Spring 2009 Undergraduate Courses
(AHIS BC1001) Introduction to the History of Art II
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.
(AHIS W3110) The Athenian Acropolis in the 5th & 6th Centuries BCE
The course places the architecture and the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon in the centre of the scheduled class sessions. The course also aims at a contextualisation of the Parthenon within the broader architectural, artistic, and topographical context of the Athenian Acropolis during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. The chosen chronological frame focuses on the period of the most intensive activity on the Acropolis. Two class sessions will, nevertheless, give a brief overview of the Acropolis after the end of the Peloponnesian war and concentrate on the transformation of the Acropolis into "Greece's museum of the past", an Arcadian topos of human imagination.
(AHIS W3208) The Arts of Africa
Introduction to the arts of Africa, including masquerading, figural sculpture, reliquaries, power objects, textiles, painting, photography, 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.
(AHIS V3250) Roman Art & Architecture
The architecture, sculpture, and painting of ancient Rome from the 2nd century B.C. to the end of the Empire in the West.
(AHUM V3340) Art in China, Japan, & Korea
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.
(AHUM V3342) Masterpieces of Indian Art & Architecture
N. Poddar, A. Seastrand
Introduction to 2000 years of art on the Indian subcontinent. The course covers the early art of Buddhism, rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists and Hindus, the development of the Hindu temple, Mughal and Rajput painting and architecture, art of the colonial period, and the emergence of the Modern.
(AHIS BC3642) North American Art & Culture
Examines North American painting, sculpture, photography, graphic art and decorative arts from the colonial period until World War I. Artists discussed include West, Copley, Cole, Spencer, Powers, Aragon, Duncanson, Church, Homer, Eakins, MacNeill, Whistler, Cassatt, Moran, Tanner, and Muybridge.
(AHIS W3645) 20th Century Architecture and City Planning
M. de Michelis
Major movements, figures, and theoretical positions in European and American architecture since 1890. Attention to the influential urban proposals of Wright, Le Corbusier, Hilbesheimer, CIAM, Archigram, the Metabolists, and Venturi & Scott Brown.
(AHIS W3650) 20th Century Art
Major developments in 20th-century art, with emphasis on modernist and avant-garde practices and their relevance for art up to the present.
(AHIS BC3675) Feminism and Post Modernism in Contemporary Art
Examines art and criticism of the 1970s and 1980s that were informed by feminist and postmodern ideas about visual representation. Explores postmodernism as (1) a critique of modernism, (2) a critique of representation, and (3) what Gayatri Spivak called "a radical acceptance of vulnerability." Studies art informed by feminist ideas about vision and subjectivity. Places this art in relation to other aesthetic phenomena, such as modernism, minimalism, institution-critical art, and earlier feminist interventions in art.
(AHIS BC3681) Late 20th Century Art
This course introduces the history of contemporary artistic practices from the 1960s to the present, and the major critical and historical accounts of modernism and postmodernism in the arts. Focusing on the interrelationships between modernist culture and the emerging concepts of postmodernism and contemporary art, the course addresses a wide range of historical and methodological questions. These include the evolving idea of artistic autonomy, the changing role of cultural institutions, the shifting relationship of high art and mass culture, the impact of new technologies on cultural production, and the emergence of new audiences for art.
(AHIS G4085) Andean Art & Architecture
Survey of the art of the Andes from earliest times until the Spanish conquest. Emphasis on the nature of Andean tradition and the relationship between art and society.
(AHIS G4357) Gothic Architecture
How have "Gothic" edifices been represented in words and images? Examines monuments and considers the historiography and theories that they have generated.
(AHIS G4385) Renaissance Architecture, History & Theory
A survey of Renaissance Architecture in Italy through its buildings and its theory, from Brunelleschi to Palladio and the influence to other European country.
(AHIS G4422) Painting in Early Renaissance Florence
This course surveys developments in Florentine painting form the late 14th to the late 15th centuries. It will place special emphasis on monumental fresco painting on the relationships among panting, sculpture, and architecture; and on the shaping of individual styles in a period of intense competition.
(AHIS G4523) Foucault & the Arts
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 on the museum; then through his invention of new sorts of archival work, 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 W4626) Tourism and the North American Landscape
This course will look at the relationship between 19th century landscapes (paintings, photographs, illustrations, and other forms of visual culture) and tourism in North America. Several class sessions will be devoted to case studies of different tourist destinations including the Catskills, Niagara Falls, Mayan ruins, the Antebellum South, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. We will read representations of these American landscapes against nineteenth-century travel literature, guidebooks and other visual documents to obtain a richer understanding of the historical context in which such imagery circulated.
(AHIS G4703) Japanese Architecture from the mid-19th Century to the Present
This class will examine the history of Japanese architecture and urban planning from the mid-19th century to the present.
