Fall 2024 Undergraduate Courses

Last update: Wednesday, June 12th, 2024

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 BC1001 Introduction 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 UN1007 Introduction to the History of Architecture
M. Waters
T/R 2:40-3:55, location tbc
This course is required for architectural history and theory majors, but is also open to students interested in gaining a general introduction to the history of architecture. Moving from antiquity to the modern era on a global scale, architecture is analyzed through in-depth analyses of key works of sacred, secular, public, and domestic spaces. While examining the cultural, urban, social, and political dimensions of architecture, the class also addresses issues of media, materiality, and technology as well as temporal and geographic migrations of architectural knowledge. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2300 Early Italian Renaissance Art: 1250-1500
M. Cole
T/R 10:10-11:25, location tbc
An introduction to the origins and early development of Italian Renaissance painting as a mode of symbolic communication between 1300-1600. Artists include Giotto, Fra Angelico, Masaccio, Mantegna, and Leonardo da Vinci. Emphasis on centers of painting in Florence, Siena, Assisi, Venice and Rome.

AHIS UN2405 Twentieth Century Art
A. Alberro
T/R 4:10-5:25, location tbc
The course will examine a variety of figures, movements, and practices within the entire range of 20th-century art—from Expressionism to Abstract Expressionism, Constructivism to Pop Art, Surrealism to Minimalism, and beyond—situating them within the social, political, economic, and historical contexts in which they arose. The history of these artistic developments will be traced through the development and mutual interaction of two predominant strains of artistic culture: the modernist and the avant-garde, examining in particular their confrontation with and development of the particular vicissitudes of the century's ongoing modernization. Discussion sections complement class lectures. Course is a prerequisite for certain upper-level art history courses. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2415 History Painting and Its Afterlives
J. Crary
T/R 4:10-5:25, location tbc
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.

AHUM UN2604 Arts of China, Japan, and Korea
M. McKelway
M/W 2:40-3:55, location tbc
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 UN2602 Arts of Japan (Barnard course)
J. Reynolds
M/W 10:10-11:25, location tbc
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.

AHIS BC2904 Arts of North America (Barnard course)
E. Hutchinson
T/R 10:10-11:25, location tbc
This class provides an introduction to the visual and material cultures of North America, primarily the United States, from the Colonial Period until World War II, produced by artists with a variety of cultural and social identities. Through the close visual analysis of images and objects, the careful reading of primary sources, and the strategic engagement with recent scholarship, we will study how what and who is “American” have been defined and redefined over the past three centuries. In 2024, the course will be organized into four large thematic units focusing on the relationships between visual culture and a) materials and material practices, b) a) social and political identities, c) nature and the environment, and d) cultural institutions and public spaces. Each of these themes is keyed primarily to a different historical moment, but will reach beyond those boundaries. Painters, craftspeople, sculptors and photographers discussed will include (but not be limited to) Miguel Cabrera, Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Lilly Martin Spencer, Harriet Powers, Rafael Aragon, Robert Duncanson, Frederick Church, Winslow Homer, Francisco Oller, Thomas Eakins, Timothy O’Sullivan, James MacNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Frida Kahlo, and Dorothea Lange. Readings draw heavily on primary sources to give students a feel for how artists and audiences described their own historical situations.

AHIS BC3428 The Making of Global Contemporary Art: Exhibitions, Agents, Networks (Barnard course)
D. Biczel
T/R 11:40-12:55, location tbc
This lecture class introduces the notion of global contemporary art through the history of exhibitions, chiefly biennials and other large-scale endeavors, and principal agents behind them. On the one hand, the course considers exhibitions as a crucial tool of cultural diplomacy, which seek to position and/or reposition cities, regions, and even entire nations or “peoples” on the international scene. Thus, we will explore how the artistic interests vested in exhibition-making intersect with other—political, economic, ideological, and cultural—interests. We will consider those intersections paying special attention to the shifts in political relations and tensions during and after the Cold War, including the moment of decolonization in Africa; the moment commonly understood as “globalization” and associated with the expansion of the neoliberal capitalism after 1989; and, finally, the current moment of the planetary crisis. This expansive view of the “global contemporary art” will allow us to distinguish different impetuses behind internationalism and globalism that not only seek to establish hegemony, artistic or otherwise, but also look for the means to forge transnational dialogues and solidarities. On the other hand, this class seeks to illuminate how certain artistic idioms and approaches developed after World War II achieved primacy that influences artistic production to this day. To this end, we will examine the rise of a “visionary curator” as a theorist and tastemaker. We will also explore how more recent exhibitions have sought to expand the geography of the “canonized” post-WWII art movements and valorize artistic production conceived outside of the so-called “West.” In addition to weekly brief writing assignments (150–300 words each), both in and outside of class, the students in the course will reconceive the installation of one of MoMA’s permanent collection galleries (1940s-70s or 1970s-present) and produce a podcast that provides the rationale for the reinstallation in form of dialogue.

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 2024 Majors Colloquium Sign-Up Form which will open at 10am on Wednesday, April 3rd, and close at 5pm on Thursday, April 11th. 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
A. Shalem
M 2:10-4, location tbc

Section 002
M. Gamer
R 2:10-4, location tbc

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 2024 undergraduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Thursday, April 11th.

