The Language of Architecture
(Offered as ARCH 101 and ARHA 101) This introductory course focuses on the tools used to communicate and discuss ideas in architectural practice and theory. We study both the practical, from sketching to parallel drawing, to the theoretical, from historical to critical perspectives. Connecting both, we cover the formal analysis elements necessary to “read” and critique built works. Class activities include field trips, guest presentations, sketching and drawing, small design exercises, discussion of readings, and short written responses. Through these activities, at the end of the semester the student will understand in general terms what the dealings and challenges of architecture as a discipline are.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Arboleda.2023-24: Not offered
Practice of Art
An introduction to two- and three-dimensional studio disciplines through hands-on engagement with materials supplemented by lectures, demonstrations and readings. Students will work through a variety of projects exploring drawing, sculpture, painting and hybrid forms. Work will be developed based on direct observation, memory, imagination and improvisation. Formal and conceptual concerns will be an integral aspect of the development of studio work. Historical and contemporary references will be used throughout the course to enhance and increase the student’s understanding of the visual vocabulary of art. Class time will be a balance of lectures, demonstrations, exercises, discussions and critiques. Weekly homework assignments will consist of studio work and critical readings. No prior studio experience needed.
Not open to students who have taken ARHA 111 or 215. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Douglas Culhane.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture
(Offered as ARCH 105 and ARHA 105) This hands-on design studio will foster innovation as it guides students through the development of conceptual architecture. Through a series of experimental projects that build on each other, students will develop their own design language and experiment with architecture at several scales - from a space for sitting to a dynamic built structure and its integration into a site. We will work through photography and light studies, both hand-drafted and computer aided drawings, as well as physical model-making to understand space and to explore the representation of plan, section, and elevations as well as diagramming and concept models. Guest critics will attend a review, and students will present their work to design professionals and professors.
No prior architecture experience is necessary, but a willingness to experiment and a desire to learn through making are essential.
This course may be taken either before or after ARCH 209, Space + Design: Sustainable Innovation Studio
Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester: Visiting Instructor Gretchen Rabinkin.
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
(Offered as ARHA 110 and CHEM 110.) This interdisciplinary course is focused on exploring color through the lenses of science, culture and art. We will study how we perceive color down to the molecular level and how it impacts us as viewers. The course will seek to develop a broad, shared, set of topics that will allow students to weave together scientific and artistic concepts, rather than isolate them. As it is possible to approach color from many different disciplines, we encourage any interested student, regardless of academic focus, to register. A core goal of the course is to encourage a holistic discussion of the topic. Students will be asked to write about their observations of color through art and will have the opportunity to make their own original pieces. In addition, class activities will include lectures, invited speakers, discussion, and a final project.
Limited to 18 students. Professor Durr and Professor Clark.2023-24: Not offered
An introductory course in the fundamentals of drawing. This course will be based in experience and observation, exploring various techniques and media in order to understand the basic formal vocabularies and conceptual issues in drawing; subject matter will include still life, landscape, interior, and figure. Weekly assignments, weekly critiques, final portfolio. Two three-hour sessions per week.
Limited to 12 students. Fall and Spring semesters. In the fall semester, 4 seats are reserved for first-year students. New Sculpture Professor Hire
In the Spring semester, there is a limit of 10 students and 4 seats are reserved for first-year students. Senior Resident Artist David Gloman and Professor Lucia Monge.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Plant Cultures: Chemical Perspectives on Slavery and the Land
(Offered as ARHA 120, CHEM 120 and ARCH 120) This course introduces students to the social and chemical characteristics of the buildings and landscapes that slaves constructed in North Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, West Africa, and the Indian Ocean from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. In looking at construction histories from Suriname to Bengal, we will engage the knowledge of plants that enslaved builders wielded to raise structures made of wood, straw, coral, earth, and fibers. Recognizing that construction involves both the assemblage of dwellings and the mastery of resources, we will also approach a number of topics, including but not limited to: the usage of aloe on the part of enslaved loggers in Mauritius to heal the wounds that their hatchets inflicted upon them; the role of forced labor in the establishment of the wine industry and its vineyards in French colonial Algeria; the usage of marijuana as a medicinal agent among enslaved construction laborers from West Africa to the Caribbean; garden construction, meal preparation, and the poisoning of slave owners in Haiti; and contemporary efforts to preserve the landscapes of enslaved plant knowledge in the age of climate change. Each week, students will participate in activities designed to cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the chemical properties of the plant specimens addressed. Lectures and discussions will attempt to bridge the gap between chemistry and architectural studies by combining analyses of humanities readings with investigations of plant-based natural products. The goal will be to foster an understanding of both enslaved plant knowledge and the plants themselves that have defined construction labor under slavery.
No prerequisites. No prior knowledge of chemistry or architectural history is required for this class. Class will meet synchronously.
Omitted: 2022-2023.2023-24: Not offered
In Black and White: Race and Photography
This introductory course will explore historical developments in the medium of black and white photography from its inception in the mid-nineteenth century to the present moment. We will look at this trajectory to examine how photography has been utilized to materialize thoughts on race as well as intervene in racial politics. How is it that a picture can prompt someone to participate in racist ideology? Conversely, how does a photograph become instrumental to social justice? Responding to these questions requires not just an historical study of black and white photography but also a critical inquiry into the formal qualities of this medium and its capacity to enact material change. Together, we will think about and complicate the truth value of photography by performing analyses of historical documents, anthropological portraits, and works by photographers such as Arthur P. Bedou, Seydou Keïta, Carrie Mae Weems, and Dawoud Bey. Students will develop visual literacy skills through close looking as well as research skills needed for the analysis of historical documents and artistic works. Assessment will be based on weekly responses to readings, discussion participation, and either a written or creative final project.
Fall Semester. Professor Janice Yu.2023-24: Not offered
History and Theory of Architecture
(Offered as ARHA 131, ARCH 131 and EUST 131.) Throughout history, buildings have directed human activity, shaping social interactions, symbolizing political power, and influencing multiple kinds of artistic expression. This course is a selected introduction to the history and theory of architecture, from the earliest forms of human habitation to medieval and Renaissance buildings, Enlightenment utopian visions, modern industrial structures and skyscrapers, and contemporary sustainable practices. Interwoven with a sampling of theoretical texts and architectural treatises, the course covers selected moments in the history and theory of Western architecture, from Vitruvius to Alberti and Corbusier to Koolhaas, from primordial shelters to computer generated designs.
Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Professor Koehler.2023-24: Not offered
Renaissance to Revolution: Early Modern European Art and Architecture
(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history, introduces the ways that artists and architects imaginatively invented visual language to interpret the world for contemporary patrons, viewers, and citizens in early modern Europe. Painters, printmakers, sculptors and architects in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands created new ways of seeing empirical phenomena and interpreting them, by means of both ancient and new principles of art, science and philosophy and through powerful engagement with the senses. They produced godlike illusions of nature, from grand frescoes bursting from the walls of papal residences to spectacular gardens covering noble estates in Baroque France and colonializing England. They fundamentally altered the design of major cities such as Rome and Paris so that the visitor encountered an entirely new urban experience than ever before. Along the way, they learned from one another’s example, but, prizing innovation, sought fiercely to surpass previous generations, and argued at length about values in art. They contributed to fashioning an ideal picture of empire and society and conjured the dazzling wealth and power of those who paid them. But as time passed, some came to ironize the social order mightily, and some elevated beggars, farmers, servants, so-called fools, and bourgeois women leading seemingly mundane domestic lives as much as others praised the prosperous few. Finally, artists actively participated in the overthrow of the monarchy during the French Revolution and yet also passionately critiqued the violence of war it engendered. Throughout, the course will investigate how concepts of progress, civilization, the state, religion, race, gender, and the individual came to be defined through art.
The goals of the course are:• above all, to achieve the skill of close looking to gain visual understanding;• also, to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art and architecture from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution;• to understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;• to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation; • to read texts about the period critically and analytically.No previous experience with art or art history is necessary.
Spring semester. Professor Courtright.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2023
Visual Arts and Orature in Africa
(Offered as BLST 313 [A] and ARHA 138) In the traditionally non-literate societies of Africa, verbal and visual arts constitute two systems of communication. The performance of verbal art and the display of visual art are governed by social and cultural rules. We will examine the epistemological process of understanding cultural symbols, of visualizing narratives, or proverbs, and of verbalizing sculptures or designs. Focusing on the Yoruba people of West Africa, the course will attempt to interpret the language of their verbal and visual arts and their interrelations in terms of cultural cosmologies, artistic performances, and historical changes in perception and meaning. We will explore new perspectives in the critical analysis of African verbal and visual arts, and their interdependence as they support each other through mutual references and allusions. In addition to visiting the Mead Art Museum to see African works, students will be required to listen to audio-recordings and engage selected visual images to enhance their understanding of the interrelationship of arts in Africa.
Fall semester. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
The Modern World
(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145) This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.
Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Staller.2023-24: Not offered
Art From the Realm of Dreams
(Offered as ARHA 146, EUST 146, and SWAGS 113.) We will consider the multifarious and resplendent ways dreams have been given form across centuries, cultures, and media. Our paintings, prints, films, and texts will include those by Goya, Jung, Freud, van Gogh, Gauguin, Kahlo, Frankenheimer, Kurosawa and others.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Staller.2023-24: Not offered
Arts of China
(Offered as ARHA 147 and ASLC 143) An introduction to the history of Chinese art from its beginnings in neolithic times until the end of the twentieth century. Topics will include the ritual bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese transformation of the Buddha image, imperial patronage of painting during the Song dynasty and the development of the literati tradition of painting and calligraphy. Particular weight will be given to understanding the cultural context of Chinese art.
Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Morse.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2013, Spring 2018, Spring 2022, Fall 2023
Arts of Japan
(Offered as ARHA 148 and ASLC 148) A survey of the history of Japanese art from neolithic times to the present. Topics will include Buddhist art and its ritual context, the aristocratic arts of the Heian court, monochromatic ink painting and the arts related to the Zen sect, the prints and paintings of the Floating World and contemporary artists and designers such as Ando Tadao and Miyake Issey. The class will focus on the ways Japan adopts and adapts foreign cultural traditions. There will be field trips to look at works in museums and private collections in the region.
Fall semester. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Survey of African Art
(Offered as ARHA 149 and BLST 123 [A]) An introduction to the ancient and traditional arts of Africa. Special attention will be given to the archaeological importance of the rock art paintings found in such disparate areas as the Sahara and South Africa, achievements in the architectural and sculptural art in clay of the early people in the area now called Zimbabwe and the aesthetic qualities of the terracotta and bronze sculptures of the Nok, Igbo-Ukwe, Ife and Benin cultures in West Africa, which date from the second century B.C.E. to the sixteenth century C.E. The study will also pursue a general socio-cultural survey of traditional arts of the major ethnic groups of Africa.
