Spring 2017 Graduate Courses
Updated: Friday, January 13, 2017.
Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application.
AHIS GU4045 Collecting
M/W 11:40-12:55, 612 Schermerhorn
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.
Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Admission to bridge seminars is at the instructor’s discretion. The graduate student application form for bridge seminars can be found here, and should be submitted to Chris Newsome in the main office for the Department of Art History and Archaeology at 826 Schermerhorn Hall.
Applications for Spring 2017 bridge seminars are due by 12pm on Friday, November 11th, 2016.
AHIS GU4548 Displacing God: Architecture, Modernism, and the Post-Secular
M. González Pendás
M 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar explores the shifting and paradoxical role that religion has played in various
conceptions of architectural modernism and cross-references contemporary theories on the formation of secular societies with physical and discursive evidences drawn from the history of architecture. Glaringly absent in most canonical histories, the production of religion has been however crucial to the shaping of core ideals of art and architectural modernism and to the commissioning of main works. Similarly, buildings continue to act as significant instruments for the intersection of politics and religion that define conflicts over nationalism, tradition and modernity. Not a course on churches or mosques and specifically
avoiding the study of these typologies in relation to theology, the seminar explores the other physical and discursive spaces where religion has operated historically: from urban sites to theoretical narratives and exhibition practices; from notions of technology, space, pedagogy and monumentality to processes of urbanization and technocratic governments. We will consider these the “shadows” of secularism, as anthropologist Talal Assad has suggested, which study serve to better understand the displacement of the religious sphere under regimes of modernization.
AHIS GU4640 Soviet Photomontage of the 1920s and 1930s
R 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will introduce students to the history of the Soviet photomontage, from its first examples in the work of Russian Constructivists Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Gustav Klucis, Liubov Popova, and others after the October Revolution, to its rise to the top of the hierarchy of the agitational mass art in the 1920s, and its role in advancing the First Five-Year Plan and documenting the socialist reconstruction in the 1930s. In this course photomontage is interpreted as a logical continuation of the analytical movements in the early twentieth-century art. We will address the reasons behind the abrupt turn to factography and productivism in the work of Russian Constructivists in the early 1920s. We will examine photomontage as a complex modernist experiment that led to expanding the language of modern art and became a sophisticated art form, able to document the great experiment of the Russian Revolution, its severity and idealism, and to express the utopian visions behind it.
AHIS GU4582 Mediterranean Trade and Exchange (ca. 900-1400)
R 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will explore trade in the Mediterranean over nearly half a millennia using a variety of disciplinary approaches and a trans-cultural framework. Bordered by three continents and a variety of states, the Mediterranean has been conceptualized as an ecological, economic and cultural region. We will examine a variety of historical models as we explore the mechanisms (ships, navigation, maps, and currency) and objects of trade (luxury goods and commodities) as well as trade in the Mediterranean as a conduit of ideas, materials, and forms between cultures. We will consider matters of control over resources in the movement of raw materials such as ivory, gold, rock crystal and silk in the Mediterranean region and their transformation into works of art in both Christian and Muslim spheres. We will also examine the documentation of trade and its interpretation for a critical understanding of issues of patronage, consumption, and display of luxury goods in the medieval period. In lieu of submitting an application, interested students must attend the first class session.
Core Graduate Courses
Required courses for first-year students.
AHIS GR5001 Curatorial Colloquium
R 2:10-4, 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 GR5003 Materials and Practices of Art History
R 10:10-12, 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.
Graduate lectures are open to graduate students only. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission.
AHIS GR6409 Tradition and Innovation in German Architecture, 1790-1935: Schinkel/Semper/Mies
T 4:10-6, 612 Schermerhorn
German architectural design and theory from Winckelmann to the rise of the Nazi regime with particular emphasis on close study of the architecture, urban design, and architectural theories of three key figures: Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Gottfried Semper, and Mies van der Rohe. Other lectures will provide overviews of the situation in Germany in the half centuries on either side of national unification in 1870, as well as on the eighteenth century background. Depending on the size of the classes sessions will include class discussion of key texts of architectural theory and contemporary literary or philosophical theories that shaped architectural thought (in translation).
Prerequisite for undergraduates: one course in 19th or 20th century architectural history and instructor's permission.
Graduate seminars require an application, which can be found here. Admission is at the instructor's discretion. Applications for graduate seminars must be submitted to Chris Newsome in the main office for the Department of Art History and Archaeology at 826 Schermerhorn Hall.
Applications for Spring 2017 graduate seminars are due on Friday, November 4th, 2016.
AHIS GR8105 Assyrian Art
W 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn
This seminar will investigate Assyrian Art and Architectural forms and practices.
