Spring 2015 Graduate Courses
This is a preliminary list of courses. Check back for changes and additional courses.
Graduate lectures are open to graduate students only. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission.
AHIS G6688 Origins of Modern Visual Culture
W 12:10-2, 612 Schermerhorn
Major developments in the emergence of modern visual culture in Europe and North America 1750-1900. Topics include the panorama, diorama, museums, photography, world expositions, and early cinema; issues in technology, urbanization, and consumer society. Attention to texts by Debord, Agamben, Bakhtin, Elias, Lefebvre, Caillois, Kluge, Gunning, Foucault, and others. This is a no laptop, no e-device course.
AHIS G6125 Painting in the Song Dynasty
T 9-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn
The goals of this course are to study major works of painting from the Song dynasty (960-1279) and to master art historical and sinological methods that can be used for research in any field of Chinese art. Among the topics that will receive special attention are the rise of landscape painting, imperial patronage, urban life and painting, the art of scholar-officials, and the relationship between words and images, especially during the Southern Song period.
Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application.
AHIS W4176 Art, Archaeology and History of Anatolia
T/R 2:40-3:55pm, 612 Schermerhorn
This course surveys the art, archaeology and ancient history of Anatolia (ancient Turkey) from the first city-states of the early second millennium BC through the establishment of the Hittite Kingdom and through its disintegration into a plurality of polities until the Persian conquest in the course of the sixth century BC. Topics are arranged chronologically as well as thematically. The lectures will explore forms of representation and monuments within a historical context derived from archival and epigraphic texts (in translation). At the same time, the interplay of representation and inscription, ranging from small scale private seals to large public monuments is considered in the context of a multilingual environment. The course also addresses the historiography of the field, particularly the history of research, its protagonists, major debates and the current state of research in this flourishing field.
Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. As with other seminars, they require an application. Applications can be submitted to Amanda Young in the department office (826 Schermerhorn Hall). The required application form can be found on the planning sheets and forms page.
Bridge seminars will count towards lecture credit for graduate students.
Application Deadline: Monday, December 1st
AHIS G4085 Andean Art and Architecture
T 12:10-2:00, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
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.
Application Deadline: Thursday, January 8th
AHIS G4661 Portraits and Identity
R 2:10 - 4pm, 930 Schermerhorn
Portraits constitute an important genre in art for centuries, appearing in many global cultures, and in countless numbers, indicating their enduring popularity, and their significance. They appear in public and private contexts of viewing, and manifest a record of individual existence, while also possessing the authority of an on-going presence after death. Portraits have been collected, displayed, employed in political, secular, and religious contexts, and have drawn the attention of generations of artists and their patrons in a variety of modes in single and multiple images in various media. A seminar for undergraduate majors and graduate students, culminating in two exhibitions, planned by the students, with a list of works, a companion brochure, and a brief catalogue essay for each exhibition.
AHIS G4626 Transpacific Objects
W 11-12:50pm, 832 Schermerhorn
This course focuses on the circulation of visual and material objects between the Americas and the Asia Pacific from Enlightenment to modernity. It takes the ocean itself as a framework of analysis for the global artifacts of scientific exploration, cultural exchange, imperialism, and trade. What kinds of things traveled through the Pacific? How were they appropriated, assimilated, and understood across the globalizing world of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Can the Pacific be understood on the same terms as the Atlantic? We will explore these questions through various intellectual frameworks, from cannibalism to islands. We will likewise devote attention to centers of exchange—Mexico City, Hawaii, Canton, and Yokohama—and look closely at the goods that circulated between them, from paintings and decorative arts to maps and botanical illustrations. An interdisciplinary set of texts, from maritime novels to anthropological theory, will be brought to bear on the visual world of the Pacific. Visits to museum and library collections in New York will be integral part of the course.
AHIS G4862 Repatriation and Indigenous Art in the Age of Globalization
W 4:10-6pm, 832 Schermerhorn
Material culture has changed hands between Native and non-Native communities since the beginnings of Euro-American cultural contact. But individuals and communities have competing definitions of who can "own" indigenous culture and what rights of use, display and reproduction attend that ownership. Since the spread of indigenous rights movements in the late 1960s, museums These issues are coming to the fore in the twenty-first century as tribal nations are increasingly petitioning for the return of cultural property using the passage of national legislation (such as the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act) and international policy (such as the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). At the same time, both tribal and whitestream museums are exploring new models of collaboration in collecting and curatorial work. This course explores the current global discussion of cultural property, using case studies to explore the complex legal and ethical issues confronting museums, dealers, collectors and communities.