Spring semester. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
Visual Culture of the Islamic World
(Offered as ARHA 152, ARCH 152 and ASLC 142) This course, a gateway class for the study of art history and architectural studies, introduces the art, architecture, and urban planning of the Islamic world, from the origins of Islam in the seventh century to the contemporary moment. Among the questions we will pose are: When, how, and why was the Qur’an first copied as a written text? Why does the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, completed in 691–2 A.D., closely resemble Christian churches and shrines from the same period? Why did medieval Europeans judge objects from the Islamic world, especially those bearing Arabic script, to be sacred in nature? How did commercial and diplomatic exchanges with China and Viking Scandinavia impact the arts of Central Asia and the Middle East during the premodern period? What can contemporary comic books tell us about the visual logic of fifteenth-century Iranian manuscript painting? And how have nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists used photography and film to address the legacies of colonialism and Orientalism? We will attempt to answer these questions through close and careful analysis of objects in a range of media, from silver and rock crystal to silk textiles and video; cities and architectural sites in Spain and India, and the many places in between; and primary and secondary texts. Films, museum websites, musical recordings, and visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections will supplement readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.No cap on enrollment.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Rice.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2023
(Offered as ARHA 153 and ARCH 153) This introductory course engages one of the most discussed typologies in world architecture: the monument. From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, monuments have entered into global consciousness as individuals from tourists to government officials have celebrated their supposed uniqueness. Meanwhile, monuments have drawn the ire of ISIS and the Taliban—two groups which have become famous for destroying venerated structures. Whether the subject in question is a tourist, a religious pilgrim, or a terrorist bent on destruction, humans are often drawn to monuments because of their power to captivate. This course examines the relevance of this psychic power. Over the course of the semester, we will address the architectural, social, cultural, theoretical, and political questions that emerge from an investigation of a range of famous and lesser-known monuments, including but not limited to: the Eiffel Tower; the Taj Mahal; the Great Mosque of Mecca; the Statue of Liberty; the Alhambra; the American Capitol Building; and the Suez Canal. We will also discuss the role of ISIS and the Taliban in shaping contemporary debates concerning the meaning and importance of architectural preservation as it relates to the monuments of the Middle East and South Asia. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will develop their writing skills while gaining knowledge of the issues that guide the study of world monuments, specifically, and architectural history, at large. This course is intended to introduce students to the field of architectural studies.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Carey.2023-24: Not offered
Art and Architecture of South Asia
(Offered as ARHA 154, ARCH 154, and ASLC 154) This introductory course surveys the architecture, painting, sculpture, textiles, and other arts of South Asia—including India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka—from 2300 B.C. to the present. Among the diverse materials we will examine are the archaeological remains from one of the world’s earliest planned cities; Buddhist monastic complexes carved entirely out of living rock; Hindu temples bearing erotic images; manuscript illustrations made for Muslim emperors; colorful printed and painted textiles produced for domestic, European, Indonesian, and Japanese markets; and twentieth-century works of art that anticipate and respond to India’s independence from British colonial rule. We will consider the important roles that South Asian artists, architects, and other makers have played in depicting and housing the divine, establishing political and religious systems, and fueling the exchange of ideas and goods across the globe. Films, musical recordings, museum websites, visits to the Mead Art Museum and Amherst’s Archives and Special Collections, and cooking and food-tasting sessions will supplement assigned readings, lectures, and discussions. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Rice.2023-24: Not offered
Introduction to Contemporary Art
This introductory course explores art produced between 1960 and the present. We will take a transnational approach, from the emergence of Pop art as an international phenomenon in the 1960s to the mushrooming cloud of biennials in the twenty-first century. The course will sometimes look at art’s intersection with architecture, film, and visual culture more broadly. We will keep in mind the following questions: How have new technologies, civil rights movements, emergent subjectivities, new forms of theoretical inquiry, and processes of globalization shaped the work of art? How have artists critiqued both institutions and the art historical canon? How does contemporary art both participate in and stand apart from the world in which and for which it was made?
Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Vicario.2023-24: Not offered
The Postcolonial City
(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193 [D]) This course engages the buildings, cities, and landscapes of the former colonies of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Beginning with the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the non-European territories, which once comprised the lucrative possessions of modern European empires, quickly became independent states charged with developing infrastructure, erecting national monuments, and handling the influx of laborers drawn to the metropolises formed as sleepy colonial towns grew into bustling postcolonial cities. This class will examine the buildings, urban spaces, rural landscapes, and national capitals that emerged in response to these political histories. We will approach a number of issues, such as the architecture of national independence monuments, the preservation of buildings linked to the colonial past, the growth of new urban centers in Africa and India after independence, architecture and regimes of postcolonial oppression, the built environments of tourism in the independent Caribbean, and artists’ responses to all of these events. Some of the places that we will address include: Johannesburg, South Africa; Chandigarh, India; Negril, Jamaica; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Lilongwe, Malawi. Our goal will be to determine what, if any, continuities linked the buildings, landscapes, and spaces of post-independence Africa, India, and the Caribbean in the twentieth century. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in analyzing buildings, town plans, and other visual materials. Also, this class will aid students in developing their writing skills, particularly, their ability to write about architecture and urban space.
Spring semester. Professor Carey.Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023
Modernity and the Avant-Gardes, 1890–1945
(Offered as ARHA 159 and ARCH 159) This course is an examination of the emergence, development, and dissolution of European modernist art, architecture and design. The course begins with the innovations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, created in consort with the growth of modern urbanism, colonialist politics, and psychological experimentation. Distinctions between the terms modernity, modernism, and the avant-garde will be explored as we unpack the complex equations between art, politics, and social change in the first half of the twentieth century. Covering selected groups (such as Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism, l'Esprit Nouveau, Bauhaus, and Constructivism), this course will consider themes such as mechanical reproduction, nihilism, nationalism, consumerism, and primitivism as they are disclosed in the making and reception of modernist art and architecture.
Spring semester. Professor Koehler.Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Deconstructing Modernity: 1945–2000
(Offered as ARHA 160 and ARCH 160) This course examines the art, architecture, and design produced in Europe and the United States from the aftermath of World War II to the end of the twentieth century. We will begin with art in relationship to war, the Holocaust, and the expansion of capitalism, consumerism, suburbia, and the skyscraper. Finally, we will conclude by engaging the rejection of modernist strategies in the latter part of the twentieth century. We will survey movements such as COBRA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, the Situationists, Minimalism, land art, performance art, feminist art, Neo-Expressionism, and the archival turn; architectural groups such as Archigram, CIAM, the post modernists, and deconstructionists; and defining texts by Adorno, Sartre, Arendt, Debord, Foucault, Krauss, Derrida, among others.
Omitted 2022-23. Assistant Professor Koehler.2023-24: Not offered
Water as Leitmotif: Queer Kinship and Performance for the Camera
This interdisciplinary introductory course focuses on water as a poetic and political space of exploration. Through the discussion of critical and creative texts, visual and cinematic analysis, and a direct engagement with water, we will examine water as a material for making, a healing practice, a site of ecological consciousness, a messy and contaminated place, and a medium/form of physical and psychic reorientation. The course content is informed by queer- and feminist-making practices, as well as contemporary environmental thought and aesthetics. Together we will speculate on new practices of intimacy, kinship, and care-based relations through the lens of water and fluidity. Throughout the semester, students will make individual works using varying media including: drawing, performance, photography and video.
Fall Semester. Limited to 14 students. Visiting Artist in Residence Ohan Breiding2023-24: Not offered
The Slanted Horizon
This intermediate production class will use DIY techniques and mundane objects and materials as tools to build sculptures (ready-mades), and installations that will later be used as costumes and stage-sets for performance and photographic/video documentation. Using queer theory, critical race studies, science-fiction and literature references, we will attempt to think through and question the very notion of the horizon as construct and indicator of stable ground to collaboratively create a piece for a gallery exhibition. We will ask ourselves: What does ecological philosophy currently look like, and (how) will it translate after the “end of the world”? This class will search for, invent, and queer Hyperobjects - entities of vast temporal/spatial dimensions that defeat traditional ideas of what a thing, object, or photograph/documentation is and collectively create “the slanted horizon."
Spring semester 2023. Visiting Artist in Residence Ohan Breiding2023-24: Not offered
Contemporary Native American Art
(Offered as ARHA 180 and AMST 211) This course will examine works of art created by Native American artists, including painting, sculpture, photography, and performance and installation art, from the late nineteenth century to today. Students will study important movements and consider individual artists who worked primarily as painters, including the Iroquois realists of the late nineteenth century; the Studio School of Southwestern artists, printmakers, and illustrators; the Kiowa Six and their important role in creating modern Native American murals; abstract expressionists like Kay Walkingstick (Cherokee); Pop artists like Fritz Scholder (Luiseno) and Harry Fonseca (Nisenan Maidu); and Conceptual artists such as Edgar Heap of Birds (Cheyenne). Major Native American contemporary photographers include Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke (Crow)), Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole-Diné), and Horace Poolaw (Kiowa). The course will also consider sculptors working in realistic (Alan Houser, Blackbear Bosin) and abstract styles (Rick Bartow, Tammy Garcia); performance artists like James Luna and Rebecca Belmore; important emerging artists like the interdisciplinary activist/arts collective Postcommodity; and Angel de Cora, the first Native American graduate of Smith College.
Limited to 34 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Couch.2023-24: Not offered
Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture
(Offered as ARHA 186 and LLAS 186) This course provides an introduction to the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of the Americas. It explores major traditions in architecture and city planning, murals, sculpture, painting, masks, and textiles. The first half of the semester concentrates on Preclassic and Classic Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America); the second on Postclassic Mesoamerica, North America, and the Andes.
Omitted 2022 - 2023. Visiting Professor Couch.2023-24: Not offered
Native American Art
This course provides an introduction to Native American Indian art and architecture from North and Latin America. It focuses on the modern and contemporary periods (with some attention to archaeological art), exploring traditions in architecture, sculpture, painting, masks, textiles, and ceramics. The first half of the semester concentrates on the Woodlands, Plains, and Southwest; the second on the Northwest Coast, Arctic, Mexico and Guatemala, Central America, the Andes, and Amazonia. The course will be interdisciplinary, and will include readings Indigenous narratives, Native American aesthetics, and contemporary artists including photographers, videographers, and performance artists, as well as alternative curating and exhibition of Indigenous art.
Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Professor Couch.Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2023
This course explores the complex relationship between art and the Internet. How has the Internet seeped into and come to inform the way artists work in the twenty-first century? What is the history of digital imaging? What role do digital renderings play in the design of art and architecture? Why have some artists rejected digital media in favor of pre-digital materials—analog media, artisanal craft, body art and performance? What is the difference between seeing a work of art “in person” versus on social media? Why do people post what they see “in person” on social media? How do artists, galleries, and museums seek to limit the online circulation of works of art? What is the relationship between a unique, original work of art and a multitude of copies? What is Post-Internet art? To what extent has the Internet disrupted the way the art world functions and in what ways has the pandemic played a role in moving art online? How has the recent NFT boom affected the art market and how does it figure in a longer history of thinking about the relationship between art as intellectual property and as taking material form? The course will combine twenty-first century case studies with a wider range of texts on topics such as originality, reproduction, and theories and histories of technology. The class will meet on Zoom and will include brief lectures, discussion (both in breakout rooms and all together), guest speakers, film screenings, short writing assignments, and final presentations.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Vicario.2023-24: Not offered
Measuring Histories through Materiality and Multiples
The most quotidian objects possess the power to connect to a broad audience. This course will harness that power to make art that measures and recounts past events in human history. The events might be small or large, little known, personally experienced, or widely recounted. Students will interrogate the context, function, materiality, and symbolism of common objects from as many vantage points as possible. We will explore how objects in multiples can disrupt, engage, challenge, obscure or metaphorically highlight the meaning in materials. The class will explore methods of combining, linking, and connecting common objects both conceptually and physically toward the manifestation of both singular and collaborative artworks. We will work together to select suitable materials and methods to quantify, measure, and actualize diverse histories and narratives. Students should be prepared to share materials, ideas, stories, and ways of working.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022- 2023. Visiting Professor Clark.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as ARCH 202 and ARHA 202) This seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field that combines the theory and practice of architecture and anthropology. We compare and contrast these two disciplines’ canonical methods, their ethical stances, and their primary subject matters (i.e., buildings and people). With that, we reflect upon the challenges of ethnoarchitecture as a new discipline, emphasizing the challenges of carrying out architectural research and/or construction work among people from cultural backgrounds different than the architect’s own. In general, this course invites critical thinking about the theory and practice of architecture, especially when it confronts issues of difference, including ethno-cultural and social class differences.
Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone; previous instruction in architectural studies, area or ethnic studies, or social studies can be beneficial but is not mandatory.
Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.2023-24: Not offered
Color Meets Object
What happens when a painted image escapes its rectangle and pushes out of illusionistic depth into the literal space of the room? How does it change a viewer’s understanding of sculptural form when the sculpture’s physical volumes have been optically flattened, heightened, or contradicted by the addition of color? In this course we will invite interaction between illusionistic and literal, tactile space to consider unique possibilities where the concerns of painting and sculpture merge. We will explore how each discipline can expand its scope with an amalgam of tactile and chromatic visual elements and experience. The semester will begin with a series of structured studio problems and with research into contemporary art practices that incorporate both color and tactile volume. We will also look into the wealth of historical precedents for these practices. This critical review and first-hand study of artworks, in conjunction with studio experimentation, will help each student determine the shape of an end-of-semester artwork or series of works. Readings, visiting artists, museum visits and a wide range of pertinent visual materials will supplement and inform our studio work.
Requisite: One prior studio course in painting or sculpture, or permission of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Keller.2023-24: Not offered
Housing, Urbanization, and Development
(Offered as ARCH 204, ARHA 204, and LLAS 204) This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities worldwide. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches to address these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. We use a comparative focus, going back and forth between the cases of the United States and the so-called developing world. By doing this, we engage in a “theory from without” exercise: We attempt to understand the housing problem in the United States from the perspective of the developing world, and vice versa. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, seminar discussions, documentary films, visual analysis exercises, and a field trip.
Limited to 20 students. Spring Semester. Professor Arboleda.2023-24: Not offered
Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique
(Offered as ARCH 205 and ARHA 205) This theory seminar aims to provide students with a strong basis for a deep engagement with the practice of sustainability in architectural design. The studied material covers both canonical literature on green design and social science-based critical theory. We start by exploring the key tenets of the sustainable design discourse, and how these tenets materialize in practice. Then, we examine sustainable design in relation to issues such as inequality and marginality. As we do this, we locate sustainability within the larger environmental movement, studying in detail some of the main approaches and standards of sustainable design, the attempts to improve this practice over time, and the specific challenges confronting these attempts. In addition to reading discussions, we study our subject through student presentations and written responses, a field trip, and two graphic design exercises.
Recommended prior coursework: The course is open to everyone, but students would benefit from having a previous engagement with a course in architectural design, architectural history and/or theory, introduction to architectural studies, or environmental studies.
Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Arboleda.2023-24: Not offered
This course offers an exciting investigation into failure in art during the uniqueness of life and culture in 2020. We will discover and debate the complexities, challenges, and benefits of failure and what it means for making art. Students will experiment with flaws, imperfections, rejects, and errors in their art projects. We will encourage you to think about failure in positive, unexpected, inspirational, and low-fi ways. You will learn about artists who are motivated by errors, uncommon methods, and breaking rules. The course includes presentations, screenings, discussions, collaboration, in-class activities, assignments, and independent work. There will be an emphasis on using and subverting everyday tools and materials.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-2023. Artist-in-Resident England.2023-24: Not offered
Talking with Beads
This studio art course focused on complex global beading traditions and techniques. We will study how the language of beadwork is used to tell stories, connect with ancestors, provide protection, create community, signify power, and challenge injustice. This course draws on the over 75,000-year usage of beads ranging from umbilical amulets (Native American) to abacuses (Middle East and Asia) to rosaries (Europe) to lukasa (Central Africa) to Zulu love letters (South Africa). Students will learn dozens of beading techniques (many unique to South African cultures where some of the earliest beads were discovered.) We will use beads to communicate, preserve, and encode messages. We will expand the definition of what constitutes a bead; use variation in size, color, shape, and material as metaphor; and design beaded memory devices. No prior beading experience is necessary but curiosity and commitment is required.
Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Clark.Other years: Offered in Fall 2023
Playing with Pictures
This studio course focuses on the archiving, collecting, and appropriation related to contemporary art. Students will learn to "play with pictures" in imaginative, conceptual, exploratory, and intelligent ways. This learning will happen through exercises in-class, readings, journal writing, experimental making, film screenings, group discussions, critiques, and other activities. We will investigate the collection, curation, and juxtaposition of images from a wide range of sources, and consider how new personal, social, and political meanings can be generated from different groupings of images. This will be framed by critically reviewing the work of contemporary visual artists who use archives, collecting, and/or appropriation in their practice. Students will create personalized repositories of images from which to draw for future art and design projects.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-23. Artist-in-residence England.2023-24: Not offered
Storytelling Arts in Mesoamerica
(Offered as ENGL 212 and ARHA 212) [Before 1800] This course will explore the major pictorial narrative traditions of Mesoamerica, focusing on manuscripts of the Aztec, Maya, and Mixtec peoples, as well as other media, including texts and images from murals, ceramics, monuments, and mirrors. These visual and narrative media continue to play important roles in the preservation of Indigenous identity, solidarity, and cultural identity within nation states; the course will examine public, popular, and fine arts reviving, repurposing, and supporting resistance using this imagery.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Lecturer Couch.2023-24: Not offered
Printmaking I: The Handprinted Image
An introduction to intaglio and relief processes including drypoint, engraving, etching, aquatint, monoprints, woodcut and linocut. The development of imagery incorporating conceptual concerns in conjunction with specific techniques will be a crucial element in the progression of prints. Historical and contemporary references will be discussed to further enhance understanding of various techniques. Critiques will be held regularly with each assignment; critical analysis of prints utilizing correct printmaking terminology is expected. A final project of portfolio making and a portfolio exchange of an editioned print are required.
Limited to 10 students. Fall semester. Senior Resident Artist Garand. Limited to 10 students. Spring semester. Senior Resident Artist Garand.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
An exploration of three-dimensional concepts, form, expression and aesthetics. In a series of directed projects students will encounter a range of materials and technical processes including construction, modeling and carving. Projects will include conceptual and critical strategies integrated with material concerns. By the end of the course students will have developed a strong understanding of basic principles of contemporary sculpture and acquired the skills and technical knowledge of materials to create accomplished works of three-dimensional expression. Students will develop an awareness of conceptual and critical issues in current and historical sculptural practice, establishing a foundation for continued training and self-directed work in sculpture and other artistic disciplines.
No prior studio experience is required. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester 2022. New Sculpture Professor HireOther years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Frida and Diego
(Offered as HIST 216 [LA/TC/TE/TR/TS], LLAS 216 [LA, Humanities] and ARHA 216) This course examines the art, lives, and times of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, two of Mexico’s most famous artists. Through discussion, lectures, readings, and visual analysis we will consider the historical and artistic roots of their radical aesthetics as well as the ideals and struggles that shaped their lives. During their era, Kahlo was overshadowed by her husband Rivera, but in recent decades her fame has eclipsed his. To make sense of this we will address the changing meaning of their art over time, especially in relation to markets, social movements, and gender and sexual identities. By the end of the semester, students will have a strong understanding of these two artists and their work, as well as the contexts in which they lived and in which their art continues to circulate, including early twentieth-century Modernism, the Mexican Revolution, indigenismo, the Chicano Movement, and recent efforts toward ethnic and gender inclusion. No prerequisites, open to all years and majors.
Fall semester. Professor Lopez.2023-24: Not offered
Improvising the Space Between: Drawing, Architecture, and Sculpture
This course is an exploration into the shared territories of drawing, architecture, and sculpture, and the hybrid spaces that may be created between those disciplines. An improvisational and responsive approach, in the spirit of experimentation and open inquiry, frames the studio-based course work. We will consider potentials and challenges of space, light, materials, joinery, structural geometries, organic growth, and temporality. After this initial period of information gathering, students will be free to determine the format or combination of formats that will shape an extended semester-end project. Readings, artist talks, museum visits and a wide range of pertinent visual materials will supplement and inform our studio work.
Requisite: One prior course in studio arts, architecture, or film production, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Keller.2023-24: Not offered
An introduction to black-and-white still photography. The basic elements of photographic technique will be taught as a means to explore both general pictorial structure and photography’s own unique visual language. Emphasis will be centered less on technical concerns and more on investigating how images can become vessels for both ideas and deeply human emotions. Weekly assignments, weekly critiques, readings, and slide lectures about the work of artist-photographers, one short paper, and a final portfolio involving an independent project of choice. Two three-hour meetings per week.
Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Kimball.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Venice, Perfect City (476-1797)
(Offered as HIST 219 [EU/TC/TE/C/P] and ARHA 219) When the Roman Empire imploded in 476, refugees from the Italian mainland settled on a few disconnected islands sheltered from the open Adriatic Sea by a lagoon. Within a few centuries, they created one of the most unlikely, beautiful, and long-lasting European cities ever to have been built. The cooperative spirit with which early medieval Venetians were able to create an urban environment built on seawater found its expression in the political and societal structures they formed to govern their city, republic, and, eventually, empire. In this course, we will discuss key events in the history of this extraordinary city, whose autonomy and self-government lasted until Napoleon invaded it in 1797. Topics include: Africans in Venice; art, architecture, and urban planning; the formation of an aristocratic but republican constitution; the emergence of civic institutions, poor relief, and neighborhood organizations; the history of the Ghetto and its Sephardic, Ashkenazi, and Italian communities; Venetian sea-trade and the conquest of the Levantine Empire; the Venetian Renaissance; ties with Byzantium, the Mamluk and Ottoman Empires; convent culture; proto-feminism; Enlightenment. These topics will be discussed in the wider context of historical developments in the European and Mediterranean Middle Ages and early modern period. Two meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Sperling.2023-24: Not offered
The Photograph: Image, Text, Context
This course will focus on a small, select number of American photographs studied in significant depth. Making use of diverse methods of looking and analysis, we will examine photographs that are both canonical and non-canonical: from the earliest daguerreotypes in the nineteenth century, to documents of American history, to avant-garde experimentations, and the expanding global image ecologies of the present. We will study the social, intellectual, and art histories ofphotography, interrogating concepts of visual representation and reproduction, and issues of technology, identity, and power, while also employing the theoretical lenses of critical writers.