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
B. Bergdoll
M 2:10-4, location tbc
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 UN3239 Medieval and Renaissance Venice [*travel seminar]
H. Klein; M. Waters
T 4:10-6, location tbc
This undergraduate travel seminar investigates the architecture, urbanism, and visual culture of Venice from its origins in the early medieval period to the sixteenth century, with particular focus on major religious and civic monuments. Central to the course will be the ducal chapel and state church of San Marco. Built to house the body of St. Mark shortly after its translation from Alexandria in 828/29, the church became the primary site of state ceremonies and the most prominent shrine dedicated to the evangelist in Italy. Rebuilt, expanded, and enriched between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, and elaborated into the Renaissance, the church sheds important light on Venetian perceptions of Byzantine art and culture and the role of Venice as a mediator between Byzantium and the medieval West. As a critical port for pilgrims, crusaders, and merchants traveling to the Eastern Mediterranean, the visual culture of the Lagoon City was also shaped by the Islamic world in important ways. By interrogating these cross-sea dialogues, the course also seeks to address important theoretical issues around cultural and artistic exchange as well as questions of center and periphery. While San Marco and the doges and procurators who shaped its architectural, artistic, ceremonial, and liturgical appearance, as well as the adjacent Palazzo Ducale and surrounding structures, will be a core concern, Venetian monuments large and small will receive attention. We will not only look at ecclesiastical and civic works, but also private domestic architecture, commercial structures, and industrial sites. Venice’s relation with the past (real and imagined) and the appropriation and transformation of antiquity will also be subjects of scrutiny. Further emphasis will be placed on saintly relics as markers of cultural and religious identity, the invention and visual manifestation of cult traditions, and changes in sacred topography as a result of Venice’s expansions on the mainland and in the Eastern Mediterranean. Attention will also be paid to the role of the visual arts in the formation of civic identity, and the ways in which style served as a potent bearer of meaning in defining venezianità. Understanding Venice also requires an investigation into the development of its unique urban fabric as well as the ecology of the city and the surrounding lagoon. The role of maps in shaping the image of the city likewise will be a topic of interest.

Medieval and Renaissance Venice application form

AHIS UN3413 Nineteenth Century Criticism
J. Crary
M 4:10-6, location tbc
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 UN3466 AIDS Is Contemporary
J. Bryan-Wilson
T 2:10-4, location tbc
This seminar examines two intertwined propositions. One is the indisputable fact that the global HIV/AIDS pandemic is ongoing and that the disease continues to shape the way artists and activists grapple with public health, national policy, and medical injustice. The other is my own polemic-in-formation, which is that the eruption of AIDS in the 1980s was the threshold event that inaugurated what is now understood to be “the contemporary” within the art world.  Rather than periodize the start of “the contemporary” with the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, as has become conventional, we will investigate how the AIDS crisis precipitated a sudden urgency that more decisively marks this transition, in particular around the promiscuous inclusion of non-fine art forms such as demonstration posters, zines, and handmade quilts.  We will read foundational texts on HIV/AIDS organizing and look at interventions with graphic design, wheat-pasting, ashes action protests, body maps, embroidery, performance-based die-ins, voguing, film/video, and photography. We will consider: the inextricability of queer grief, anger, love, and loss; lesbian care; the trap of visibility; spirituality and death; activist exhaustion; the role played by artists of color within ACT-UP; and dis/affinities across the US, Latin America, and South Africa. Our investigations will be bookended by two critical exhibitions, Witness: Against Our Vanishing (Artists Space, 1989) and Exposé-es (Palais de Tokyo, 2023). Authors and artists/collectives include: Aziz + Cucher, Bambanani Women’s Group, Feliciano Centurion, Douglas Crimp, Ben Cuevas, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Darrel Ellis, fierce pussy, Elisabeth Lebovici, José Leonilson, Nicolas Moufarrege, Marlon Riggs, and the Visual AIDS archive. We will conclude with feminist, queer, and collaborative artistic work made during the (also ongoing) Covid-19 pandemic.  In small groups, students will lead discussions of our texts and the final project will be a collectively curated virtual exhibition.

AIDS Is Contemporary application form

AHIS BC3859 Gender and Sexuality in the Contemporary Art of the Americas (Barnard course)
D. Biczel
W 11am-12:50pm, location tbc
This seminar examines the changing conceptualizations and theorizations of gender and sex in the contemporary artistic practices of the Americas. Crucial to the constitution of both individual and collective identity, for contemporary artists gender and sexuality have become primary sites to rethink and reinvent the paradigms of self-expression, creativity, and artmaking, and to challenge and contest the (social) body politics at large. We will explore these practices through the prism of the evolution of the notions of gender and sex in a broad range of disciplines during the key historical moments such as the emergence of second-wave feminism and gay rights’ movement, critique of “mainstream” feminism by the feminists of color, AIDS crisis, and rise of postmodernist and queer theories, among others. We will pay special attention to the intersections of gender and sexuality with race and class, particularly germane in context of the ideologies of progress and development, and the shifts in capitalism during the last fifty years. Finally, we will probe how the notions of gender and sex have been deployed to reconsider and problematize the established art historical canons. Weekly reading responses and leading class discussion on the readings will guide you in crafting a research paper proposal and its development (in consultation with the instructor). Artists participating in the seminar are invited to contextualize their own practice through a similar project and an accompanying research-based statement.

Gender and Sexuality in the Contemporary Art of the Americas 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 artists oeuvre.

Art Criticism application form

AHIS BC3984 Curatorial Positions 1969-Present
V. Smith
R 11-12:50, 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

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
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

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