Art History-Visual Arts

Departmental Office: 826 Schermerhorn; 212-854-4505

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Avinoam Shalem, 814 Schermerhorn; 212-854-5681;

Director of Art Humanities: Prof. Matthew McKelway, 919 Schermerhorn; 212-854-3182;

Coordinator for Undergraduate Programs: Emily Benjamin, 826 Schermerhorn; 212-854-4505;

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 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


Attendance at the first class meeting is recommended.


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 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 departmental 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.


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

Associate Professors

  • Francesco de Angelis
  • Noam M. Elcott
  • Elizabeth Hutchinson (Barnard)
  • Kellie Jones
  • Ioannis Mylonopoulos

Assistant Professors

  • Diane Bodart
  • Meredith Gamer
  • Eleonora Pistis
  • Michael Waters

Adjunct Faculty

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


  • Talia Andrei
  • Frederique Baumgartner
  • Marta Becherini
  • Colby Chamberlain
  • Miriam Chusid
  • Huffa Frobes-Cross
  • Alessandra Di Croce
  • Daniel Greenberg
  • Yoko Hara
  • Alexandra Helprin
  • Page Knox
  • Janet Kraynak
  • Sandrine Larrive-Bass
  • Martina Mims
  • Irina Oryshkevich
  • Olivia Powell
  • Maria Gonzalez Pendas
  • Elizabeth Perkins
  • Michael Sanchez
  • Rachel Silveri
  • Susan Sivard
  • Caroline Wamsler

On Leave

  • Profs. Alberro, Mylonopoulos, Strother (2017-2018)
  • Profs. Bergdoll, Elcott, Gamer, Kraynak (Fall 2017)
  • Profs. Dehejia, Krauss (Spring 2018)
  • Prof. Bergdoll (Reid Hall, Spring 2018)

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

Undergraduate Lectures

Attendance at first class meeting is recommended.

AHIS UN2119 Rome Beyond Rome: Roman Art and Architecture in a Global Perspective. 3 points.

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

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. Discussion section required.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN2119
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2119 001/66296 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
614 Schermerhorn Hall
Francesco de Angelis 3 96/110

AHIS UN2400 Nineteenth-Century Art. 3 points.

The course examines selected topics in the history of European painting from the 1780s to 1900. It will explore a range of aesthetic, cultural and social issues through the work of major figures from David, Goya, and Turner to Manet, Seurat and Cezanne. This is a no laptop, no e-device course.

AHIS UN2414 In and Around Abstract Expressionism. 3 points.

In histories of twentieth-century art, Abstract Expressionism is typically treated as either a monument or a straw man. The first approach portrays “Ab-Ex” as a heroic movement that heralded the triumph of American painting and secured New York’s preeminence over Paris. The second reduces it to the epitome of everything that succeeding generations of artists would reject or critique: modernist autonomy, male chauvinism, cultural jingoism. In recent years, both these narratives have been significantly complicated, by scholars and curators who have situated Ab-Ex in a more global context, and by a diverse array of painters who have found renewed relevance in its principal aesthetic strategies. This lecture course will look “in and around” Abstract Expressionism in three stages. We will begin by surveying its major precedents in the first half of the twentieth century, including cubism, concretism, muralism, and surrealism. Then, we will explore how, in the years immediately following World War II, abstract painting developed differently in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States. Finally, we turn to some of the major concepts whereby postwar painting has been understood, such as formalism, “action painting,” and calligraphic abstraction. Throughout, we will connect the work of individual painters to the larger themes of the postwar era: the aftermaths of Auschwitz and Hiroshima; the decolonization of the global south; the formation of international institutions; the spread of commercial culture; and the ideological divisions of the Cold War.

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN2309
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2309 001/11281 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Eleonora Pistis 3 35/67

AHIS UN2405 Twentieth-Century Art. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Discussion Section AHIS UN2406

  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.  Course is a prerequisite for certain upper-level art history courses.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN2405
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2405 001/21871 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
614 Schermerhorn Hall
Branden Joseph 3 108/123

AHIS UN2412 Eighteenth Century Art in Europe. 3 points.