Omitted 2022-23 (Offered as FYSE during Fall 2022). Professor Koehler.2023-24: Not offered
Foundations in Video Production
(Offered as ARHA 221 and FAMS 221) This introductory course is designed for students with no prior experience in video production. The aim is both technical and creative. We will begin with the literal foundation of the moving image—the frame—before moving through shot and scene construction, lighting, sound-image concepts, and final edit. In addition to instruction in production equipment and facilities, the course will also explore cinematic form and structure through weekly readings, screenings and discussion. Each student will work on a series of production exercises and a final video assignment.
Limited to 12 students with instructor's permission. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Emily Drummer.Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
A course appropriate for students with prior experience in basic principles of visual organization, who wish to investigate further aspects of pictorial construction abstracting from forms including the figure, landscape and organic still life. There will be weekly drawing assignments and critiques, in addition to a final project of a life size self portrait.
Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Sweeney.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Translating Nature: Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture
This course explores the visual structures of natural things. The processes and disciplines of drawing, acrylic painting, watercolor and sculpture will be used to examine natural subjects such as plants, animals, landscape and the figure. We will work directly from life. Out-of-class trips will be frequent to access natural subject matter not found in the classroom.
Requisite: One of ARHA 111, ARHA 214, or ARHA 215 (because of the diversity of subject and materials used). Limited to 8 students. Fall semester. Omitted 2022-23. Senior Resident Artist David Gloman.2023-24: Not offered
Critiquing the Critique as Studio Art Practice
What is the purpose of the art critique and how can we get the most out of them? Students who have taken at least two studio art courses will explore the meaning and application of critique as it applies both to their own work and the work of others. We will critique the artwork of established artists and the writing of established art critics to unearth strategies. Together, we will define the purpose of critique, deconstruct critique methodologies, hone written and verbal skills to become better critics, and apply criticism toward the development of new work. Students will bring previous work to the course and remake that work based on feedback. Ultimately, students will practice analyzing and articulating their art practice in relationship to various social, cultural, and historical lenses.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Online only. Professor Clark.2023-24: Not offered
Image & Text
The combination of language with visual information offers a rich range of possibilities. In this course we will investigate strategies of interweaving image and text to create works that draw upon the qualities of each to produce hybrid forms. The class will look at a variety of sources and respond to them in a series of hands-on studio projects. These sources include maps, diagrams, calligraphy, illustrations and manuscripts, as well as work from the history of art and literature. The projects can involve drawing, printing, erasures, book-making, writing, digital media and photography to produce works that deploy image and text to express narrative, poetic, political or informational content. Students from a range of diciplines and interests are encouraged to participate.
No prior studio experience is required. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Culhane.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023
The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)
(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/C/P], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.
Not offered in 2022-23. Visiting Professor Sperling.2023-24: Not offered
Cartographic Cultures: Making Maps, Building Worlds
(Offered as ARHA 232 and ARCH 232) This course traces the history of modern cartography from the integration of indigenous map-making techniques into colonial Latin American land surveys in the sixteenth century to the use of GIS software by militaries and corporations to create detailed images of foreign and domestic territories in the twenty-first century. Along the way, we will study the political and economic impetus that drove governments, militaries, municipalities, and private entities to create renderings of the land on which we live. We will also investigate the technological history of map-making as we consider the extent to which innovations in modern science have influenced the production of maps. This course will challenge the presumption that maps are factual portrayals of physical space. It will also question how divergent forms of culturally based knowledge as well as economic constraints and corporate rivalries have historically influenced map-making and subsequently shaped our understanding of territories near and far. We will think through these issues while investigating a number of major topics in the history of modern cartography: map-making and indigenous expertise in the Americas prior to and during European intervention; colonial cartography in the Americas, Asia, and Africa; the explosion of the map-making industry in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England and France; the mapping of oceans and other remote landscapes during this time; the twentieth-century genre of pictorial maps in the United States; cartography and modern warfare; and artists’ responses to these histories. Through written assignments and a final creative project, students will build their writing and research skills while gaining knowledge of the methods that scholars employ when reading a wide variety of maps. Moreover, in approaching contemporary debates in the field of cartography, this course will introduce students to landscape studies.
Limited to 34 students. Spring semester. Professor Carey.2023-24: Not offered
2020: Art Can Help
(Offered as ARHA 233 and FAMS 233) We approach the fall of 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic, a wave of international protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, systemic racism, an escalating climate emergency, and widespread anxiety about the consequences of the upcoming American elections. Our own responses to these crises can vary, often from day to day. We may feel inspired to make change or to further educate ourselves, but we can also feel overwhelmed and unsure of our own place in the world. What are our responsibilities as artists, individuals and as members of the communities that surround us?
In this remote studio course for students working in video and photography, we will explore methods and issues related to politically engaged art practice. Topics to be covered may include: the tension between the personal and the political in art, the role of images within political discourse, documentary, archive, and the relationship between creative practice and activism.
Each student will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own interests or experience. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes that might include or combine direct observation, diaristic record, archival practices, performance or poetic intervention. The course will include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.
Requisite Course: One 200-level course in film/video or photography, or a portfolio of work which demonstrates relevant experience. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2022 -2023. Professor Kimball and Professor Levine.2023-24: Not offered
Hand and Lens: Drawing From Photographic Sources
In this class we will investigate the relationships between drawing and photography and explore approaches to generating hand-drawn images from photographic sources. Through a series of studio projects we will question similarities and differences between these fundamental two-dimensional forms and consider strategies to create original, compelling images. We will look at the origins and technical specifics of each form through the viewing and analysis of contemporary and historical images, as well as through readings in criticism and theory. Themes explored will include: flatness and perspective, freezing time, photography as surrogate memory, image and scale, multiples, narrative, the role of the hand and the authority of the image. We will use an array of drawing media, including pencil, charcoal and ink.
Experience in drawing and/or photography is required. Spring semester 2023. Visiting Lecturer in Art Douglas Culhane
2023-24: Not offered
Integrated Practices: Social Issues and the Interview
(Offered as ARHA 235 and FAMS 410) This Integrated Practices course blends production components and theories regarding the interview, oral histories, direct address and on camera dialogues, in non-fiction video production, in order to explore and respond to the ways in which social issues such as racism, economic inequality, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, bullying, hate speech and hate crimes, disability, incarceration, to name a few, affect us.
In Social Issues and the Interview, students create, research and analyze the process of producing scripted, interview-based, socially engaged, short non-fiction videos. The course examines elements of performance for the camera, remote internet-based interviews, studio and in the field shooting, The class looks at various interview and editing techniques as well as the form, history, and function of the interview form in the non-fiction genre.
Requisite: A foundations course in Critical Studies of Film and Media (such as “Coming to Terms: Cinema”) and an introductory film/video production workshop. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022 -2023. Visiting Assistant Professor Montoya.2023-24: Not offered
Ruins, Rubble and Rupture
(Offered as ARHA 236 and ARCH 236) This course will consider the complex role of the ruin in the history of art—including paintings, prints, photographs, films, sculpture, and architectural remains—making extensive use of the exhibition “Architectural Ghosts” at the Mead Art Museum. We will begin with artists such as Piranesi, Thomas Cole, and Casper David Friedrich, as well as Romantic architects who designed structures meant to suggest the passage of time and the powers of decay. We will consider early travel photographs of ancient ruins and modern and contemporary responses made in the aftermath of war, terrorism, and climate disasters, including new writing on the ruin. The class will examine historical phenomena such as the “rubble women” who gathered debris after the blanket bombings of Europe in the 1940s; “ruin-porn” in relationship to post-industrial urban revitalization; and efforts of preservation in the context of continued violence throughout the world. The course will include a focus on art, architecture and films made after World War II, the Holocaust, and Hiroshima when the imagery of ruins and the markings of rupture became artistic tools—as in the works of Alberto Burri, Anselm Kiefer, Roberto Rossellini, Yves Klein, or the Gutai group. Students will present on one object in the exhibition, respond to weekly readings in discussion, write short essays, and work on an extended research project (presentations and paper) on an object or site of their own choosing.
Spring semester. Professor Koehler.2023-24: Not offered
Curating between the Virtual and the Physical: Liliana Porter
This course introduces students to contemporary art and the history and practice of organizing exhibitions. How do we present and experience art in a fixed location and how can art be curated and engaged with on the Internet? A museum exhibition of work by artist Liliana Porter, on view at the Mead during the run of the course, and the planning of a parallel online exhibition in collaboration with Curator of American Art and Arts of the Americas Lisa Crossman, will provide a case study. Porter’s work, which ranges from video to installation to works on paper, offers a particularly rich opportunity for thinking through the relationship between originality and reproduction, objects and representation. This class presents students with an opportunity to converse with the artist, engage with the exhibition of her work on view, learn from a curator, and participate in the organization of the virtual exhibition. Students will also read, discuss, and write about curating, spatial experience, technological mediation, and artists and curators who have reimagined the forms art and exhibitions take.
Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Vicario2023-24: Not offered
Drawn with Thread
How can a thread or stitched line bring meaning to the content and subject of an artwork? Explore the expressive ways thread is used as a linear element to draw, think, join, and define space socially and culturally in this studio art class. If you have no sewing experience or even if you have a lot, this collaborative learning environment is for you. Bring your curiosity and willingness to learn and share. We will consider the gestural, emotional expression, and rhythm, and textural possibilities of thread. We will use recycled and upcycled materials. We will employ the simplest running stitch to the complex shisha stitch and improvise from the richness of global embroidery histories. Sometimes we will even build form and meaning without fabric or on non traditional materials. Set your pencil aside, pick up a needle and thread, and draw.
Fall Semester. Professor Sonya Clark.2023-24: Not offered
Women in Architecture
(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. Limited to 25 students.
Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.2023-24: Not offered
The Age of Michelangelo: Italian Renaissance Art and Architecture
(Offered as ARHA 241, ARCH 241, and EUST 241) Michelangelo, a defining genius of the Italian Renaissance, emerged from a rich cultural environment that forever changed how we think of art. Artists of the Renaissance developed an original visual language from the legacy of the ancient world, while also examining nature, their environment, and encounters with other worlds to the East and West. Their art revealed a profound engagement with philosophical attitudes toward the body and the spirit, as well as with ideals of pious devotion and civic virtue. Those concepts changed radically over the period of the Renaissance, however. Artists developed the rhetoric of genius and artistic struggle by vaunting an artist’s godlike role, owing to his imaginative creation of art and his ability to mimic reality illusionistically, yet they also questioned a human’s place in the cosmos. We will analyze in depth the visual language of painting, sculpture, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and popes in the urban centers of Florence, Rome and Venice from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and examine the virtuosic processes artists used to achieve their goals.
Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will analyze selected works and contemporary attitudes toward the visual through study of the art and its primary sources.
Gain confidence in the art of close looking to gain visual understanding;Achieve an understanding about how art and its culture are intertwined; Develop the critical skills to analyze points of view from a historical period other than our own; Learn collaboratively with classmates; Develop and argue an original thesis about a single work of art in a research paper.
