Art History-Visual Arts

Departmental Office: 826 Schermerhorn; 212-854-4505
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/arthistory/

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Barry Bergdoll, 918 Schermerhorn; 212-854-5425; bgb1@columbia.edu

Director of Art Humanities: Prof. Noam Elcott, 907 Schermerhorn; 212-854-7968; nme2106@columbia.edu

Coordinator for Undergraduate Programs: Emily Benjamin, 826 Schermerhorn; 212-854-4505; eb3061@columbia.edu

The goal of the major in the Department of Art History and Archaeology is to explore the history of art, architecture, and archaeology across a broad historical, cultural, geographic, and methodological spectrum.

Department courses take advantage of the extraordinary cultural resources of New York City and often involve museum assignments and trips to local monuments. The department offers a major and concentration in art history and in the history and theory of architecture, and a combined major in art history and visual arts.

At the heart of the major is AHIS UN3000 Majors' Colloquium: the Literature and Methods of Art History, which introduces students to different methodological approaches to art history and critical texts that have shaped the discipline. The colloquium also prepares students for the independent research required in seminars and advanced lecture courses, and should be taken during the junior year.

Surveys and advanced lecture courses offered by Barnard and Columbia cover the spectrum of art history from antiquity to the present and introduce students to a wide range of materials and methodologies. Limited-enrollment seminars have a narrower focus and offer intensive instruction in research and writing. The opportunity for advanced research with a senior thesis is available to students who qualify.

The major readily accommodates students who wish to study abroad during junior year. Courses taken at accredited programs can generally count as transfer credits toward the major, but students must gain the approval of the director of undergraduate studies. Similarly, any transfer credit for the major must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Generally no more than 12 points of transfer credit are applicable to the major. The form to petition for transfer credit can be found on the department website. Eligible Art History courses taken at Reid Hall and through the Berlin Consortium are counted as Columbia courses, not transfer courses.

All newly declared majors and concentrators should visit the department office and speak with the undergraduate program coordinator about the requirements and their planned curriculum.

The director of undergraduate studies regularly communicates with majors by e-mail to announce departmental events, museum internships, and other news. Students who do not receive these messages should email the undergraduate program coordinator. The director of undergraduate studies is also available to talk to students about their professional goals and plans to study abroad.

Course Information

Lectures

Attendance at the first class meeting is recommended.

Colloquia

For information about enrollment in the required colloquium AHIS UN3000 Majors' Colloquium: the Literature and Methods of Art History students should consult the department during the registration period in the semester prior to the one in which the course is offered. Interested students must sign up using an online form; majors will be informed of the sign-up dates and deadline via the majors mailing list. Enrollment is limited and admission is at the discretion of the instructor. It is recommended that students sign up for the colloquium in their junior year.

Seminars

Seminars require an application which is due in the departmental office in 826 Schermerhorn before the registration period in the semester prior to the one in which the course is offered (April for fall courses, November for spring courses). The required application form is available in PDF format on the department website. Students should wait list the seminars to which they apply on SSOL.

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and undergraduate students. As with other seminars, they require an application, which are due in the semester prior to the semester in which the course is offered (August for fall courses, December for spring courses). The required application form is available in PDF format on the department website.

Bridge Lectures

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

Travel Seminar

In the spring, one or more undergraduate seminars in the Department of Art History and Archaeology may be designated as a travel seminar. Travel seminars receive funding to sponsor travel over the spring break to a distant site related to the subject matter of the seminar.

Study Abroad

Reid Hall, Paris

For information about the Columbia University in Paris Art History Program at Reid Hall, including summer session courses, visit the Office of Global Programs website.

Summer Program in Italy: Archaeological Fieldwork at Hadrian's Villa

Columbia University offers a four-week summer program that provides undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to excavate and learn together at Hadrian's Villa, a UNESCO World Heritage site near Rome and the most important Roman villa. It synthesizes Roman, Greek, and Egyptian architectural and artistic traditions and has attracted scholarly attention for centuries. For more information, visit the program website.

Columbia Summer Program in Venice

The Department of Art History and Archaeology and the Department of Italian offer a summer program based at Co' Foscari University in Venice. The program uses an interdisciplinary approach to understanding Italian culture through study of its language, literature/film, architecture, art history and conservation. and economy. Students have the opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of the rich Venetian culture, traditions and history. The program is open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and Italy. For more information, visit the program website.