AHIS G4142 Mediterranean "East"-"West" Interactions: An Introduction
T 6:10-8pm, 934 Schermerhorn
The constant contacts, in peace and war times, between the Latin West and the world of Islam, especially during the Middle Ages, formed and shaped the identities of both Christian and Muslim worlds. Moreover, these cultural clashes and artistic exchanges seemed on the one hand to consolidate identities and maintain barriers of differences but on the other hand to contribute to dynamic aesthetic conversations, enriching the visual cultures of both. In several moments in history, which, sometimes, can hardly be defined as convivencia, a new amalgamated aesthetic language was born. Trade with luxury goods and even the sack of works of art 'sponsored' and enhances visual dialogues between different religious cultures of the Mediterranean. In this seminar the routes and the 'ambassadors' of these exchange moments are discerned. The Mediterranean basin (between 800 to 1500 AD) is in focus. The mobile world around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – from the far west district of al-Andalus and the city of Cordoba to the near Eastern metropolises of Cairo and Damascus – will be highlighted. Port cities such as Salerno, Amalfi, Genua, Mahdiyya, Venice, Palermo and Acre will be jointly discussed in order to draw a full and complete picture of the particular medieval art, which developed across the Mediterranean basin.
AHIS G4126 Rock-Cut Architecture of India
T 4:10 - 6pm, 930 Schermerhorn
For a period of over a thousand years, a favored mode of architecture across India was to create monuments by excavating into the rock of the mountainside. This course examines the rock-cut mode of architecture, adopted by Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains, that remained popular right up to the tenth century when it yielded precedence to structures built by piling stone upon stone.
AHIS G4330 Paris in the Middle Ages
R 2:10-4pm, 934 Schermerhorn
The urban fabric of Paris provides the connective tissue linking medieval achievements in architecture, sculpture, and painting with the history of the city from the Romans to the Renaissance.
Seminars require an application and admission is at the instructor's discretion. Applications can be submitted to Chris Newsome in the department office (826 Schermerhorn Hall). The required application form can be found on the planning sheets and forms page.
Application Deadline: Monday, December 1st
AHIS G8069 Contemporary Arts of Africa
Z. S. Strother
T 4:10-6pm, 934 Schermerhorn
This course takes up a question posed by Terry Smith and applies it to Africa: "Who gets to say what counts as contemporary art?" It will investigate the impact of modernity, modernism, and increasing globalism on artistic practices, with a special focus on three of the major centers for contemporary art: Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria. Some of the topics covered will be: the emergence of new media (such as photography or comics), experiments in Pan-Africanism, development of parallel modernities and class divides, diasporic consciousness, the creation of "national" cultures, biennial politics, and the emergence of international culture-brokers. We will be sensitive to differences in Francophone and Anglophone critical discourse and a reading knowledge of French is recommended.
AHIS G8166 Early Dynastic Art and Archaeology
M 6:10-8pm, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar investigates the art and archaeology of the Sumerian city-states in Mesopotamia, focusing on sculpture, architecture, material culture, and the historical scholarship and scholarly debates regarding this era. Advanced knowledge of the ancient Near East is expected of seminar participants. The seminar readings will consist primarily of archaeological site reports and historical texts, as well as secondary literature on the third millennium BC accompanied by some readings in archaeological and critical theories. Students will be expected to research and compile the bibliographies for each of the Early Dynastic sites for their presentations and final papers.
AHIS G8197 Global Art Histories
K. Moxey and A. Shalem
W 2:10-4om, 930 Schermerhorn
This course considers the interaction, combination, amalgamation, hybridization, syncretization, incorporation, absorption, and fusion, of art histories and historiographies produced by different ethnic, class, gender, national, and cultural traditions. Historical narratives attempt to make sense of the passage of time, yet the contingency of the temporal systems has become increasingly evident. The discipline's reliance on chronology, on what can be called "dominant" time—Euro-American time--, fails to justice to the rich complexity of artistic events and objects created in other parts of the globe. What difficulties and what opportunities confront art historians as they recognize the global scope of their enterprise? How to characterize historical encounters between distinct artistic traditions? Are the artistic norms of one culture accessible to those of another? Can discrepant narratives, marked by imbalances of power, be reconciled so as to offer a world history? Is violence inevitable in the translation of one story into another? How can we distiguish between influence and stimulus? What is lost and what is gained in attempting to translate works of art from distinct places and times? In view of the dangers and contingencies of translation, how do we define its benefits? An important dimension of these discussions will relate to aesthetic experience as a potentially extra-historical dimension of the work of art with the capacity to "escape" time. Is it possible to chronologize the anachronistic power of images? Can the "wild" time of an aesthetic encounter be related to the controlled and constructed time of "history"? When and how do phenomenology and social history intersect?
