Spring 2018 Graduate Courses

Last updated: Tuesday, January 8th, 2018. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.

Bridge Lectures

Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application.

AHIS GU4000 Native American Art
E. Hutchinson
T/R 2:40-3:55, 302 Barnard Hall
This introduction to Native North American art surveys traditions of painting, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography and architecture and traces the careers of contemporary Indian modernists and postmodernists. It emphasizes artistic developments as a means of preserving culture and resisting domination in response to intertribal contact, European colonization and American expansion.

AHIS GU4074 Latin American Artists: Independence to Present
K. Jones
M/W 2:40-3:55, 612 Schermerhorn
The course looks at works produced in the more than 20 countries that make of Latin America. Our investigations will take us from the Southern Cone nations of South America, up through Central American and the Caribbean, to Mexico to the north. We will cover styles from the colonial influences present in post-independence art of the early 19th century, to installation art found at the beginning of the 21st century. Along the way we will consider such topics as, the relationship of colonial style and academic training to forging an independent artistic identity; the emergence and establishment of a modern canon; experimentations in surrealism, neo-concretism, conceptual art, and performance. We will end the course with a consideration of Latinx artists working in the U.S.

AHIS GU4110 Modern Japanese Architecture
J. Reynolds
T/R 10:10-11:25, 504 Diana Center
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.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Interested students must submit an application to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion.

Each bridge seminar description on this page includes a link to an online application for that seminar. Students must fill out and submit their Spring 2018 bridge seminar application forms by 5pm on Monday, January 8th, 2018.


CLST GU4514 Roman Coins and History: A Hands-On Seminar on an Unpublished Collection
L. Carbone
F 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
Aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students, this course aims to introduce coinage and the study of coins as historical disciplines and to provide a survey of the production and use of coinage in the Roman world from the 3rd century BC to the 1st century AD, with specific emphasis on the Late Republican coinage. The study of the unpublished R.B.Witschonke Collection, consisting of 3,713 provincial coins mainly dated between 2nd century BC and 1st century AD, will offer the students a unique opportunity to study hands-on the Roman coinage in the Provincia Asia and its relationship to the political, social and economic history not only of this province, but also of the Empire as whole in the period of time encompassed by the Collection. The best original papers resulting from this research will be included in the forthcoming catalogue of this collection. The students will also have direct access to the world-class numismatic collections at the American Numismatic Collection (over 170,000 Roman and Greek pieces) and to the Olcott collection of Roman coins housed in the RBML in Butler Library (over 3,000 Roman pieces).
‘Roman Coins and History’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4551 Arts of African Kingdoms
K. Windmuller-Luna
T 12:10-2, 832 Schermerhorn
This course will consider five of the major kingdoms from across the continent: Benin, Kongo, Ethiopia, the Cameroon Grassfields kingdoms, and the Akan states. Two-week units on each kingdom will present thematic topics that will allow students to evaluate the relationship between the flourishing of artistic forms and the development of monarchies and hierarchical systems of rulership. They will be able to chart the development of complex iconographical systems in use from ancient to contemporary times, considering the interaction between kingdoms within Africa and throughout the globe. Challenging readings will spur debates about the nature of power, tradition, memory, and museums as they relate to the arts of each of these unique kingdoms.
‘Arts of African Kingdoms’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4566 Streams and Mountains: The Art of Landscape Painting in China
R. Harrist, D. Greenberg
F 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn Hall
This seminar, open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students, will study in depth selected traditions of landscape painting in China and will explore the art historical and sinological methods that allow us to understand one of the great traditions of world art. Among the topics that will receive special attention are the rise of landscape painting and its relation to religious beliefs, the role of imperial patronage, the landscape art of scholar-officials, and the relationship between words and images that dominated landscape painting of the late imperial era. Taking advantage of an exhibition of landscape paintings that will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art during the spring semester, the seminar will make several visits to the museum to view works on display and others in storage through special arrangements with the curators.
‘Streams and Mountains: The Art of Landscape Painting in China’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4583 The Craft of Ivory
A. Shalem
T 4:10-6, 832 Schermerhorn
Studying the art of ivory in the Middle Ages provides art historians with the wide spectrum about the history of styles and craftsmanship. The relatively huge amount of the surviving material enables us to tell a relatively coherent story about the production of this material. In the focus of this seminar are the products of the so-called medieval Islamic ivories, mainly those produced in the Arab Mediterranean and the Levant. These artifacts are usually datable between the 7th and the 14th centuries. The discussions in the class will concentrate on carved, incised, painted, and wood and ivory intarsia objects as well as on issues concerning trade, availability, meanings, iconographies, patronage, ownerships, as well as the relationship of this material to other substances, such as wood, textiles, metal and precious stones.
‘The Craft of Ivory’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4641 Russian Constructivism
M. Ratanova
M 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar will introduce students to the history of Russian Constructivism in its interrelationship with the political processes in the Soviet Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. We will discuss different conceptions of Constructivism, the questions of its origins and terminology, and the problem of its periodization. The course will trace the development of Constructivism from the intense analytical debates at the Moscow Institute of Artistic Culture (INKhUK) over the problem of composition and construction that resulted in the radical laboratory experiments of the INKhUK artists with spatial constructions at the 2nd OBMOKhU exhibition in the spring of 1921, to the abrupt turn of the group to Productivism in 1922. We will discuss how their theoretical debates along with the rapidly changing political situation led to their commitment to creating everyday objects and the utopian goal of shaping people’s material lives, and look at the different ways the Constructivists viewed their possible role in the socialist production.
‘Russian Constructivism’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4648 Building Fascisms
M. González-Pendás
T 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
From entire city landscapes to monuments and walls, fascist regimes have historically held claim to the power of the built environment to construe their ideology. This seminar explores the history of the ways in which material, spatial, and aesthetic forms helped produce the various forms of fascist regimes that determined the political history of the mid-twentieth century across Europe and the Americas, and sets them against the cultural mechanisms devised for their critique. The course will examine the most current literature on the histories of the art, architecture, and technologies that produced the material, aesthetic, and ideological apparatus of fascist dictatorships, its systems of thought and form of social organizations.
‘Building Fascisms’ seminar application form.

