(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. Omitted 2023-24. Professor Arboleda.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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 16 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Douglas Culhane. Spring semester. Instructor TBD.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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 301, Space and Design: Advanced Design Studio.
Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester: Visiting Instructor Gretchen Rabinkin.
2022-23: Offered in Spring 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. Omitted 2023-2024 AY.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
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.
Limited to 14 students with 4 seats reserved for first-year students. Fall and Spring semesters. Instructor TBD.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
(Offered as ARHA 112 and ARCH 112) This introductory course teaches students how to read, write, and research the buildings, landscapes, and social spaces that comprise our world. Over the course of the semester, the Amherst College campus will be our guide. We will begin with visits to familiar locales like the town common and the buildings where students live, eat, and socialize. Students will embark upon exploratory writing exercises, sharing their thoughts on such spaces, while also refining their analytical skills. As the semester progresses, we will revise these essays while considering how the scholarly literature and the historical documents covering such landscapes at the college archives can help us see these environments in new ways. Finally, we will conclude with a project that asks students to build upon the reading, writing, and research skills that they gained in the course. By the end of the semester, students will possess the knowledge and experience to tackle critical problems and questions across the college curriculum. No prerequisites. No prior knowledge of art or architecture is required. This course will give priority to first-year students during the fall orientation registration period. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Carey.2022-23: Not offered
(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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 116 [TC/TE/TR/TS/C/P], ARHA 116, ARCH 116, ASLC 116.) This course offers an introduction to the global medieval world through the study of visual culture, texts, architecture, and the larger built environment. The medieval period (500–1500 CE) is often misunderstood as a time of cultural, economic, and intellectual decline. In this course, we challenge this idea to emphasize the dynamic change, complexity, diversity, and connectivity that characterized the medieval world. This span of time saw intensified commerce and movement of people and objects, with China, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central and Western Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Mediterranean basin linked by many overland and sea routes. We will explore this rich, complicated global history through a range of sources such as granite inscriptions, indigo-dyed cotton textiles, palm-leaf manuscripts, temples, and cities. We will consider the role that linguistic and material translation played in this period of heightened mobility, and attend to the porousness of boundaries–cultural, political, and religious–that may today seem far more defined. Finally, this course will challenge Eurocentric frameworks that assume medieval history to be synonymous with Western European history. Two meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professors Rice and Gomes.2022-23: Not offered
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.
Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Janice Yu.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as ARHA 149 and BLST 123) 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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ARCH 130, ARHA 130) This lecture course introduces key ideas, policies, spatial forms, and conflicts in the historical development of cities around the world. Instead of looking at cities through the lens of individual countries, we will instead explore urban history chronologically (from the early modern period to the present) and thematically (from colonization to globalization), continually tracing transnational flows of people, resources, and ideas. Lectures and readings on case studies from across the globe will encourage students to consider plural histories—how one group or individual may experience a time and place completely differently from another—and what it means to build historical pictures of a city from these sometimes-contradictory perspectives. In the process, we will critically examine evolving approaches to urban studies and urban planning. This course will use key episodes of urban transformation and transition to illuminate the processes, debates, and projects that have shaped modern cities. Through lectures, readings, written responses, and class discussion, we will connect those changes to broader issues of social and political power—housing, cultural preservation, spatial inequalities, modern state power, ecological relationships, public health—and then follow this historical narrative to today’s cities and citizens.
Limited to 50 students. Spring semester: Visiting Lecturer Wheeler.
2022-23: Not offered
(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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Omit 2023-24. Professor Abiodun.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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 address 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 enrollment cap. Fall semester. Professor Rice.2022-23: Not offered
(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.
Fall semester. Professor Morse.2022-23: Not offered
(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.
Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Morse.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Vicario.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as ARHA 157, ARCH 157, and BLST 193) 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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Limited to 50 students. Fall semester. Professor Koehler.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
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 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. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Couch.2022-23: 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.
