Spring 2024 Graduate Courses

Last update: Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/home.html

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: Castles, Cathedral, and Court
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 GU4064 Arts of the Silk Road
J. Xu
M/W 2:40-3:55, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
The term “Silk Road,” coined by German geographers in the nineteenth century, denotes a network of ancient inland routes that traversed between East Asia and the Mediterranean. This course, by focusing on the arts of the Silk Road, introduces cultural and religious exchanges among various regions in Asia, spanning a time period from the sixth century BCE—marked by the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire—to the thirteenth century CE, which saw the rise of the Mongol Empire. The course is organized into three sections: arts of empires, arts of kingdoms, and arts of migrants. Students will examine monuments, objects, and artworks originating from major Asian civilizations and religions, utilizing a comparative and historical perspective. Through this exploration, they will be equipped to understand ancient Asian history as a process of continuous interaction and interconnection between diverse peoples and cultures—a process that precursors globalization in the contemporary age.

AHIS GU4082 Islam in the Making: A History of Islamic Art and Architecture
I. Guermazi
T/R 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This lecture course offers an overview of Islamic history through its art and architecture. It spans fifteen centuries and three continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. Organized chronologically, each session of this course will examine one Muslim city at a particular period of time. Starting with Mecca in the 6th century and ending with the urban and architectural expansions of the same city today. Damascus, Baghdad, Samarra, Kairouan, Cordoba, Bukhara, Cairo, Konya, Istanbul, Algiers, Touba and others will be examined and a critical depiction of urban and architectural monuments, influential artistic schools, and notable artworks that were produced in and around each of these urban centers will be offered. Each session is a snapshot of a city at a specific period of time with a clear emphasis on the broader intellectual, economic, ecological and political contexts surrounding the production of art and architecture in the Muslim world. Turning away from a classical dynastic reading of Islamic arts, this course centers the role theological debates, Sufi mysticism, legal innovations, economic exchanges and migration of people, ideas and technologies played in the birth and developments of a Muslim aesthetic tradition.

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.

Spring 2024 bridge seminar applications are due by 5pm on Thursday, January 4th.

AHIS GU4721 Medieval Illumination in the Low Countries: Origins, Sources, Materials
L. Watteeuw
R 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course aims to reflect on the place of illumination and the illuminated manuscript in the artistic profile and cultural, literary, political and religious life in the Low Countries and beyond. The development of illumination is closely linked to the cultural and economic situation of the Low Countries during more than eight centuries, but it is also deeply influenced by the intersection of contacts in European artistic, religious and intellectual contexts. The links between artistic networks in other media, the mobility of artists, models and materials are crucial to understanding the production of illuminated manuscripts and to framing them as fully representative of the dynamics of the cultural habitat of the Low Countries. The course will be illustrated with numerous examples and case studies of manuscripts in collections in Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as in collections in US and around the world. A special file rouge in the course will be devoted to recent research approaches in material culture and digital access of illuminated manuscripts. The course will be accompanied by PPP and a reading list to guide students (scans and online resources will be provided).

Medieval Illumination in the Low Countries application form

AHIS GU4741 Art and Theory in a Global Context
J. Rajchman
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.

Art and Theory in a Global Context application form

AHIS GU4745 Re/Building the American Dream: Race, Gender + Ethnicity in American Domestic Environments
M. McNamara
F 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The term “American Dream” conjures images of white, middle-class or affluent families inhabiting single-family houses in the suburbs. But the population of the United States is – and always has been – characterized by considerable racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. Those varied populations have imagined, created, and altered domestic environments in ways that don’t fit the stereotypical vision of the “American Dream.” At the same time, the concepts of race, ethnicity, and gender themselves have shaped (for better and for worse) the buildings, landscapes, neighborhoods and cities in which US populations reside. From suburban ranch houses to Southwestern mission landscapes to urban public housing projects, domestic environments have been fundamentally shaped by racial, ethnic, and gendered ideologies that define who can live in what building, in which neighborhood, and in what domestic configurations. This course will explore how the concepts of race, gender, and ethnicity bear upon domestic spaces as well as how power relations embedded in designed environments have disparate impacts on people whether as individuals or in groups.