AHIS GR8113 Etruscan Bodies: Representations, Ideals, Contexts
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn
From ancient stereotypes about the “obese Etruscans” to recent investigations on Tuscan origins based on DNA analyses, Etruscan bodies have been a constant source of interest—as well as fascination. This seminar will address the topic in an art historical perspective and will focus on the way in which visual renderings of bodies conveyed corporeal self-understanding in Etruscan culture. To this effect, it will place particular emphasis on the situational and contextual nature of Etruscan body representations. Rather than simply establishing an abstract catalogue of physical ideals, positive and negative, the seminar will examine the actual circumstances in which bodies were depicted and observed. The function of the artifacts bearing representations of bodies will therefore receive the same attention as the formal analysis of their depictions.
AHIS GR8114 Hellenistic Sculpture: Between Pathos and Bodily Decrepitude
M 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
Obsession with the Classical often kept us from looking at the Hellenistic period with its
artistic achievements as a time of innovation and experimentation in art. Especially in sculpture, however, artists and patrons did demonstrate an unprecedented interest in subjects such as ugly old women, working peasants, slaves with disfigured bodies, or non-Greeks. Even beyond the so-called genre sculpture, a closer look at Hellenistic artistic production reveals that Hellenistic sculptors placed themselves in an eclectic and very conscious dialogue with the achievements of the past in which neither slavish acceptance nor absolute rejection of the Classical and Late Classical art played a role. Instead, their deep appreciation of the imagery of previous centuries led to a dynamic adaptation of fifth- and fourth-century visual means and strategies infused with contemporary elements.
The seminar will study the sculpture of the Hellenistic period as an extremely imaginative and dynamic artistic expression without the Classical bias. The styles of the various Hellenistic artistic centers will be individually analysed based on representative works and then compared to each other and to the sculptural traditions of the Classical period, so that Hellenistic sculpture can be understood both as a continuation of the Classical and especially Late Classical sculpture and as an artistic and intellectual creation often against the ideals of the past.
AHIS GR8202 Medieval Metalworking
T 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
Precious metalwork, within the medieval West and Byzantium, occupied a position of enviable privilege and efficacy. Object and metal substance alike provoked both wonder and anxiety: gold, for example, was carefully monitored by the church, the state, and the market, its nature repeatedly probed by the natural philosopher, and its propriety vigorously debated by the theologian. Modern art history, however, in a trajectory both ironic and predictable, has tended to marginalize medieval metalwork in favor of the Vasarian triumvirate of painting, sculpture, and architecture; the remedying of this imbalance, particularly within Anglophone scholarship, remains an ongoing project. Throughout, metalwork continues to pose pressing questions of value, appearance, substrate, and ontological status; such approaches, in turn, intersect richly with art history’s recent examinations of materiality, objecthood, and Dingbedeutung, the disciplinary critique of which is just now beginning to come into focus. The seminar’s rigorous and historically grounded scrutiny of medieval metalwork will be structured by questions of medium, discursive definition, technique, function, interpretation, and historiography. How the precious-metal object entwines (inextricably?) substance, form, material, and process will be a parallel concern, as will the concept of metal as a medium, both for medieval and modern subjects, and in contrast to other, more commonly discussed artistic media.
AHIS GR8310 Fifteenth-Century Art in the Netherlands
T 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn
This course, often taught under the rubrics of "Early Netherlandish Painting" or even "Northern Renaissance Painting" might also be described as "Art in the Age of Van Eyck" or "Painting from Van Eyck to Bosch." It will begin with manuscripts, and deal with the contribution of great sculptors like Sluter as well. The claim implicit in the title is that the techniques pioneered and perfected by the Van Eycks affected all the other arts too - even though the most original and compelling achievements of the century are probably those of painting, which will form the chief focus of this class. Attention will also be paid to the social and historical contexts of the main works discussed. Several museum visits will be included.
AHIS GR8421 Periodizing the Seventies
W 10:10-12, 934 Schermerhorn
This course focuses on the artistic practice of the 1970s as it has been delimited and defined within art history and criticism. Particular attention to the emergence of new movements and genres, the legacy of political radicalism, and the transformations of poststructuralist and autonomist theory.
AHIS GR8423 Melancholy and Modernity
W 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will use modern thematizations of melancholy and memory as an opening onto problems in the work of Gericault, Baudelaire, Meryon and Nerval. Theoretical writings by Benjamin, Kristeva, Ricoeur, Agamben, Sartre, Starobinski, Lepenies and others will also be important. Students will make oral presentations on specific art works and texts. Reading knowledge of French recommended.
