Spring 2019 Undergraduate Courses

Last updated: Thursday, January 10, 2019. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.


AHIS BC1002 Introduction to the History of Art II (Barnard course)
A. Higonnet
M/W 2:40-3:55, location tbc
Either term may be taken separately. Brief examination of the techniques of visual analysis, followed by a chronological survey of the major period styles of Western European art. Emphasis on the introduction of form and content in the works studied and on the correlation of the visual arts with their cultural environments. BC1001: Greek and Roman art; medieval art. BC1002: Renaissance to modern art. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN1007 Intro to Architecture
E. Pistis
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn
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 UN2109 Roman Art and Architecture
F. de Angelis
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn
The architecture, sculpture, and painting of ancient Rome from the 2nd century B.C. to the end of the Empire in the West.

AHIS UN2305 Renaissance Imperial Spain
D. Bodart
T/R 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn
The course will survey Renaissance art in Hapsburg Spain, considered in the wide geographical context of the extended and dispersed dominions of the different crowns of the Spanish monarchy, which connected the Iberian Peninsula with Italy, Flanders and the New World. It will concern visual art in its various media, mainly painting, sculpture and architecture, but also tapestries, prints, armor, goldsmithery and ephemeral decoration, among others. Works of the main artists of the period will be introduced and analyzed, giving attention to the historical and cultural context of their production and reception. The course will particularly focus on the movement of artists, works and models within the Spanish Hapsburg territories, in order to understand to what extent visual arts contributed to shaping the political identity of this culturally composite empire. Discussion section required.

AHIS BC2355 Apocalypse (Barnard course)
G. Bryda
M/W 4:10-5:25, location tbc
This lecture course explores how art and architecture responded to changing attitudes toward death and the afterlife over the course of the European Middle Ages, from early Christian Rome to the dawn of the Protestant Reformation in Germany. Generally speaking, the course will chronicle the arts relating to medieval “eschatology”—or concerns over the fate of the soul at the end of time. We will analyze the visual culture associated with ordinary people preparing for their own death and the deaths of loved ones, saints and Biblical figures whose triumph in death served as exemplars for the living, and institutional and individual anxieties over humankind’s destiny on Judgment Day. Artworks under consideration will encompass various media and contexts, including monumental architecture and architectural relief sculpture, tomb sculpture, wall painting, manuscript painting, reliquaries, and altarpieces.

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 UN2500 Arts of Africa
Z. Strother
M/W 4:10-5:25, 832 Schermerhorn
Introduction to the arts of Africa, including masquerading, figural sculpture, reliquaries, power objects, textiles, painting, and architecture. The course will establish a historical framework for study, but will also address how various African societies have responded to the process of modernity. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement.

AHIS UN2602 Arts of Japan
M. Chusid
T/R 10:10-11:25, 807 Schermerhorn
This course surveys the arts of Japan from the pre-historic era to the Edo period, with a particular focus on Buddhist art, sculpture and architecture, narrative handscolls, ink painting, decorative screens, and woodblock prints. Throughout the course, we will take close account of the broader cultural and historical contexts in which the arts were made. Other themes that we will cover include the ongoing tension in Japanese art between native traditions and foreign influences, the role of ritual in Japan's visual arts, artistic responses to multiple visual pasts and rupture from these pasts, the changing loci of patronage, and the formats and materials of Japanese art.

AHUM UN2604 Arts of China, Japan, and Korea
This course introduces distinctive aesthetic traditions of China, Japan, and Korea—their similarities and differences—through an examination of the visual significance of selected works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other arts in relation to the history, culture, and religions of East Asia. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.

Section 002
J. Lee
M/W 2:40-3:55, 807 Schermerhorn

Section 003
D. Melnikova
T/R 2:40-3:55, 807 Schermerhorn

AHIS UN2612 A History of China in 27 Objects
A. Murck
T/R 1:10-2:25, 807 Schermerhorn
This course introduces twenty-seven significant monuments and objects comprising a selective overview of 4000 years of traditional Chinese culture. Through these twenty-seven objects, we will think about historical currents, consider materials (clay, stone, bronze, lacquer, paper, silk, ink, and wood), how things were made, how these objects were used among the living, and why some of them were buried with the dead. Because analogy and metaphor is fundamental to Chinese language, we will examine visual symbols, auspicious imagery and rhetoric of resistance that had their origins in literature. The goal of the course is to raise awareness of visual clues in Chinese art and to establish basic visual literacy. After successfully completing this course you will be better able to articulate a research question, read more critically, write a visual analysis, and impress friends and family as you name a painting used in restaurant décor.

AHIS UN2702 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture
L. Trever
M/W 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn
The Western Hemisphere was a setting for outstanding accomplishments in the visual arts for millennia before Europeans set foot in the so-called “New World.” This course explores the early indigenous artistic traditions of what is now Latin America, from early monuments of the formative periods (e.g., Olmec and Chavín), through acclaimed eras of aesthetic and technological achievement (e.g., Maya and Moche), to the later Inca and Aztec imperial periods. Our subject will encompass diverse genre including painting and sculpture, textiles and metalwork, architecture and performance. Attention will focus on the two cultural areas that traditionally have received the most attention from researchers: Mesoamerica (including what is today Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras) and the Central Andes (including Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia). We will also critically consider the drawing of those boundaries—both spatial and temporal—that have defined “Pre-Columbian” art history to date. More than a survey of periods, styles, and monuments, we will critically assess the varieties of evidence—archaeological, epigraphic, historical, ethnographic, and scientific—available for interpretations of ancient Latin American art and culture.

