Fall 2013 Graduate Courses
Updated on August 28, 2013.
AHIS W4048 Mesoamerican Art and Architecture
MW 1:10-2:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course is a survey of the art and archaeology of ancient Mesoamerica, a geographical area encompassing much of present-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. We will cover architecture and art in a variety of media and addresses a wide range of topics including materials and manufacturing techniques, aesthetics, funerary traditions, history and mythology, politics, writing, trade, warfare, urbanism, archaeoastronomy, and the creation of sacred landscapes. Students will learn about the chronology and content of the major ancient Mesoamerican cultures' artistic and architectural traditions. Furthermore, students will become familiar with a range of theoretical approaches to the study of ancient Mesoamerica. Through the readings and writing assignments, students will develop skills in critical reading and thinking.
AHIS G4357 Gothic Architecture
R 2:10-4, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
The course will combine synchronic with diachronic approaches. Under the former heading comes the historiographic exploration of the way in which the epithet "Gothic" came to be attached to this particular kind of architecture and the way in which a more precise definition of the phenomenon emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The exploration should embrace the range of approaches and methods appropriate to our own age with its passion for literary criticism. The diachronic approach will allow us to tell the story of Gothic, looking at it as a phenomenon that exists over time and space. We will return frequently to the question of representation—the problems encountered when buildings and concepts of "style" are carried over into words and images.
AHIS G4556 European Architecture 1750-1890
T 2:10-4, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course provides an overview of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European architecture, urbanism, and landscape design. Within this framework, thematic topics to be investigated include: the search for origins; the Grand Tour and the vogue for ruins; the development of institutions like prisons, hospitals, and academies; the development of domesticity and the rise of the public sphere; pluralism and historicism in architectural styles; the crisis of ornament; landscapes of industry; and the emergence of the modern metropolis.
AHIS W4850 Collecting
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
Graduate Lecture open to undergraduates. This course studies the nearly universal human phenomenon of collecting. We will begin by gauging the range and basic structures of the phenomenon, looking at collections ranging from sock monkeys through anatomical waxes to ukiyo-e cards. These examples will enable us to compare and contrast theories of collecting, of which the most important will be psychological and anthropological. Moving from these general theories to the historically particular, we will next turn to the history of high-end collecting, Renaissance curiosity cabinets, and the origins of museum. The history of the art museum will then be studied in some detail, through both analysis of art museum types—principally national or municipal, private, monographic, and geographic—and through case studies of personal collections. Finally, the course will address art-work about collecting. Lectures, readings, and discussion sections will be reinforced by multiple visits to New York City museums.
AHIS G6117 Early Chinese Calligraphy
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The history of calligraphy from earliest times through the Song dynasty, with special emphasis on the interaction of the state and the innovations of individual calligraphers.
AHIS G6135 Japanese Narrative Handscrolls
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
(Note: Prof. McKelway's class will start on September 10, 2013)
This course explores the narrative handscroll (emaki), a major form of Japanese pictorial art, from its origins in the eighth century through the sixteenth century. Through an investigation of such masterworks as the "Illustrated Scrolls of the Tale of Genji," "Illustrated Legends of Mount Shigi," and "Life of Saint Ippen" (Ippen hijiri-e), the course will address questions of text-image relationships, patronage, and viewing practices in visual depictions of classical literature, hagiographic narratives, and popular tales. Although emphasis will be given to works for which texts and scholarly studies are available in English, reading ability in Japanese is recommended.
AHIS G6150 Genesis of Buddhist Art
W 6:10-8, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The course is related to the emergence of art related to Buddhism, commencing with emperor Asoka's (3rd century B.C.E.) rock and pillar edicts erected from Kandahar in Afghanistan to Amaravati in South India. Focus on the vibrantly carved stupa complexes constructed and decorated between the 1st century B.C.E. and the 5th century C.E., the many cave monastery complexes, with their rich sculpted and painted decoration, and the image of the Buddha.
AHIS G6523 Foucault and the Arts
R 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
In this seminar, we will explore the work of Michel Foucault in its relations with visual art, its criticism and its history. We examine the development of his historical work, his critical aims, and his methods in and through their relations with the visual arts and art institutions: first, through his own criticism or analysis of Raymond Roussel, Manet, Velasquez, and Magritte, and views of the museum; then through his invention of new sorts of archival works, fictions and other documentary forms, and finally through his reflections on the question of artistic work as a "technique of subjectivisation" or as critical "act of enlightenment". We then consider attempts to extend these aspects of his work today in new ways or in relation to new problems.
AHIS G6581 Where Do I Begin? The Genesis of the Arts of Islam
W 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
(Note: Prof. Shalem's class will not start until the second week of the semester)
This graduate level lecture critically explores how modern historiographies of the field of 'Islamic' Art have shaped our understanding of when exactly this art was born. It does so by looking at the particular icons of the art of Islam of the first 150 years and by reading modern art-historical sources on these specific artifacts. Each meeting is devoted to a specific monument of art, be it architecture, art object, illuminated Quran and even a coin, which might claim to embody the very genesis of 'Islamic' art. Investigating each object's aesthetic and the reasons that contributed to its establishment as the 'Starting Point' from which the story of 'Islamic' art takes its journey, will throw new light on the historiography of the field as well as on the making of the concept of 'Classical' legacy in Late Antiquity and the invention of the time span called Middle Ages.
AHIS G6681 Modernism in Architecture in Latin America 1920-1989
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Survey of major developments, figures, and artistic centers in Latin America from the 1920s to the mid-1980s with particular emphasis on historiographic revisions. The course will focus principally on developments in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, and Cuba.