One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH recommended. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
Hand-Drawn and Hand-Printed: The Stories of Images
This course will focus on drawing and printmaking as a means of building visual stories through serial description and expression. Studio work will include brush and ink drawings, watercolor, printmaking techniques, and collage, with a range of approaches to subject matter based on each student’s individual interests and choices. These include representational, narrative, abstract, and symbol-based imagery, among others. Relief printing techniques using both wood and synthetic blocks, will be taught, as well as the intaglio technique of trace monotype printing. All prints will be handprinted using spoons, barens, and the palm of the hand. Experimentation around conceptual and technical boundaries will be explored and encouraged. Projects will focus on using a combination of these means to develop a series of related images. A broad cultural range of contemporary and historical references will be studied in conjunction with students' individual projects. The semester’s work will culminate in a cohesive body of visual work given the form of a small-scale installation and, for the final project, a hand-made accordion book. Discussion and critiques will be held regularly in both group and individual formats. Writing will be required of students in the form of series statements, feedback on other students’ projects, and final semester reflections on their work. No prerequisites required.
Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2022-23. Senior Resident Artist Garand.2023-24: Not offered
Cut, Inked and Hand Pressed: Woodcut Prints
Woodcut is a dynamic form of printmaking. It has been instrumental in communication since the invention of paper in 105 C.E. and is a relief technique with a broad array of possibilities. Students will learn various methods to cut and print wood blocks, and assignments will include multiple block printing, hand-colored prints, collage, and cut paper. All prints will be handprinted using spoons, barens and the palm the hand. Assignments will be critiqued regularly, and critical analysis of prints' conceptual and technical concerns will be discussed. The study of a culturally wide range of historical and contemporary artists will provide inspiration, insight and knowledge into the visual language of woodcut. Students will be encouraged to create imagery that provides personal meaning influenced by political, individualistic, imaginative and emotional experiences. No prerequisites required.
Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2022-23. Senior Resident Artist Garand.
2023-24: Not offered
Kyoto: City, Image, Text
(Offered as ASLC 244 and ARHA 244)
Kyoto was established as the capital of Japan in 794 and remained the site of the imperial palace until 1868. For much of its history the city was home to Japan’s most influential religious thinkers, writers, and artists and while today Kyoto is a modern city of over a million people, it still is thought to define traditional Japanese culture. This class will explore the intersection of the art and literature produced in the city throughout its long history. Both were deeply influenced by Buddhism and Shinto, so the class will examine some religious texts as well as novels, poetry and folk tales, painting, sculpture, architecture and crafts. Among the topics that will be covered are the high value placed on artistic accomplishment within the aristocratic culture of the eleventh century, millenarianism in the late Heian period, multiple civil wars, Zen culture and the arts and architecture of the late medieval era, the birth of drama in Japan, and modern writers’ and artists’ nostalgia for the past.
Spring semester. Professors Morse and Van Compernolle.Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2023
Politics and Preservation: Rebuilding the Past Worldwide
(Offered as ARHA 245 and ARCH 245) Why should we preserve the architectural remains of the past? Is it even possible or worthwhile to reconstruct a building or a space that existed long ago? This intermediate level investigation of the history and politics of historic preservation, or the process of restoring old dwellings for contemporary usage and display, will approach these questions as they have emerged worldwide. History has left us with many crumbling, damaged, and feeble vestiges of buildings—some of which were once impressive and others which were simply ordinary—that both persons and governments in various places and at different times have sought to reconstruct and return to their former glory. Meanwhile, the proliferation of theme parks and the growth of heritage tourism in the twentieth and twenty-first century have made the fantastical reimagining of the cities, towns, ports, and elite residences of the past a multimillion dollar industry. We will consider these issues as we approach a range of topics, such as: the role of Mayan and Aztec archeology of the 1950s and 1960s in the excavation and touristic promotion of Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Tenochtitlan in Mexico; the reconstruction of the destroyed shtetls, or small Jewish towns and villages, in contemporary Eastern Europe; Dutch and French attempts at rebuilding the Buddhist shrines of Southeast Asia during episodes of colonial rule in Indonesia and Cambodia; Epcot and the performance of the North American past at Walt Disney World; the legal codes that govern what is and is not a historic structure in the United States and worldwide; and the practice of restoring aging dwellings in Amherst and across New England. In addressing these and other topics, we will ask what, if any, social and political conflicts, needs, and challenges have driven people to restore and reimagine buildings close to home and around the world. Over the course of the semester, students will gain skills in researching, analyzing, and writing about architecture and social space. No prerequisites.
Omitted 2022 - 2023. Professor Carey.2023-24: Not offered
Independent Projects: Sculpture Studio Seminar
This course is an opportunity for students to pursue and shape independent sculpture projects developed through a series of closely related sculptural works. The class will focus on the dynamics and engineering of three-dimensional structures and compositions, sensitivity to materials – what they offer and associations they carry--and use of a tactile language of form as expressive means. The semester will result in the production by each student of a coherent body of works, where every piece has informed and shaped the next as students’ ideas for their series are honed and more fully explored. The class as a whole will start the semester’s work with short exercises and studies, testing a range of approaches to using the language of three-dimensional form, before moving in individual directions. Modeling and construction techniques, as well as mold-making and casting, will be taught as needed in response to student goals, and as is possible within the constraints of COVID-19 precautions. Relevant readings, presentations, and museum visits will inform studio work. Regular group critiques and discussions will be a key part of learning with and from each other.
Requisite: ARHA 214, or permission of the instructor. Taught on campus, and remotely through group and individual Zoom meetings, and shared on-line materials, if needed. Omitted 2022-2023. Limited to 8 students. Professor Keller.2023-24: Not offered
Making Art in a Time of Turbulence and Upheaval
What's on your mind? How can you convey this visually? Fear and anxiety are normal aspects of creativity; the conscious act of "letting go" and trusting intuitive mark-making will be encouraged and taught in this course. Students will be motivated to create imagery that provides personal meaning influenced by political, individualistic, imaginative and emotional experiences. The class will explore and develop hand-printed and hand-drawn methods of making images using a variety of techniques allowing investigation and discovery. Assignments will include drawing with watercolor and colored pencils; hand printing with woodcut, trace monotype and the stencil method of pochoir. Woodcut is a relief method of printmaking which involves carving into blocks of wood, inking the surface, and then printing by hand, using spoons, barens and the palm of the hand. Trace monotype is an intaglio/planographic printmaking process that is very direct and reliant upon the pressure of a pencil and hand to offset ink to paper. Pochoir is a stencil method where ink is pounced directly onto the paper using a stencil brush; it has the look and quality of soft, air-brush. Students will also use watercolor and colored pencils to hand color prints as well as to draw. A culturally wide range of artists will be introduced throughout the course to coincide with assignments and provide relevant insight and knowledge. No prerequisites required.
Limited to 10 Students. Omitted 2022-23. Senior Resident Artist Garand.2023-24: Not offered
Digital Art History
(Offered as ARHA 249 and ARCH 249) This course is an introduction to the latest digital tools that art historians and museum curators use to analyze and display works of art, architecture, and the larger built environment, including, but not limited to, 3D modeling, network graphing, and digital mapping and storytelling. We will begin by asking what actually constitutes art historical data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information can inform our understanding of objects, buildings, cities, and landscapes. Among the other topics we will explore are the digital artworks and exhibitions that artists and curators around the globe are currently creating in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the ethics and practicalities of doing digital art history today. This non-lecture-based course centers hands-on collective learning and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Rice.2023-24: Not offered
Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice
(Offered as ARCH 250 and ARHA 250) This course explores the challenges and possibilities of humanitarian design, a growing area of interest in architectural practice. The course includes a field trip to Ecuador, to take place over Spring Break. This field component is deeply integrated into the course contents. During the first part of the semester, students become familiar with relevant theoretical and practice-based approaches to disaster reconstruction. With that, they gain an understanding of the complexities of this area, and a good grasp of the tasks and issues to be dealt with in the field. Upon returning from Ecuador, the rest of the semester is devoted to debriefing, producing and analyzing documentation, and drawing general lessons for the theory and practice of humanitarian design. The main case study is that of post-disaster reconstruction following Ecuador’s 2016 Pedernales Earthquake, which killed over 600 people and injured over 16,000. We will study the outcome of diverse reconstruction efforts and approaches four years after the earthquake. In order to compare and contrast approaches, our fieldwork will focus on two settings, an urban and a rural one, both located in the coastal Manabí province.
Limited to 12 Amherst College students. Admission with consent of the instructor. This course is open to Amherst College students only. There will be an application process before pre-registration. Those students selected will have their travel expenses covered.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Arboleda.
2023-24: Not offered
Performance In (and Out of) Place
This course is designed for students in dance, theater, film/video, art, music and creative writing who want to explore the challenges and potentials in creating site-specific performances and events outside of traditional "frames" or venues (e.g., the theater, the gallery, the concert hall, the lecture hall, the page). In the first part of the semester we will experiment with different techniques for working together and for developing responses to different spaces. We will conduct a series of performance practices and studies in numerous sites around the campus and utilize different mediums according to student interest and experience. A special emphasis will be placed on considering issues of access when we make choices about where and how to perform and create work. How can we encourage inclusive events that foster interaction and response with communities both near and far? What are possible relationships between art and community? How can we integrate important social and cultural issues into our art making? How might we collaborate with and make work for sites we are distanced from? What are crucial limitations to consider in creating site specific events, and how do we allow these limitations to inspire? The semester will culminate in a series of public final projects reflecting on the students’ processes through in-class showings, readings, viewings, discussions, and critical feedback sessions. Recommended requisite: previous college course experience in improvisation and/or composition in dance, theater, performance, film/video, music/sound, installation, creative writing, and/or design. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Kim.
Recommended requisite: Previous experience in improvisation and/or composition in dance, theater, performance, film/video, music/sound, installation, creative writing, and/or design is required. Limited to 8 students. Offered Spring 2023. Professor Woodson.2023-24: Not offered
Latin American Art: Strategies and Tactics
(Offered as ARHA 255 and LLAS 255) This course explores art produced since 1920 in Latin America. From the state-sponsored murals of post-revolutionary Mexico to the "Constructive Universalism” of Joaquín Torres-García in Uruguay, how did artists align themselves with and distinguish themselves from movements and ideas circulating in Europe and the United States? When and why did U.S. institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art begin to collect, exhibit, and theorize art from Latin America? At mid-century, how was the proliferation of geometric abstraction in Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Caracas entangled with the modernization projects in those cities? In the wake of the Cuban Revolution, in what ways did the spread of anti-imperialist ideas radicalize artistic practices across the region? When dictatorships commandeered several countries from the 1960s through the 1980s, how did political and cultural repression generate new dangers but also new tactics for artists? Studying more recent practices, we will investigate art projects produced on the U.S.-Mexico border, the interaction between artists from Latin America and an increasingly global art world, and the curatorial trends characterizing the early twenty-first century display of art from the region. Throughout the course, the work of art will be analyzed as the battleground upon and across which political struggles were fought.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Vicario.2023-24: Not offered
Slaves, Voyagers, and Strangers: Building Colonial Cities
(Offered as ARHA 257, ARCH 257, and BLST 253) Creole dwellings were first erected by enslaved builders working under Diego Colón (the son of Christopher Columbus) on the island of Hispaniola. By the end of the first wave of European expansion in the early nineteenth century, the creole style existed across imperial domains in the Caribbean, North and South America, Africa, the Indian Ocean, and even Asia. We will examine the global diffusion of this architectural typology from its emergence in the Spanish Caribbean to its florescence in British and French India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In doing so, we will address buildings and towns in former Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonies worldwide. Some of the urban centers that we will engage include: Kingston, Jamaica; Pondicherry, India; Cape Town, South Africa; Cartagena, Colombia; Saint-Louis, Senegal; and Macau, China. In investigating both creole structures and the cities that harbored such forms, we will think through the social and economic factors that caused buildings and urban areas to display marked continuities despite geographical and imperial distinctions.