Omitted 2023-24. Professor Arboleda.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Omitted 2023-24. Professor Arboleda.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Omitted 2023-24. Professor Arboleda.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Clark.2022-23: Not offered
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. Instructor TBD. Spring semester. Senior Resident Artist Garand.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 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. Professor Monge.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
An introduction to the fundamentals of the pictorial organization of painting. Form, space, color, and pattern, abstracted from nature, are explored through the discipline of drawing by means of paint manipulation. Slide lectures, demonstrations, individual and group critiques are regular components of the studio sessions. Two three-hour meetings per week.
Fall semester. Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Senior Resident Artist Gloman.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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.
Not offered in 2023-24. Professor Lopez.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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. Fall semester. Instructor TBD. Spring semester. Professor Kimball.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Not offered in 2023-24.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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 and Spring Semester: Visiting Assistant Professor Drummer. Spring Semester: Professor Levine.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 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.
Requisite: ARHA 102 or 111, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall & Spring semesters. Fall: Professor Sweeney. Spring: Senior Resident Artist Gloman.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as ARHA 223 and ARCH 223) This intermediate level course is a global survey of historic preservation, or the restoration of buildings, spaces, and landscapes in the modern era. We will ask: Why do people feel compelled to preserve the architecture of the past? From the halls of UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to the scholarship on Mayan archaeology that sparked the emergence of a Mexican tourism industry, this question has brought academics, diplomats, business people, and consumers into dialogue worldwide. Nevertheless, preservationists have always struggled to find a compelling answer largely because it is impossible to reproduce the spaces of the past. Historic landscapes from the Buddhist temples of early modern Indonesia to the East African fortresses of the Indian Ocean slave trade offer few surviving documents and so preservationists often use their imagination when reconstructing decaying edifices. In examining the political questions that this predicament elucidates, we will explore a range of issues: the history of UNESCO; historic preservation and tourism in modern Mexico and Turkey; the restoration of Jewish landscapes in contemporary Eastern Europe; restoration campaigns and indigenous knowledge in French West Africa and Dutch Southeast Asia; and the debates concerning preservation in native communities worldwide, among other topics. We will also consider how historic preservation has informed the culture of New England through a series of fieldtrips in which we will meet community members from diverse backgrounds who are working in cultural and historic preservation in the Amherst region. With the aid of smaller papers, presentations, and a final research essay, students will develop their writing and research skills. Students will also hone their skills in critical thinking and visual analysis. No prerequisites.
Spring 2024. Professor Carey.2022-23: Not offered
“Eco” is derived from the Latin oeco, “house.” That means that the word “ecology” was coined to discuss the study of our home and community. What does art, which is also about making place and participating in community, contribute to this field of knowledge? How can art challenge what we already ‘know’ about our surroundings and the relationships that take place within them? What else can we perceive and communicate through artistic research and practice? How can we notice and creatively denounce neglect of our environment? Or devise new rituals and practices of care?
In this studio art course, we will review a broad range of art forms including artworks from the environmental art and land art movements; collaborative and sustainable practices that include natural materials and processes; and artworks addressing social and political issues around ecology and the climate crisis. Students in this class will also develop their own artworks in a range of scales and mediums including—but not limited to—paper-making, installation, landscape interventions, sculptures, and socially-engaged projects.
Spring 2024. Professor Monge.2022-23: Not offered
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 16 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Culhane.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ARHA 230 and ASLC 230) This class will focus on the transformations in artistic practice and expression in Japan from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. It will examine how artists and architects responded to Westernization in the nineteenth century, modernization in the first half of the twentieth century, Americanization in the post-war era, high-growth in the 1970s and 1980s, and globalization in the twenty-first century. In each of these periods artists grappled with how to adopt new materials and methods while maintaining connections to Japan’s long cultural traditions. Topics covered will include the invention of vocabularies to describe new artistic and historical concepts in the Meiji era, the response to industrialization in both new and traditional media in the 1920s and 1930s, artistic reactions to the trauma of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the social and environmental problems of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as how artists during the past five decades established Japan a site of distinctive artistic practice on the global stage.
Spring 2024. Professor Morse.2022-23: Not offered
(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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Carey.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Visiting Lecturer in Art Douglas Culhane.