Columbia Summer Program in Greece

The Department of Art History and Archaeology and the Program in Hellenic Studies offer a new summer program in Athens. "Curating the Histories of the Greek Present" examines aspects of Greek history and culture through the organization of an art exhibition  under the general theme of the environment. The project is structured around classroom seminars, museum and site visits, walking tours, and workshop sessions in which students will learn about and gain experience in all stages of curating an exhibition. For more information, visit the program website.

Departmental Honors

In order to qualify for departmental honors, students must write a senior thesis and have a GPA of at least 3.7 in the major. The faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology submits recommendations to the College Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes for confirmation. Normally no more than 10% of graduating majors receive departmental honors in a given academic year. 

Senior Thesis Prize

A prize is awarded each year to the best senior honors thesis written in the Department of Art History and Archaeology.

Professors

  • Alexander Alberro (Barnard)
  • Zainab Bahrani
  • Barry Bergdoll
  • Michael Cole
  • Jonathan Crary
  • Francesco de Angelis
  • Vidya Dehejia
  • David Freedberg
  • Robert E. Harrist, Jr.
  • Anne Higonnet (Barnard)
  • Holger Klein
  • Rosalind Krauss
  • Kellie Jones
  • Branden Joseph
  • Matthew McKelway
  • Jonathan Reynolds (Barnard)
  • Simon Schama
  • Avinoam Shalem
  • Zoë Strother

Associate Professors

  • Diane Bodart
  • Zeynep Çelik
  • Noam M. Elcott
  • Elizabeth Hutchinson (Barnard)
  • Ioannis Mylonopoulos
  • Lisa Trever

Assistant Professors

  • Gregory Bryda (Barnard)
  • Meredith Gamer
  • Eleonora Pistis
  • Michael Waters

Adjunct Faculty

  • Dawn Delbanco
  • Rosalyn Deutsche (Barnard)
  • John Rajchman
  • Stefaan Van Liefferinge

Lecturers

  • Molly Allen
  • Frederique Baumgartner
  • Eliza Butler
  • Hannah Friedman
  • Alexandra Helprin
  • Page Knox
  • Janet Kraynak
  • Sandrine Larrive-Bass
  • Ja Won Lee
  • Daria Melnikova
  • Martina Mims
  • Irina Oryshkevich
  • Elizabeth Perkins
  • Olivia Powell
  • Kelly Presutti
  • Michael Sanchez
  • Susan Sivard
  • Caroline Wamsler
  • Gillian Young

On Leave

  • Profs. Freedberg, Trever (2019-2020)
  • Profs. Crary, de Angelis, Delbanco, Harrist (Fall 2019)
  • Profs. Dehejia, Jones, Krauss, Mylonopoulos, Pistis (Spring 2020)

Major in Art History and Visual Arts

Students electing the combined major should consult with a faculty adviser in the department, as well as with the director of undergraduate studies in the Visual Arts Department.

Up to two of the seven 3-point courses in art history may be replaced by a specifically related course in another department with approval of the adviser. The combined major requires fulfillment of sixteen or seventeen courses. It is recommended that students interested in this major begin work toward the requirements in their sophomore year.

The requirements for the major are as follows:

AHIS W3895Majors' Colloquium: the Literature and Methods of Art History
Seven 3-point lecture courses in art history.
At least one course in three of four historical periods, as listed below.
An additional two courses drawn from at least two different world regions, as listed below.
Two additional lectures of the student's choice
21 points in Visual Arts covering:
Basic Drawing
Sculpture I
Five additional VIAR R3000-level or above course
In the senior year, students undertake either a seminar in the Department of Art History and Archaeology or a senior project in visual arts (pending approval by the Visual Arts Department).

NOTE: These chronological divisions are approximate. In case of ambiguities about the eligibility of a course to fill the requirement, please consult the director of undergraduate studies.

Historical Periods

  • Ancient (up to 400 CE/AD)
  • 400-1400
  • 1400-1700
  • 1700-present

World Regions

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe, North America, Australia
  • Latin America
  • Middle East

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Lectures and Bridge Lectures

UNDERGRADUATE LECTURES: 2000-level courses. Attendance at first class meeting is strongly recommended. BRIDGE LECTURES: 4000-level courses. Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application. Attendance at first class is strongly recommended.

AHIS UN1007 Introduction to the History of Architecture. 4 points.

