Spring 2024 Undergraduate Courses

Last update: Tuesday, January 9th, 2024

Confirm course listings on the Directory of Classes

Undergraduate Lectures

Undergraduate lectures are open to all undergraduate students. Graduate students may contact the graduate programs manager to sign up for a 2000-level course, per the PhD student handbook.

AHIS BC1002 Introduction to the History of Art II (Barnard course)
A. Higonnet
M/W 2:40-3:55, 304 Barnard Hall
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 Introduction to the History of Architecture
E. Pistis
T/R 6:10-7:25, 614 Schermerhorn Hall
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 UN2119 Rome Beyond Rome: Roman Art and Architecture in a Global Perspective
F. de Angelis
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 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 UN2305 Renaissance Imperial Spain
D. Bodart
T/R 4:10-5:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHIS UN2400 Nineteenth-Century Art in Europe
M. Gamer
T/R 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
How do you represent a revolution? What does it mean to picture the world as it “really” is? Who may be figured as a subject or citizen, and who not? Should art improve society, or critique it? Can it do both? These are some of the many questions that the artists of nineteenth-century Europe grappled with, and that we will explore together in this course. This was an era of rapid and dramatic political, economic, and cultural change, marked by wars at home and colonial expansion abroad; the rise of industrialization and urbanization; and the invention of myriad new technologies, from photography to the railway. The arts played an integral and complex role in all of these developments: they both shaped and were shaped by them. Lectures will address a variety media, from painting and sculpture to the graphic and decorative arts, across a range of geographic contexts, from Paris, London, Berlin, and Madrid to St. Petersburg, Cairo, Haiti, and New Zealand. Artists discussed will include Jacques-Louis David, Francisco Goya, Théodore Géricault, J.M.W. Turner, Adolph Menzel, Ilya Repin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, C. F. Goldie, Victor Horta, and Paul Cézanne.

AHIS UN2411 History of Photography: Invention to AI
N. Elcott
T/R 2:40-3:55, 614 Schermerhorn Hall
This course will survey selected social, cultural and aesthetic or technical developments in the history of photography, from the emergence of the medium in the 1820s and 30s through to the present day. Rather than attempt comprehensively to review every aspect of photography and its legacies in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the course will instead trace significant developments through a series of case studies. Some of the latter will focus on individuals, genres or movements, and others on various discourses of the photographic image. Particular attention will be placed on methodological and theoretical concerns pertaining to the medium.

AHIS UN2500 Arts of Africa
Z. Strother
M/W 10:10-11:25, 807 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHUM UN2604 Arts of China, Japan, and Korea
Y. Handa
M/W 1:10-2:25, 807 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 BC2628 American Monument Cultures (Barnard course)
E. Hutchinson
T/R 10:10-11:25, 504 Diana Center
Cities, institutions, and impassioned individuals are pulling down statues of people implicated in the histories of slavery, colonization and violence. This class explores why monuments are important, how they have been used historically to assert political and social power and different points of view on where to go from here. The nation is caught up in a vital debate about how historical figures and events should be recorded in the public square. Spurred by protests in Charlottesville, VA in the summer of 2017 and moved forward during the uprisings against police brutality in the summer of 2020, cities, institutions and impassioned individuals are pulling down and removing statues of Confederate leaders and other individuals implicated in the histories of slavery, colonization and violence even as objections are raised to these actions from both the left and the right. This activism led to the formation of a commission to study New York City’s built environment in fall 2017 and its resolution advocating both taking down and putting up monuments here. 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, by whom, and in what form these monuments were erected and how artists and audiences of the past and present have responded to them.  In addition to gaining historical background, students will engage in a digital project exploring the history and impact of monuments in a city or town with which they are familiar. Class meetings will combine lecture and discussion and will feature guest speakers most weeks. To accommodate the online platform, each class will be broken into several units and will include both a break and short periods of independent or small group work. In addition, students must complete online modules on conducting local research, podcasting, storymaps and timelines.

