Spring 2016 Graduate Courses
This is a preliminary list of courses. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.
AHIS W4073 Contemporary Arts of Africa
M/W 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
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. Some of the topics covered will be: the emergence of new media (such as photography or cinema), the creation of "national" cultures, experiments in Pan-Africanism, diasporic consciousness, and the rise of curators as international culture-brokers. A special symposium co-organized by the professor, “Biennial Cultures in Africa,” will examine the enthusiastic embrace by African artists of the biennial platform as a site for the production of contemporary art.
AHIS W4110 Modern Japanese Architecture
T/R 10:10-11:25, Room TBA (please note day/time )
This course will examine Japanese architecture and urban planning from the mid-19th century to the present. We will address topics such as the establishment of an architectural profession along western lines in the late 19th century, the emergence of a modernist movement in the 1920's, the use of biological metaphors and the romanticization of technology in the theories and designs of the Metabolist Group, and the shifting significance of pre-modern Japanese architectural practices for modern architects. There will be an emphasis on the complex relationship between architectural practice and broader political and social change in Japan.
AHIS W4155 Art and Archaeology of Mesopotamia
T/R 4:10-5:25, 612 Schermerhorn Hall
This course surveys the art and architecture of Mesopotamia from the rise of the first cities, the invention of writing, and the development of monumental art and architecture in the fourth millennium BC through the Parthian- Roman era (3rd century AD). Within this historical framework the lectures will focus on the revolutionary ancient developments in art and architecture, including the origins of narrative representation, thefirst emergence of historical public monuments, and sacred architecture. We will also study some ancient texts on the making and uses of images and monuments, including rituals of animating statues, building rituals, treatment of images in wars, and visual performativity. At the same time, small scale and personal arts will be considered in the context of private ownership and the practices of daily life.
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 seminar credit for majors.
Application Deadline: November 3oth, 2015
( Course Cancelled)
AHIS G4156 The Japanese Buddhist Temple
AHIS G4106 The Indian Temple
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This course explores the emergence and development of the Indian temple, examines the relationship between form and function, and emphasizes the importance of considering temple sculpture and architecture together. It covers some two thousand years of activity, and while focusing on Hindu temples, also includes shrines built to the Jain and Buddhist faiths.
AHIS G4615 Mapping Gothic
T 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
The story of Gothic is traditionally recounted diachronically as architectural development. With our new interactive website, www.mappinggothic.org, we challenge the user to entertain multiple stories and explore the synchronicity of architectural production, considering the space and time when France became France and new cultural/national unities began to emerge in Europe.
AHIS G4847 Museum Practice and Writing for Catalogues: Spanish and Latin American Painting at the Hispanic Society Museum, 1700-1920
T 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar has two goals. It will introduce an important group of Hispanic (Spanish and Latin American) works of art, and it will teach basic museological principals as they relate to the registration, researching, cataloguing, and publishing of individual works of art – particularly as published in catalogues raisonnés, museum collection catalogues, and exhibition catalogues. The researching and writing of an exemplary, professional catalogue entry will be one of the tasks of students in the seminar. The seminar will use the works at The Hispanic Society Museum and Library in New York as the subjects of the students' work. The goal is to give students access to objects as a way of increasing skills in technical and formal analysis, connoisseurship, and appreciation of the social value of material culture.
Many of the works at the Society are unpublished or only schematically published. Students will be doing original scholarship in cataloguing these works.
A reading knowledge of Spanish is highly desirable but not a requirement for admission to the seminar. If a student does not have Spanish, then a basic command of either French or Italian will be necessary.
Sessions will be held both at the University and at The Hispanic Society Museum and Library, 613 West 155th Street.
Graduate lectures are open to graduate students only. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission if interested.
AHIS G6140 Japanese Arts of the Momoyama Period
W 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
An investigation of the visual arts of the Momoyama period (1573-1615), Japan's era of political unification. This course will focus on the patronage and participation of provincial warlords in the production of gilded screen and panel paintings, lacquer, ceramics, and textiles. We will also consider the question of how Momoyama period aesthetics would have a lasting impact on all succeeding periods of Japanese art.