This course is required for architectural history and theory majors, but is also open to students interested in a general introduction to the history of architecture, considered on a global scale. Architecture is analyzed through in-depth case studies of key works of sacred, secular, public, and domestic architecture from both the Western canon and cultures of the ancient Americas and of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic faiths. The time frame ranges from ancient Mesopotamia to the modern era. Discussion section is required.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN1007
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 1007 001/10837 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Online Only
Michael Waters 4 80/110

AHIS UN2101 ATHENIAN ACROPOLIS-5/6CENT BCE. 3.00 points.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN2101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2101 001/21478 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
Online Only
Ioannis Mylonopoulos 3.00 20/30

AHIS UN2105 Greek Myths Seen Through Ancient Greek and Roman Art. 3 points.

The lecture course will explore the rich world of Greek mythology as seen through Greek and Roman art. An important focus will be the understanding of the significant discrepancies between the literary and artistic dissemination of ancient myths. The course will illuminate the ways in which ancient artists visualized Greek myths and demonstrate that art did not simply illustrate stories but helped shape them significantly while creating very often imaginative alternatives.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN2105
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2105 001/21480 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
Online Only
Ioannis Mylonopoulos 3 33/30

AHIS UN2309 Early Modern Architecture (1550-1799). 3 points.

This course examines the history of early modern architecture from a European perspective outward. It starts with the time of Michelangelo and Palladio and ends in the late eighteenth century.  It addresses a number of transhistorical principal issues and analytical approaches while focusing on to a series of roughly chronological thematic studies. Travelling across courts, academies, streets, and buildings devoted to new institutions, this course examines the cultural, material, urban, social, and political dimensions of architecture, as well as temporal and geographic migrations of architectural knowledge. Topics will also include: the resurgence of interest in antiquity; the longue durée history of monuments; changes in building typology; the patronage and politics of architecture; technological developments and building practice; architectural theory, books, and the culture of print; the growth of capital cities; the creation of urban space and landscape; the formalization of architectural education; and the changing status of the architect.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN2309
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2309 001/12524 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Online Only
Eleonora Pistis 3 47/60

AHUM UN2604 Art In China, Japan, and Korea. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Introduces distinctive aesthetic traditions of China, Japan, and Korea--their similarities and differences--through an examination of the visual significance of selected works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other arts in relation to the history, culture, and religions of East Asia.

Fall 2020: AHUM UN2604
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHUM 2604 001/15789 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Online Only
Naomi Kuromiya 3 22/21
AHUM 2604 002/15790 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
Online Only
Chen Jiang 3 18/21
AHUM 2604 003/15791 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Online Only
Matthew McKelway 3 19/21

AHUM UN2901 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Introduction to 2000 years of art on the Indian subcontinent. The course covers the early art of Buddhism, rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists and Hindus, the development of the Hindu temple, Mughal and Rajput painting and architecture, art of the colonial period, and the emergence of the Modern.

Fall 2020: AHUM UN2901
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHUM 2901 001/10839 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Online Only
Vidya Dehejia 4 58/60

AHIS GU4045 Collecting. 4 points.

Collecting is among the most universal of human social phenomena.  The course begins by studying the universality of collecting, exploring its range and hierarchies.  Following a study of social, psychological, and anthropological theories of collecting, the course traces the history of collecting at its highest levels, from Renaissance princely collections to modern public art museums. The course is mostly about European and American collecting, but includes discussion of how art from all over the world has been collected.  Special attention will be paid to preserved collections and art about collecting. 

Fall 2020: AHIS GU4045
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4045 001/00372 T Th 8:40am - 9:55am
Room TBA
Anne Higonnet 4 58/75

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Seminars and Bridge Seminars

UNDERGRADUATE SEMINARS: 3000-level courses open to undergraduate students only. Interested students must fill out and submit an online application form in the semester prior to when the course will be offered (April deadline for fall courses, November deadline for spring courses). Please visit the "Courses" page on the department website and select the upcoming semester to find a list of undergraduate seminar descriptions and links to seminar application forms. BRIDGE SEMINARS: 4500-level courses open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Applications are due in August for fall courses, and January for spring courses. Please visit the "Courses" page on the department website and select the upcoming semester to find a list of undergraduate seminar descriptions and links to seminar application forms.

AHIS UN3101 The Public Monument in the Ancient Near East. 4 points.