Re/Building the American Dream application form

AHIS GU4762 Art and Archaeology of Immigrants in Chinese History
J. Xu
R 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
Since the beginning of China’s dynastic history around the first millennium BCE, people from surrounding regions and even further afield have consistently moved into the Chinese heartland. This seminar examines the archaeological remains and artistic expressions of these immigrants and immigrant communities, as well as their interactions with native Chinese art and culture. Topics covered range from painting, sculpture, and calligraphy to crafts and architecture.

Art and Archaeology of Immigrants in Chinese History application form

AHIS GU4763 Reading Places and Images in Edo-period Illustrated Books
M. McKelway; T. Noguchi
W 4:10-6, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
A colloquium devoted to reading illustrated books from Edo-period Japan. Texts to be covered will include Saga-bon illustrated tales, illustrated guidebooks and gazetteers (meisho zue), painting manuals, and poetry, such as Ehon Tōshi-sen, illustrated by Katsushika Hokusai. Reading and translating passages written in premodern Japanese scripts variously called hentaigana, kuzushiji, and sōsho will be the central activity of the course, but we will also consider such themes as the development of woodblock printing, the book as a format, and how the content both reflects and shapes knowledge of the subjects and themes with which they are concerned. If possible we will examine firsthand printed books in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Freer Gallery, and New York Public Library but will also take advantage of ample hi-res interactive resources available through each of these institutions. Familiarity with Classical Japanese will be useful.

Reading Places and Images in Edo-period Illustrated Books application form

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students.

AHIS GR5001 Curatorial Colloquium
L. Werier
W 10:10-12, 930 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
F. Baumgartner
R 12:10-2, 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
L. Werier
T 12:10-2, 930 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

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
J. Crary
R 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. This is a no laptop, no e-device course.

Graduate Seminars

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 2024 graduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Thursday, January 4th.

AHIS GR8024 Triumphal Arches: Titus to Ai Weiwei
F. de Angelis
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will address the many questions posed by arches—an outdated, certainly problematic, and yet ever-present monumental genre—by studying the main extant instances from Roman antiquity and by tackling their historical permutations and parallels up to today. Covered themes include: the arches’ relationship to movement and mobility; arches as boundary markers and as connectors; their diffusion in non-architectural media; the semantics and the pragmatics of the arcuate form; violence, victory, sublimation, and memory.

Triumphal Arches: Titus to Ai Weiwei application form

AHIS GR8368 Architecture of Knowledge
E. Pistis
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Architecture can be both a building and a body of knowledge. This seminar investigates the role of buildings (studioli, private and public libraries, academies, museums, and archives) in the shaping of learning activities, in the organization, selection and preservation of knowledge, and in the collection and display of objects. It also considers the spatial organization of interiors and the creation of customized furnishings, such as shelves and cabinets. At the same time, it analyzes how various kinds of knowledge, especially of art and architecture, were accumulated, stored, and organized through the making and collection of drawings, maps, prints, and books. In doing so, it aims to test how taxonomic organization and the “architecture of knowledge” could influence the making of buildings and furnishings, and how, in turn, buildings could accommodate and shape different structures of knowledge. The seminar will also be an effective way to observe how these two spheres contributed to the creation of a dominant knowledge over other types of knowledge.

The seminar focuses on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a time characterized by expanding global knowledge through intensified information exchange, colonization, and exploration, all of which prompted an increased proliferation of maps, books, and new media for collecting information. These objects were assembled in European libraries, museums and other types of archives. This was also a pivotal period for the trajectory of such disciplines as history and (pre-)archaeology and for the creation of new institutions devoted to learning and knowledge preservation. Through this seminar, students will learn to put the history of art and especially architecture in conversation with the histories of knowledge, of science, of management of information, of books, and of museums and archives. Some classes will take place at the Avery Library.

Architecture of Knowledge application form

AHIS GR8403 Aesthetics and Political Economy
Z. Celik Alexander
M 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar tries to understand the historical links between two discourses that emerged simultaneously in Europe in the late eighteenth century: aesthetics and political economy. How was land (a source of economic value) conceptually separated from landscape (an object of aesthetic enjoyment) in Europe and in the colonies? What does the history of taste, the aesthetic faculty of discrimination, look like when understood against the background of global commodities (sugar, coffee, tea, etc.) that Europeans came to enjoy? What is the historical relationship between aesthetic value and economic value? This graduate seminar examines global contexts, texts, and artworks in the long nineteenth century in an attempt to understand concepts that developed in tandem in discourses of aesthetics and political economy.