Limited to 34 students. Fall semester. Professor Carey.Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Art, Things, Spaces, and Places
(Offered as ARHA 258, ARCH 258 and EUST 258) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to research on lived environments from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, the architecture that shaped them, and the art and objects that they contained. The goal of each class, through reading and discussion, is to investigate what a researchable question is in the fields of history, art history, architecture, and material culture in Europe, England, and the Americas. Using multi-disciplinary research strategies, we will examine the power of precious and ordinary objects (including furniture, tapestries, devotional paintings, family portraits, and sculpture), the contemporary connotations of their materiality, and consider what objects in a home might signify about a family’s status, political allegiance, spirituality, and place in the world. Further, we will ask how art, objects and décor shape the beholder’s experience of spaces inside and outside a residence, in private and in public. What does the display of objects in collections, including those from far-away cultures other than the patron’s, signify to the owner and the viewer? Visiting lecturers will present their ideas on various topics such as the anthropology of art, the significance of precious materials, and collecting. We will take field trips to museums and meet curators in order to identify a research topic.
This course will give students tools to conduct their own research into past lived environments and their contents, and identify how we in the 21st century might come to understand them. As the culmination of the course students will collaboratively develop a prospectus for a research project with one or two other classmates. Assignments to meet that goal include adding new content to Wikipedia as a record of students’ findings and a contribution to knowledge for a wider public.
Open to sophomores but also motivated first-years interested in research in a variety of fields. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
Utopia: Visionary Architecture, Art and Theory
(Offered as ARHA 259 and ARCH 259) This course is an examination of utopian plans in architecture and art. We will consider the philosophical constructs of utopia in architectural drawings, buildings, and plans in relation to film, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. We will consider how different projections about life in the future are also harsh criticisms of the present, which often rely upon imagined concepts of social organizations in times past. The course reflects on utopian art from antiquity to the present, including an examination of selected utopian authors, including Sir Thomas More, Edward Bellamy, and William Morris, with an emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We examine the tensions between theory and practice by studying the successes and failures of actual attempts at realizing utopian communities. We will question the differences between utopia, dystopia, displacement and the home, as we consider whether utopian art and design is viable in the twenty-first century.
Omitted 2022-23. Assistant Professor Koehler.2023-24: Not offered
Art in and out of Latin America
(Offered as ARHA 260 and LLAS 260). This course explores the movement of art both in and out of Latin America in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This includes the forging of a mural movement in Mexico, the cosmopolitan travels of artists to Europe, the export of art to the United States, and the transnational circulation of art and ideas across national contexts within Latin America. In the process, we will explore the sometimes conflicting and sometimes hybrid desires to create local aesthetics in particular places (sometimes drawing on the pre-Columbian past and Indigenous present) and to participate in international, sometimes transcontinental artistic movements and debates. We will also consider the category “Latin American art” as it developed over the course of the twentieth century and how it has both intersected with and stood apart from developments in art elsewhere. A core concern of the class will be the examination of how culture develops in relation to both political and economic shifts in the region and in the world beyond, including in relation to imperialism, the spread of capitalism, the Cold War, Communism, modernization, dictatorship, and globalization.
Limited to 25 people. Spring semester - Assistant Professor Niko Vicario.2023-24: Not offered
Buddhist Art of Asia
(Offered as ARHA 261 and ASLC 260) Visual imagery plays a central role in the Buddhist faith. As the religion developed and spread throughout Asia it took many forms. This course will first examine the appearance of the earliest aniconic traditions in ancient India, the development of the Buddha image, and early monastic centers. It will then trace the dissemination and transformation of Buddhist art as the religion reached South-East Asia, Central Asia, and eventually East Asia. In each region indigenous cultural practices and artistic traditions influenced Buddhist art. Among the topics the course will address are the nature of the Buddha image, the political uses of Buddhist art, the development of illustrated hagiographies, and the importance of pilgrimage, both in the past and the present.
Spring semester. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Impulse/Imagination/Invention: Experiments Across Media
This studio course is designed as an interactive laboratory for students interested in imaginative experimentation to discover and access multiple ways to generate material in different media (dance, theater, visual /digital art, text and/or sound). The course emphasizes a practice of rigorous play and a dedicated interest in process and invention. Also, the course will be informed by a view that anything and everything is possible material for creative and spontaneous response and production. Working individually and in collaborative groups, students will construct original material in various media and delve into multiple ways to craft interesting exchanges and dialogues between different modes of expression. A range of structures and inspirations will be given by the instructor but students will also develop their own "playlists" for inspiring creative experimentation and production. We will have a series of informal studio showings in different media throughout the semester. A final portfolio of creative material generated over the course of the semester will be required. This studio seminar requires instructor permission; interested students need to contact the instructor before registering.
Limited to 15 students. Spring Semester. Professor Woodson. The course will also incorporate instruction from guest artists.2023-24: Not offered
Islamic Arts of the Book
(Offered as ARHA 267 and ASLC 267) The book has played (and continues to play) a central role in the Islamic world. As a technology, it gives physical form to the Qur’an, an orally proclaimed text, allowing Islam’s scripture to be read, touched, held, and easily transported. It is a carrier of divine blessing, but also of wisdom, authority, tradition, and affiliation. The earliest Islamic books were either very fragile, being made of papyrus, or expensive, being made of animal skin (parchment). Knowledge of papermaking, which traveled westward from its place of origin in China, revolutionized the production of manuscripts in royal and intellectual hubs like Samarqand, Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba. Books on geography, history, poetry, and science soon proliferated, many of them filled with fantastic paintings made of gold leaf, ground minerals, and carbon-based inks. We will study the history of the Islamic book, from manuscripts of the Qur’an, which often bear calligraphy but almost never include illustrations, to historical, astrological, and poetic works—like the famous Shahnama (Book of Kings)—that contain images of various types and sizes. We will pay special attention to who produced, collected, and circulated these books, and ask how and according to which criteria they were conceived, used, and evaluated. We will bring to our objects of study a close-viewing lens, but also explore the use of computational tools drawn from the Digital Humanities. Visits to view book materials in local collections will supplement classroom discussion and assigned readings. No previous knowledge of the topic is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Rice.2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 269, ARCH 269, EUST 269) At the beginning of the seventeenth century, religious and social upheavals in Europe led to a renewed proliferation of exciting, innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base or monstrous nature through close observation of the human body, landscape, and ordinary, humble objects of daily use. They imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. Artists and architects made the visionary appear real and sensual. They adored the past but re-cast it in modern terms. Others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals—even satirized them through the new art of caricature—at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary in art, architecture, and gardens for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power.
This class will examine issues in Baroque art in depth through selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the Catholic countries of the seventeenth century, e.g. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, the Spanish Netherlands, and parts of the Americas. It also engages the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments.
Intermediate level, one other course in art history preferred but not required. Uncapped. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
African Art and the Diaspora
(Offered as ARHA 270 and BLST 293 [D]) The course of study will examine those African cultures and their arts that have survived and shaped the aesthetic, philosophic and religious patterns of African descendants in Brazil, Cuba, Haiti and urban centers in North America. We shall explore the modes of transmission of African artistry to the West and examine the significance of the preservation and transformation of artistic forms from the period of slavery to our own day. Through the use of films, slides and objects, we shall explore the depth and diversity of this vital artistic heritage of Afro-Americans.
Fall semester. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
Art + Code
Introduction to computer programming for studio artists. By writing code to generate text and graphics, students will explore the qualities intrinsic to artistic expression with computers such as nonlinearity, indeterminacy, glitch, and emergence. Accompanying critical discussion will consider key practitioners in the field. Through progressive weekly projects, students will gain a foundation for working with code in art. Designed for students with little to no programming experience.
Spring 2023. Taught by Professor House.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Women and Art in Early Modern Europe
(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206) This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.
GOALS FOR LEARNING
Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;Learn collaboratively with classmates;Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:
1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;
2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.
No prerequisites. Uncapped.
Omitted 2022-2023. Professor Courtright.2023-24: Not offered
This course explores sound as a medium of art-making with a rich history and radical potential within contemporary culture. Techniques covered will include non-musical scores, field recording, basic computer-based audio manipulation, and building lo-fi electronics for experimental sound synthesis. Accompanying readings draw from acoustic ecology, critical sound studies, afro-futurism, and media theory to contextualize collective exploration. Students will be expected to create studio-based art for critique. No musical experience is required.
Spring 2023. Professor House.Other years: Offered in Spring 2023
Space and Design: Advanced Design Studio
(Offered as ARCH 301 and ARHA 301) This course is for students who want to create an advanced, rigorous, and in-depth design project—taking an independent design project through various iterations from conception to research and realization. The class will provide a framework for working through design-centered Architectural Studies thesis and capstone projects, as well as an opportunity for other design students to develop their own project and distinct voice. Students will present their work and receive feedback on their concepts, design and presentation skills. Tools and materials will be supplied.
Requisite: At least one course in architectural design and consent of the instructor.
Limited to 12 students.
Fall semester. Visiting Instructor Gretchen Schneider Rabinkin.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2022
In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore the practice of documentary photography. This course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class visual exercises. We will examine the history, theory and ideological questions and complications of working with those outside of or within one’s own circle of experience. This will be complemented by a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary photographers, and slide lectures that consider the multitude of ways artists use photography within the documentary tradition.
Requisite: ARHA 218 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring 2023 semester. Professor Kimball.2023-24: Not offered
A World of Evidence: Architecture, Race, and the Amherst College Archive
(Offered as ARHA 306, ARCH 306, BLST 306, EUST 305) This upper-level seminar will teach students how to conduct research on race and racism in the field of architectural studies. Throughout the semester, we will visit Amherst College Special Collections as well as several local archives to explore the letters, photographs, drawings, and ground plans that relate to the architecture of race, racism, and social change in the region. Then, we will visit the buildings and spaces that these records address. In the process, we will ask several questions: What can the local historical record tell us about the history of architecture and race at Amherst College and in Western Massachusetts at large? What is missing from local archives? Why do these omissions matter and how should we respond to them? Recognizing the sensitivity of these questions, we will think through what it means to conduct research on topics of political, moral, cultural, and interpersonal significance. Readings and course discussions will examine how other architectural historians have tackled controversies of race and racism in their work. Guest lectures will also introduce students to the intellectual and personal journeys of the diverse range of scholars who are working on these issues today. Overall, the goal of this class is for students to gain an understanding of how to conduct architectural research with the aid of historical documents, building remnants, and altered cultural landscapes. At the end of the semester, students will complete a final research paper. This class is subsequently ideal for students in Black Studies, Architectural Studies, Environmental Studies, and History who are planning to complete a senior thesis.