This seminar will focus on the invention of the public monument as a commemorative genre, and the related concepts of time, memory and history in the ancient Near East and Egypt. Public monuments will be studied in conjunction with readings from ancient texts (in translation), as well as historical criticism, archaeological and art historical theories.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3101 001/12527 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
Zainab Bahrani 4 10/12

AHIS UN3327 Building Before Industrialization. 4 points.

Architectural historians have long been interested in how changes in building materials, construction technologies, and methods of design and production shaped architecture from eighteenth century onward. By exploring how these shifts were tied to broader developments in society, from the so-called “Industrial Revolution” to the “Digital Revolution”, this work has transformed the way we look at the modern built environment. Yet this interest in the meaning embedded in building processes has less commonly reached back to architecture produced before industrialization. In response to this lacuna, this seminar will examine the social, cultural, economic, technological history of construction from antiquity to the sixteenth century. More than just a survey of practice, the course will attempt to understand how issues of technology, production, and facture equally shaped architecture with particular focus on Old Kingdom Egypt, Classical Greece, Imperial Rome, Byzantine Constantinople, Gothic France, fifteenth-century Florence, and sixteenth-century Rome. In doing so, we will examine how buildings were built, the acquisition and transformation of materials, the organization of labor, the economics of construction, structural innovation, technological change and mechanization, natural philosophy, processes of design, and the role of builders and architects.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3327
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3327 001/11838 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Michael Waters 4 11/12

AHIS UN3413 Nineteenth-Century Criticism. 4 points.

Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, and the instructor's permission.

Selected readings in 19th-century philosophy, literature, and art criticism, with emphasis on problems of modernity and aesthetic experience. Texts include work by Diderot, Kant, Coleridge, Hegel, Emerson, Flaubert, Ruskin, Baudelaire, and Nietzsche.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3413
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3413 001/11339 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Jonathan Crary 4 8/12

AHIS UN3417 Medieval Revival: Collecting, Copying, and Co-opting the Past. 4 points.

From the mid-eighteenth century through the early twentieth century, a fascination with the medieval world and its aesthetics would influence architecture, art collecting, and art movements like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain and the United States. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this course explores works of art and architecture inspired by the vogue for medieval revival, theorizing them in relation to Romanticism, nationalism, and anti-modernism. This course will simultaneously explore the way that the discipline of medieval art history and the history of collecting has been shaped by these narratives.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3417
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3417 001/15287 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Online Only
Olivia Clemens 4 10/12

AHIS UN3453 Women Artists in Eighteenth-Century Europe. 4 points.

This seminar will examine the career and artistic production of women artists in the long eighteenth century in Europe, with a specific focus on Italy, France and Britain. Recent research has shown that many women managed to become professional artists during this period. But how successful were they? And what did their work consist of? To date, the historical recovery of data about their career and oeuvre remains a work in progress. In contrast, the few women artists who reached international fame in the eighteenth-century – in part because they were members of otherwise overwhelmingly male art academies – have received significant scholarly attention by art historians that include Angela Rosenthal and Mary Sheriff, among others, and have been the subject of important monographic exhibitions in the past two decades. In light of this state of the research, we will study the cases of canonical artists, such as Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), as well as the cases of still understudied (yet sufficiently documented) artists, such as Marie Geneviève Bouliar (1763-1825). Our primary task will be to examine the different ways in which women who became artists navigated the eighteenth-century social order – an order where the terms “woman” and “professional artist” were commonly understood as contradictory – and analyze their art with a critical understanding of the expectations, aesthetic and otherwise, that they were held to. Topics of discussion will include: training; the hierarchy of genres; women artists and media, including miniature, engraving and sculpture; self-portraiture and gender expectations; women artists and art criticism; and emulation and authorship.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3453
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3453 001/12871 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Frederique Baumgartner 4 11/12

AHIS UN3503 Contemporary Arts of Africa. 4 points.

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 with a special focus on three of the major centers for contemporary art in sub-Saharan Africa: Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria.

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. The course will examine the enthusiastic embrace by African artists of the biennial platform as a site for the production of contemporary art. What differential impact has French vs. British colonialism left on the arts? How are contemporary artists responding to calls for restitution on African cultural heritage?

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3503
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3503 001/15247 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Zoë Strother 4 14/15

AHIS UN3708 Beyond El Dorado: Materials, Values, and Aesthetics in Pre-Columbian Art History. 4 points.