This course will examine the history of art in Europe from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. This was a period of dramatic cultural change, marked by, among other things, the challenging of traditional artistic hierarchies; increased opportunities for travel, trade, and exchange; and the emergence of “the public” as a critical new audience for art. Students will be introduced to major artists, works, and media, as well as to key themes in the art historical scholarship. Topics will include: the birth of art criticism; the development of the art market; domesticity and the cult of sensibility; the ascension of women artists and patrons; and the visual culture of empire, slavery, and revolution. The emphasis will be on France and Britain, with forays to Italy, Spain, Germany, India, America, and elsewhere.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN2412
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2412 001/70177 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Frederique Baumgartner, Meredith Gamer 3 26/67

AHIS UN2500 The Arts of Africa. 3 points.

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

Introduction to the arts of Africa, including masquerading, figural sculpture, reliquaries, power objects, textiles, painting, photography, and architecture. The course will establish a historical framework for study, but will also address how various African societies have responded to the process of modernity.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN2500
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2500 001/68058 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Kristen Windmuller-Luna 3 14/23

AHIS UN2600 Arts of China. 3 points.

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

An introduction to the arts of China, from the Neolithic period to the present, stressing materials and processes of bronze casting, the development of representational art, principles of text illustration, calligraphy, landscape painting, imperial patronage, and the role of the visual arts in elite culture.

AHIS UN2602 The Arts of Japan. 3 points.

Introduction to the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Japan from the Neolithic period through the present. Discussion focuses on key monuments within their historical and cultural contexts.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN2602
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 2602 001/85529 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Matthew McKelway 3 14/67

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.

Spring 2018: AHUM UN2604
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHUM 2604 001/71960 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Miriam Chusid 3 25/25

AHUM UN2800 Arts of Islam: The First Formative Centuries (circa 700-1000). 3 points.

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

This introductory course attempts to cover the first 300 years, from circa 700-1000 AD, stressing the birth of Islam as the birth of a new aesthetic phenomenon in the Mediterranean Basin, Near East and Central Asia and its appropriations and innovations in creating a novel imperial style, while, at the same time, questioning the modern historiographies and narratives for these masterpieces.

AHUM UN2901 Masterpieces of Indian Art and Architecture. 3 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.

Spring 2018: AHUM UN2901
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHUM 2901 001/60846 M W 7:40pm - 8:55pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Seher Agarwala 3 15/22

Undergraduate Seminars

Undergraduate seminars are 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 for fall courses, November for spring courses) in order to be considered for enrollment. Along with specific deadline information, links to online seminar application forms can be found beneath the respective seminar descriptions on the department website. Please visit the "Courses" page on the department website and select the upcoming semester to find a list of course descriptions and links to seminar application forms.

AHIS UN3217 Life of a Cathedral: Notre-Dame of Amiens. 4 points.

Notre-Dame of Amiens, often considered the "classic" Gothic cathedral, is studied each year by the more than one thousand students enrolled in the Columbia University Core course, Art Humanities. Like a great city, the cathedral brings together multiple segments of society in lively collaboration and conflict. We will explore the three overlapping worlds of the cathedral: the world of the clergy (owners and principal users), the world of the layfolk (parishioners, townsfolk and pilgrims) and the world (most mysterious) of the architects, or master masons. The semester is thus divided into three parts: each class will be preceded by an intense look at a specific aspect of the life of the cathedral and a reading presented by one of the participants. Participants in the class will also be invited to contribute to the development of a new website on the cathedral, designed for the use of Art Humanities students. We plan to organize a one-week study trip to Paris and Amiens in March 2015 (Spring Break) in order to continue the conversation in situ.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3217
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3217 001/22163 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
930 Schermerhorn Hall
Stephen Murray 4 8/15

AHIS UN3227 Gotham City Gothic. 4 points.

