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Spring 2021 Art History Courses

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ARTH 120 Islamic Art and Architecture

Dr. Jennifer Lyons

A survey of the art and architecture produced in Muslim lands from Central Asia to Spain between the seventh and nineteenth centuries. The course emphasizes the role of arts in the formation and expression of cultural identity, exploring painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, ivory, metalwork, and illuminated manuscripts. Topics of discussion include the uses of figural and non-figural imagery, calligraphy and ornament, religious and secular art, public and private art, the art of the court, the art of the urban middle

Detail, Sultan Muhammad, The Court of Gayumars, c. 1522, 47 x 32 cm, opaque watercolor, ink, gold, silver on paper, folio 20v, Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp (Safavid), Tabriz, Iran (Aga Khan Museum, Toronto)


ARTH 127 Ancient India

Dr. Hope Childers

In this course we will examine the artistic and architectural highlights of India from the Indus Valley Culture (ca third millennium BCE) to the vast Hindu temple complexes of the 16th century CE. We will view religious monuments, architecture, and other forms of visual expression. The emphasis, in written assignments and classroom work, will be on the practice of observing and describing ancient artworks closely and analytically.

image caption: Head of the Buddha (Gandhara, ca 1st-4th century CE); Museo d'Arte Orientale (Turin)


ARTH 133 Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture: Dr. Jennifer Lyons From the Classical Ideal to Theatrical Expression

This course surveys developments in architecture, sculpture, and painting from the European Renaissance (15th and 16th centuries) to the Baroque period (17th century). The first part of the course focuses on the idealized forms and balanced compositions that were a product of renewed interest in the natural world during the Renaissance. In the second part of the course we turn our attention to the Baroque period, examining the theatrical compositions and dramatic lighting used by artists to engage the beholder.


ARTH 140 Photo Moving Image

Dr. James Hansen

A whirlwind survey of photography and moving image art from Daguerreotypes to Moholy-Nagy's innovative Bauhaus practice to handmade cinema to contemporary video installation.


ARTH 143 Art and Social Ideals

Dr. Gerar Edizel

Participants will journey on a swift genealogical loop through the art of the past three centuries to decipher the meaning of a contemporary artwork and explore its significance for diversifying the narrative of the history of the avant-garde. The course will explore the links between the interrelated disciplines of art, art history and theory and provide a non-linear history of the development of the concept of Modernism in art by focusing on examples of utopian visions involving idealized pasts or anticipated futures expressed in art. The course will help initiate a conceptualization of the relation between Modernism and Contemporary Art.


ARTH 300 Gender & Identity in Medieval and Renaissance Art

Dr. Jennifer Lyons

This course investigates questions of gender, identity, and sexuality in medieval and Renaissance art. Organized thematically, students will examine painting, sculpture, and literature produced in Italy and northern Europe between 1200-1650. Topics include the representation of female and male bodies in the visual arts, the construction of ideal beauty, the male and female gaze, portraiture, sartorial practices and prohibitions, patronage and gender, the nude, and issues facing female artists.

Falconer, fragment from an aumônière ("purse") made in Paris around 1340 (Lyon, Musée des Tissus et des arts décoratifs).


ARTH 300 Monuments and Memory

Dr. Hope Childers and Dr. Jennifer Lyons

What are monuments and what (or whom) do they represent? What is their role in societies throughout history and across the world? How do their meanings shift over time? Such questions have gained urgency in recent months here in the US, where we have seen waves of iconoclasm and controversy around Confederate monuments. A primary objective of the course is to develop an understanding of the complexity of monuments in a global context. Students will examine monuments and their embodiment of power, engagement with public space and sentiment, and dialogue with history. Throughout the semester we will speculate on the future of monuments and their role in discourses of social justice. In a very practical sense of developing a “field guide,” we will consider the materials, memories, concepts, and contexts of monuments--all this and more through a close examination of key readings, abundant class discussion, and a line-up of guest speakers.

[image caption:] People gather around the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va., on June 4. Ryan M. Kelly/AFP via Getty Images


ARTH 300/500 Materiality in Experimental Film and Video Art

Dr. James Hansen

This course traces the material nature of experimental film and video art from the 1960s to the present. Students will learn to analyze experimental film and video as moving image art and contend with works that confront each medium’s social, political, and ethical stakes through an embrace of materialism.


ARTH 344/544 In the Studio: Modern and Contemporary Painting

Dr. Mary Drach McInnes

This course will examine modern and contemporary studio practices. We will be investigating the facture of painting--the marking, process, and surface-- through a series of case-studies from the late 19th c. to the present. The course consists of videos, video lectures, and websites, along with weekly readings that we’ll discuss online. Students will have a set of short assignments that will further their understanding of the contemporary artworld and their own professional practice.

Image: Hilma af Klimt painting


ARTH 352/552 Contemporary Projects in Art

Dr. Mary Drach McInnes

This online course will investigate critical issues in the contemporary art world in a global, cultural context. We will examine various curatorial ventures and study the recent artistic practices of several artists.Students will engage on weekly discussion boards and will review an online art journal, an arts program, and an artist monograph of their choice.

Image: Isa Genzken sculpture


ARTH 400/500 Chardin and the Reinvention of Painting

Dr. Gerar Edizel

This seminar will discuss the art and lasting impact of Jean Siméon Chardin as a key figure, central to the formation of the modern concepts of art and artist in the 18th century in the West, who reinvented painting on the eve of Modernism, and whose influential example spurred experimentalism in painting for the next two centuries. Participants will conduct and present research in a subject of interest related to the seminar topic.


ARTH 493/593 Art in the Age of Digital Recursion

Dr. James Hansen

A round-table seminar based on extensive group discussions and in-depth research on recent innovations in technology and how that technology has impacted art production and theory.

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