In this seminar, we will investigate ancient and indigenous art, materials, and aesthetics from areas of what is today Latin America. Taking advantage of New York’s unrivaled museum collections, we will research Pre-Columbian gold and silver work, as well as equally precious stone, shell, textile, and feather works created by artists of ancient Mexico, Central America, and Andean South America. We will also study latter-day histories of collecting, reception, display, appropriation, and activism that shape contemporary understandings of Pre-Columbian art.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3708
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3708 001/11340 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Lisa Trever 4 12/12

AHIS GU4646 Foucault and the Arts. 4 points.

Michel Foucault was a great historian and critic who helped change the ways research and criticism are done today – a new ‘archivist’. At the same time, he was a philosopher. His research and criticism formed part of an attempt to work out a new picture of what it is to think, and think critically, in relation to Knowledge, Power, and Processes of Subjectivization. What was this picture of thought? How did the arts, in particular the visual arts, figure in it? How might they in turn give a new image of Foucault’s kind of critical thinking for us today? In this course, we explore these questions, in the company of Deleuze, Agamben, Rancière and others thinkers and in relation to questions of media, document and archive in the current ‘regime of information’. The Seminar is open to students in all disciplines concerned with these issues.

Fall 2020: AHIS GU4646
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4646 001/11341 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
John Allan Rajchman 4 23/30

AHIS GU4740 Re-Reading American Photographs. 4.00 points.

New methodologies for studying the history of photography drawing on affect theory, new materialism, explorations of circulation and exchange, and other scholarly trends vex established modes of American photo history and invite an expansion of the canon. This seminar surveys recent publications in photo theory and examples of photo history, including the fall 2020 special issue of Panorama on “Re-Reading American Photographs” to deepen our engagement with photographic works from the medium’s first century (1839-1939)

Fall 2020: AHIS GU4740
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4740 001/20738 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Elizabeth Hutchinson 4.00 10/15

AHIS GU4948 American Government Architecture: Governance and Governmentality. 4 points.

How do dynamics of governance shape architecture, like states’ rights in America’s federal system? And how do government centers through form, space, and symbol shape citizens’ identities and consent to be governed, aspects of governmentality theorized by Foucault and subject to resistance and reform? Focused upon modern American architecture and urbanism this seminar is open to students’ explorations in other media, places, and times. If feasible, field trips will go to local and/or regional sites. No prerequisites are necessary for this class.

Fall 2020: AHIS GU4948
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4948 001/14022 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
807 Schermerhorn Hall
Daniel Abramson 4 11/15

Majors Colloquium

The Majors Colloquium is a required course for all majors in the department. See the department website for more information. Students must sign up online by the deadline, which is posted on the department website.

AHIS UN3000 Majors' Colloquium: the Literature and Methods of Art History. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Not open to Barnard or Continuing Education students. Majors must receive instructor's permission. Students must sign-up online: http://goo.gl/forms/otfh8x5hqk

Introduction to different methodological approaches to the study of art and visual culture. Majors are encouraged to take the colloquium during their junior year.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3000 001/11336 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
Jonathan Crary 4 11/12
Spring 2021: AHIS UN3000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3000 001/12535 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Zoë Strother 4 0/12
AHIS 3000 002/12536 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Frederique Baumgartner 4 0/12

Senior Thesis

The year-long Senior Thesis program is open to majors in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. For more information, please visit the Senior Thesis information page on the department website.

AHIS UN3002 Senior Thesis. 3 points.

Prerequisites: the department's permission.

Required for all thesis writers.

Fall 2020: AHIS UN3002
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3002 001/10838 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Barry Bergdoll 3 9/10
Spring 2021: AHIS UN3002
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3002 001/12537 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Barry Bergdoll 3 0/10

Spring 2020 Undergraduate Lectures and Bridge Lectures

UNDERGRADUATE LECTURES: 2000-level courses. Attendance at first class meeting is strongly recommended. BRIDGE LECTURES: 4000-level courses. Bridge lectures are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. They do not require an application. Attendance at first class is strongly recommended.

AHIS UN2119 Rome Beyond Rome: Roman Art and Architecture in a Global Perspective. 4 points.

This course will approach the art of the Roman empire from two vantage points. In its first half, it will consider it from the inside. Through a regional survey of the art and architecture produced in the provinces of the Roman empire between the 2nd c. BCE and the 4th c. CE, it will focus on the mechanisms by which models emanating from Rome were received and adapted in local contexts (so-called “Romanization”), as well as on the creative responses that the provincials’ incorporation into the empire elicited. The second half of the course will consider the art of the Roman empire from the outside, i.e., from the perspective of its neighbors in the Middle East and in Africa, as well as its self-proclaimed successors and imitators. On the one hand, we will see how ancient states such as the kingdom of Meroë and the Parthian empire, or regions such as the Gandhara, interacted with the visual culture of Rome and its empire. On the other, we will explore the degree to which the classical roots of the modern colonial empires in Asia, Africa, and the Americas both managed and failed to shape the visual cultures that these empires developed.