Interested undergraduates may contact Prof. McKelway directly if interested in the course. Undergraduate should have taken one course in either: the history of Japanese or Chinese Art, Japanese religion, Japanese history, Japanese literature, or Buddhist art, i.e. AHIS V3201 Arts of China, AHUM V3340 Arts of China, Japan & Korea or AHIS V3203 Arts of Japan.
AHIS G6688 Origins of Modern Visual Culture
W 2:10-4, 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 G6850 Art in the African Diaspora
M 12:10-2, 832 Schermerhorn
This course explores developments in contemporary art history in an international framework. Our specific focus is the art of the African Diaspora, defined as the cultures of peoples of African descent worldwide living both within and outside of the African continent. We will consider art and aesthetics in Africa, the Caribbean, Britain, and the U.S., interrogate ideas of the postcolonial, concepts of diaspora, and the Atlantic world. How do such works engage a global community and marketplace? In what ways does theory and criticism further elucidate the practice of these artists as well as their objects in order to address culture as a site of ideological contestation and the relationship of the formal aspects of a work to its representational significance?
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, November 30th
AHIS G8025 Greek Sanctuaries
T 2:10-4, 832 Schermehorn
Greek sanctuaries were filled with buildings of various forms and purposes and with countless objects that today could be called ‘art.’ They were by no means tidy and clean minimalist spaces, but rather noisy places with architecture and dedications occupying every tiny part of the available space. Famous is, for example, the reference to a chariot hanging from the ceiling of the temple of Apollo in Delphi. Very early, a so-called war of monuments developed in ancient Greece, and its battlefields were mainly the sanctuaries, especially the pan-Hellenic ones. In this war of monuments, time and space were apparently not very significant. For example, the Spartans reacted to the erection of the famous Nike of Paionios in Olympia that celebrated a victory of the Messenians and Naupactians over them in 425 BCE by having two Nike statues dedicated to the sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. Intriguing are the connections of the Hellenistic stoa of the Attalids at Delphi that places itself in direct succession of buildings and dedications that celebrated Greek victories over foreign invaders: the captured shields of the Persians and the Gauls decorating the temple of Apollo and the great hall of the Aetolians. Aim of the seminar is to understand the forms and functions of architecture and dedicatory objects in Greek sanctuaries while analyzing these sacred places as the spatial centers in which Greek aesthetics, Greek identity, and ultimately Greek culture were shaped.
AHIS G8135 Seeing the Past: Artifacts, Monuments and Historians in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, Schermerhorn 930
This seminar will explore the paradoxical status of visual and material evidence in Greco-Roman historiography and antiquarianism. Autopsia—“seeing with one own’s eyes”—was a key notion of historical research and theory. Yet, the evidence provided by artifacts and monuments plays only a limited role in most “canonical” histories, which are typically focused on contemporary political and military events. Instead, this evidence features more often in works belonging to “secondary” genres such as local chronicles and technical treatises by artists, and it mainly occurs in mainstream historiography when authors have to deal with either exotic lands or a remote past. Distance, both geographical and chronological, thus appears to be a crucial factor for the inclusion of objects into historical accounts.
The seminar will follow the shifting role and the paradoxical status of artifacts in ancient historical thinking through close reading of key texts, including Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Posidippus, Varro, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Strabo, Pliny the Elder, and Pausanias. Knowledge of Greek and Latin is not required, even though preference will be given to students familiar with ancient languages. The seminar is complementary to Professor Zainab Bahrani’s graduate seminar on (modern) Antiquarianism and Archaeology: students will greatly benefit from attending both courses.
AHIS G8495 Modern and Contemporary in China
R 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
In what ways does the existence of a "contemporary art" or contemporary situation in art require us to rethink the very idea of "modern" (or "postmodern") art, its methods and its geographies? In this lecture we take Mainland China as a focus and laboratory for this question, at once critical and curatorial. We look back to the peculiarities of the "modern" period (since the Boxer Rebellion), the intellectual debates about modernity, the Cultural Revolution and its current aftermath. We examine a current sinological surrounding the nature and fate of "traditional" Chinese painting and look at the problem of urbanism in contemporary work. In the process, we examine a series of methodological questions involved in the study of a "contemporary Chinese art" with the participation of historians, curators, and critics working in this emerging field. Related lectures and events in New York are suggested. The Seminar is open to qualified students in different disciplines and departments.