AHIS G6871 Exhibition Practice
M 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The subject is Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973). Now almost forgotten, Huntington was once among New York City's most successful sculptors. Her monuments grace public sites around the world, including Riverside Park at 92nd Street, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Her sculptures of animals and goddesses are in the collections of many major New York City cultural institutions, including Columbia University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where her life-size Jaguars crouch in the American sculpture court. The class agenda is to simultaneously interpret a neglected career and re-think the exhibition of sculpture. How can a traditional gallery exhibition be combined with new digital technology? What might be the form and content of a web-site catalogue? Untapped sources in New York archives, along with a forgotten cache of Huntington sculptures at the Hispanic Society, will allow students to publish original work in new formats.
AHIS G8126 Japanese Architecture
W 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
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 and the devastating air raids of the Asia-Pacific War, to the so-called "new town" suburban developments since the 1960s. We will compare bucolic prints of the 1910s through the 1930s that obscured the crowding, pollution and political violence 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.
AHIS G8333 Matters of Faith: Cult of Relics in the Middle Ages
Holger A. Klein and Avinoam Shalem
M 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar explores the Christian and Islamic cult of relics and holy places from Late Antiquity through the high Middle Ages. Given their importance as manifestations of the physical presence on earth of Christ and his saints for Christianity, and of the Prophet Muhammad and certain members of his family for Islam, holy sites and sacred relics were treasured by the faithful of both religions and specific rituals and pilgrims' activities developed around them. In both traditions, primary and secondary relics were kept in suitable containers whether monumental shrines or small reliquaries. If these vessels preserved their sacred contents, the forms and materials used in their construction gave physical expression to the divine nature of the matter they enshrined. It is the goal of this course to investigate the strategies and approaches taken to the preservation and veneration of holy sites and sacred relics and to examine their artistic presentation in Byzantium, Western Europe, and in the lands of Islam.
AHIS G8459 The Lives of Titian
R 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
In his lifetime, Titian had been the object of a number of important writings that offered biographical and critical material for the construction of his earliest biographies, each one of them presenting a different life of the artist, enriched with eloquent anecdotes. On the occasion of the recent publication or reprint of important sources on Titian, the seminar will discuss their significance: how do interpretations of Titian's painting deal with documents? Special attention will be devoted to critical examination of the authority of sources and of the notion of evidence. We will also analyze the impact of biographical data on the comprehension of the artist's works and style. Through selected topics, the seminar will reconsider Titian's career and works, focusing on some main issues of the recent research devoted to the venetian artist and presenting distinct scholarly approaches. Discussing the lively debates that may have arisen around these issues, we will ask if Titian studies today is not still moving towards the writing of several lives of the artist, sometimes irreconcilable with one another.
AHIS G8458 Italian Renaissance Drawings
M 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will introduce participants to the study of drawing as a medium in Renaissance Italy. We will closely consider basic questions of technique, function, and attribution, while also examining some of the new approaches that recent scholars have taken to drawing. The course will focus in particular on sculptors' drawings; a second topic for discussion will thus be the way drawings served designers of three-dimensional works.
AHIS G8658 Art and Literature in Postwar France
R 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar will examine intersections between art and literature in France from the eve of World War II until the postmodern era. Beginning with late Surrealism and La Collège de Sociologie, we will move on to look at art and literature during the Occupation and the postwar épuration, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism's engagements with the arts, and finally, the rise of the New Art History and the Aesthetics of the New Novel. We will consider works by Dubuffet, Michaux, Artaud, and key texts by Bataille, Paulhan, Sartre, Barthes, Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, Damisch, Claude Simon, and Kristeva, among others.
AHIS G8679 How Modern Art Came to NY: The Armory Show in Context
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
2013 is the centennial of "The Armory Show," an international modern art exhibition held at the 69th Regiment Armory in New York City. The exhibition, which included over 1,200 European and American works of art is routinely celebrated for introducing European avant-garde modernist art to American audiences. This course will allow our students to review the numerous exhibitions and publications that have come out in anticipation of this anniversary to question this narrative and expand it for a richer understanding of the history of Modernism and its American context.
AHIS G8753 Media Architectures: Nineteenth Century to the Present
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
More than ever, architecture is built to house images rather than people. This seminar will venture an archaeology of such media architectures from the nineteenth century to the present. Major topics include: museums, galleries, exhibitions, installations, environments; studios; dioramas, (moving) panoramas; arcades, crystal palaces; theaters, cinemas; television, networks, interfaces. Readings will be culled from the ample recent scholarship on art, architecture, and media.
Core Graduate Courses
For graduate students in the AHAR Department; the Department registers eligible students by the beginning of the Fall semester.
AHIS G6009 Proseminar
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for first-year PhD Students in the Art History Department.
AHIS G8889 M.A. Methods Colloquium
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for all first-year M.A. students. This course examines the range of methods employed by art historians in order to understand artworks, including formalism, iconography, Marxism, feminism and post-colonialism. Through the critical reading of texts from Antiquity to the present, we will not only study the history and developments of the methods of art history, but also begin to define our own theoretical positions. Our collective task will be to discuss the critical issues that have shaped the field of art history (the canon, vision, otherness, to name only a few), while putting them in conversation with artworks from different traditions and time periods.
AHIS G8990 Critical Colloquium
M 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
Required course for all first-year Modern Art M.A. students. The structure of the colloquium combines reading and analysis of texts by major theorists and critics. Each week discussions focus on key terms and analytical lenses in the history of art and art criticism. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by critics and writers, just as it draws on the expertise and participation of Columbia faculty. The aim is to develop students' critical thinking and for them to learn directly from leading practitioners writing about modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, writers for Artforum, Grey Room, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, and October, among other venues, regularly participate in the colloquium.