Spring 2021: AHIS UN2119
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2119 001/12531 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Francesco de Angelis 4 0/110

AHIS UN2209 Medieval Architecture, 1000 to the Reformation. 3 points.

This course examines the architecture of Western Europe from the millenium until the end of the Middle Ages. This period encompasses both the development of Europe’s great monastic complexes, as well as the so-called “Age of Cathedrals” during which time masons and clerics sought to replicate heaven on earth in the form of increasingly tall masonry structures. We will be concerned with the structural innovations of this period, questions of style, social history, patronage, and the relationship between structures and regions. Furthermore, we will analyze the historiography of medieval architecture, considering the way its study has developed and changed throughout the course of the last century and situating its study within the present moment. While the primary focus of this course will be on ecclesiastical buildings (due largely to their elaboration and survival), we will examine where possible domestic architecture, public buildings, and urban deveopment. Our study will be supplemented by making use of the collections available to us in New York City, particularly the Cloisters, where a number of medieval spaces have been reconstructed.

AHIS UN2317 Renaissance Architecture. 4 points.

This course examines the history of architecture between roughly 1400 and 1600 from a European perspective outward. Employing a variety of analytical approaches, it addresses issues related to the Renaissance built environment thematically and through a series of specific case studies. Travelling across a geographically diverse array of locales, we will interrogate the cultural, material, urban, social, and political dimensions of architecture (civic, commercial, industrial, domestic, ecclesiastical and otherwise). Additional topics to be discussed include: antiquity and its reinterpretation; local identity, style, and ornament; development of building typologies; patronage and politics; technology and building practice; religious change and advancements in warfare; the creation and migration of architectural knowledge; role of capitalism and colonialism; class and decorum in domestic design; health and the city; the mobility of people and materials; architectural theory, books, and the culture of print; the media of architectural practice; the growth of cities and towns; the creation of urban space and landscape; architectural responses to ecological and environmental factors; and the changing status of the architect.


Students must register for a required discussion section.

AHIS UN2405 Twentieth-Century Art. 3 points.

  The course will examine a variety of figures, movements, and practices within the entire range of 20th-century art—from Expressionism to Abstract Expressionism, Constructivism to Pop Art, Surrealism to Minimalism, and beyond–situating them within the social, political, economic, and historical contexts in which they arose.  The history of these artistic developments will be traced through the development and mutual interaction of two predominant strains of artistic culture: the modernist and the avant-garde, examining in particular their confrontation with and development of the particular vicissitudes of the century’s ongoing modernization.  Discussion section complement class lectures. 

Spring 2021: AHIS UN2405
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2405 001/12559 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
Alexander Alberro 3 0/150

AHUM UN2604 Art In China, Japan, and Korea. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Introduces distinctive aesthetic traditions of China, Japan, and Korea--their similarities and differences--through an examination of the visual significance of selected works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other arts in relation to the history, culture, and religions of East Asia.

Fall 2020: AHUM UN2604
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHUM 2604 001/15789 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Online Only
Naomi Kuromiya 3 22/21
AHUM 2604 002/15790 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
Online Only
Chen Jiang 3 18/21
AHUM 2604 003/15791 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Online Only
Matthew McKelway 3 19/21

AHIS UN2612 A History of China in 27 Objects. 3 points.

This course introduces twenty-seven significant monuments and objects comprising a selective overview of 4000 years of traditional Chinese culture. Through these twenty-seven objects, we will think about historical currents, consider materials (clay, stone, bronze, lacquer, paper, silk, ink, and wood), how things were made, how these objects were used among the living, and why some of them were buried with the dead. Because analogy and metaphor is fundamental to Chinese language, we will examine visual symbols, auspicious imagery and rhetoric of resistance that had their origins in literature. The goal of the course is to raise awareness of visual clues in Chinese art and to establish basic visual literacy. After successfully completing this course you will be better able to articulate a research question, read more critically, write a visual analysis, and impress friends and family as you name a painting used in restaurant décor.