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students. 

AHIS GR5001 Curatorial Colloquium 
A. Schwartz
R 12:10-2, 832 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 Practices of Art History Colloquium
F. Baumgartner
R 12:10-2, 930 Schermerhorn
Required course for all first-year MA students. This course examines the range of practices associated with art history, including connoisseurship, provenance research, curatorship and conservation. Drawing on the participation of leading art professionals invited to share their expertise with the students, the course culminates in the conception and mounting of an exhibition based on Columbia’s art collection. 

Graduate Lectures

Graduate lectures are open to graduate students. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission.

AHIS GR6408 Origins of Modern Visual Culture
J. Crary
W 4:10-6, 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.

Graduate Seminars

Interested students must submit an application to be considered for enrollment. Admission to graduate seminars is at the instructor’s discretion.

Each graduate seminar description on this page includes a link to an application for that seminar. Students must fill out and submit their Spring 2018 graduate seminar application forms by 5pm on Monday, January 8th, 2018.

AHIS GR8100 Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity
Z. Bahrani
R 4:10-6, 934 Schermerhorn
This seminar will look into concepts of the aesthetic, the image and image making in antiquity, in the ancient Near East and Eastern Mediterranean world by means of ancient works of art, and ancient texts. The class will discuss this material within the context of recent theories of the image and aesthetics in art history, anthropology and philosophy.
‘Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8136 Roman Provincial Art as Predicament
F. de Angelis
W 6:10-8, 930 Schermerhorn
The art and architecture produced in the provinces of the Roman empire defy simple categorizations. Several notions, from “Romanization” to “globalization,” and several models, from “center vs periphery” to “acculturation vs resistance,” have been mobilized to understand the phenomena, but none of them has been able to fully capture, nor do justice to, their manifoldness. Nor, truth be told, have art historians always been at the forefront of the debate on the Roman provinces in recent years. The seminar intends to turn this predicament into an opportunity—using the complexity of Roman “provincial” art to discuss and critique the theoretical assumptions underlying current (and not-so-current) approaches. This will allow us to explore both the potential and the limits of the above-mentioned models and concepts, as well as of several other ones (to name but a few: “identity,” “creolization,” “imperialism,” and of course “provincial”). At the same time, we will reflect on whether an alternative, comprehensive explanatory model is at all possible—or whether we should not rather embrace the theoretical open-endedness of Roman provincial art as the only heuristically productive way of dealing with it.
‘Roman Provincial Art as Predicament’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8318 Spolia: The Theory and Practice of Reuse
M. Waters
T 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
This seminar takes the recent explosion in spolia scholarship as a point of departure to analyze how artists and builders transformed ancient and foreign artifacts and incorporated them into new settings. It also seeks to understand the ways in which reuse has been interpreted and theorized retrospectively by historians, from Vasari who saw spoliation as a pragmatic phenomenon indicative of artistic decline to modern scholars who have argued for a wide range of interpretations—these include, but are not limited to, spolia as aesthetic choice, political gesture, revivalist impulse, religious symbol, triumphalist sign, and apotropaic talisman. While the course will focus primarily on monuments produced Italy and the wider Mediterranean world from late-antiquity to the Renaissance, students will be encouraged to think broadly about reuse as a theoretical problem across art-historical disciplines.
‘Spolia: The Theory and Practice of Reuse’ seminar application form.

