Spring 2023 Graduate Courses
Last update: Thursday, January 12th, 2023
Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/home.html
Bridge lectures are advanced lectures open to undergraduate and graduate students. They do not require an application.
AHIS GU4089 Native American Art
M/W 2:40-3:55, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
This introduction to Native North American art surveys traditions of painting, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography and architecture and traces the careers of contemporary Indian modernists and postmodernists. It emphasizes artistic developments as a means of preserving culture and resisting domination in response to intertribal contact, European colonization and American expansion.
AHIS GU4093 Sacred Space in South Asia
T/R 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
“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 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.
Spring 2023 bridge seminar applications are due by 5pm on Thursday, January 5th.
AHIS GU4514 Greek Myths in Italy: Images, Contexts, Functions
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar addresses the unique role of ancient Italian cultures as both avid consumers and creative producers of Greek mythology. It analyzes and compares the uses of mythological images in a native context (Etruria) and a colonial one (Magna Graecia,) and posits the visual dimension, alongside the verbal and the theatrical, as a crucial channel for the intercultural circulation of myths. It focuses on the viewing contexts of the images—and the functions of the monuments and artifacts they decorated—as special keys for their interpretation.
AHIS GU4526 Conversion Aesthetics
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
In its mission to convert ever greater swaths of medieval Europe, the church often had to reconcile its mandated disdain for the material world, as inscribed in Genesis, to absorb the territories of nature-centered cultures and spiritual traditions. Grounding its approach in anthropologies of religion and postcolonial studies, this bridge seminar tracks a series of artworks and monuments across the European subcontinent—from Insular manuscripts and Scandinavian stave churches to German fountain chapels and Cistercian monasteries built atop sacred groves in Eastern Europe—that demonstrate the tendency of medieval Christianity, despite its singular immaterial truth, to accommodate and negotiate with heterodox customs entrenched in the land. We will also explore the historiography of such encounters, and read how historians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries wrote about their own pre-Christian, so-called indigenous cultural heritage, and how that research was later co-opted by ethnonationalists, in particular but not limited to the Nazis of the Third Reich, who relied on those histories in their fascist aestheticization of race and landscape.
AHIS GU4741 Art and Theory in a Global Context
M 4:10-6, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
What is “globalization”? How does it change the way we think about or show art today? What role does film and media play in it? How has critical theory itself assumed new forms in this configuration moving outside post-war Europe and America? How have these processes helped change with the very idea of ‘contemporary art’? What then might a transnational critical theory in art and in thinking look like today or in the 21st century? In this course we will examine this cluster of questions from a number of different angles, starting with new questions about borders, displacements, translations and minorities, and the ways they have cut across and figured in different regions, in Europe or America, as elsewhere. In the course of our investigations, we will look in particular at two areas in which these questions are being raised today -- in Asia and in Africa and its diasporas. The course is thus inter-disciplinary in nature and is open to students in different fields and areas where these issues are now being discussed.
AHIS GU4940 Postwar American Architecture, 1945–1970
M 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
As the United States boomed following World War II, a new style of architecture flourished that represented a forward-thinking outlook and internationally proclaimed the “the American century,” in Henry Luce’s famous formulation. Government, cultural institutions, corporations and even middle-class homebuyers all chose to “go modern,” in that period’s buoyant phrase. Through lectures, discussions, archival and site visits, and with a sustained focus on building materials, this course will consider architectural trends and highlights of postwar American modernism.
Courses from other departments that may count toward degree requirements
WMST GU4000 Genealogies of Feminism*
T 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
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
ANTH GU4355 Weaving Seminar**
T 12:10-2, 467 EXT Schermerhorn Hall
This interdisciplinary course on weaving as a craft and an art in Muslim societies draws on scholarship in Art History, Anthropology and Islamic Studies. We will have access to actual weavings from the Instructor’s collection, from the Avery Library Properties, and in visits to the Metropolitan and the American Museum of Natural History.
**Contact Anthropology with questions on enrolling in this course
Core Graduate Courses
Required courses for first-year students.
AHIS GR5001 Curatorial Colloquium
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The Curatorial Colloquium is a required course for first year MODA students. The course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of exhibitions and institutions; histories of curating and recent models of the “curatorial.” Readings for seminar sessions cover key topics and recent debates, including the emergence of the national museum; ideological critiques of the museum; exhibitions and politics; the shifting nature and roles of exhibitions, and the latter’s relationship to new trends in and mediums of artistic practice. As a colloquium, seminar sessions are supplemented by presentations by guest speakers from the curatorial and museum fields, curatorial walk-throughs and other off-site visits to exhibitions and various programs. Please note: some visits require either extended class time to accommodate travel, or attendance out of regular class hours.
The Curatorial Colloquium does not permit enrollment from students who are not in the MODA program.
AHIS GR5003 Practices of Art History
R 10:10-12, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for all first-year MA students. This course examines the range of practices associated with art history, including connoisseurship, provenance, curatorship, and conservation. Drawing on the participation of leading art professionals invited to share their expertise with the students, the course culminates in the conception and mounting of an exhibition based on Columbia’s art collection.