(AHIS W4855) African American Artists in the 20th & 21st Centuries
This course is a survey of visual production by North Americans of African descent from 1900 to the present. It will look at the various ways in which these artists have sought to develop an African American presence in the visual arts over the last century. We will discuss such issues as: what role does stylistic concern play; how are ideas of romanticism, modernism, and formalism incorporated into the work; in what ways do issues of postmodernism, feminism, and cultural nationalism impact on the methods used to portray the cultural and political body that is African America?
Seminars and Colloquia
(AHIS W3895) Major's Colloquium: Literature and Methods of Art History
Prerequisites: the department's permission. Students must sign up in 826 Schermerhorn. Introduction to different methodological approaches to the study of art and visual culture. Majors are encouraged to take the colloquium during their junior year.
(AHIS BC3110) Imagery and Form in the Arts
Operation of imagery and form in dance, music, theater, visual arts and writing; students are expected to do original work in one of these arts. Concepts in contemporary art will be explored.
(AHIS W3818) Mapping Gothic France
Mapping Gothic France challenges traditional representations of the development of Gothic architecture which conform to the diachronic structure of the lecturer of the linear unfolding of a book. With the help of a spatial database currently under construction we will explore the sameness and difference in a hundred churches under construction from the mid-twelfth century to the mid-thirteenth century and the coincidence of the emergence of an apparently unified architectural "style" and the appearance of the national/cultural unit that we call France.
(AHIS W3827) Tracing Identities: Jewish Art from the Antiquity to the Present
This course will examine the multiple ways in which Jewish identity has surfaced within, and been influenced by, visual art. We will begin by examining attitudes towards art in the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. Moving through the medieval period, we will look at Jewish ceremonial art, manuscripts, and synagogues. We will conclude with such modern artists as Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, Mark Rothko, R.B. Kitaj, and Judy Chicago. Throughout the course, we will take advantage of the wealth of visual resources available in New York City.
(AHIS W3849) Chichen Itza and its Sacred Well
In this seminar we will read seminal literature on Chichen Itza while analyzing its architecture and sculpture. Each student will select a major monument to work on as the class reconstructs the ancient city. It is hoped that information gleaned through the methods of art history will add to our knowledge of this complex and fascinating place. Undergraduates will have the chance to do some "pioneering" work instead of just repeating the literature.
(AHIS W3872) Made Men: The Male Nude in Western Art
This seminar concentrates on a single image, the male nude. The course will survey works of art from Classical antiquity, the Middle Ages and Renaissance; it will also investigate the legacy of the Classical/Renaissance male nude in Modern and Contemporary art.
(AHIS W3896) Between the Still and Moving Image
Digital convergence—where distinct media are subsumed beneath binary code—provides the immediate occasion to investigate the uniqueness and productive confusion of film and photography from historical, theoretical, and aesthetic perspectives. Through close visuals and analysis, we will explore mediated time, memory, modes of spectatorship, early cinema, experimental film, contemporary art, digital imaging, and a range of media and art theories that chart the intersections of photography and film from the late 19th century through the present.
(AHIS BC3941) Contemporary African Photo
(AHIS W3964) TransAtlantic Avant-Gardes: From Latin America to Europe, 1930-1960
This seminar will introduce the avant-gardes of the mid-twentieth century through a consideration of the real and "imagined" dialogue between artists from Europe and Latin America. By focusing on various international centers of artistic activity, the course addresses a wide range of historical and methodological questions: the relation between abstract art and context; the avant-gardes' different relations to history and formal experimentation; the transformation and varying conceptions of artistic autonomy; the complex temporality of aesthetic modernism and modernization in Latin America; and the formation of new audiences on both continents. Each session focuses on a significant movement or figure so that students can draw out the complex interrelationships between artistic experimentation, geopolitical context, and identity. Special attention will be given to artists' writings and group manifestos, including: Cercle et Carré, universalismo constructivo, Grupo Madí, concretismo and neoconcretismo, art cinétique, art informel, and the Group de recherche d'art visuel (GRAV).
(AHIS W3986) From Burnt Corks to Camps: Stereotypes and Performance in 19th & 20th Century America
In this course, we will begin to work through the growing body of literature dealing with stereotypes and minstrelsy in nineteenth and twentieth century America. We will proceed historically—from antebellum blackface minstrelsy, to gender impersonation, hip-hop culture, and Da Ali G Show—seeking to evaluate the forms and significances of stereotypes and their performance at various moments in United States history. Through a series of historical and theoretical readings, we will begin to grapple not only with the very thorny and politically charged history of minority races, genders, classes, and sexualities in the United States, but also with broader questions of identity, performance, representation, and opposition.