AHIS UN2702 Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture
L. Trever
M/W 10:10-11:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

AHIS BC3428 The Making Of Global Contemporary Art: Exhibitions, Agents, Networks (Barnard Course)
D. Bizcal
T/R 4:10-5:25, 405 Milbank Hall
This lecture class introduces the notion of global contemporary art through the history of exhibitions, chiefly biennials and other large-scale endeavors, and principal agents behind them. On the one hand, the course considers exhibitions as a crucial tool of cultural diplomacy, which seek to position and/or reposition cities, regions, and even entire nations or “peoples” on the international scene. Thus, we will explore how the artistic interests vested in exhibition-making intersect with other—political, economic, ideological, and cultural—interests. We will consider those intersections paying special attention to the shifts in political relations and tensions during and after the Cold War, including the moment of decolonization in Africa; the moment commonly understood as “globalization” and associated with the expansion of the neoliberal capitalism after 1989; and, finally, the current moment of the planetary crisis. This expansive view of the “global contemporary art” will allow us to distinguish different impetuses behind internationalism and globalism that not only seek to establish hegemony, artistic or otherwise, but also look for the means to forge transnational dialogues and solidarities. On the other hand, this class seeks to illuminate how certain artistic idioms and approaches developed after World War II achieved primacy that influences artistic production to this day. To this end, we will examine the rise of a “visionary curator” as a theorist and tastemaker. We will also explore how more recent exhibitions have sought to expand the geography of the “canonized” post-WWII art movements and valorize artistic production conceived outside of the so-called “West.” In addition to weekly brief writing assignments (150–300 words each), both in and outside of class, the students in the course will reconceive the installation of one of MoMA’s permanent collection galleries (1940s-70s or 1970s-present) and produce a podcast that provides the rationale for the reinstallation in form of dialogue.

Undergraduate Colloquia

Required course. Open only to AHIS/HTAC/AHVA majors in the Department of Art History and Archaeology.

Interested students must sign up using the Spring 2024 Majors Colloquium Sign-Up Form. The form will open at 10am on Wednesday, October 25th, and close at 5pm on Wednesday, November 8th. Early sign-up is strongly encouraged.

AHIS UN3000 Majors Colloquium: Introduction to the Literature and Methods of Art History
L. Trever
M 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course is an introduction to the theories and methods of art history and visual culture. It is required for undergraduate majors.

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars are open to Columbia and Barnard undergraduates. Students must submit an application, linked below each course description, in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor's discretion.

Spring 2024 undergraduate seminar applications are due by 5pm on Wednesday, November 8th.

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis Seminar
B. Bergdoll
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Required for all thesis writers. Counts toward 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
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
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.

The Public Monument in Antiquity application form

AHIS UN3322 Bruegel’s Comic World: Everyday Life in Sixteenth-Century Netherlandish Art
K. Gobel
R 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
We are told, in one of the earliest accounts of the life and work of the Netherlandish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525–1569), that his prints and paintings elicited laughter. From his visualizations of carnival celebrations and children's games to peasant weddings to riotous hellscapes, the comic Bruegel makes his viewers, both in the late sixteenth century and today, question whether any of it should be taken seriously. This advanced undergraduate seminar examines Bruegel's innovative comic practice and the social context of laughter and humor in the era of the Dutch Revolt, a time fraught with social, political, and religious strife. We will explore the reception of Bruegel's work in his time, in particular the possibilities of both entertainment and didacticism for viewers. Our studies of pictorial humor in Bruegel's oeuvre will include broader investigations of the secularization of the image in the Reformation context, iconoclasm, the vernacular artistic mode, print culture in early modern Europe, humanism, global expansion and trade, the relationship between pictorial and literary humor, and the functions of satire in visual art. A field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art will allow us to encounter Bruegel's images in person.

Bruegel’s Comic World application form

AHIS UN3444 Reflexivity in Art and Film
J. Crary
W 4:10-6, 934 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 Dürer, Holbein, Velazquez, Watteau, Morisot, Hoch, Simpson, Vertov, Deren, Godard, Varda, Hitchcock, Akerman and others. Readings will include texts by Brecht, Barthes, Bazin, Lukacs, Wollen, Modleski, and Mulvey.