AHIS G8697 Modernism without Organs: John Cage and the Visual Arts
T 4:10 – 6, 930 Schermerhorn
John Cage—known as one of the West's most avant-garde composers, who delivered his music over to chance and made compositions without any sounds—is routinely invoked as an important "influence" on contemporary art. His artistic connections include Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Andy Warhol; Allan Kaprow, Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins, George Brecht, Robert Whitman, Robert Morris, La Monte Young and the general areas of happenings, fluxus, and early minimalism; the cinematic endeavors of Stan VanDerBeek; the dance of Merce Cunningham, Simone Forti, Yvonne Rainer, and more. Nevertheless, the understanding of Cage's role within the arts has been more often marginalized or repressed than investigated or explored. In this course, we will seek to flesh out the Cagean "paradigm" in its historical and theoretical specificity and to pursue a genealogical investigation into the operation, impact, and implication of ideas such as silence, space, chance, indeterminacy, and multiplicity as they were adopted, adapted, and/or resisted within the post-War development of the visual arts.
AHIS G8753 Media Architectures: Nineteenth Century to the Present
W 10:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
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.
AHIS G8784 Frank Lloyd Wright: Projects and Critical Reception on an International Stage
T 2:10 -4, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will focus on the critical reception of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work not only in professional circles, but in the growing public media for architecture, including mass market publications, television, and film. In addition to considering the historiography of Wright’s work, we will also consider the geography of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career arguing that Wright may well have set the stage for some of the politics of fame that we associate with recent architecture and the phenomenon of Starchitecture. The aim is to develop not only a knowledge of Wright’s career and work – making ample use of the Wright archive in the Avery Library – but also to develop a critical relationship to the concept of influence.
The seminar will include frequent sessions in the drawings collection of Avery Library to study at close hand materials from the Frank Lloyd Wright archive (drawings, photographs, books, letters) and sessions to read primary and secondary literature on Wright's work, emphasizing the evolution of critical reception from commentary contemporary with the projects to the evolution of the project in the vast literature on Wright that has developed since his death in 1959. At midpoint of the class our attention will focus for a week on Wright's work exhibiting his own work, to work with the hypothesis that Wright was as much involved in designing buildings and he was in designing his reputation and reception.
AHIS G8845 The Performative Object
W 2:10 - 4, 934 Schermerhorn
Performativity (and ‘performative’) have become common terms in postwar and contemporary art. Most often referring to a medium (“performance art”) characterized by liveness and presence, performative in this context is equated with “theatricality” or a type of extroversion on the part of the artist as performer/ artwork. Despite its shared lexical foundations, however, performativity, as it originated in linguistic theory (i.e. J.L Austin, Mikhail Bakhtin and Ludwig Wittgenstein), refers to a class of language whose articulation entails material results. Here, language moves from the realm of interior mind or the “ideational” into the public sphere of action, undermining the putative separation between the conceptual and the bodily. Distinct from qualities of singularity, ephemerality and presence (typically associated with “performance art”), theperformative is marked by citationality, repetition, and reproduction: those very aspects characterizing works taking form as auditory and visual recordings, digital projections, web-based platforms, and linguistic notations.
The tension between what might be termed “the performative object” and that of“performance art,” however, persists, and forms the basis of this seminar, which poses a series of questions that, together, aim to frame a theoretical and historical context with which to gauge contemporary practices. Issues such as liveness, presence, embodiment, subjectivity, mediation, medium, postproduction, spectacle, among others, will guide these discussions through select case studies on diverse artists (e.g. Marina Abramovic, the Gutai group, Lee Lozano, Catherine Sullivan, Glenn Ligon, Christian Marclay, Ryan Trecartin, Tino Sehgal, among others). Ultimately, the question will be raised: is there any value in retaining the term performance or should it be succeeded by “the performative object ” that speaks more to the cultural and historical conditions––marked my mediation, recycling and reiteration––of today? Or are both terms simply too amorphous and pluralistic to maintain any significant critical value?