No prerequisites. Juniors and seniors, however, will be given preference. The class will help students strengthen their critical thinking abilities as well as their writing and research skills. This course is limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Dwight Carey.2023-24: Not offered
Doing What You Don’t Know How to Do
Under what conditions can we make our best work? What does our best work look like and how is that assessment made? And how can we access our best selves to do so? This course interrogates the dynamics of the visual arts studio: the opportunities, conditions, and pressures that shape our behavior there. By creating a supportive community via online conferencing with both synchronous and asynchronous elements, and photographic sharing of projects/assignments — perhaps a new kind of studio? — we encourage risk and reach towards a studio practice that is yet unknown to us. We will teach each other, think big and then bigger, try new materials and processes, and treat each decision as an experiment. This course will introduce both historical and contemporary examples of artists in whose work we can readily observe risk-taking and problem solving. Setting the stage for a life in the studio driven by exploration and fearlessness, we will ask the question, “What do we have to lose?”
Requisite: Nomination by the art departments of each of the Five Colleges. Limited to 15 students, with spaces reserved for 3 students from each of the Five Colleges. Omitted 2022-23. Visiting Lecturer Hepler.2023-24: Not offered
Still/Moving: The Documentary Project
(Offered as ARHA 313 and FAMS 313) In this intermediate/advanced level course students will explore creative documentary practice in both photography and video production. The course is structured around individual projects of the student’s own design, and is informed by weekly group critiques and in-class exercises, both visual and technical. Shared topics between the two mediums may include: ethnography, narrative, sequencing/editing, staging/scripting, place and space, and working with archival materials. We will examine the shared history, theory, and ideological questions of these mediums, and focus on issues that inform contemporary documentary practice and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The course will include a series of historical and topical readings, class visits by contemporary artists, and presentations that consider the many ways artists use photography and film/video within the documentary tradition.
Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience in photography or film/video (to be approved by the instructor(s) in advance of the first class.) Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2022-23. Assistant Professor Levine and Professor Kimball.2023-24: Not offered
Angels and Ghosts
(Offered as ARHA 316, ARCH 316, and EUST 316) This seminar is based on a close, comparative reading of the critical theorist Walter Benjamin, the artist Paul Klee, the photographer August Sander, and the filmmaker Wim Wenders. Their treatments of cities, arcades, towers and streets will be used to explore both the sensations of place and the operations of memory, in images, texts, artifacts, and in architecture. Linking history, tragedy, desire and hope to the figures of the angel, the ghost, the puppet, the circus performer, and the automaton, these four artists open up an intertextual examination of materiality, abstraction, representation, the seen and the unseen, the purposeful, the ephemeral, the accidental, the ruined, the heartbreaking and the playful. Students will engage in extensive discussion, compose analytical essays, contribute to creative assignments, and develop a semester-long research project.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Koehler.
Working in Series: The Interdisciplinary Connection Between Drawing and the Hand-Printed Image
An investigation of ideas into the development of visual imagery focusing on series of works utilizing drawing and printmaking. Contemporary and historical references of artists' series of works will be studied in conjunction with students' individual projects, culminating in a final project consisting of a cohesive, visual body of work. Experimentation of conceptual and technical boundaries will be encouraged and explored. Discussion and critiques will be held regularly in both group and individual formats. Visual work will include a wide variety of drawing media, including, but not limited to traditional methods. The techniques of intaglio and relief printmaking will be used in combination with and concurrent to the drawn images.
Requisite: Introductory level Drawing or Printmaking I or consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Fall semester. Senior Resident Artist Garand.2023-24: Not offered
Advanced Studio Seminar
A studio course that will emphasize compositional development by working from memory, imagination, literature and abstractions derived from nature and other works of visual art. The Students will be encouraged to explore a wide variety of media including, but not limited to, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and collage. Students will be required to create an independent body of work over the course of the semester which explores their individual direction in pictorial construction.
Requisite: ARHA 222, 326 or 327 or permission of the instructor. Limited to 5 students. Fall semester. Professor R. Sweeney.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Sculpture II Symbiotic Sculptures
Symbiosis is a close biological interaction between living organisms. It can be temporary or permanent; positive, neutral, or parasitic; and involve two or thousands of individuals. In this class we will explore a variety of relationships with and within nature through sculpture. Conceptual prompts will be accompanied by material experimentation with “biomaterials”: materials that are grown, cooked, or processed through collaborations with fungi, plants, and bacteria.
Requisite: ARHA 214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester 2023. Professor Monge.
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2022, Spring 2023
Images and Icons—Exploring Devotional Art
(Offered as ARHA 325 and ASLC 325) An examination of the construction, use, and interpretation of images and icons. The primary focus will be on images and icons in the Buddhist and Hindu faiths; however, the class will also make comparisons with those in Christianity and the religions of Africa and New Guinea. Some of the topics to be covered will include the relationship between icons and deities, the authentication and animation of images, the connections between icons and political authority, the ritual use of images, and aniconism and iconoclasm. The class is designed to focus on art historical writing.
Limited to 18 students to facilitate class discussion. Omitted 2022-2023. Prof. Morse.2023-24: Not offered
This course offers students knowledgeable in the basic principles and skills of painting and drawing an opportunity to investigate personal directions in painting. Assignments will be collectively as well as individually directed. Discussions of the course work will assume the form of group as well as individual critiques. Tuesday and Thursday classes 1:30pm - 3:30pm every week.
Requisite: ARHA 215 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Offered Spring 2023. Professor Sweeney.2023-24: Not offered
Printmaking II: Further Investigations of the Hand Pulled Print
This course is an exploration of intaglio, relief, and planographic printmaking processes. Combining conceptual concerns with techniques will be integral to the development of imagery. The course will involve continuous and vigorous visual research of historical and contemporary artist printmakers and teach the techniques of drypoint, etching, engraving, aquatint, monoprints, monotypes, woodcut and linocut. Printmaking processes will include color printing, multiple plate, combinations of various printmaking techniques, series and large scale prints. All students will complete a final project of an editioned portfolio exchange of prints and a handmade portfolio. Individualized areas of investigation are encouraged and expected. In-class work will involve demonstration, discussion and critique.
Requisite: ARHA 213 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Senior Resident Artist Garand.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2023
This course is a continuing investigation of the skills and questions introduced in ARHA 218. An emphasis will be placed on defining, locating and pursuing independent work; this will be accomplished through a series of weekly demonstrations, assignments and a final independent project. Student work will be discussed and evaluated in group and individual critiques. This is complemented by slide presentations and topical readings of contemporary and historical photography.This course will be taught using digital cameras and software. Students will be supplied with cameras for the semester. Two two-hour meetings per week.
Requisite: ARHA 218 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall Semester. Visiting Lecturer Bestard.Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022
Fictional Narrative Video Production
(Offered as ARHA 330 and FAMS 443) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore fictional narrative filmmaking through a rigorous script-to-screen process. Students will write, shoot and edit a short (8-minute) fictional narrative film either in small groups or individually. In addition to weekly online screenings of short and feature narrative films, the class will consist of weekly Zoom sessions led by the professor, including lectures on advanced narrative filmmaking techniques, film discussions, script readings, and critiques of footage and various cuts.
Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-23. Instructor to be determined.2023-24: Not offered
Experiments in 16mm Film
(Offered as ARHA 335 and FAMS 335) This intermediate production course surveys the outer limits of cinematic expression and provides an overview of creative 16mm film production. We will begin by making cameraless projects through drawing, painting and scratching directly onto the film strip before further exploring the fundamentals of 16mm technology, including cameras, editing and hand-processing. While remaining aware of our creative choices, we will invite chance into our process and risk failure, as every experiment inevitably must.
Through screenings of original film prints, assigned readings and discussion, the course will consider a number of experimental filmmakers and then conclude with a review of exhibition and distribution strategies for moving image art. All students will complete a number of short assignments on film and one final project on either film or video, each of which is to be presented for class critique. One three-hour class and one film screening per week.
Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Levine.Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022, Fall 2023
2020 Vision: Seeing the American Election (Advanced Photo and Video Projects)
(Offered as ARHA 345 and FAMS 346) This year’s election may be the most consequential one we have seen for a generation. Amidst the barrage of media exposure generated by presidential campaigns, what is the role of the visual arts in documenting, witnessing and making sense of this historic moment? In this advanced studio course, we will travel to locations in New England chosen by the class for their relevance to this year’s U.S. election. Students will work independently in photography, video or both to produce a body of work that speaks to their own experience in these places. Students may choose to work in a variety of modes, be it direct observation, diaristic record, poetic intervention or a combination of approaches. The course will also include group and individual critiques of the students’ work, research seminars, historical and topical lectures from the histories of film, video and photography, and the examination of art practices that seek to balance or blend politics and aesthetics. We will conclude the semester with a group exhibition of artistic work created by students in the class.
Requisite: One 200-level course in photography or film/video production and consent of the instructors. Limited to 14 students. Omitted 2022-2023. Professors Levine and Kimball.2023-24: Not offered
Practice and Theory of Art History
What is art history? What is its history? What are its premises and where does it come from? This seminar will explore the historical foundations, formulations, and applications of current art historical methods, the foundations of the art historical discipline as it emerged from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as attitudes towards and theories on art practice in their diverse global contexts from before the modern period. Both practice and theory will be considered through discussion of select texts and objects drawn from a variety of traditions. Topics may include: style and periodization; iconography, narratology, and phenomenology; semiotics; the social functions of images and the social history of art; the cultural foundations of representation, aesthetics, and vision; art and the material world; art, gender, and sexuality; collecting and commodification of art; and post-colonialism and post-modernism.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Rice.2023-24: Not offered
Myth, Ritual and Iconography in West Africa
(Offered as BLST 315 [A] and ARHA 353) Through a contrastive analysis of the religious and artistic modes of expression in three West African societies—the Asanti of the Guinea Coast, and the Yoruba and Igbo peoples of Nigeria—the course will explore the nature and logic of symbols in an African cultural context. We shall address the problem of cultural symbols in terms of African conceptions of performance and the creative play of the imagination in ritual acts, masked festivals, music, dance, oral histories, and the visual arts as they provide the means through which cultural heritage and identity are transmitted and preserved, while, at the same time, being the means for innovative responses to changing social circumstances.
Spring semester. Professor Abiodun.2023-24: Not offered
Solo Performance: Movement, Text, Sound, Video
In this studio course, we will explore different skills and approaches towards creating solo performance. We will examine examples of historical and contemporary solo performances in theater, dance, video, music, radio plays, street, stand up and in political/social arenas to inform and ask what makes these effective (or not). We will use what we learn from these examples to inspire our own solo material. We will also develop additional techniques (through improvisational trial and error) that enliven and engage our different voices, stories, imaginations and emotions. An emphasis will be placed on exploring and crafting dynamic relationships within and between different media and modes of expression in order to create confident and compelling solo presentations for live and virtual arenas. We will consider the solo as both a personal vehicle of expression and as a means of giving voice to experiences of others. In the process of making compositional choices, we will consider the personal and social implications of these choices. The semester will culminate in public performances of final solos.