The goal of this course is to study "Gothic" architecture in New York City from the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the city first earned the moniker Gotham City, to the present day. What typological, economic, and social factors constrained the use of this architectural style? Several class meetings will be reserved for site visits to medieval Gothic, Gothic Revival, and Gothic-inflected buildings in all five boroughs. We will also consult rare books, manuscripts, and archives in Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, where we will discover how and why Gotham City is Gothic.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3227
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3227 001/68746 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
930 Schermerhorn Hall
Lindsay Cook 4 8/10

AHIS UN3309 Virtual Space: Renaissance Perspective (1400-1750). 4 points.

Prerequisites: A course in art history or architectural history

Single-point perspective was an optical representational technique that fundamentally altered the early modern visual world. Bridging the domains of art and science, perspectival representation could simultaneously reveal a mathematically reasoned space and a fantastic reality. It appealed widely to visual artists, writers, scientific thinkers, politicians, and explorers. The ambiguities and broad applicability of perspective opened new possibilities for visual communication and spatial thinking. This undergraduate seminar is organized chronologically (1400-1750, roughly) and thematically to provide a broad overview on perspectival representation in this historical period. We will consider fields as diverse as painting, building, print making, theater design, cartography, urban design, natural science, and philosophy - primarily in Italy, where the discourse centered upon during the early modern period. 

AHIS UN3317 Shaping Renaissance Rome. 4 points.

This seminar will investigate the architectural and urban history of Rome in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It will analyze the city as the product of successive interventions that have created a deeply layered topography and seeks to understand how Renaissance Rome both literally and figuratively built upon its past.

*Please note that this course is a travel seminar. The trip to Rome will take place over the 2018 spring break. Students who enroll in this course must commit to going on the trip. Those who do not go on the trip will not be eligible to receive credit for the course. Additional information about the department's travel seminar program can be found here.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3317
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3317 001/62280 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
934 Schermerhorn Hall
Michael Waters 4 9/10

AHIS UN3318 Books and Architecture. 4 points.

This seminar investigates architectural books as both carriers of knowledge and objects. Through the analysis of books, prints and drawings, as well as of their production, circulation and reception, this course explores how different figures have thought, discussed and written about architecture in Europe from the mid-Sixteenth Century to the end of the Eighteenth Century. The objects of investigation include architectural treatises, but also prints and books of various natures that contain architectural information. By questioning the stability of these media, the seminar aims to explore their mutability over time and place. It explores how these objects' meanings were shaped by their makers, by the material manipulations of their owners, and by their physical proximity to other works on desks and library shelves. The seminar examines architectural theory’s relationships with practice and with contemporary debates on society, as well as fields of knowledge such as literature, music, philosophy and science. It aims to understand how media have shaped the migration of architectural knowledge, the construction of Western architectural canons, and the developments of the architect’s profession. At the same time, the object-based analysis of the rare books kept at the Avery Library will allow the class to address questions related to architectural representation, different architectural media, and printing technology. Students will learn how to deal with the complex relationships between texts and images, between drawings and prints, and between the ‘architecture’ of a book and its content. 

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3318
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3318 001/17248 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
934 Schermerhorn Hall
Eleonora Pistis 4 8/15

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3413
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3413 001/61801 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Jonathan Crary 4 13/15

AHIS UN3435 Post-Pop: Intersections of Contemporary Art and Music. 4 points.

In the seminal video, Rock My Religion (1983-84), the artist Dan Graham posited that Pop art had ceded importance to Pop music, specifically rock and roll.  Graham was responding, in part, to the fact that Andy Warhol had collaborated closely with the band the Velvet Underground in the second half of the 1960s—managing them, producing and designing their first LP, and pairing their performances with his films as the multimedia Exploding Plastic Inevitable.  Since that moment, under the influence of both Warhol and Graham, a number of contemporary artists have engaged seriously with popular music, from rock to punk to hip-hop.  This course will examine some of the artists in this lineage, who, from the 1960s to the present day, have incorporated music into their visual art and/or formed bands of their own.  Figures covered will include Warhol, Graham, Kim Gordon, Mike Kelley, Jutta Koether, Steven Parrino, Seth Price, Marco Fusinato, Martin Beck, Kehinde Wiley, and Cameron Jamie.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3435
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3435 001/29530 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
934 Schermerhorn Hall
Branden Joseph 4 12/18

AHIS UN3433 Enlightenment and Archaeology. 4 points.