2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Omitted 2023- 2024. Professor Koehler.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ARCH 238, ARHA 238, RUSS 238) This course investigates the complex relationship between Russia, its imperial subjects—in the Baltics, Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Siberia—and global cultures of architecture and city-building. Case studies from across this vast territory (one-sixth of the Earth’s landmass) demonstrate that, far from being isolated on a “periphery” or behind an “Iron Curtain,” the region’s architects and planners actively participated in complex international design debates. How could buildings incorporate new technology and still reflect local cultures? What role should the state play in improving quality of life for the urban masses? Could redesigned spaces influence things like crime and public health? Beginning with Tsar Peter I’s construction of Saint Petersburg, proceeding through the rapid transformations of the Russian and Soviet empires, and concluding with the post-socialist “transition” of the 2000s, we will explore architecture and urban planning as tools of empire, modernization, and identity. Through lectures, research, writing, and discussion designed around visual and historical analysis, we will follow the region’s architects and policymakers as they interacted with, critiqued, selectively adopted, and influenced international architecture and city planning practices.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester: Visiting Lecturer Wheeler.2022-23: Not offered
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.
Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Sonya Clark.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Courtright.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Public Art and Collaborative Practices is a studio art course that is based on the premise that art is a form of care. It will focus on art in public space, collaborative art making practices, and activist art that addresses social and political issues. We will learn about artist collectives, socially engaged art, and practice working together in group projects. We will also analyze temporary and permanent public artworks and then make art with specific sites and communities in mind. Ultimately, we will dedicate the semester to thinking about art's potential for big and small change and participate in the transformation of our environment through making.
Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Monge.
Pending Faculty Approval2022-23: Not offered
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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Assistant Professor Niko Vicario.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Morse.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ARHA 266 and ASLC 261) This class is an interdisciplinary study of the visual culture of the Buddhist and Shintō religious traditions in Japan. It will examine in depth a number of Japan’s most important sacred places, including Ise Shrine, Tōdaiji, Daitokuji and Mount Fuji, and will also look at the way contemporary architects such as Andō Tadao and Takamatsu Shin have attempted to create new sacred places in Japan today. Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways in which the Japanese have given distinctive form to their religious beliefs through architecture, painting and sculpture, and the ways these objects have been used and continue to be used in religious ritual. Nevertheless, the class is meant to be a course on art history. Thus, social and historical details will always be grounded in close visual analyses of objects.
Fall Semester. Professor Morse.
Pending Faculty Approval2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 270 and BLST 293) 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.
Omit 2023-24. Professor Abiodun.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as ARHA 278 and FAMS 311) 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.
Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor House.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ARHA 280 and ASLC 280) Over recent decades, museums have made their collections increasingly accessible online. Curators, in turn, have expanded the limits of museum display and interpretation through experimentation with online exhibitions, onsite digital presentations, 3-D holographic projections, interactive mapping and storytelling, and network graphing. Others have made use of these and other digital tools for their own research, including to track the dispersal of looted and illegally exported objects. But what are the ramifications of this turn towards the digital? What does it mean to study museums and access their collections through the lenses of data, metadata, and digitization? What and whom do these digital shifts privilege? How might these new approaches shed light on the histories of museums, in particular their connections with colonialism, nationalism, and the trafficking of cultural heritage?
This course provides an introduction to the history and institution of the museum, with an emphasis on more recent developments in the digital domain. We will ask what actually constitutes museum data and then turn to consider how the digital collection, organization, interpretation, and presentation of this information informs our understanding of museum objects, exhibitions, and commercialization, and of art history as a whole. We will explore digital representations of art (3-D modeling and printing, for example) and accessibility, the differences between museum object metadata and image metadata, and the ethics and ecological costs of working with digital media and interfaces. For the final project, students will use digital tools to research and analyze objects that will be on view in a spring 2024 exhibition of paintings from India and Iran at the Smith College Museum of Art, the results of which will be showcased on a public website. This course centers hands-on collective learning--both in the classroom and in local museums--and is designed for students of all backgrounds. No previous knowledge of the subject is presumed, and instruction in the use of digital tools like Google Sheets, Palladio, and Tableau will be provided.