AHIS G8881 Scribbles and Scribbling in the Early Modern Period
R 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
The seminar investigates the creative process of scribbling and scribbles by artists in the light of the common and popular practice of scribbling. During the past decades, scribbles and schematic drawings have been found on the margins of early modern artworks by artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. This graphic production, which has not received much attention from scholars, echoes the ideas of "controlled regression" and "scribbling style" that Ernst H. Gombrich and Ernst Kris used in their seminal essay "The Principles of Caricature" when questioning the late appearance of caricature at the end of the 16th century. The new material discovered belongs to an earlier chronology, which predates the official birth of caricature, and therefore should be rethought within the wider field of visual culture of that period. In order to understand the status, perception and uses of such "unlearned" drawings at a time when art was dominated by the laws of disegno, the seminar intends to consider artists' scribbles in relation to the wider popular and anonymous practices of the images. It will also consider scribbles within workshops practices and the learning process. The course will be focused on methodological issues, associated with the creation of a digital archive of early modern scribbles.
Students are required to read at least one of the following foreign languages: French, Italian, Spanish or German.
AHIS G8171 The Art of the Early Qur'an
T 6:10 – 8, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
Columbia University Libraries holds a rare reproduction one of the earliest Qur'an manuscripts, also known as the Holy Qur'an Mushaf of 'Uthman or Tashkent Qur'an. This Qur'an allegedly considered to be the one written by the hand of 'Uthman (d. 626), one of first caliphs, and thus appears as the oldest in the world. According to tradition, 'Uthman, who commissioned this Qur'an, was assassinated while reading it, and his blood splattered on its pages. This Qur'an is therefore one of the most holy relics of Sunni Islam.
Columbia's codex will form the very focus of this seminar, around which several issues will be examined. Sessions will be devoted to the art of holy script in early Islam, canonization, monumetalization, the mobility of Qur'ans, and the relationship between "model" and "copy." The seminar might develop into an exhibition at the Wallach Gallery in 2017.
AHIS G8326 Internationalism and Regionalism in Modernist Architectural Discourse
M 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn Hall
This graduate seminar will examine the tensions between internationalist and regionalist claims in modernist architectural discourse in Europe, Japan and the US from the 1920's through the 1960's.
AHIS G8763 The Decorative Arts in Theory & Practice
W 8:10 - 10, at Barnard
This seminar asks how the "decorative arts" were invented as a category of objects during the 19th century, how they have been studied, and how they have been displayed in museums ever since. Taking advantage of a unique opportunity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in spring of 2016, the seminar poses its questions through a trio of exhibitions, all devoted to the New York City version of the "Aesthetic Movement". The differences among these exhibitions will allow us to consider what tactics could emerge from a new understanding of useable art forms.
The seminar meets several times at the Met, is taught twice by a Met curator, and attends Met programming events. This enables the seminar to confront the real issues of three-dimensional objects and their display in relation to each other in three-dimensional space. Meanwhile, seminar readings go back and forth between key nineteenth-century texts and recent analyses.
AHIS G8317 Antiquarianism and Archaeology
W 2:10 - 4, 832 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar explores the two forms of interest in the past that co-existed in European intellectual circles in the eighteenth-nineteenth century: Antiquarianism and Archaeology. The first form of engagement with the distant past is associated with the collector and the Wunderkammer, the combination of artefacts and fossils, gems and coins, all into one collection. The second form, emerged after the first, and was defined as a science. Both of these forms of engagement with the past came to be centered around the archaeological past of lands under the Ottoman empire, the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean, including Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia as well as Greece and Cyprus. The seminar will consider Antiquariansm in its many guises beginning with antiquarianism in antiquity itself, turning back to the earliest records of collecting and cataloguing artefacts in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, as well as Greece and the Roman east. The seminar in turn explores antiquarianism and the development of the scientific discipline of archaeology, how it defined itself and set itself apart from its predecessor, focusing on the collecting and documentation of antiquities, the start of organized excavations, and the origins of the modern museum, all of which were part of the newly defined discipline, archaeology.
Core Graduate Courses
Required courses for first-year MA and MODA students. Department will register students.
AHIS G8991 Curatorial Colloquium
R 12:10-2pm, 934 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
F 10:10-12pm, 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.