In this seminar, we will study the emergence of the disciplines of Near Eastern and Classical archaeology, antiquarian interests and collecting practices in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe. This European scientific interest was centered around the ancient past of lands under the Ottoman empire in the Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Students will learn about antiquarianism and the development of the scientific discipline of archaeology, how it defined itself and set itself apart from its predecessor, focusing on the earliest collecting and documentation of antiquities, the start of organised excavations, the origins of the modern museum and early archaeological photography.

AHIS UN3434 Diplomacy by Ceramics: Introduction to the Soft Power of One Medium Across World Cultures. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This course offers a survey of how ceramic art has been used to channel “soft power” over the centuries and in multiple cultures. From medieval Japan to Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great, ceramics have been used as instruments of diplomacy, being offered as gifts or strategically displayed in private and public settings of high visibility. Through object-based analysis, students will learn about the global history of the relation between art and politics. Readings are drawn from multiple disciplines, including art history, cultural sociology, anthropology, and communication studies. Museum visits and digital visualization tools will play an integral role in the course.

AHIS UN3436 Illegal America: Precarity, Community, and the Alternative Space Movement. 4 points.

When Jeanette Ingberman founded the alternative space Exit Art in 1982, the first exhibition she organized was “Illegal America,” a survey of artists whose practices involved deliberately breaking the law. Ingberman stressed that artists who knowingly manipulated illegality did not expect to be defended by claims of art-for-art’s-sake or aesthetic freedom. Rather, they knowingly embraced risk in order to make palpable their vulnerability to larger systems of power. This seminar will take Ingberman’s insight into “illegal” art and apply it more broadly to the various artistic practices that developed in tandem with the alternative space movement of the 1970s. Through the study of both individual artists and collective organizations, the course will connect post-minimalist sculpture, site-specificity, body art, and related tendencies to the rise of neo-liberalism, the unraveling of the social safety net, and protest actions prompted by the increasingly precarious lives of immigrants, women, tenants, and the LGBTQ community.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3436
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3436 001/25531 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
930 Schermerhorn Hall
James Chamberlain 4 12/15

AHIS UN3602 Death and the Afterlife in East Asian Buddhist Art. 4 points.

Death is an encounter with the immaterial, yet its material forms are critical to understanding how people asked, and answered, questions about the unknowable. What will we experience during, and after, we die? How can we as the living maintain connections with the deceased? Is death an inevitable reality, or can it be transcended? This seminar is intended to both facilitate discussion of visual representations of death and salvation in East Asian Buddhist art, and to improve close looking of the visual materials. We will examine how and why representations of dying, death, and salvation were given concrete reality in art and architecture throughout East Asia, using Buddhism as a common lens through which to examine artistic practice. Proceeding in a largely chronological and thematic fashion, we will look at the changing conceptions of death and the afterlife in India, China, and Japan. Each week, we will read excerpts from a primary text in translation and study related images, considering their composition, context of use or display, and the ways in which artists pictorially resolved or translated text into visual form. These discussions, in turn, will serve as our point of entry into a much larger picture in thinking about the following issues with respect to Buddhist art: 1) visual narratives; 2) art and sacred biography or myth; 3) art and doctrine; 4) tensions between permanence and impermanence.

AHIS UN3604 Sacred Landscapes of Japan. 4 points.

