Spring 2020 Undergraduate Courses

Last updated: Wednesday, November 6, 2019. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.

Undergraduate Lectures

AHIS BC1002 Introduction to the History of Art II (Barnard course)
E. Hutchinson
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 UN2119 Rome Beyond Rome: Roman Art and Architecture in a Global Perspective
F. de Angelis
M/W 2:40-3:55, 614 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will approach the art of the Roman empire from two vantage points. In its first half, it will consider it from the inside. Through a regional survey of the art and architecture produced in the provinces of the Roman empire between the 2nd c. BCE and the 4th c. CE, it will focus on the mechanisms by which models emanating from Rome were received and adapted in local contexts (so-called “Romanization”), as well as on the creative responses that the provincials’ incorporation into the empire elicited. The second half of the course will consider the art of the Roman empire from the outside, i.e., from the perspective of its neighbors in the Middle East and in Africa, as well as its self-proclaimed successors and imitators. On the one hand, we will see how ancient states such as the kingdom of Meroë and the Parthian empire, or regions such as the Gandhara, interacted with the visual culture of Rome and its empire. On the other, we will explore the degree to which the classical roots of the modern colonial empires in Asia, Africa, and the Americas both managed and failed to shape the visual cultures that these empires developed. Discussion section required.
CC/GS/SEAS: Partial fulfillment of Global Core requirement.

AHIS UN2209 Medieval Architecture: The Millennium to the Reformation
M. Bernstein
T/R 11:40-12:55, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the architecture of Western Europe from the millennium until the end of the Middle Ages. This period encompasses both the development of Europe’s great monastic complexes, as well as the so-called “Age of Cathedrals” during which time masons and clerics sought to replicate heaven on earth in the form of increasingly tall masonry structures. We will be concerned with the structural innovations of this period, questions of style, social history, patronage, and the relationship between structures and regions. Furthermore, we will analyze the historiography of medieval architecture, considering the way its study has developed and changed throughout the course of the last century and situating its study within the present moment. While the primary focus of this course will be on ecclesiastical buildings (due largely to their elaboration and survival), we will examine where possible domestic architecture, public buildings, and urban development. Our study will be supplemented by making use of the collections available to us in New York City, particularly the Cloisters, where a number of medieval spaces have been reconstructed.

AHIS UN2317 Renaissance Architecture
M. Waters
T/R 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the history of architecture between roughly 1400 and 1600 from a European perspective outward. Employing a variety of analytical approaches, it addresses issues related to the Renaissance built environment thematically and through a series of specific case studies. Travelling across a geographically diverse array of locales, we will interrogate the cultural, material, urban, social, and political dimensions of architecture (civic, commercial, industrial, domestic, ecclesiastical and otherwise). Additional topics to be discussed include: antiquity and its reinterpretation; local identity, style, and ornament; development of building typologies; patronage and politics; technology and building practice; religious change and advancements in warfare; the creation and migration of architectural knowledge; role of capitalism and colonialism; class and decorum in domestic design; health and the city; the mobility of people and materials; architectural theory, books, and the culture of print; the media of architectural practice; the growth of cities and towns; the creation of urban space and landscape; architectural responses to ecological and environmental factors; and the changing status of the architect. Discussion section required.

AHIS UN2405 Twentieth Century Art
B. Joseph
T/R 2:40-3:55, 501 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHUM UN2604 Arts of China, Japan, and Korea
H. Kim
M/W 2:40-3:55, 934 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 UN2612 A History of China in 27 Objects
A. Murck
T/R 1:10-2:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHUM UN2901 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture
C. Gorant
T/R 10:10-11:25, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
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 BC3682 Early Modernism and the Crisis of Representation (Barnard course)
A. Alberro
T/R 4:10-5:25, location tbc
This course studies the emergence and development of Modernism in all of its complexity. Particular attention will be paid to the ways in which Modern artists responded to the dramatically changing notions of space, time and dimension in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. What impact did these dramatic changes have on existing concepts of representation? What challenges did they pose for artists? To what extent did Modernism contribute to an understanding of the full consequences of these new ideas of time and space? These concerns will lead us to examine some of the major critical and historical accounts of modernism in the arts as they were developed between the 1860s and the 1920s. Discussion section required.