Requisite: Previous experience in performance and/or video--whether in the arts or public presentations in other disciplines/contexts. Open to juniors and seniors. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2023
The Persian Book of Kings
(Offered as ASLC 357, ARHA 357, and HIST 357 [TC, TE, ME, P]) The Shahnameh (Book of Kings), completed by Abu’l Qasim Ferdowsi around 1010, is one of the world's greatest epics, and also one of the most enigmatic. The Shahnameh tells the history of pre-Islamic Iran from the beginnings of civilization until the Arab conquest in the seventh century A.D. Its tales of battles, romance, heroism, and betrayal have been appreciated as literature for centuries. At the same time, it’s been deployed for political and cultural ends. Many of the communities who have most enthusiastically embraced its stories and themes have been of non-Iranian origin. Indeed, Ferdowsi’s patron, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, was himself of Turkic background. Since the nineteenth century, it has been touted as the cultural cornerstone of an emphatically non-Muslim modern Iranian national identity, and yet the author and his patron were Muslim. Some have even interpreted the Shahnameh as encouraging conversion to Islam.
This course will explore the Shahnameh as literature, history, and material culture—including illustrated manuscripts, printed books, ceramics, metalwork, and photography—from its original tenth-century context to the contemporary moment. We will focus in particular on a heavily illustrated mid-nineteenth-century copy of the Shahnameh in Amherst College’s Archives and Special Collections, and consider how this work expressed a non-Islamic cultural foundation of modernity. We will follow this story to explore how the Shahnameh figures in debates over the pre-Islamic past today. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English.
Omitted 2022-23. Professors Rice and Ringer.Other years: Offered in Spring 2022
The Tea Ceremony and Japanese Culture
(Offered as ARHA 383 and ASLC 383) An examination of the history of chanoyu, the tea ceremony, from its origins in the fifteenth century to the practice of tea today. The class will explore the various elements that comprise the tea environment-the garden setting, the architecture of the tea room, the forms of tea utensils, and the elements of the kaiseki meal. Through a study of the careers of influential tea masters and texts that examine the historical, religious, and cultural background of tea culture, the course will also trace how the tea ceremony has become a metaphor for Japanese culture and Japanese aesthetics both in Japan and in the West. There will be field trips to visit tea ware collections, potters and tea masters. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Fall Semester. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
The Replicated Image in Japanese Art: Woodblock Prints, Postcards, and Photographs
(Offered as ARHA 384 and ASLC 384) An image that can be replicated serves a very different function from a single unique work of art; it addresses new audiences and elicits a wider range of responses. This course will explore three different types of replicated images in Japan—woodblock prints, lithographs, and photographs. With the unprecedented achievement of literacy among urban populations during the early seventeenth century, Japan developed highly inventive woodblock texts and images. The course will begin with an investigation of the Japanese print in the Edo period (1615–1868) through the works of artists such as Suzuki Harunobu, Kitagawa Utamaro, Katsushika Hokusai, and Utagawa Hiroshige. It will subsequently examine the early history of the photograph in the nineteenth century and then how the postcard replaced the print as the favored format for the dissemination of images during the early twentieth century, becoming the primary visual means for communicating Japan’s modernity before the advent of World War II. The course will conclude with a study of photography from the 1920s to the present day. Photography also documented Japan’s modern era, the social tensions that appeared in the high-grown era after WWII, and today often transcends national boundaries.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters
(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.
This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Staller.Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023
Approaches to Chinese Painting
(Offered as ARHA 388 and ASLC 383) This course will survey the Chinese pictorial and calligraphic traditions from the Neolithic era to the present day. Particular emphasis will be placed on the period from the Northern Song to the Qing dynasties and the development of the landscape idiom, but the course will also address the figure, bird and flower, and narrative traditions as well. It will conclude with an exploration of the ways contemporary artists engage the legacy of China’s cultural heritage. Special attention will be given to the differences between Western methodological approaches to Chinese painting and the theories of painting developed by the Chinese themselves.
Omitted 2022-23. Professor Morse.2023-24: Not offered
Material Histories of Art
How might paying closer attention to materials open art history to other disciplines and other ways of thinking about a range of works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, buildings, monuments, and design objects? This seminar will focus on particular materials—including dirt, oil paint, metal, plastic, and wood—and will support students in their own research projects into these. The professor’s own developing research about metal’s use in art, architecture, and design in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries will guide some of the class sessions. In addition to reading and discussion, the course will include guest speakers, whose research span historical periods and geographies, and field trips that supplement our understanding of the ways in which the study of art’s constitutive materials can contribute to our analysis and interpretation.
Fall semester. Limited to 20 students. Assistant Professor Vicario.2023-24: Not offered
Pop, Op, Color Field, Minimalism, Land Art, Conceptual Art, Performance Art, Fluxus. We will explore the dramatically different art forms and ideologies created during a decade marked by war, assassinations, and massive social change. We will consider how artists passionately engaged these events, as they radically re-imagined urgent challenges of their time.
Our texts will include: Thomas Crow, The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent; James Meyer, Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties; Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World; Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique; and Tom Wolf, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. There will be films. It was a great moment for popular music: Our soundtrack will be constant, and ever changing.
There will be a research paper, with ongoing class presentations as it crystallizes; at least one field trip and, if there is interest (as in the past), a multi-media art-music-dance happening at the end of the semester.
Not open to first year year students. Preference to ARHA majors, and to a diversity of majors
Limited to 12 students. Spring Semester. Professor Staller.
How to handle overenrollment: Students will write about why they want to take the seminar; instructor will decide.
Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, close reading, visual analyses, group work, oral presentations, museum visits.2023-24: Not offered
Filming the Non-Actor (Advanced Workshop)
(Offered as ARHA 413 and FAMS 432) Students in this fieldwork-intensive course will produce socially-engaged artworks that emerge out of collaborations with a local community. We will think expansively about the practice of using non-actors to interrogate the idea of representation and the illusion of “the real” in audiovisual art making, as well as the hazy space between fiction and documentary. The artists we will consider include Peggy Ahwesh, Basma Alsharif, Jonathanas de Andrade, Yael Bartana, Lizzie Borden, Pedro Costa, Kazuo Hara, Adam Khalil, Alison Kobayashi, Laida Lertxundi,Sharon Lockhart, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Otolith Group, Jean Rouche, and Leslie Thornton.
Two 80-minute class meetings per week and a screening.
Fall semester: Visiting Professor Drummer.2023-24: Not offered
Art Under Surveillance (Integrated Practices)
(Offered as ARHA 414 and FAMS 414)
In this studio-seminar course, we will investigate the history of video surveillance -- from hand-held 8mm cameras in the 1930s, closed-circuit television in the 40s, life-casting cam girls in the late 90s, to present-day police body cams, eye tracking, and facial recognition technology -- as a means to produce our own research-based artworks. Focused primarily on film and video (but open to those working across media), readings, screenings, and discussion will be interwoven with hands-on workshops in which we will creatively misuse various technologies of surveillance and violence. Screenings will include Rebecca Baron’s How Little We Know of Our Neighbors, Xu Bing’s Dragonfly Eyes, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, Alex Johnson’s Evidence of the Evidence, Meredith Lackey’s Cable Street, Walid Raad’s I Only WishThat I Could Weep, Deborah Stratman’s In Order Not to Be Here, Sharif Waked’s Chic Point: Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints and works by the Forensic Architecture group. Texts will include Jacques Attali’s Noise: The Political Economy of Music, Italo Calvino’s The King Listens, William Davies’ Nervous States, Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, among others.
Two 80 minute classes per week and one screening.
Spring 2023 semester. Visiting Professor Emily J. Drummer2023-24: Not offered
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, "Untitled" (Blue Placebo)
In spring 2023, “Untitled” (Blue Placebo) will be on view at the Mead. This work from 1991 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996) is one of the artist’s candy spills; visitors are invited to take the plastic-wrapped candies away with them one at a time. This seminar will use “Untitled” (Blue Placebo) as a jumping-off point for looking at contemporary art from a variety of perspectives. How does this work fit into the artist’s practice as a whole? How does it relate to the historical and cultural context in which it was conceived? How does it relate to the present? What is the role of an artist’s identities in shaping how we interpret the work they make? What is the role of participation in contemporary art? In what ways can art move beyond what critic Clement Greenberg called “eyesight alone” to engage other senses? What is the dynamic between an artist’s intention, a museum’s installation of a work, and the public’s experience of it? What are the different ways we can interpret a work of art and how can we draw both on art history and other disciplines to expand our thinking?
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Niko Vicario2023-24: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 441 and FAMS 441) Intended for advanced film/video production students, this course will explore creative documentary practice through readings, weekly screenings and production assignments. Each student will complete a series of projects working both as a single maker and in collaboration with other members of the class. Topics may include: shooting the interview; scripting, performance and reenactment; history and narrativity; place and space; ethnography and the “embedded” filmmaker. We will also host visiting filmmakers and, where possible, visit a cultural institution which supports and screens cutting-edge documentary work.
The course will be taught annually but will focus on a set of revolving themes and issues that inform contemporary documentary filmmaking and the critical discourse that surrounds it. The theme for Fall 2019 will be “Place and Space". One 3-hour class (some of which will include field shooting and research trips) and one evening screening each week.
Requisite: A prior 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Levine.Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2023
Films That Try: Essay Film Production
(Offered as ARHA 444 and FAMS 412) Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous. Essay filmmakers themselves are equally diverse, ranging from established film auteurs to Third Cinema activists and contemporary video artists.
If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.
The term "essay" finds its origins in the French essayer, meaning “to attempt” or to try.” In this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will complete a series of writing assignments and video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.
Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2022-23. Professor Levine.
Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class).2023-24: Not offered
Advanced Projects in Video Production
(Offered as ARHA 445 and FAMS 445) In this course, we will take the skills and insights gained in introductory production courses and develop them over the length of the semester through the creation of one short project, ten minutes long. Students may work individually or in pairs. We will learn by making work as well as by researching, reading, and watching films related to our projects. We may take this opportunity to delve into and learn the conventions of our chosen form, or we may decide that our content demands formal experimentation and risk-taking. The course will be structured by the projects each student brings to it. We will begin the semester with brainstorming, research, script/documentary proposal writing, and pre-production. Each student will develop a script or in-depth proposal to begin with. As we move into production, we will review and deepen our knowledge of camera, lighting (available & set), sound (location & studio), and editing principles and techniques. We will move between production and post-production in the second half of the semester, first developing sequences, then rough assemblies, rough cuts, and fine cuts, before ultimately completing our final cut.
Requisite: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have completed at least one previous course in video production and preferably two previous courses, one at the 200-level and one at the 300-level. Limited to 10 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2022-23.2023-24: Not offered
Curating Film and Video
(Offered as ENGL 462 and FAMS 462.) In this integrated seminar, students will gain facility with key issues and debates in curatorial studies as well as hands-on experience with the process of curating a film and video program. In film and media studies, the term “curating” is often used to designate the activity of organizing film and video works for public exhibitions, whether these take shape as film festivals, shorts programs, gallery exhibitions, or screenings of other kinds. This course introduces students to the history, theory, and practice of this activity, examining scholarly discourse on the origins, aesthetics, and politics of film and video curating, and guiding students through the process of producing public screenings of audio-visual media. In the first half of the semester, students will conduct readings, view examples of curated film and video programs, discuss course material, and compose critical essays. In the second half, class time will be devoted to practical workshops in which students will conceive, plan, and produce curated programs of short films and videos for public exhibition.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Guilford.2023-24: Not offered
Independent reading course. A full course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023
Senior Departmental Honors
Preparation of a thesis or completion of a studio project which may be submitted to the Department for consideration for Honors.
Open to seniors with consent of the Department. Spring semester. The Department.Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023