AHIS GR5006 MODA Thesis Prep
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The MODA Thesis Prep is a required course for MODA students who plan to commence their thesis in the Fall of 2023. The course will introduce students to the fundamentals of an MA thesis, the research and writing process, and how to devise an appropriate topic for a written/scholarly, or an exhibition-based thesis. The class will also review key methodologies in modern and contemporary art history. At the end of the semester, students will have comprised a detailed topic, a preliminary proposal, and identified a faculty adviser.
Graduate lectures are open to graduate students and do not require an application. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission to enroll.
AHIS GR6408 Origins of Modern Visual Culture
W 4:10-6, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course conducts an archaeology of modern visual culture and attempts to map out some of the pre-history of a contemporary society of the spectacle. A central premise of the course is that modern visual culture is inseparable from Western European hegemony and its expansion in the 17th and 18th centuries. Thus, we will examine how specifically Western constructions of perceptual competence occurred alongside the eradication of pre-modern and traditional cultural forms which had been defined by embodied knowledge and multi-sensory experience. Modernity in Europe and North America becomes synonymous with the positioning of sight as the privileged sense modality. The unstable status of the spectator will be discussed in terms of new strategies of social regulation, self-discipline and the formation of an individual aligned with patterns of capitalist production and accumulation. The modernization of perception will be assessed through analyses of specific art works, optical technologies, forms of display, and cultural practices. Texts by Agamben, Debord, Dussel, Bakhtin, Elias, Lefebvre, Caillois, Federici, Gunning, Foucault, and others.
AHIS GR6501 Art in the African Diaspora
R 12:10-2, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
This course explores developments in contemporary art history in an international framework. Our specific focus is the art of the African Diaspora, defined as the cultures of peoples of African descent worldwide living both within and outside of the African continent. We will consider art and aesthetics in Africa, the Caribbean, Britain, and the U.S., interrogate ideas of the postcolonial, concepts of diaspora, and the Atlantic world. How do such works engage a global community and marketplace? In what ways does theory and criticism further elucidate the practice of these artists as well as their objects in order to address culture as a site of ideological contestation and the relationship of the formal aspects of a work to its representational significance?
Graduate seminars are open 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.
Spring 2023 graduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Thursday, January 5th.
AHIS GR8338 Drawing as Gesture*
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Early modern art theory, in order to defend the nobility of painting, sculpture, and architecture above craftsmanship, conceptualized drawing as the graphic expression of an idea conceived in the mind. Only Leonardo da Vinci claimed instead that the invention of a figure or a composition could come out of the explorative gesture of the hand drawing freely, without preconceived thoughts. Several rough sketches, scribbles, and doodles, found in the margins of elaborated drawings, as well as on the backs of paintings, on the sinopie under the frescoes or on the walls of the studios, reveal how experimental, playful, regressive graphic gestures indeed surrounded artistic creation. Addressing the tension between theory and practice, the seminar will explore the multifaceted aspects of drawing as gesture.
*A travel component to Paris over the 2023 spring break is pending.
AHIS GR8470 Art and Law: Property, Authenticity, and their Discontents
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
In this graduate seminar, we will explore new frontiers in the intersections of intellectual property law and the arts. Specifically, we will interrogate how the law undergirds the authentication and ownership of culture. We will read recent legal scholarship and relevant art and cultural history/theory to probe concepts such as: property, copyright/trademark, intangible cultural heritage, appropriation (of various kinds), commodification (of various kinds), geographical indications, and the commons and anticommons. Specific topics include theories of property (real, intellectual, cultural), “Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith,” Appropriation Art, kente cloth, hip-hop, Native American cultural property.
Advanced knowledge of the arts or law required—i.e. students are encouraged to apply from relevant doctoral programs, law schools, and graduate schools in cultural heritage/management.
AHIS GR8499 Art after History: Mimetic Uses of the ‘Musée Imaginaire’ of André Malraux in the 1950s-1960s
M 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
André Malraux’s Museum without Walls (1947) aims to “destroy” art history through the production of an eternal present of art in continuous metamorphosis. My course will focus on the mimetic uses of Malraux’s Opus by very different artists in the 1950s and the 1960s, in order to show an important anti-historical shift not only in art, but in the thought and politics of this period. The universalist formalism of Malraux’s montage of photographs encourages a multitude of formal, philosophical and political appropriations of his model: books, displays, archives, films, artistic conferences may signify the entry into post-history and the legitimation of “ultimate” painting according to Ad Reinhardt in the United States, the analogical and utopian present of the Independent Group in England, and a racialist conception of art by the Danish Asger Jorn. The filmmaker Chris Marker was the only artist who didn’t adopt this anti-historical posture, but found in Malraux’s model a way to express the “tragic of memory,” a possible combination of the universal and the particular, of struggle for freedom and melancholy of defeat. In the last part of my courses, I will attempt to situate the case study of the “Imaginary Museum of Artists” in a more general anti- and post-historical turn in the 1950s, linking mostly art, anthropology, and political philosophy.
