Spring 2021 Graduate Courses

Last updated: Monday, January 11th, 2020. Red text denotes a new or changed course since the previous update.

Please confirm course modalities on the Directory of Classes: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/home.html

Bridge Seminars

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

Each bridge seminar description includes a link to an online application for that seminar. Interested students must fill out and submit their Spring 2021 bridge seminar application forms by 5pm on Monday, January 4th, 2021.

AHIS GU4521 Sin and Sodomy
G. Bryda
T 10:10-12
For the unrepentant sins of their inhabitants God had Sodom and Gomorrah, the ignominious twin cities from Genesis, shattered to smithereens. Throughout the Middle Ages, the tale was invoked to justify harsh judgment of mortal sins of the flesh and “unnatural” sex acts, in particular those occurring between members of the same sex. This bridge seminar focuses on the church’s desire to control the potential of human sexuality to subvert its order of “natural” law. Through historical texts and artworks from the period, we will analyze the wide diversity of medieval attitudes toward non-normative sex and eroticism in a variety of contexts, from the construction of the phenomenon of sodomy in early and high medieval exegesis, the eradication of pre-Christian fertility rituals in northern and eastern Europe, the playful undermining of gender roles in secular medieval romances, to illicit accounts of public sex in pleasure gardens and bath houses, and monumental hellscapes rendered with graphic visualizations of sexual violence. Moving chronologically through the Middle Ages, we will end by addressing modern questions surrounding the sexuality of Jean the Duke of Berry and Albrecht Dürer, and Hieronymus Bosch’s fixation with butt play. Discussion will be informed by critical readings in queer theory, feminism, and gender studies by Jack Halberstam, David Halperin, Susan Stryker, to name a few, and by medievalists employing these methods, such as Roland Betancourt, Caroline Walker Bynum, Michael Camille, Dyan Elliott, and Robert Mills.

‘Sin and Sodomy’ seminar application form.

AHIS GU4760 Great Waves: Arts of the Floating World
M. McKelway
T 2:10-4
“Pictures of the Floating World” (Ukiyo-e) constitute some of the most significant developments in the history of Japanese art, which would have a profound impact on the history of art in Europe and the west in the early modern period. These images were created on all pictorial formats, from scroll paintings and painted fans to woodblock prints, wooden posters, lanterns, and kites. Because “floating world” images pervaded so many different media, they offer a unique lens through which to examine the roles of art in an early modern society as well as the very nature of that society. Our course will focus primarily on the multi-color woodblock print (nishiki-e, literally “brocade picture”), a popular pictorial form that was accessible to broad sectors of society, and will focus on prints created in the city of Edo between 1700 and 1860. The course will be shaped around three or four approaches: brief weekly lectures to introduce prominent images and themes; discussion of readings that offer critical perspectives; close looking at images to discover the creative collaborations between print designers and publishers; and if possible, direct examination of works of art in the collections of Columbia University and other institutions and collections in New York.

‘Great Waves: Arts of the Floating World’ seminar application form.

Core Graduate Courses

Required courses for first-year students.

AHIS GR5001 Curatorial Colloquium
J. Kraynak
R 12:10-2
The Curatorial Colloquium is a required course for first year MODA students. The course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of exhibitions and institutions; histories of curating and recent models of the “curatorial.” Readings for seminar sessions cover key topics and recent debates, including the emergence of the national museum; ideological critiques of the museum; exhibitions and politics; the shifting nature and roles of exhibitions, and the latter’s relationship to new trends in and mediums of artistic practice. As a colloquium, seminar sessions are supplemented by presentations by guest speakers from the curatorial and museum fields, curatorial walk-throughs and other off-site visits to exhibitions and various programs. Please note: some visits require either extended class time to accommodate travel, or attendance out of regular class hours. The Curatorial Colloquium does not permit enrollment from students who are not in the MODA program.

AHIS GR5003 Practices of Art History
F. Baumgartner and R. C. Ferrari
R 12:10-2
Required course for all first-year MA students. This course examines the range of practices associated with art history, including connoisseurship, provenance, 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.

AHIS GR5006 MODA Thesis Prep
J. Kraynak
W 10:10-12
The MODA Thesis Prep is a required course for MODA students who plan to commence their thesis in the Fall of 2021. The course will introduce students to the fundamentals of an MA thesis, the research and writing process, and how to devise an appropriate topic for a written/scholarly, or an exhibition-based thesis. The class will also review key methodologies in modern and contemporary art history. At the end of the semester, students will have comprised a detailed topic, a preliminary proposal, and identified a faculty adviser.

Graduate Lectures

Graduate lectures are open to graduate students and do not require an application. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructor for permission to enroll.