Limite to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Rice.
Pending Faculty Approval2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 285, CLAS 285, EUST 285) From its legendary origins in the eighth century BCE, through its political framing as a republic, to its global dominion as an empire and its subsequent Renaissance revival as the center of a Christian empire, Rome was a seat of unmistakable political and cultural power. Its art and architecture, the literature and oratory of its leaders, its devotion to protective deities, and its styles of governance became the model for countless nations who sought to imitate, adopt and surpass Rome’s authority. The continuity and change visible in the rich material composing the city itself—temples, churches, sculpture, painting, fountains, tombs, palaces, baths, streets, walls, fora and piazzas—will be the subject of the class. Meeting twice a week, classes will alternate between examining the philosophy, literature, and historical documents of a period and analyzing selected examples of the art and architecture where the daily life of Romans—from soldiers, citizens and emperors, to women, Jews, and the enslaved—took place. The class will culminate in a trip to the Eternal City for two weeks in January 2024, sponsored by the Office of the Provost.
The class (limited to 18) will live in Rome and make daily excursions to places studied in the course—e.g., the Roman forum, the remains of the imperial palace on the Palatine, the Colosseum, aqueducts, medieval, Renaissance and Baroque churches, the Vatican Palace, St. Peter’s, and more. Students will prepare presentations in situ related to the papers they have written earlier in class. Three class hours per week.
Not open to first-year students. Admission with the consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professors Courtright and van den Berg.
Pending Faculty Approval2022-23: 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 2024. Professor House.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Introduction to basic electronics and microcontrollers for studio artists. Students will program chips to control sensors, switches, motors, and lights to create responsive objects and performative tools. Readings and critical discussion will situate our circuits in histories of interactive art, electronics-based and otherwise. Students will create studio-based art for critique. No prior experience with electronics or programming is required, but ARHA 278: Art + Code is recommended.
Limited to 10 students. Fall semester. Professor House.
Pending Faculty Approval2022-23: Not offered
(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.
Spring semester. Visiting Instructor Gretchen Rabinkin.2022-23: Offered in 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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Kimball.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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. Omitted 2023-24. Professor Dwight Carey.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
This course is offered in tandem with the Practice of Art course "Imaginary Beings." The two courses will collaborate on art projects, screenings, and readings.
Spring 2024. Professor Koehler.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 317 and EUST 318) Ghosts, angels, monsters, fairies, the presence of imaginary beings has a central role in human thought and art. In this course, through a series of hands-on projects, we will explore ways to make the invisible and imaginary visually present as art. We will examine the world of imaginary beings, their taxonomy, representation and attributes, and survey their history in art from the paleolithic to the present. Through work in drawing, sculpture, installlation and puppetry, students will develop strategies for working from the imagination; hybrid forms and collaboration will be encouraged. This course is offered in connection with the Art History course “Angels & Ghosts.” The two courses will meet to discuss readings and collaborate on projects.2022-23: Not offered
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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Senior Resident Artist Garand.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as RUSS 321, ARHA 321 and ARCH 320) Taking case studies from Russian, Soviet, and Post-Soviet history, this course examines monuments and memorials in literature, cinema and the arts. Focusing on specific episodes and case studies, we will consider the form and cultural politics of monuments and memorials, and especially how these objects become arenas in which conceptions of art, history, and politics are contested. We will be interested as much in monuments that were built as those that were destroyed—or dismembered, defaced, dismantled, or relocated—and those that were envisioned but never realized. Case studies will include monuments to Peter the Great, the Soviet avant-garde’s attack on traditional monuments, the monumental assemblage of the Soviet Pavilion at the Paris 1937 Universal Exposition, to Leninopad (the demolishing of monuments to Lenin in Ukraine). We will also consider how these case studies may help us to better understand the dynamics at play in debates around monuments from other periods and cultures—as well as the creative responses that artists have imagined as they grappled with the question of what to do with monuments. No knowledge of the history and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union is required.