Reflexivity in Art and Film application form

AHIS UN3454 Zines By Artists
B. Joseph
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Most often associated with the explosion of punk rock at the end of the 1970s, self-published booklets, fanzines, or simply ’zines actually arose first in the context of science fiction collectors in the 1930s.  Beginning in the early 1970s (independently of, and before the advent of punk music), artists adopted and developed the format as a vehicle for visual expression, drawing from precedents in pop art, artists’ books, mimiographed literary magazines, historical avant-garde movements such as dada, and more contemporaneous developments in conceptual art and mail art.  Overlooked in favor of artists’ books and artists’ magazines, on the one hand, and in favor of various types of music- or personal expression-based zines, on the other, the artist’s zine forms a rich and multifaceted genre spanning over five decades of practice.  This course will examine the artist’s zine in the contexts of both art and music history, issues related to the expression and exploration of race, gender, and sexaulity, and the notions of networking and community building.  Although distinct from the development of punk rock, artists’ zine practice has forged and maintains a close connection to it and to its evolution into Queercore, Riot Grrrl, and Afropunk, all of which are covered in the course readings.

Zines By Artists application form

AHIS UN3461 Handicraft and Contemporary Art
J. Bryan-Wilson
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar examines the resurgence of craft within contemporary art and theory. In a time when much art is outsourced — or fabricated by large stables of assistants — what does it mean when artists return to traditional, and traditionally laborious, methods of handiwork such as knitting, jewelry making, or woodworking? Though our emphasis will be on recent art (including the Black feminist reclamation of quilts, an artist who makes pornographic embroidery, a cross-dressing ceramicist, queer fiber collectives, do-it-yourself Indigenous environmental interventions, and anti-capitalist craftivism), we will also examine important historical precedents. We will read formative theoretical texts regarding questions of process, materiality, skill, bodily effort, domestic labor, and alternative economies of production. Throughout, we will think through how craft is in dialogue with questions of race, nation-building, gendered work, and mass manufacturing. The seminar is centered around student-led discussion of our critical readings.

Handicraft and Contemporary Art application form

AHIS UN3463 Pastel in Eighteenth-Century Europe
F. Baumgartner
T 2:10-4, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar focuses on the practice of pastel in eighteenth-century Europe. Known for its luminosity and fragility—two characteristics linked to its powdery essence—as well as for its practicality, pastel as an artistic medium reached an unprecedented popularity in the eighteenth century. While some painters used it on occasion (Jean-Siméon Chardin, Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, John Singleton Copley, to name a few notable examples), others made it their medium of choice, including Rosalba Carriera, Jean-Étienne Liotard, and Maurice-Quentin de la Tour, three of the most sought-after artists of the period. This seminar will examine these dazzling works, many of them portraits but not exclusively, from different perspectives: technique, artists’ manuals, and trade in materials; makeup and the aesthetic discourse; vision and touch; color and the rendition of skin tones; the construction of artistic identity; art criticism; and the commission, collecting, and display of pastels. The seminar will include at least two museum trips, including one to the Frick Madison where the exhibition Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera is currently on view.

Pastel in Eighteenth-Century Europe application form

AHIS UN3624 Narrative in Chinese Art
C. Zhu
T 12:10-2, 806 Schermerhorn Hall
This course introduces pre-modern Chinese narrative arts, their visual storytelling techniques, and the interpretive questions they raise. What constitutes narrative art and what are its particularities in the East Asian context? How are certain narratives reproduced and translated, and understood in different geographic locales and time periods? We will study popular narratives from the 10th century to the early Qing dynasty, depicted in diverse mediums such as murals, handscrolls and hanging scrolls, ceramic pillows, painted fans, and printed books. The course will be organized thematically and address topics such the influence of Buddhist artistic and liturgical practices, representations of borderlands and the foreign, literati and popular culture, urban life, utopias, and depictions of labor, class, and gender. We will approach narrative from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, including social and cultural history, religious studies, environmental history, and gender studies.