Undergraduate Colloquium

Required course for Columbia AHIS/HTAC/AHVA majors. Please sign up using this online form. The form will open on Thursday, November 7th, 2019 at 10am. The form will close on Thursday, November 14th, 2019 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

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

Section 001
F. Baumgartner
T 10:10-12, 832 Schermerhorn Hall

Section 002
M. Gamer
M 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall

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.

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars are open to CU and Barnard undergraduates. Students must 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 2020 undergraduate seminar applications by 5pm on Monday, November 18th, 2019.

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 Thursday, November 7th, 2019Note the earlier deadline for Barnard Art History seminars!

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
B. Bergdoll
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
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 UN3012 Restitution or Repatriation of Cultural Heritage: New Directions?
Z. Strother
T 4:10-6, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
Heated debates over restitution or repatriation of cultural heritage are reshaping museum practice and the law itself. It is an issue that has or will affect every branch of art history. Many museums have already become embroiled in the question of “who owns antiquity?” or who owns goods seized by the Nazis. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (1990) has mandated the return of thousands of individuals, funerary artifacts, and cultural objects to Native American tribes. In particular, this seminar is timed to assess the impact of the report released in Nov. 2018 in France recommending a policy of “swift” and permanent repatriation of African cultural heritage acquired during the colonial period to concerned nation states. The course will put into conversation histories drawn from diverse fields in the hope of developing some principles to negotiate competing moral and political claims.

Apply for ‘Restitution or Repatriation of Cultural Heritage: New Directions?’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3228 Bones and Stones: The Architecture of Death in the Middle Ages
M. Bernstein
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines themes related to death in the Latin West from early Christianity and the time of Constantine in Rome to the Late Middle Ages’ response to Plague with a focus on Western Europe. We will identify changing attitudes towards death through the examination of spaces created for both the holy and ordinary dead, development in tomb style, the emergence of new chapels, and images that personify Death, the dead, and their relationship with the living. In the second half of the class, the prevalence and popularity of the doctrine of Purgatory of highlighted with examination of spaces and practices designed to help the dead achieve their heavenly aspirations.

Apply for 'Bones and Stones: The Architecture of Death in the Middle Ages' using this online form.

AHIS UN3410 Approaches to Contemporary Art
B. Joseph
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course examines the critical approaches to contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. It will address a range of historical and theoretical issues around the notion of "the contemporary" (e.g. globalization, participation, relational art, ambivalence, immaterial labor) as it has developed in the era after the postmodernism of the 1970s and 1980s.

Apply for ‘Approaches to Contemporary Art’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3444 Reflexivity in Art and Film
J. Crary
T 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will explore a range of individual works of Western art from the 16th century to late 20th century in which the tension between illusionism and reflexivity is foregrounded. It will focus on well-known paintings and films in which forms of realism and verisimilitude coexist with features that affirm the artificial or fictive nature of the work or which dramatize the material, social and ideological conditions of the work’s construction. Topics will include art by Durer, Holbein, Velazquez, Watteau, Courbet, Morisot, Vertov, Deren, Godard, Varda, Hitchcock and others. Readings will include texts by Auerbach, Gombrich, Brecht, Jameson, Barthes, Didi-Huberman, Bazin, Lukacs, Mulvey, and Daney.

Apply for ‘Reflexivity in Art and Film’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3446 Contemporary Queer Art Practices: Subculture, Sexuality, and the Politics of Performance
L. Werier
T 12:10-2, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar examines contemporary queer art practices, in conjunction with theories of gender, sexuality, subculture, and race. Through the close analysis of artworks, films, performances, theater, and television this seminar will question and consider the ways in which queer art practices can be a form of subversion, critique, and resistance. The political implications of performance will be considered by focusing on queer artistic practices, such as drag, which resist, refuse and rethink the constructions of gender.