AHIS GR8663 Chinese Painting Connoisseurship: Masters and Imitators
F 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Authenticity is critical to connoisseurship and to writing reliable art history. This course is an introduction to masterpieces of Chinese painting and the methods and technologies used to create copies, variations, and imitations. Throughout dynastic China, painters copied fine paintings as a way to learn their trade. Collectors invited accomplished painters to copy damaged paintings to preserve a composition or to refresh their collections. When copies, whether student exercises or meticulous facsimiles, make their way into the marketplace, the original style of an artist is muddled. This problem is further compounded by artists who produced paintings for profit and dealers who altered the signatures and paratexts of paintings to increase their value. Students will take turns leading seminar discussions to analyze the readings, based in part on the questions that each student will submit the night before the seminar. We will study masterpieces and lesser works in several collections including the Brooklyn Museum, The Freer Gallery, the Metropolitan, Princeton University Art Museum, and Yale Art Museum, with field trips to some of these institutions.
AHIS GR8675 Ukiyo-e: Beyond the Great Wave
R 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
In this seminar we will make a close study of the prints, paintings, and illustrated books produced in the genre known as “ukiyo-e,” the “pictures of the floating world.” The seminar begins by asking how “The Great Wave” became a global icon and busts the myth of prints being used as wrapping paper. As we learn the history of the genre, from 1600 to ca. 1850, we’ll make critical interventions into that narrative, asking how “ukiyo-e” became a genre within a larger artistic sphere; how publishers collaborated with designers to construct artistic personae; how illustrated books contributed to knowledge formations; and how concepts of authenticity and authorship remain critical to its understanding through to the present. This course will make frequent use of collections in New York and will include travel to other locations; we will also consider how internet resources contribute to our understanding of the work of art. Students need not have any Japanese language skills but will benefit from having taken related courses in art history or East Asian Studies.
AHIS GR8734 Art of the Vessel: Maya and Moche
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Vessels bear functional and metaphorical meanings in nearly every culture and society. But situated meanings and social uses of vessels and containers vary as widely as their physical forms and decorative programs range. In this seminar, we will investigate traditions from two preeminent ancient American cultural settings: Maya—in southern Mexico and northern Central America—and Moche—on the north coast of Peru. Despite their contemporaneity during the first millennium CE, and some parallel aspects of their ceramic art traditions, Maya and Moche communities were not in direct contact with each other. The histories and environments of each area are so different, one from the other, that the kinds of research questions and interpretive methods that can be applied to each set of traditions are often inherently divergent. Comparative attention to these works can reveal much about their makers’ worlds and their artistic practices and ideals, as well as modern histories of these works have been regarded, collected, displayed, problematized, and reclaimed. Each student in this research-focused seminar will produce an original essay that makes use of online collections and/or museum collections in the New York area.
AHIS GR8741 At Contemporary Art’s Margins
R 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will explore the dynamic exchanges that materialize at junctions where the aesthetic values and norms of different art configurations meet. In particular, we will investigate sites where affluent Europe and North America’s repertoire of themes and meaning-generating artistic and curatorial practices intersect with those of other art-producing regions and communities that the West until recently deemed inexistent.
AHIS GR8809 Ifriqiya: Graduate Travel Seminar in Spring 2023
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Modern-day Tunisia somewhat corresponds to the medieval Islamic province of Ifriqiya, and presents an interesting case for study. Located in the heart of the medieval Mediterranean, Ifriqiya is at the center of all terrae—Europe, Asia, and Africa—and therefore played a major role in the connectivity between them. Specifically, Ifriqiya was one of the major nodal points on the North-South axis between Europe and Africa; a group of small islands located between Tunisia and Italy provide the best naval connection between the two continents. Beyond the sea it was also a terrestrial hub for Sub-Saharan caravan routes. From ancient Carthage to medieval Tunis (and later Mahdia), it is no surprise that Tunisian ports attracted empires, and were thus exposed to looting, conquests, and occupations. Yet, the modern history about this region suffers from the usual West-East binary, separating Classical-Hellenistic and Roman history from Islamic, let alone Berber, eras rather than uniting the many narratives.
In this seminar, the different monuments, sites and museums of Tunisia, including Tunis, Carthage, El-Jem, Mahdia, Monastir, Sousse, Qayrawan, and Reqada will be discussed. Ten selected graduate students will learn about Tunisia in its Mediterranean network, from the medieval up to the modern period, discussing questions around history, trade and visual culture from particular moments of artistic interactions with Abbasid Baghdad and Samarra, Al-Andalus, Norman Sicily, southern Italy, the Habsburgs and the Ottomans. The group will travel to Tunisia from Friday, March 10 through Sunday, March 19, to give onsite presentations and participate in discussions with Tunisian scholars.
Travel expenses, accommodations, and most meals will be covered. This course is open to Columbia graduate students. Questions can be sent electronically to Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor of the Arts of Islam ([email protected]), and Claire Dillon, PhD candidate and course coordinator and excursion manager ([email protected]). Deadline Monday, 11:59pm November 28th.