AHIS GR6407 Minimalism and Postminimalism
B. Joseph
M 2:10-4
This course examines minimalism—one of the most significant aesthetic movements— and subsequent developments during the sixties and seventies. More than visual art, the course considers minimal sculpture, music, dance, and "structural" film, their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects. Artists include: Dan Flavin, Eva Hesse, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Anthony McCall, Tony Conrad, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Richard Serra, Beverly Buchanan, and Nancy Holt.

AHIS GR6408 Origins of Modern Visual Culture
J. Crary
W 4:10-6
This course conducts an archaeology of modern visual culture and attempts to map out some of the pre-history of a contemporary society of the spectacle. A central premise of the course is that modern visual culture is inseparable from Western European hegemony and its expansion in the 17th and 18th centuries. Thus, we will examine how specifically Western constructions of perceptual competence occurred alongside the eradication of pre-modern and traditional cultural forms which had been defined by embodied knowledge and multi-sensory experience. Modernity in Europe and North America becomes synonymous with the positioning of sight as the privileged sense modality. The unstable status of the spectator will be discussed in terms of new strategies of social regulation, self-discipline and the formation of an individual aligned with patterns of capitalist production and accumulation. The modernization of perception will be assessed through analyses of specific art works, optical technologies, forms of display, and cultural practices. Texts by Agamben, Debord, Dussel, Bakhtin, Elias, Lefebvre, Caillois, Federici, Gunning, Foucault, and others.

AHIS GR6411 Postwar American Art
R. Krauss
T 2:10-4
With the advent of Abstract-Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism, the center of the avant-garde shifted from Europe to New York; then, in what is sometimes identified as Marshall Plan Modernism, the New York school was exported to Pari, sponsored by the International Section of The Museum of Modern Art, and the USIS.

Graduate Seminars

Students must submit an application in order to be considered for enrollment. Admission is at the instructor’s discretion. Each graduate seminar course description includes a link to an online application form for that seminar. Interested students must fill out and submit their Spring 2021 graduate seminar application forms by 5pm on Monday, January 4th, 2021.

AHIS GR8100 Eidolon: The Image in Antiquity
Z. Bahrani
W 9:10-11
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
T 6:10-8
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.

CLST GR8149 Interpretive Archaeology: Historiography of the Ancient World
A. Duplouy
F 10-12
The objective of this graduate seminar is to bring a historiographical dimension to the training of archaeology students, by providing them with the keys to various readings of ancient Greek societies and their material culture and the way these have been constantly renewed since the nineteenth century. Through class presentations of both classical and recent texts, the seminar will develop ways of better identifying the interpretive models—most often implicit in the practice of archaeologists—which have shaped classical scholarship up to now. The seminar will offer the opportunity to discuss these models, be they supplementary or conflicting, in order to move towards an ever more explicit reasoning on archaeological interpretations of the past.
As part of the Alliance program commitment to develop online learning and research activities across the Atlantic, this graduate seminar will be offered to both Columbia and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne students as a joint online course that will encourage student interaction through shared assignments. The seminar will be held in English.

‘Interpretive Archaeology: Historiography of the Ancient World’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8203 Materiality and the Sacred: The Case of the 'Guelph Treasure'
H. Klein
M 4:10-6
The 'material turn' in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and the rise of 'thing theory' as a distinct field of study, has, over the last two decades, re-invigorated the study of relics and reliquaries, 'things' that oscillate between inanimate 'objects' and animate 'subjects'. Building on a rich body of historical, art historical, and anthropological literature, this graduate seminar explores the 'material rhetoric' of a distinct collection of Western medieval reliquaries and liturgical objects that from part of the so-called Guelph Treasure, the largest and culturally most significant ecclesiastical treasures to survive from Medieval Germany.

‘Materiality and the Sacred: The Case of the 'Guelph Treasure'’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8363 Modern Titian
D. Bodart
R 2:10-4
In The Stroke of the Brush (1989), David Rosand introduced the authoriality of Titian’s brushwork by discussing it in the light of contemporary painting processes, such as Willem de Kooning’s Abstract Expressionism. In the exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death, currently at the National Gallery, London, Matthias Wivel presents the Renaissance Venetian artist as the “father of modern painting”. To what extent can a Renaissance painter be modern? How can we conceptualize that modernity? Through a critical examination of sources and technical data, the seminar will reconsider the paradigm of Titian’s modernity, focusing on some main aspects of recent scholarship and presenting a variety of methodologies. Investigating what defined painting as ‘modern’ in Titian’s own period, as well as its reception in modern time, we will also discuss how the theorization of contemporary societal issues could allow us to think differently about Titian’s work.