Aesthetics and Political Economy application form

AHIS GR8421 Periodizing the Seventies
B. Joseph
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Although the 1970s has become an object of cultural nostalgia or ridicule (or both), it remains markedly out of focus in comparison with the 1960s and 1980s. Historians and art historians, both, have found it difficult to summarize and even sometimes to talk about. This course will examine the historical and art historical transformation of this decade and explore new historical and methodological tools by which to approach it. Particular attention will be paid to artistic engagements with the body (including, but not limited to feminist and performance art), to the radicalization of political action (drawing, in part, upon period discussions of violence), and to the emergence of related cultural phenomena such as punk rock. The increased hybridization of media, the heterogeneous mixing of different “movements,” and the unparalleled melding of art with popular culture that mark this period will also be examined, as will the legacies of its cultural production and contemporary artistic practices.

Periodizing the Seventies application form

AHIS GR8441 Iterations of Landscape
K. Jones
R 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Inspired by the current rise in scholarship on art in Indigenous and African Diaspora traditions, this course will consider myriad ways of imagining land and life. It will chart pre-twentieth century landscape painting that exercises the picturesque in the time of slavery and imperialism and moves towards ecocritical considerations in our current moment, touching Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. We will then look at how understandings of our world are cultivated in Modern and Contemporary art in multi-media and growing digital practices from the 20th century forward. How do artists see and imagine our emplacement and encode the social world through place? How can we use such ideas to chart our way through a changing climate and world? How does landscape, even in its apparent challenges, function as home/friend/support? In what ways can land symbolize grounds for empathy rather than serve as a site of polarization with distinct interests forever at odds and incommensurable?

Iterations of Landscape application form

AHIS GR8496 Art History and the Archive
M. Gamer
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar explores the concept and role of “the archive” in the history and making of art history. How has the discipline defined its archives in the past, and how is it doing so now? How does one identify, navigate, and mine repositories of historical knowledge for the purpose of art historical study? And what challenges or problems—theoretical, methodological, ethical—does such work raise? Our investigation will be grounded in and guided by readings drawn from a range of fields, including queer, feminist, postcolonial, indigenous, and critical race studies. Graduate students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

Art History and the Archive application form

AHIS GR8503 African Art and the Realpolitik of Decolonizing Art History
Z. Strother
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Scholar activists have spearheaded efforts to “decolonize” the discipline of art history since the 1970s, pushed by the Civil Rights Movement. Africanists were among the first to embrace the concept of “art practice” through study of performance, body art, and assemblage; to introduce video and other experimental display strategies into art museums and classrooms; to make the “ethnographic turn.” And yet, for reasons of race, methodology, and medium, the experimental nature of African art history has not been foregrounded in histories of the discipline. The first half of the seminar will analyze the reception of critical and often controversial interventions into art history by Africanists through texts and exhibitions. It will question the power relations that make possible and curtail the generation of alternative art histories. The second half of the course will focus on the latest literature – how does the study of African art continue to push boundaries? One leitmotif in the course will be to investigate what the published record misses through its bias towards documents. How do interviews change our reading of the texts?

Please note: This course is inherently interdisciplinary and graduate students from other departments are encouraged to contact the professor directly.

African Art and the Realpolitik of Decolonizing Art History application form

AHIS GR8611 Ink Painting of Medieval Japan
M. McKelway; A. Shimao
T 4:10-6, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
An investigation of the history of monochrome ink painting in medieval Japan, with particular focus on the historical context of the introduction of Zen Buddhism to Japan and the development of the monastery as a cultural institution. Beginning with the earliest examples of sacred images in monochrome ink in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the course will extend into the late Muromachi period (1333-1573) and will explore the legacy of Sesshū and painter-monks at Shōkokuji. Classes will be punctuated by occasional group assignments and brief presentations on readings and other topics as well as visits to study medieval ink paintings in collections in New York and vicinity.

Ink Painting of Medieval Japan application form

Cross-Listed Courses

WMST GR8001 Feminist Pedagogy
J. Bryan-Wilson
T 10:10-12, 754 Schermerhorn Extension

Contact ISSG with questions on enrolling in this course