Spring 2021: AHIS UN2612
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2612 001/12533 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Alfreda Murck 3 0/60

AHIS GU4023 Medieval Art II: From Pope Gregory to the Eve of the Reformation. 4 points.

This advanced lecture course is intended for students with little or no background in medieval art of Latin (“Western”) Europe. It provides a comprehensive introduction to a period spanning roughly one millennium, from Pope Gregory the Great’s defense of art ca. 600 to rising antagonism against it on the eve of the Protestant Reformation. Themes under consideration include Christianity and colonialism, pilgrimage and the cult of saints, archaism versus Gothic modernism, the drama of the liturgy, somatic and affective piety, political ideology against “others,” the development of the winged altarpiece, and pre-Reformation iconophobia. We will survey many aspects of artistic production, from illuminated manuscripts, portable and monumental sculpture, stained glass, sumptuous metalworks, drawings, and reliquaries to the earliest examples of oil paintings and prints. While this course is conceived as a pendant to Medieval Art I: From Late Antiquity to the End of the Byzantine Empire (AHIS GU4021), each can be taken independently of one another. In addition to section meetings, museum visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, and The Morgan Library are a required component to the course.


Students must register for a mandatory discussion section.

AHIS GU4110 Japanese Architecture from the Mid-19th Century to the Present. 3 points.

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.

Spring 2020 Undergraduate Seminars and Bridge Seminars

UNDERGRADUATE SEMINARS: 3000-level courses open to undergraduate students only. Interested students must fill out and submit an online application form in the semester prior to when the course will be offered (April deadline for fall courses, November deadline for spring courses). Please visit the "Courses" page on the department website and select the upcoming semester to find a list of undergraduate seminar descriptions and links to seminar application forms. BRIDGE SEMINARS: 4500-level courses open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students. Applications are due in August for fall courses, and January for spring courses. Please visit the "Courses" page on the department website and select the upcoming semester to find a list of undergraduate seminar descriptions and links to seminar application forms.

AHIS UN3228 Bones and Stones: The Architecture of Death in Medieval Europe. 4 points.

This course examines themes related to death in the Latin West from early Christianity and the time of Constantine in Rome to the Late Middle Ages’ response to Plague with a focus on Western Europe. We will identify changing attitudes towards death through the examination of spaces created for both the holy and ordinary dead, development in tomb style, the emergence of new chapels, and images that personify Death, the dead, and their relationship with the living. In the second half of the class, the prevalence and popularity of the doctrine of Purgatory of highlighted with examination of spaces and practices designed to help the dead achieve their heavenly aspirations.

AHIS UN3410 Approaches to Contemporary Art. 3 points.

This course examines the critical approaches to contemporary art from the 1970s to the present. It will address a range of historical and theoretical issues around the notion of "the contemporary" (e.g. globalization, participation, relational art, ambivalence, immaterial labor) as it has developed in the era after the postmodernism of the 1970s and 1980s.

Spring 2021: AHIS UN3410
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3410 001/12539 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Branden Joseph 3 0/12

AHIS UN3444 Reflexivity in Art and Film. 4 points.

This seminar will explore a range of individual works of Western art from the 16th century to late 20th century in which the tension between illusionism and reflexivity is foregrounded. It will focus on well-known paintings and films in which forms of realism and verisimilitude coexist with features that affirm the artificial or fictive nature of the work or which dramatize the material, social and ideological conditions of the work’s construction. Topics will include art by Durer, Holbein, Velazquez, Watteau, Courbet, Morisot, Vertov, Deren, Godard, Varda, Hitchcock and others. Readings will include texts by Auerbach, Gombrich, Brecht, Jameson, Barthes, Didi-Huberman, Bazin, Lukacs, Mulvey, and Daney

Spring 2021: AHIS UN3444
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3444 001/12542 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Jonathan Crary 4 0/12

AHIS UN3446 Contemporary Queer Art Practices: Subculture, Sexuality, and the Politics of Performance. 4 points.

This seminar examines contemporary queer art practices, in conjunction with theories of gender, sexuality, subculture, and race. Through the close analysis of artworks, films, performances, theater, and television this seminar will question and consider the ways in which queer art practices can be a form of subversion, critique, and resistance. The political implications of performance will be considered by focusing on queer artistic practices, such as drag, which resist, refuse and rethink the constructions of gender.