Spring semester. Professor Kunichika.2022-23: Not offered
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.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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 2024. Professor Monge.
2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
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 10 students. Spring semester. Senior Resident Artist Garand.2022-23: Offered in 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. Spring 2024. Professor Kimball.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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. Fall semester. Professor Levine.2022-23: Not offered
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.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as SPAN 380, ARHA 380 and LLAS 380) The class will explore the work of artists, art collectives, and community-based projects in Latin America and the U.S. from the 1960s onwards. We will look at how cultural agents “make worlds” to resist, denounce, and transform lives at war. Students will actively participate in both research and creative projects. We will focus on works from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, and the U.S. Course conducted in Spanish.
Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Ferrari.
Pending Faculty Approval2022-23: Not offered
(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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Morse.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
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.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Vicario.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
We will investigate a series of historical events (such as the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis, Stonewall, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King) as well as the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of identity politics (Feminism, Black Power, the Brown Berets) and the counterculture. We will study the myriad art forms and their attendant ideologies invented during the decade (such as Pop, Op, Color Field, Minimalism, Land Art, Conceptual Art, Performance Art, Fluxus), as well as some crucial critics, dealers and art journals, in an effort to understand the ways in which artists rejected or appropriated, then transformed, certain themes and conceptual models of their time. This course will include class trips.
Requisite: One course in modern art or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 11 students. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Staller.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(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.
Omitted 2023 - 2024. Visiting Professor Drummer.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(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.
Omitted 2023 - 2024. Visiting Professor Emily J. Drummer2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
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. Omitted 2023 - 2024. Professor Vicario.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as ARHA 416 and FAMS 416) This advanced studio course explores the aesthetics of sound in its relationship with the moving image. The role that sound plays in cinematic form covers a broad spectrum of possibility, from exposition to deep subjectivity. By exploring techniques and ideas in both audio capture and post-production sound, we will experiment with these possibilities in a number of conventional and unconventional ways, thinking through the aural dimension both in combination with the image and as separate from it. Students in this course will complete a number of individual video and sound projects and will work on classroom exercises using voice, music and other forms of sound design. The course will include a survey of recent and historical moving image sound works as well as readings of critical material on sound design theory, history and practice.
Spring Semester. Professor Levine.2022-23: Not offered
In this studio-seminar course, we will investigate the notion of nonhuman agency: geophysical and anthropogenic phenomena in earth systems, plant and animal volition, and the proliferation of machine intelligences. The work of contemporary artists across mediums will be presented for analysis and critique by the class, and we will discuss readings by philosophers and media critics. Research-based practices in the arts will be highlighted, and techniques borrowed from the sciences will be considered as methods of art-making. In addition to writing responses to weekly reading, students will incorporate the themes of the course in studio-based art for critique.
Spring 2024. Professor House2022-23: 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.
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. Fall semester. Professor Levine.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 452, EUST 452, and SWAG 452) Shortly after the Franco-Prussian War -- when there were more bloody corpses in the streets of Paris than at the height of the French Revolution -- Monet and some others invented Impressionism. Rather than grab horror by the throat, as Goya and Picasso did in Spain, they created an earthly paradise. To this end, some ecstatically immersed themselves in nature; others tapped the gas-lit pleasures of the demi-monde. We will revel in the different visions of Monet, Degas, Renoir, as well as of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse – the Symbolist and Fauvist artists who followed. We will feast on the artists’ images, originals whenever possible (including Monet’s Matinée sur la Seine at the Mead). We will study their words -- Van Gogh’s letters, Gauguin’s Noa Noa, Matisse’s “Notes of a Painter” -- and analyze the ways in which they transformed their experiences into art. There will be at least one required field trip, on a Friday. This is a research seminar: each student will choose an artist, whose paradise she will study in depth, and share as a class presentation and substantial paper.
We will consider the centrality of beauty and joy in the creation of art and life.
Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Staller.2022-23: Not offered
Independent reading course. A full course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
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. Fall semester. The Department.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022