AHIS G8221 Art and Diplomacy: Gifts and Gift-Giving from Late Antiquity to the Early Renaissance
F 2:10-4pm, 930 Schermerhorn
Silk textiles, luxury objects made from precious metals, stones, or ivory, and even Christian relics and reliquaries feature prominently in surviving lists of goods exchanged between foreign courts and rulers as part of the diplomatic process. Precious books, carved gems, and objects of fine metalwork are likewise attested as gifts exchanged between members of aristocratic families as well as potentates and ecclesiastical communities to serve as tokens of allegiance or familial bonds, pious votives, or exquisite offerings that aimed to secure a person or a family's earthly memory and heavenly afterlife. Building on a rich body of art historical, anthropological, and sociological literature, this graduate seminar explores the culture of gifts and gift-giving and its intersection with familial and dynastic politics from late antiquity to the early modern period. A number of canonical texts and prominent artifacts will help to illuminate the role and function of artistic products in a complex system of value and valuation that defined and structured the interaction between individuals and groups in a shared 'culture of objects' that stretched from the Eastern Mediterranean to the fringes of Western Europe. Please note that the number of participants in this seminar is restricted to 10 to facilitate a more immediate approach to the study of objects and allow for a number of site visits to museum collections in New York City.
AHIS G8262 Greek Myths in Etruria: Images, Cultural Memory, and Identity
F. De Angelis
M 11-12:50pm, 930 Schermerhorn
The course will investigate the diffusion of Greek mythological images in Etruria, Southern Italy, and Rome from the Archaic to the Late Republican period (ca. 630 to 30 BCE). Among the issues which we will address there are: Why were peoples like the Etruscans or the Romans so keen on using Greek myth, and why did they not develop (to the same extent, at least) a mythic imagery of their own? What changes did myth undergo in the process of diffusion from Greece to the indigenous cultures in Italy? How can we use the verbal, narrative dimension of mythological scenes to get information about societies for which we do not have written sources?
AHIS G8525 Laughter and Renaissance Images
R 2:10-4pm, 832 Schermerhorn
Laughter escapes all sorts of uniform classification, as literary studies have taught us, and during the Renaissance one used to laugh with images in many different ways. The seminar will focus not only on the representation of laughter, but also on the modalities of laughter used in images in 15th-16th century Europe. A special attention will be devoted to the comical language of images, with its witticisms, inversions, and parodic inventions: the distinctive structures and a specific vocabulary for pictorial syntax will be investigated in relation with the language of comic theatre, burlesque literature, carnival culture and farce. Examining the various forms of laughter produced by images, whether they concern 'vulgar laughter' or 'erudite laughter' or contaminations of the two, the seminar intends to develop a preliminary taxonomy of laughter in Renaissance visual art. Students are required to read at least one of the following foreign languages: French Italian, Spanish or German.
AHIS G8564 Grounds of Perception: Motives and Place in French Painting and Sculpture in the Age of Secularization
W 9-10:50am, 934 Schermerhorn
This graduate seminar explores the way the ground, in the various meanings of the term, is questioned in the visual arts in France during the 17th and 18th centuries. The development, from the Renaissance onwards, of a narrative model thanks to the notion of historia has focused the attention on the figures and, generally speaking, on the motives. Dealing with the ground is not only a way to complete a vision of the figurative work of art as a whole: it is also questioning why is the ground overlooked; how the ground is at the center of a complex articulation when it is associated with depth (from background to foreground), with a function of place for the motives (floor or soil), with the movement (the ground as field), with matter (the ground as support or as surface of the representation). What is at stake here is the centering of the visual arts on the human figure as the image of God and the tension created by the representation of transcendence and a new valuation of immanence, usually associated with the notion of secularization, from the beginning of the 18th century on: hence the discovery of new issues (the ground as landscape, as territory, as underground); but also, more discretly and more fundamentally, a questioning which is not only topographical, but causal: the ground of the representation – corresponding to a crisis of the subject matter in the arts of the 18th century and more generally, an interrogation about what is to be seen in a work of art and, finally, the ground for our own interest, at the age of the screen, for the ground.