AHUM UN2901 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture
T. Kuruvilla
T/R 11:40-12:55, 832 Schermerhorn
Introduction to 2000 years of art on the Indian subcontinent. The course covers the early art of Buddhism, rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists and Hindus, the development of the Hindu temple, Mughal and Rajput painting and architecture, art of the colonial period, and the emergence of the Modern. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement.

AHIS BC3698 American Monument Cultures (Barnard course)
E. Hutchinson
T/R 2:40-3:55, location tbc
Why are Monuments so important? How have they been used historically to assert political and social power? This course introduces the history of monument culture in the United States, focusing on monuments related to three controversial subjects: the Vietnam War, the Confederacy, and the “discovery” of America. We will study when, why, and in what form these monuments were erected and how artists and audiences of the past and present have responded to them. The assignments will mirror this structure: through an essay and two multimedia projects, students will both present an analysis of existing monuments and make a proposal for new ones. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion. In addition, students must attend two two-hour digital workshops. We will take two field trips and assignments will involve visits to offsite locations in New York City. Lecture + Digital Lab 4 Credits.


Required course for Columbia AHIS/HTAC/AHVA majors. Please sign up using this online form. The form will open on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 10am. The form will close on Friday, November 16th, 2018 at 5pm. Admission is at the instructor's discretion. Early sign-up is strongly encouraged.

AHIS UN3000 Majors’ Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Art History
M. Gamer
time tbc, location tbc
This course is an introduction to the theories and methods of art history and visual culture. It is required for undergraduate majors.

AHIS UN3000 is restricted to Columbia undergraduate majors in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. It is not open to Barnard or Professional Studies students.

AHIS UN3007 Majors’ Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Architectural History
Z. Celik Alexander
time tbc, location tbc
This course, on the one hand, examines the intertwined histories of art history and architectural history from the late nineteenth century onwards and, on the other, focuses on questions that have been central to architectural history since the field’s beginnings. It combines theoretical inquiry with practical training in historical research. Students will be asked to carry out research projects in various archives in New York City and complete a single writing assignment in stages.

If you have already completed your colloquium requirement, but are interested in taking AHIS UN3007, you may fill out the online application form. You will be considered for admission if there is room in the class after all students needing to the colloquium have been enrolled. History and Theory of Architecture majors are encouraged to take AHIS UN3007 as their colloquium if possible.

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars are open to CU and Barnard undergraduates. These courses require students to submit an application to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor's discretion.

Department of Art History and Archaeology seminars: Each undergraduate seminar description includes a link to an online application form. Interested students must fill out and submit their spring 2019 undergraduate seminar applications by 5pm on Monday, November 26th, 2018.

Barnard Art History seminars: Applications for Barnard undergraduate seminars must be submitted in person to Elisabeth Sher in the Barnard Art History department office at 500 Diana Center. Interested students must use the Barnard Art History seminar application form. Barnard seminar applications are due on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. Note the earlier deadline for Barnard seminars!

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
B. Bergdoll
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
Required for all thesis writers. Counts towards elective lecture credit. For more information about the senior thesis program, please visit the senior thesis information page.