NEW COURSE (1/8/2018)
AHIS GR8334 Curatorial Practices
M. Cole
W 10:10-12, Met Museum and 930 Schermerhorn
The aim of this seminar is to introduce graduate students to questions that guide the work of curators. It is intended not only to allow prospective curators the opportunity to build relevant skills but also to expose those on the academic side to a different mode of art history. The course will be organized around practices and guiding questions, and assignments may require forms of research that can be done only off-campus. The group will be joined weekly by a curator from the Metropolitan Museum, and each participating curator will help advise and evaluate the work of one or two participating students. To the extent possible, sessions will be object-based; students wishing to take the course should expect to meet most weeks at the Met or at other locations around the city.
‘Curatorial Practices’ seminar application form.

COURSE WILL BE OFFERED AS GRADUATE SEMINAR (11/20/2017)
AHIS GR8336 Rembrandt

D. Freedberg
R 2:10-4, 832 Schermerhorn
This course will look at all aspects of Rembrandt’s work. It will consider Rembrandt’s paintings as well as his work in an exceptionally wide range of other visual media. We will examine, whenever possible in museum settings, Rembrandt’s use not only of oil, but of pen and ink, chalk, wash, quill pen, reed pen, etching, engraving, drypoint, different kinds of paper and so on. We will assess his role in Dutch politics, religion, and morality; his relations with other artists; the ways his studio functioned; and his own concept of how the market worked and ought to work. Above all we will focus on his art – whether his own changing concept of art, the techniques he used or the place of his work in the visual culture of his time. In every case questions of agency and materiality – old before they became new again – will be considered.
‘Rembrandt’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8432 Art and Theory in a Global Context
J. Rajchman
R 2:10-4, 930 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'.
‘Art and Theory in a Global Context’ seminar application form.

AHIS/CMPM GR8477 The Documentary Impulse in the Arts
N. Elcott
T 2:10-4, 934 Schermerhorn
The politics of truth have rarely been more pressing than today. And few questions have preoccupied the arts more over the last hundred years. Indeed, the documentary impulse cannot be confined to any single art form or medium. Accordingly, this doctoral seminar sets out from the present to explore the rise of the documentary impulse across a range of early-20th century media and art forms (photography, theater, exhibition design, architecture, and especially film), artists/ documentarians (Farocki, Sander, Vertov, Ivens, Piscator, etc.), and movements (Surrealism, Constructivism, Factography, New Vision, etc.). Readings will focus on historical sources and recent scholarship culled especially from art history and film and media studies. The esteemed film scholar Thomas Elsaesser will be a regular guest in the seminar, which is offered under the auspices of Columbia’s program in Comparative Media. Doctoral students are encouraged to apply from all relevant fields.
‘The Documentary Impulse in the Arts’ seminar application form.

COURSE CANCELLED (1/3/2018)
AHIS G8478 Contemporary Art and the Conflicts of Globalization
J. Kraynak
W 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
By now, ‘globalism’ has become an accepted reality in contemporary art and culture: a paradigm shift ushered in by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the acceleration of technological change, and the spread of neoliberalism. But how do we understand ‘globalism’––and its relative, globalization––and its effects on art? This course examines this question by focusing upon the conflicts and debates that have arisen, approaching globalization as a series of competing models and theories (juridical, economic, technological, political, etc.). We will examine both the theoretical and practical impact of globalism for the production, circulation, and reception of visual art and culture: from the increasingly cross-national identity of practices; to the expansion of the national into the global biennial; to the ways in which artistic practices seek to confront, interrogate, and critique (or conversely, embody) the conditions of globalized culture. Issues such as difference, diaspora, immigration and citizenship, statelessness and exile, the global industrialization of agriculture, economic and technological inequities, will guide our discussion. To assist in our investigation, readings will be broad in scope and interdisciplinary in nature, drawn from the fields of economics, political science, philosophy and literary studies, among others. Through select case studies, we will cover advanced artistic practices, new exhibition models, as well broader cultural phenomena, such as the imagery and auditory culture of war and terrorism in the post-9/11 world.