AHIS GR8432 Art and Theory in a Global Context
W 2:10-4, 934 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 twenty-first 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 GR8436 The Global Print, 1600-1900
F 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar explores the ‘global turn’ in art history through the lens of a single but multifarious medium: print. In Asia, woodblock printing – first on cloth and later on paper – originated as early as 220 CE. In Europe, the practice dates from the mid-fifteenth century. However, the rise of a truly global print culture arguably dates from the late sixteenth century, by which time artists on both continents and elsewhere were producing printed images for not only local use but widespread circulation. To borrow a term that has recently been productively applied to the study of ornament, prints of this period constituted a form of eminently “portable culture,” and they would remain so for centuries to come. Some of the earliest such works were global in another sense too, in that they sought to represent (with varying degrees of actual comprehensiveness) all the places and peoples of the world. Following a pair of introductory sessions on important and new scholarship in the fields of global art studies and print studies, we will proceed through a series of tightly-focused case studies, beginning with the first printed atlases and ending with the ethnographic photograph. Topics to be considered along the way include the problems and poetics of visual transcription and translation; the print as a tool for the creation and transmission of knowledge, and for the founding and perpetuation of empire; the Jesuits and Japonisme; and the role of the printed image in the invention of art history as a discipline. On four occasions, class will meet at rare book and/or print collections – including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), New York Public Library (NYPL) – in order to study and discuss historical materials at first hand.
AHIS GR8437 Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778): Antiquity, Imagination, and Erudition
T 10:10-12, Avery Library
This seminar aims to build a cohesive picture of both Piranesi’s work and the eighteenth-century context in which it was generated. Bringing into the picture recent studies on the history of antiquarianism, the seminar will propose and develop a number of questions. How did Piranesi the “architect” coexisted with the “artist” and the “antiquarian”? How did the manual skills of the “draftsman” and “printmaker” contribute to the shaping of the past, and how, in turn, did this past shape Piranesi’s artistic and architectural practice and spark his imagination? What role did fragments of texts, objects, buildings and images play in the making of Piranesi’s astonishing prints and books? What role did materiality play in the creation of knowledge? How much was Piranesi indebted to the work of his contemporaries and predecessors, and how, in turn, did he break with tradition? How should we interpret eighteenth-century antiquarians’ learned credulity? The counterpart of the seminar’s objective is to discuss the factors that have shaped the reception, fortune, and misfortune of Piranesi in different periods and fields. A nearly forensic analysis of his books, prints, and drawings will be accompanied by a critical discussion of the questions posed by the historiography.
AHIS GR8438 August Sander and the Subject of Photography
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
No one has shaped the course of photographic portraiture—of individuals or of an entire society—more than August Sander. He and his lifelong effort to portray German society, People of the Twentieth Century, are now the subject of a five-year collaborative project between Columbia University and MoMA (more info here: http://www.moma.org/calendar/events/2366). This graduate seminar will study in depth Sander’s photographs of social archetypes, classes, professions, women, artists, politicians, political prisoners, outcasts, and the dead, as it interrogates the fundamental systems that frame these images: the archive, the document, physiognomy, the type and the norm, scientific atlases, the politics of vision, photobooks, humanism, and Sander’s vital legacy in the present. We will have extensive access to unpublished archival material from the Sander estate. Final presentations, to take place at MoMA, will focus on individual portfolios selected by the students. Students will be invited to participate in the next meeting of the August Sander Project (Fall 2017) and potentially to contribute to future publications. Reading German knowledge preferred. Landmark translation opportunities available for fluent German readers.
AHIS GR8701 Directions in Late Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar will consider recent publications on modern and contemporary Latin American art. Particular attention will be placed on the emphasis the new writings place on national identity. We will question whether the recent authors imagine a national and regional problematic, or a transnational one? To what extent is the cult of what Jorge Luis Borges referred to as “local color”—part of the process of national affirmation that is often associated with particular styles of art production--operative or set aside in these texts? We will begin with an overview of the recent debate around world literature that pits defenders of a cosmopolitan art against those of a particularist localism, nationalist populism, and foundational conceptions of cultural identity. Following this we will explore the impulse to contest the existing status quo in the form of what literary scholar Mariano Siskind describes as an “antagonistic cosmopolitanism.” This is a position that understands artists operating from the edges of the modernist art world, who as a result have learned to confront the laws and forces that have sustained the unequal structure of this world, as among the most sensitive to the newest aesthetic invention. Finally, we will read through a number of recent volumes by scholars of Latin American art, assessing the methodologies mobilized by the authors and the merits of their arguments.
COURSE CANCELLED (1/13/2017):
AHIS GR8502 Colonial/Postcolonial: New Directions, New Controversies
Z. S. Strother
AHIS GR8606 Japanese Architecture: Tokyo
T 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
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 GR8608 Emperors (Tennō) in Medieval Japanese Art History
T 4:00-6:30, 934 Schermerhorn
This class will investigate the role of emperors (tennō) in the study of medieval Japanese art. The conflicts and collaborations between emperors and samurai of the Kamakura and Muromachi shogunates are fundamental to the political history of medieval Japan, and the role of art in medieval power structures are also significant. Reading diaries by emperors, members of the imperial household, and the aristocracy, this class will consider how imperial and shogunal leaders directly influenced the production of paintings, particularly narrative handscrolls. The seminar will investigate as case studies several key examples, including the Rengeōin Repository of Emperor GoShirakawa, the Kanmon nikki by Fushiminomiya Sadafusa, and Tosa-school narrative handscrolls in the late Muromachi period. This class will begin meeting on February 14, 2017. Please contact the instructor for more information.