AHIS UN3501 African Art: The Next Generation. Focus: Congo. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

African art history reached a new maturity and sophistication in the 1990s through an intense interdisciplinary dialogue on the visual arts in the Congo. Prominent historians, anthropologists, political scientists, philosophers, artists, and art historians debated the history of Congolese art and changed its future through active patronage. The seminar will cover a wide variety of these texts and will examine the unprecedented role for museum exhibitions in disseminating new interpretations for African art.

AHIS UN3613 Temples of Kyoto. 4 points.

Perhaps no other single institution has played a more crucial role in the development and preservation of Japanese art and other forms of visual culture than the Buddhist temple, itself an entity that has undergone significant change, particularly in the modern period. This seminar will examine Buddhist temples in the city of Kyoto, Japan’s imperial capital from 794-1867 from their beginnings in the late eighth century into the early modern period. Although painting, sculpture, and architecture will be our primary focus, the course will provide students with multiple, interdisciplinary perspectives on the diverse forms of institutional organization, architecture, art, and liturgy that comprise Buddhist houses of worship, with particular attention to their development in the city of Kyoto. We will take a site-specific approach, attending to the following general issues: the legacy of continental practices in such early monasteries as Hōryūji and Tōdaiji in Nara; adaptations to Japanese urban space and landscape at Tōji and Enryakuji; physical changes in temples with the introduction of new sects such as Zen and Pure Land Buddhism; and the transformation of temples in the early modern period. Coinciding with the course will be a series of five guest lectures in February and March on the topic of medieval Japanese sculpture.

AHIS GU4520 Gothic Nature. 4 points.

In this seminar, we will ask how medieval literary and visual culture shaped and reflected people’s conception of God’s Creation—animals, plants, rocks, planets—and their place in and with respect to it. At once a hostile environment, a place of temporary exile after humankind’s banishment from Paradise, nature also functioned as a machine, bearing the blueprint of its divine designer, to be decoded and instrumentalized for nourishment, medicine, and amusement. It was also valued for its limitless metaphorical potential, both elevating and foreboding; nature often signified something apart from itself. To elaborate on these themes, we will turn to recent approaches in ecocritical and ecomaterialist studies, and will explore historical texts and images relating to Neo-Platonic cosmology, the wood of the cross, the host mill and wine press (and other agricultural allegories), tree cults, stones and sedimentation, star-gazing, architectural vegetation, herbal medicine, natural theology, among other topics. A leitmotif threading throughout the semester’s discussions will be the extent to which ideas and ideals growing out of the Middle Ages continue to inform the way in which we interact with the natural world. Museum visits to the New York Botanical Library Rare Books/Manuscripts Library and The Cloisters’ gardens are mandatory.

AHIS GU4585 The Early Mosque: Shaping Sacred Space. 4 points.

This seminar deconstructs the early sacred public space in Islam, namely the mosque. It dissects it into its major zones and focuses on major items defining these zones. The varied spaces, like the niche of prayer (mihrab), pulpit for the imam (minbar), prayer area (musalla), the ablution fountain, inner court (rahba), outer court (ziyada), minaret, entrance façade, and even specific major objects like the Quran stand (kursi), mihrab lamp (misbah), and the Quran, will be discussed separately in each meeting. Despite this deconstruction process of studying the mosque, an approach that clearly aims at dissection and segmentation, holistic methods of understanding mosques will be taken too. The seminar aims at understanding how these spaces interact and create visual and sensuous experiences in time and space. Special discussions will focus on ‘iconic’ mosques of the early world of Islam (like the mosque of the Prophet in Medina, the Friday mosques of Damascus and Cordoba, or the sacred space of the Ka’aba, the Black Stone, of Mecca), on the integration of other public institutional spaces into this building complex, like the mausoleum (maqbara), quran school (madrasa) and hospital (maristan), and on the specificity of the so-called international and diaspora mosques today. 

AHIS GU4947 Architectures of Information. 4 points.

Information is useless without an architecture—whether that architecture is cabinets and drawers that file away forms, buildings that house bureaucracies, tables that make data visible, or satellites in orbit that push it out of sight. Information’s arrangement in physical space—what technologists call its “address”—has, in fact, been a key but underestimated aspect of its power. Building upon recent humanities scholarship that has offered histories of such epistemic units as fact and data, this course asks: What role might these architectures have played historically in creating physical environments for the classification, storage, and retrieval of information? What role do they play in the present? Starting in the early modern period, the course interrogates the ways in which the design of equipment, buildings, and cities has helped create modern epistemic orders.