AHIS GR8479 Problems in British Art
M. Gamer
M 10:10-12, 930 Schermerhorn
British art has long occupied a decidedly marginal, even maligned, position within the discipline of art history. This seminar starts from the premise that this negative reception owes less to the intrinsic value, or lack thereof, of art made in Britain than it does to deeply entrenched biases and blind spots in dominant narratives of art history as whole. With this in mind, our aim will be to approach the field of British art with fresh eyes, on its own terms. Our focus will be on art of the eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century. Seminar meetings will center on a range of topics, including major artists (Hogarth, Blake, Turner); genres (landscape, portraiture, graphic satire); institutions and movements (the Royal Academy, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Aestheticism). We will also attend to key moments in the historiography and criticism of British art, with particular attention to early foundational texts by Horace Walpole, Edgar Wind, and Nikolaus Pevsner, and to Marxist, feminist, and postcolonial approaches that have energized the field in recent years. No prior knowledge is expected or required; on the contrary, it is hoped that the course will attract students from a variety of fields and specializations with an interest in how the art history of this period has been, is, and might be written.
‘Problems in British Art’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8481 Publishing as Practice
C. Chamberlain
T 4:10-6, 930 Schermerhorn
This course is organized around a selective survey of artists’ magazines published in North America between 1961 (the year La Monte Young edited “An Anthology”) and 1989 (the year Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web). The aims of the course are two-fold. First, it will approach magazines as significant extensions of artistic practice that require their own particular methods of historicization and analysis. Second, it will explore how the collaborative production and distributed reception of artists’ magazines reconfigure or otherwise complicate canonical histories of postwar art built around individual artists and landmark exhibitions. Particular attention will be paid to the connections between magazines and other media formats, including television, video, film, and mail art.
‘Publishing as Practice’ seminar application form.

NEW COURSE (1/3/2018)
AHIS GR8482 Global Surrealisms
R. Silveri
W 12:10-2, 934 Schermerhorn
This class considers how Surrealism developed as a global project throughout the early and mid twentieth century. Launched in Paris in 1924, Surrealism spread with the travels of individual artists, the circulation of journals and other publications, and the organization of various international exhibitions. Looking at Surrealism across six continents, this course examines how the movement took root in other European countries (Belgium, Great Britain, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Romania), North Africa, the Caribbean islands, Mexico and South America, the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Throughout, we will consider how key Surrealist concepts (such as dreams, desire, and revolt) and essential Surrealist strategies (automatism, montage, chance, the nude) are adapted, translated, and transformed in various local contexts.
Equally throughout, we will analyze how Surrealism’s political commitments traverse and expand past national boundaries. Issues of gender, race, colonialism, autonomy, and self-determination will be of guiding concern. Readings will include artists’ writings and other historical texts, as well as recent art historical, literary, and museum scholarship on Surrealism in a transnational, global context.
‘Global Surrealisms’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8611 Ink Paintings of Medieval Japan
M. McKelway
W 2:10-4, 930 Schermerhorn
An investigation of the history of monochrome ink painting in medieval Japan, with particular focus on the historical context of the introduction of Zen Buddhism to Japan and the development of the monastery as a cultural institution. Beginning with the earliest examples of sacred images in monochrome ink in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) the course will extend into the late Muromachi period (1333-1573) and will explore the legacy of Sesshū and painter-monks at Shōkokuji. Classes will be punctuated by occasional group assignments and brief presentations on readings and other topics as well as visits to study medieval ink paintings in collections in New York and vicinity.
‘Ink Paintings of Medieval Japan’ seminar application form.

NEW COURSE (1/5/2018)
AHIS GR8612 Japanese Art—Transcultural Perspectives*
M. Trede
F 10-12:30, 930 Schermerhorn
This course centers on Japanese artefacts from a broad variety of time periods, media and materialities. Topics range from map-making in medieval through early-modern Japan to globally circulating wares and their multiple adaptations to the formations of art histories around 1900 and contemporary exhibitions of Japanese art outside of Nippon.
*Course begins February 23, 2018
‘Japanese Art—Transcultural Perspectives’ seminar application form.