AHIS G8621 Media/Worlds: Art and Intersectionality
W 11-12:50pm, Schermerhorn 934
2012 marked the centennial of American artist Gordon Parks. Parks was a writer, musician, and filmmaker. He is best known, however, as a photographer, who began his career with the Farm Security Administration, worked as a photojournalist for Life magazine, and lived in Paris as a correspondent for Vogue. This course interrogates ideas of intermedia, multidisciplinarity, as well as theoretical concepts of intersectionality in the 20th and 21st centuries through the figure of Parks. We will explore the photograph as social document in the New Deal and Civil Rights eras, and consider its role as news and as a register of beauty in the periodical format. Parks' film work spanned the black coming-of-age story in the 1960s (The Learning Tree, 1969; based on his own 1963 novel), and the "insurgent visibility" of the more uncompromising figures of the Blaxploitation genre (Shaft, 1971) and the Black Power period.
AHIS G8749 Methods Seminar: Abstract Expressionism
T 2:10-4:00pm , 934 Schermerhorn
The proliferation of the various disciplines into so many sub-disciplinary "studies": Post-colonial Studies; Women's Studies; Cultural Studies, Visual Studies, etc. has detached traditional disciplines from their most basic procedures for the accumulation and evaluation of knowledge. In art history this has meant jettisoning the formal consideration of the work, within the history of its specific medium—painting, sculpture, photography, film, etc.—now set aside in favor of ideological diversions. This decentering of the discipline is particularly acute in relation to the important development of Abstract-Expressionism in the postwar period in New York. The aim of this seminar will be to examine individual works in the movement with the specificity of Timothy Clark's analysis of Willem de Kooning's "Suburb in Havana."
AHIS G8711 Memories of Development: Topics in Latin American Architecture 1945-1980
T 2:10-4pm, 930 Schermerhorn
In the post-World War II decades Latin America experienced an unprecedented growth in urban populations, as well as a golden period of architectural expression. While much has been written on the flowering of Latin American architecture, and Brazilian in particular, during the decades spanning the war this seminar follows the interlocking sets of hypotheses of the Museum of Modern Art's spring exhibition "Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-80." The first is that the period 1955-80 was a period of great architectural experimentation, originality, and influence but one which has yet to be fully assimilated into the narratives of modern architecture even as they have changed in the most recent generation of accounts. The second is that one of the leading themes of the period, an ideological umbrella conjugated in radically different ways in different countries and in different periods, was the doctrine of development, or what may be expanded to the philosophy of developmentalism (Desarollismo). The seminar will intersperse background lectures on the main architectural developments of the period with readings of key texts on theories of developmentalism, as background to student's research projects on key figures, projects, or even new town plans that might be read in relationship to the various theories of developmentalism offered. We will also read key texts to discover the place or absence of a discourse on developmentalism in the historiography of 20th century Latin American architecture. Mexico will be less emphasized as students might wish simultaneously to enroll in Professor Luis Carranza's lecture course on the History of 20th century architecture in Mexico in the School of Architecture.
AHIS G8781 Avant-Garde Cinematic Imaginary
R 11-12:50pm, 934 Schermerhorn
The thesis of this graduate seminar is that interwar avant-garde art is best understood in the orbit of the cinema. More precisely: the poverty of avant-garde films served as catalyst and symptom of an exuberant avant-garde cinematic imaginary. In this seminar, we will scrutinize a range of artworks and films, within and beyond the avant-garde; study primary texts from the interwar period and its post-WWII reception; and read relevant recent and foundational scholarship from the histories of art and film and media theory. Topics include cinema beyond film, vernacular modernism, avant-garde/ arrière-garde, medium specificity and impure media, real time, 3D images, networks. The final weeks of the seminar will be dedicated to intense work-shopping of student papers.
AHIS G8806 Visual Narratives of India
W 4:10 - 6pm, 930 Schermerhorn
This course proposes the existence of distinct modes of visual narration used by India's artists to present stories visually, both in the medium of relief sculpture, and that of watercolors on plastered walls or paper manuscripts. The first half of the course is devoted to the rich corpus of Buddhist narrative reliefs, while the second half considers the relationship of text and image in the painted manuscript tradition of India.