AHIS UN3101 The Public Monument in Antiquity
Z. Bahrani
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar will focus on the invention of the public monument as a commemorative genre, and the related concepts of time, memory and history in the ancient Near East and Egypt. Public monuments will be studied in conjunction with readings from ancient texts (in translation), as well as historical criticism, archaeological and art historical theories.
Apply for ‘The Public Monument in Antiquity’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3319 The Architect’s Library-Laboratory
E. Pistis
R 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn and Avery Library
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.
Apply for ‘The Architect’s Library-Laboratory’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3413 Nineteenth-Century Criticism
J. Crary
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
This course examines a diverse selection of texts that have a crucial bearing on the formation of concepts of modernity and on new aesthetic practices in nineteenth-century Europe and North America. Using works of art theory, fiction, poetry, and social criticism, the seminar will trace the emergence and development of new models of cultural and subjective experience and their relation to social and historical processes.  Readings include work by Diderot, Schiller, Carlyle, Poe, Baudelaire, Ruskin, Emerson, Huysmans, Pater, Nietzsche and Henry Adams.
Apply for ‘Nineteenth Century Criticism’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3501 African Art: The Next Generation. Focus: Congo!
Z. Strother
T 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn
Why is it so hard to represent the Congo? Some of the most important sculpture in the world comes from the two Congos, which continue to produce acclaimed writers, choreographers, and visual artists. We will begin with Heart of Darkness and Tintin in the Congo in order to consider the problems of representation set into motion by early colonial texts. The seminar profits from an intense interdisciplinary dialogue among historians, anthropologists, political scientists, philosophers, artists, and art historians who have debated the history of Congolese art and changed its future through active patronage and museum exhibitions. Some flash points that we will consider: the relationship of ethnography to fiction; the transmutation of the fetish into the power object; the impact of collecting and colonialism; what modernity might mean in the Congo; and the relationship of the Congo to the diaspora. We will close by examining Congolese biennale culture and take up Terry Smith’s question: “Who gets to say what counts as contemporary art?” CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
Apply for ‘African Art: The Next Generation. Focus: Congo!’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3610 Visualizing Japanese Buddhism
M. Chusid
R 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn
It has long been recognized that Buddhism is a religion whose tenets are constantly being absorbed, reinterpreted, and disseminated through images. While artworks exist as compliments to doctrinal thought, they are also integral components to ritual and belief, and can even underpin and inspire new forms of religious thought. This course provides a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of Buddhist art in Japan. Each week, we will focus on one group of related images, studying and analyzing their basic design or composition and material. Then, we will think about their original use, how they served specific ritual functions, or how they promoted certain Buddhist teachings. Themes to be considered include the development of Japanese Buddhist art in relation to the broader East Asian context and to indigenous Japanese religions (Shinto), the role of art and architecture in promulgating larger belief systems, women as Buddhist practitioners and as commissioners of religious art projects, and the deification of historical figures. By the end of this course, students will acquire an understanding of the multiple ways people in the Japanese archipelago interpreted Buddhist art over time, and will learn to evaluate and analyze religious artworks within specific ideological frameworks.
Apply for ‘Visualizing Japanese Buddhism’ using this online form.

AHIS BC3928 Looking at the Dutch Golden Age (Barnard course)
A. Eaker
M 10:10-12, Metropolitan Museum of Art
This course meets at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is devoted to close examination of real art-works in a museum context. This year’s focus is on Dutch art of the seventeenth century, one of the most celebrated chapters in the history of art. Students will be exposed to seminal art historical texts on the period, at the same time as they receive exposure to connoisseurship, conservation, and technical art history.
Apply for ‘Looking at the Dutch Golden Age’ using this form, which should be submitted in person at the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

AHIS BC3969 Art/Criticism II (Barnard course)
N. Guagnini
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.  Artists will include Ad Reinhart, Daniel Buren, Helio Oiticica, Juan Downey, Hollis Frampton, Victor Burgin, Jeff Wall, Mike Kelley, Coco Fusco, Maria Eichhorn, Jutta Koether, Melanie Gilligan.
Apply for ‘Art/Criticism II’ using this form, which should be submitted in person at the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

AHIS BC3983 Ways of Graphic Design-ing (Barnard course)
S. Demuse
R 12:10-2, location tbc
Taking as its starting point the graphic design of John Berger’s seminal Ways of Seeing (1972), this course will touch upon topics ranging from typography and visual editing, to graphic design history and contemporary artists working with typography. At the same time, it is a writing-focused class that introduces students with a visual art and art historical background to modes of analyzing graphic design. From these different vantage points, the course offers critical, historical, and practical perspectives on a dynamic field. This is a visual arts/art history seminar course.
Apply for ‘Ways of Graphic Design-ing’ using this form, which should be submitted in person at the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

AHIS BC3984 Curatorial Positions, 1969–Present (Barnard course)
V. Smith
W 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.
Apply for ‘Curatorial Positions, 1969–Present’ using this form, which should be submitted in person at the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

AHIS BC3932 Buoyancy (Barnard Course)
I. Haiduk
T 2:10-4, location tbc
Apply for ‘Buoyancy’ using this form, which should be submitted in person at the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4045 Collecting
A. Higonnet
M/W 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn
This course studies the nearly universal human phenomenon of collecting. We will begin by gauging the range and basic structures of the phenomenon, looking at collections ranging from sock monkeys through anatomical waxes to ukiyo-e cards. These examples will enable us to compare and contrast theories of collecting, of which the most important will be psychological and anthropological. Moving from these general theories to the historically particular, we will next turn to the history of high-end collecting, Renaissance curiosity cabinets, and the origins of museum. The history of the art museum will then be studied in some detail, through both analysis of art museum types—principally national or municipal, private, monographic, and geographic—and through case studies of personal collections. Finally, the course will address art-work about collecting. Lectures, readings, and discussion sections will be reinforced by multiple visits to New York City museums. Discussion section required for undergraduates only.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Interested students must submit an application to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.

AHIS GU4584 Critical Approaches to Persianate Painting
M. Chagnon
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
This course charts the origins, development, and proliferation of the arts of depiction in the Persianate cultural sphere after the advent of Islam ca. 650 CE. Illustrated manuscripts, single-sheet paintings and drawings, and pictures in other two- and three-dimensional media will be examined both historiographically and through new critical frameworks. Topics to be considered include cross-cultural interactions, relations of text and image, the status of "the image" in Perso-Islamic thought and practice, and the haptic in Persianate painting. CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core Requirement.
***All interested students should attend the first class of AHIS GU4584. Please fill out and bring a hard copy of the department's seminar application form with you (rather than submitting an online application).