Apply for ‘Contemporary Queer Art Practices: Subculture, Sexuality, and the Politics of Performance’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3612 Body, Camera, Action: Japan in Conversation with the Global Avant-Garde
D. Melnikova
W 12:10-2, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
How has the “avant-garde” been defined within and beyond Japan? What are some of the differences in how that term – as well as any related terms – have been used in Japan? To answer these questions, we should assess the specific medium of “performance art,” which came to embody the constellation of meanings under the umbrella of avant-garde in and beyond Japan from the 1910s to the 1970s. In this course, we will discuss the works that break with the forms of traditional dance and theater on the one hand, and intersects with areas such as film, photography, literature, and visual arts, on the other hand. Some of the themes will include the ideological repressions of gender and sexuality, the collision of the artistic subjectivity and the state, the visibility-invisibility of the body in the atomic and news media age, the intersection of public space and common memory. Finally, we will explore what the New York art scene has to offer in relation to our course by visiting art galleries, artist studios, and performance venues.

Apply for ‘Body, Camera, Action: Japan in Conversation with the Global Avant-Garde’ using this online form.

AHIS UN3613 Temples of Kyoto (*travel seminar)
M. McKelway
W 4:10-6, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
Perhaps no other single institution has played a more crucial role in the development and preservation of Japanese art and other forms of visual culture than the Buddhist temple, itself an entity that has undergone significant change, particularly in the modern period. This seminar will examine Buddhist temples in the city of Kyoto, Japan’s imperial capital from 794-1867 from their beginnings in the late eighth century into the early modern period. Although painting, sculpture, and architecture will be our primary focus, the course will provide students with multiple, interdisciplinary perspectives on the diverse forms of institutional organization, architecture, art, and liturgy that comprise Buddhist houses of worship, with particular attention to their development in the city of Kyoto. We will take a site-specific approach, attending to the following general issues: the legacy of continental practices in such early monasteries as Hōryūji and Tōdaiji in Nara; adaptations to Japanese urban space and landscape at Tōji and Enryakuji; physical changes in temples with the introduction of new sects such as Zen and Pure Land Buddhism; and the transformation of temples in the early modern period. Coinciding with the course will be a series of five guest lectures in February and March on the topic of medieval Japanese sculpture.

A visit to Kyoto from during spring recess, March 16-20, 2020, will be the highlight of the course. In Kyoto we will visit temples and museums to see first-hand the monuments we have studied in the course. Students will compile presentations in advance to serve as the main guides for our visit. These presentations will form a basis for final papers, which will be presented in class during the last three weeks of the semester, and which will be due in written form at the last class of the semester. Students who enroll in this course must commit to going on the trip. Those who do not go on the trip will not be eligible to receive credit for the course.

Apply for ‘Temples of Kyoto’ using this online form.

AHIS BC3841 Reframing Old Masters (Barnard course)
D. Pullins
T 10:10-12, Metropolitan Museum of Art
This course historicizes the medium of painting and the institutional frame of the art museum in order to posit new solutions for presenting Old Master painting.  At an art historical juncture in which medium-specificity and national traditions are increasingly rare and at a political juncture attuned to unequal histories of race, class and gender, how to engage with these works?  What is the potential for subverting longstanding assumptions about the role of art by reframing the Old Masters through innovative juxtaposition, installation and interpretation by contemporary artists, curators and the public?  This course, led by a curator in European Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, takes place primarily at the museum.  Assignments take the form of acquisition and exhibition proposals.

Apply for ‘Looking at the Dutch Golden Age’ using this form, which should be submitted to the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

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 to the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

AHIS BC3984 Curatorial Positions, 1969–Present (Barnard course)
V. Smith
T 2:10-4, 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 to the Barnard Art History office in 500 Diana Center.