AHIS G8836 Expanded Arts: Carolee Schneemann
M 2:10-4pm, 934 Schermerhorn
In 1966, Film Culture published a special issue entitled "Expanded Arts," a category that comprised, according to the masthead: "Happenings, Neo-Baroque Theatre, Expanded Cinema, Kinesthetic Theatre, Acoustic Theatre, Neo-Haiku Theatre, Events, Readymades, Puzzles, Games, Gags, Jokes, etc." Included in the issue (designed as a fold-out newspaper insert by George Maciunas) was the transcript of a symposium on "Expanded Theatre" held at Lincoln Center, a compendium of Jonas Mekas's "Movie Journal" film reviews on new, hybrid forms of cinema performances and installations, and Maciunas's astounding and detailed graph of the emergence of this new field of art forms. Although another issue was promised, the wider revolution of the arts into this more expansive territory was not to happen in the way this issue predicted, and the art forms involved—above all "Expanded Cinema"—eventually disappeared from a position at the vanguard of cultural developments. Given the recent predominance within the art world of the "projected image," on the one hand, and the rise of virtual reality and computerization, on the other, the heretofore little regarded "movement" of Expanded Cinema can be seen as one of the most influential artistic developments of the twentieth century. In this course we will revisit and rethink this and related developments and movements from our current historical and theoretical perspective—focusing particularly on the work of Carolee Schneemann as a significant case study. This course will examine the stakes and questions concerned in this period and attempt to forge new historical and methodological tools by which to approach it.
AHIS G8861 Art and Theory in a Global Context
W 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
What is Globalization? How does it affect the ways we think about art? What new role can theory play in it? And in what new ways does it involve aesthetics as well as politics? For some time, there has been an on-going debate on all of these matters; this seminar is an exploration and critical examination of them. We will take 1989 -- or the dawn of the 21st century – as a turning point for the emergence of a new set of models and institutions, which, transforming or re-evaluating older ones, provides the context for new kinds of art and theory. We will focus on China and Brazil as case studies and engage with several current exhibitions or discussions in New York. The Seminar is organized around a series of issues through which the larger debate has unfolded or been refracted. They include: modernity, modernism and contemporaneity; image, media and participation; exhibition histories, museums and biennials, and much more. In this way, it opens onto the larger question: what is contemporary art and thinking today? The Seminar is open to qualified students from all areas or disciplines concerned with the problem of the arts in what has come to be known as 'globalization'.
AHIS G8916 Meyer Schapiro and the Practice of Art History
M 9-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn
The goal of this graduate seminar will be to systematically read Meyer Schapiro's most important works, which remain vital to the historiography of many field of art history, theory, and criticism. One of the few offerings in the department's graduate curriculum that will cut across fields of specialization, the seminar will be organized around a series of presentations by member of the faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology from a wide range of fields. Students also will make extensive use of the Schapiro Collection in the division of Rare Books and Manuscripts in Butler Library which encompasses over 600 boxes of Schapiro's notebooks, research materials, unpublished essays, and works of art by Schapiro, who was a gifted draftsman and painter.
Core Graduate Courses
Required courses for first-year MA and MODA students.
AHIS G8991 Curatorial Colloquium
M 4:10-6pm, 930 Schermerhorn
The Curatorial Colloquium is taken in the second semester of study and is required for the completion of the MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies. The course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of object collection and display as well as to exhibitions such as Documenta and the various international biennials. The course is designed to allow for guest presentations on particular issues by curators and museum professionals, 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 in the exhibition and display of modern and contemporary art. In addition to department faculty, curators from MoMA, the Whitney, the International Center for Photography, and other institutions regularly participate in the colloquium.
AHIS G8892 Materials and Practices of Art History
R 4:10-6pm, 930 Schermerhorn
Required course for all first-year MA students. This course examines the range of practices associated with art history. It is structured in three parts: part 1 sets the stage through a historical and theoretical examination of the institutions of art; part 2 looks at art history and its dynamic with curatorship, art criticism, connoisseurship and conservation; and part 3 explores the recent developments of museum education and art history in the digital age. While the course is based on the critical reading of primary sources and recent scholarship, it also includes guest presentations and draws on the participation of Columbia faculty.