In recent years, the categories of space, place, and landscape have come to occupy an increasingly important position in the study of art and culture. Scholars from a wide range of fields have turned to these categories to re-examine both their traditional subject matter and their own disciplinary traditions. In this seminar, we will begin from the questions raised by this reorientation to examine the concept and representation of sacred space, place, and landscape in Japan. We will consider Japanese landscapes both as the products of Japan's religious culture and as sites for the further production of cultural and religious meanings. We will look to the ways in which physical landscapes were visually represented and how these images reflect the particular spiritual energy, the religious practices, and the unique history of the site. We will focus, in short, on the forms in which religious worldviews found material expression. Each week we will immerse ourselves in a sacred landscape of Japan, reading about the faith and ritual practices of the site, its history and miraculous origins (engi), and, when possible, the accounts of pilgrims’ experiences. We will then examine how these histories and practices are given visual expression and will try to understand how the images and objects reflect the particular spiritual qualities and traditions of the site and the power they had to inspire and move contemporary audiences. 

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3604
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3604 001/87529 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Talia Andrei 4 5/12

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 our website and the directory of classes.

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:

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

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3000 001/70466 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
934 Schermerhorn Hall
Zainab Bahrani 4 9/15
AHIS 3000 002/10100 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Holger Klein 4 13/15
Fall 2018: AHIS UN3000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3000 001/71229 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Zoe Strother 4 0/15

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS UN3002
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3002 001/72480 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Avinoam Shalem 3 12/15
Fall 2018: AHIS UN3002
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 3002 001/23208 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Barry Bergdoll 3 0/10

Bridge Lectures

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

AHIS GU4044 Neo-Dada and Pop Art. 3 points.

This course examines the avant-garde art of the fifties and sixties, including assemblage, happenings, pop art, Fluxus, and artists' forays into film. It will examine the historical precedents of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Allan Kaprow, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Carolee Schneemann and others in relation to their historical precedents, development, critical and political aspects.

AHIS GU4074 Latin American Artists: Independence to Present. 3 points.

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS GU4074
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4074 001/15949 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Kellie Jones 3 37/45

Bridge Seminars

Bridge seminars are open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Interested students must fill out and submit an online application form in the weeks prior to the start of the semester in which the course is offered (August for fall courses, January for spring courses) in order to be considered for enrollment. Along with specific deadline information, links to online seminar application forms can be found beneath the respective seminar descriptions on the department website. Please visit the "Courses" page on the department website and select the upcoming semester to find a list of course descriptions and links to seminar application forms.

CLST GU4514 Roman Coins and History: A Hands-On Seminar on an Unpublished Collection. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Survey of Roman history

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).

AHCL GU4541 Post-War Critical Theory: Re-inventions. 4 points.

Is today a time of reinvention for the critical theory that took shape after the Second World War? In this course, taking 1989 as a new take-off date, we explore this hypothesis through a series of over-lapping questions including: what is contemporary as distinct from modern? What is an apparatus as distinct from a medium, a media, or a machine? Is there or can there be a global art history? Can participation be critical? Focusing of the role of visual art and art institutions, their expansions and transformations, we thus address the question of the fate the function of critical theory in the new world of information economies, new urbanizations, biennials and art fairs.

AHIS GU4551 Arts of African Kingdoms. 4 points.

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS GU4551
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4551 001/61279 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Kristen Windmuller-Luna 4 5/15

AHIS GU4566 Streams and Mountains: The Art of Landscape Painting in China. 4 points.

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. 

Spring 2018: AHIS GU4566
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4566 001/27501 F 2:10pm - 4:00pm
934 Schermerhorn Hall
Robert Harrist, Daniel Greenberg 4 9/11

AHIS GU4583 The Craft of Ivory. 4 points.

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS GU4583
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4583 001/91196 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
832 Schermerhorn Hall
Avinoam Shalem 4 9/15

AHIS GU4641 Russian Constructivism. 4 points.

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. 

Spring 2018: AHIS GU4641
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4641 001/72099 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
930 Schermerhorn Hall
Maria Ratanova 4 8/20

AHIS GU4648 Building Fascisms. 4 points.

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.

Spring 2018: AHIS GU4648
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
AHIS 4648 001/25506 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
930 Schermerhorn Hall
Maria Gonzalez Pendas 4 11/15