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4023 Medieval Art II: Romanesque to Gothic
G. Bryda
M/W 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This advanced lecture course is intended for students with little or no background in medieval art of Latin (“Western”) Europe. It provides a comprehensive introduction to a period spanning roughly one millennium, from Pope Gregory the Great’s defense of art ca. 600 to rising antagonism against it on the eve of the Protestant Reformation. Themes under consideration include Christianity and colonialism, pilgrimage and the cult of saints, archaism versus Gothic modernism, the drama of the liturgy, somatic and affective piety, political ideology against “others,” the development of the winged altarpiece, and pre-Reformation iconophobia. We will survey many aspects of artistic production, from illuminated manuscripts, portable and monumental sculpture, stained glass, sumptuous metalworks, drawings, and reliquaries to the earliest examples of oil paintings and prints. While this course is conceived as a pendant to Medieval Art I: From Late Antiquity to the End of the Byzantine Empire (AHIS GU4021), each can be taken independently of one another. In addition to section meetings, museum visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, and The Morgan Library are a required component to the course. Discussion section required for undergraduates.

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 1920's, 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

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

Each bridge seminar description on this page includes a link to an online application for that seminar. Interested students must fill out and submit their spring 2020 bridge seminar application forms by 5pm on Monday, January 6th, 2020.

AHIS GU4520 Gothic Nature
G. Bryda
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
In this seminar, we will ask how medieval literary and visual culture shaped and reflected people’s conception of God’s Creation—animals, plants, rocks, planets—and their place in and with respect to it. At once a hostile environment, a place of temporary exile after humankind’s banishment from Paradise, nature also functioned as a machine, bearing the blueprint of its divine designer, to be decoded and instrumentalized for nourishment, medicine, and amusement. It was also valued for its limitless metaphorical potential, both elevating and foreboding; nature often signified something apart from itself. To elaborate on these themes, we will turn to recent approaches in ecocritical and ecomaterialist studies, and will explore historical texts and images relating to Neo-Platonic cosmology, the wood of the cross, the host mill and wine press (and other agricultural allegories), tree cults, stones and sedimentation, star-gazing, architectural vegetation, herbal medicine, natural theology, among other topics. A leitmotif threading throughout the semester’s discussions will be the extent to which ideas and ideals growing out of the Middle Ages continue to inform the way in which we interact with the natural world. Museum visits to the New York Botanical Library Rare Books/Manuscripts Library and The Cloisters’ gardens are mandatory.

Apply for ‘Gothic Nature’ using this online form.

AHIS GU4585 The Early Mosque: Shaping Sacred Space
A. Shalem
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar deconstructs the early sacred public space in Islam, namely the mosque. It dissects it into its major zones and focuses on major items defining these zones. The varied spaces, like the niche of prayer (mihrab), pulpit for the imam (minbar), prayer area (musalla), the ablution fountain, inner court (rahba), outer court (ziyada), minaret, entrance façade, and even specific major objects like the Quran stand (kursi), mihrab lamp (misbah), and the Quran, will be discussed separately in each meeting. Despite this deconstruction process of studying the mosque, an approach that clearly aims at dissection and segmentation, holistic methods of understanding mosques will be taken too. The seminar aims at understanding how these spaces interact and create visual and sensuous experiences in time and space. Special discussions will focus on ‘iconic’ mosques of the early world of Islam (like the mosque of the Prophet in Medina, the Friday mosques of Damascus and Cordoba, or the sacred space of the Ka’aba, the Black Stone, of Mecca), on the integration of other public institutional spaces into this building complex, like the mausoleum (maqbara), quran school (madrasa) and hospital (maristan), and on the specificity of the so-called international and diaspora mosques today.

Apply for ‘The Early Mosque: Shaping Sacred Space’ using this online form.

AHIS GU4947 Architectures of Information
Z. Çelik
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Information is useless without an architecture—whether that architecture is cabinets and drawers that file away forms, buildings that house bureaucracies, tables that make data visible, or satellites in orbit that push it out of sight. Information’s arrangement in physical space—what technologists call its “address”—has, in fact, been a key but underestimated aspect of its power. Building upon recent humanities scholarship that has offered histories of such epistemic units as fact and data, this course asks: What role might these architectures have played historically in creating physical environments for the classification, storage, and retrieval of information? What role do they play in the present? Starting in the early modern period, the course interrogates the ways in which the design of equipment, buildings, and cities has helped create modern epistemic orders.

Apply for ‘Architectures of Information’ using this online form.