layers are designed to create communal identities and evoke recollections of past memories. Focus will be put on the written history of these spaces by searching in archives (in the City of New York) and digging out written and oral information about the histories of the formation of these spaces and their interactions with their surroundings. The course will cover many monuments, like the famous obelisk in Central Park or the less-known Jordanian column in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens; public buildings like Central Synagogue on Lexington, the Islamic Cultural Center on Upper East Side Mosque, or Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, NY; but also, the inner decorations of restaurants, bars (the Carlyle Bar) and even oriental Halal shops, as well as ephemeral spaces like international fairs, and Cairene grill boots. Traditionally, Islamic art and Islamic architecture have been studied separately within art history and architecture history disciplines. The purpose of this course is, in the first place, to bridge the gap between the two disciplines while working across theories of visual culture and critically revisiting urban studies. A further aspect evolves the discourse about architectural ornament as part of the entire approach to ornament as an ‘Oriental’ trope. Thus, canonical discussions about Orientalism will form part of the course’s readings and will contribute to understanding how the architectural ornament of Manhattan forms identities. The course will introduce and discuss theoretical issues concerning urban architecture and ‘Orientalism’ and the making of the image of ‘Others’ in NYC public spaces. It will also provide a historical survey of these spaces and aim to create a novel comprehensive map for ‘Orientalized’ New York.

Cities of Knowledge: Orientalizing Manhattan application form

AHIS GR8901 Early Indian Afterlives
S. Kaligotla
T 10:10-12, location tbc
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

Cross-Listed Seminars

Courses from other departments that may be of interest to art history students. Please consult your advisor regarding the eligibility of these courses toward AHAR program requirements.

HSEA GU4815 Faith and Empire: Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism
K. Debreczeny
M 6:10-8, location tbc
Tibetan Buddhism offered a divine means of power and legitimacy to rule in Inner Asia and China. This class will explore the intersection of politics, religion and art in Tibetan Buddhism. Images were one of the primary means of political propagation, integral to magical tantric rites, and embodiments of power.

Contact EALAC with questions on enrolling in this course

WMST GU4000 Genealogies of Feminism
J. Bryan-Wilson
T 10:10-12, location tbc
Course focuses on the development of a particular topic or issue in feminist, queer, and/or WGSS scholarship. Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates, though priority will be given to students completing the ISSG graduate certificate. Topics differ by semester offered, and are reflected in the course subtitle. For a description of the current offering, please visit the link in the Class Notes.

Contact ISSG with questions on enrolling in this course