‘Modern Titian’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8432 Art and Theory in a Global Context
J. Rajchman
W 2:10-4
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 GR8486 French Nineteenth-Century Architecture and Architectural Theory
B. Berdgoll
T 10:10-12
This hybrid lecture/seminar course will consider major developments and figures in French architectural theory and practice from the eve of the Revolution to the eve of the First World War. Each session will be divided between background lectures on practice and major themes of design work and in-depth reading and discussion of major theoretic statements including Rondelet, Quatremere de Quincy, the Saint-Simonians, Viollet-le-Duc, Charles Garnier and Julien Guadet, and the early Le Corbusier.

‘French Nineteenth-Century Architecture and Architectural Theory’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8494 Counterfeits/Trademarks/Trompe l’oeil: Art and Intellectual Property
N. Elcott
R 10:10-12
This graduate seminar will interrogate real signs and signs of the real through three loosely related phenomena: intellectual property (esp. trademarks), fiat money, and trompe l'oeil. Special attention will be paid to legal history and theory, philosophy of money, and semiotics. Case studies and artworks will traverse the early modern period to the present, including c. 1700 England, late 19C America, Cubism, and Pop. Graduate students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

‘Counterfeits, Trademarks, and Trompe l’oeil: Art and Intellectual Property’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8639 Reading Places and Images in Edo-period Illustrated Books
M. McKelway
W 2:10-4
An introduction to reading illustrated books from Edo-period Japan. Texts to be covered will include Saga-bon Noh libretti, illustrated guidebooks and gazetteers (meisho zue), painting manuals, and poetry, such as Ehon Tōshi-sen, illustrated by Katsushika Hokusai. Reading and translating passages from written in premodern Japanese scripts variously called hentaigana, kuzushiji, and sōsho will be the central activity of the course, but we will also consider such themes as the development of woodblock printing, the book as a format, and how the content both reflects and shapes knowledge of the subjects and themes with which they are concerned. Familiarity with Classical Japanese will be useful. Interested students are encouraged to contact the professor.

‘Reading Places and Images in Edo-period Illustrated Books’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8663 Chinese Painting Connoisseurship: Song Dynasty (1127–1279) and Muromachi (1336–1573) Ink Painting
F. Murck
R 8:10-10PM
Song dynasty painters produced some of the most famous images of the Chinese tradition. Many of those paintings are preserved because they were carried to Japan where they were carefully preserved. Scholars, priests, and artists looked to mainland China for culture and inspiration. We will first establish key moments in the development of painting in the Northern Song, the phenomena of numbering scenes and the interest in poetry. We will study a selection of influential twelfth and thirteenth century masters that were reinterpreted in Japanese painting of the late Kamakura and Muromachi eras. If diminished levels of coronavirus permit, we may visit the Metropolitan Museum and travel to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The class will be conducted in English, but competency in Chinese and Japanese is useful.

‘Chinese Painting Connoisseurship: Song Dynasty and Muromachi Ink Painting’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8706 Directions in Contemporary Art
A. Alberro
R 2:10-4
The “official” or hegemonic institution of contemporary art has taken on a dramatically different form since the end of the Cold War. A number of factors have converged in the past thirty or so years to significantly expand and reconfigure its infrastructure. In addition to the tens of thousands of art galleries and museums that have opened in cities around the world, a rapidly growing number of regularly recurring large exhibitions and art fairs, a proliferation of publication platforms, art schools, and art residency programs, as well as a swelling commercial market, have generated a complex transregional interchange among artists, curators, critics, and collectors, and increased the infrastructure of contemporary art’s breadth and scope. The effects of this enlarged and recalibrated global infrastructure for art remain unclear, however, as do the underlying reasons for this shift in scale. This seminar will explore the interplay between the expanded circulation of art across regions and borders and recent social, historical, and economic developments by probing the internal logics, codes and standards of the new cultural relations that have developed into a consistent framework over the past three decades.

‘Directions in Contemporary Art’ seminar application form.

AHIS GR8715 Art, Anthropology, Archaeology
L. Trever; S. Fowles
T 2:10-4
This graduate seminar is designed to explore the disciplinary overlaps—as well as the methodological and theoretical chasms—between the fields of art history (especially “Pre-Columbian” or “ancient American”) and archaeology (especially in the Americas). Our semester-long investigation will center questions around images: What are they? How are they “read”? What do they do? What do they “want”? What role have they had and do they continue to have—as subjects, objects, and proxies for something else—in practices of art history and anthropological archaeology of the last century or so? We will divide the course into three parts: the first a series of engagements with now-classic texts in these two fields, the second an exploration of new and emerging scholarship on the horizons, and the third the presentation of original research by seminar members.

‘Art, Anthropology, Archaeology’ seminar application form.