Narrative in Chinese Art application form

AHIS BC3831 Museums of New York City (Barnard course)
A. Higonnet
W 10:10-1, 502 Diana Center
New York City is home to one of the world’s best museum ecologies. This seminar studies that ecology by museum type, against the backdrop of the city’s cultural, economic, and social history. How can theories of collecting explain different museum types? How do museums anchor municipal identity? Class sessions will alternate between discussion sessions at Barnard, and field trips to museums.

Museums of New York City application form

AHIS BC3868 Tokyo (Barnard course)
J. Reynolds
M 2:10-4, 501 Diana Center
This seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to the history of the complex and dynamic city of Tokyo from the mid-19th century to the present. The class will discuss the impact that industrialization and sustained migration have had on the city’s housing and infrastructure and will examine the often equivocal and incomplete urban planning projects that have attempted to address these changes from the Ginza Brick Town of the 1870s, to the reconstruction efforts after the Great Kanto Earthquake. We will examine the impact of and response to natural disasters and war. We will discuss the emergence of so-called “new town” suburban developments since the 1960s and the ways in which these new urban forms reshaped daily life. We will discuss the bucolic prints of the 1910s through the 1930s that obscured the crowding, pollution and political violence and compare them with the more politically engaged prints and journalistic photographs of the era. We will also consider the apocalyptic imagery that is so pervasive in the treatment of Tokyo in post-war film and anime. There are no prerequisites, but coursework in modern art history, urban studies, and modern Japanese history are highly recommended.

Tokyo application form

AHIS BC3869 Earth, Water, and the Anti-/Post- and Decolonial Turns in the Contemporary Art of the Americas (Barnard Course)
D. Biczel

W 2:10-4, 501 Diana Center
This theory-driven seminar focuses on the artistic practices that engage two primordial elements, earth and water, developed in the wake of land and environmental art of the late 1960s–early70s. It centers the projects concerned with the politics of land and water in the aftermath of colonialism in the Americas, paying special attention to the work of those dispossessed by colonial projects—that is, Indigenous, Black, mestizo, and other racialized, diasporic, and/or migrant-descendant artists (i.e. Latinxs in the United States). For one, these practices are contextualized within the larger history of land/water representations and their attendant, often explicitly nationalist, ideologies as the attempts to remediate their effects and aftereffects. Two, these practices are analyzed vis-à-vis a wide range of anticolonial, postcolonial, and decolonial theories developed in the Americas and beyond in order to facilitate their historicization and theorization. It is the historical development of these theories that serves as a structuring tool for the course. In that vein, we consider the methodological question of how and when “theory” can be useful to art historical analysis, and how the concepts operative in the present can be applied and useful to the past, on the one hand. On the other, the seminar posits our current moment as a discrete era within a long history of struggles for self-determination variegated by distinct understandings of what the “Americas” are and how they were “made,” both of matter, peoples, and ideas. Simultaneously, it investigates concepts of time and temporality in order to illuminate and consider distinct understandings of human and other-than-human relations fundamental to the making and inhabiting of a “place.” Some of the authors discussed include Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Aníbal Quijano, Walter Mignolo, María Lugones, Sylvia Wynter, Rita Segato, Juan López Intzin, Glen Coulthard, Sheryl Lightfoot, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Eve Tuck, and Wayne K. Yang.

Earth, Water, And The Anti-/Post- And Decolonial Turns In The Contemporary Art Of The Americas application form

AHIS BC3877 British Portraits: Identity, Empire, and the Museum (Barnard course)
A. Eaker
M 10:10-12, 501 Diana Center
This course explores the making, cultural significance, and display of British portraiture from the end of the seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. It explores how portraits engaged with questions of class, race, gender, and empire during an era of rapid historical and cultural transformation, as well as the subsequent collecting and exhibition of British portraits within the post-colonial context of American museums. Taught through a combination of seminar discussions and excursions to New York museums, this course is also designed to give students an introduction to various aspects of curatorial practice and to professional writing within a museum setting.

British Portraits: Identity, Empire, and the Museum application form

AHIS BC3969 Art Criticism II (Barnard course)
P. Marshall
T 11-12:50, 501 Diana Center
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.

Art Criticism II application form

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