Art and the History of Art

2024-25

101 The Language of Architecture

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024

102 The 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 16 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, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

105 Space and Design: Introduction to Studio Architecture

Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

106 Introduction to Art and Code

(Offered as ARHA 106 and FAMS 311) Introduction to computer programming for studio artists. In this course, students will explore the qualities intrinsic to artistic expression with computers. By writing code to generate text and graphics, students explore such concepts 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 16 students. Spring 2025: Professor House.

2024-25: Not offered

110 Color Study

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2023

111 Drawing I

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. Fall and Spring: Instructor TBD.

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, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

116 The Global Medieval World

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

122 Urban Sketching

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

125 Urban Africa: Ancient and Modern Lives

(Offered as ARHA 125, ARCH 125, and BLST 125) This introductory course is a survey of the spaces and places that have defined urban Africa over time. From the ancient pyramids of Giza to modern metropolises like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Dakar, Senegal, Africa has long incubated some of the world's most diverse urban centers.  This course introduces students to African urban environments while also engaging the social, political, economic, and cultural phenomena that have shaped the lives of these locales. Some of the places that we will consider include: the Pyramids of Giza; the ancient Nubian pyramids of Sudan; the Medieval site of Great Zimbabwe; the coral stone cities of the early modern Swahili Coast of East Africa; the ports of the West African slave trade; the twentieth-century colonial cities of French West Africa and Italian East Africa; and modern urban centers from Casablanca, Morocco to Antananarivo, Madagascar. Traversing the continent while simultaneously moving from ancient to modern times, this course introduces students to the broad range of questions that emerge when we investigate the cities, buildings, landscapes, and cultures of Africa. Students will hone their reading, writing, and research skills through response essays, position papers, and a final research project. Discussions will focus on encouraging all students to share their ideas about African architecture and urban environments. 

No prior knowledge of architecture or African history and geography is required. No prerequisites. Fall 2024: Professor Carey. 

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

138 Visual Arts and Orature in Africa

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

140 Introduction to the Arts of Asia

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

152 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 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. Omitted 2024-25: Professor Rice.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2023

155 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 2024: Professor Vicario.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024

157 The Postcolonial City

(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 2025: Professor Carey.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

159 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.

Limited to 50 students. Fall 2024: Professor Koehler.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

186 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.

Limit 25 students. Fall 2024: Visiting Professor Couch.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2024

202 Architectural Anthropology

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

204 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

205 Sustainable Design: Principles, Practice, Critique

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

208 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 2024-25: Artist-in-residence England.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

212 Storytelling Arts in Mesoamerica

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

213 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 2024: 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, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

214 Sculpture I

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 2024: Professor 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, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

215 Painting I

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. Fall 2024: Senior Resident Artist Gloman. Spring 2025: Visiting Lecturer Phipps.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

216 Frida and Diego

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2022

218 Photography I

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 2024: Instructor TBD. Spring 2025: 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, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

219 Venice, Perfect City (476-1797)

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2023

221 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 2024 and Spring 2025: Visiting Assistant Professor Drummer. Spring Semester 2025: Professor Levine.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

222 Drawing II

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 2024: 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, Fall 2024

224 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 12 students. Fall 2024: Visiting Lecturer Phipps.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

225 Art & Ecology

“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. 

Limited to 12 students. Spring 2025: Professor Monge.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2024

228 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 disciplines and interests are encouraged to participate.

No prior studio experience is required. Limited to 16 students. Spring 2025: Visiting Lecturer Culhane.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2024

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

231 Transpacific: Art and Artists

Other years: Offered in Fall 2013

232 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.

Spring 2025: Professor Carey.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

242 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. Spring 2025: Senior Resident Artist Garand.

243 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. Spring 2025: Senior Resident Artist Garand.

246 Public Art and Collaborative Practices

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.

Fall 2024: Professor Monge.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

250 Humanitarian Design in Theory and Practice

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

251 Learning from Metropolis: Architecture and the Graphic Narrative

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

252 Performance In (and Out of) Place

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2023

257 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.

Fall 2024: Professor Carey.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

263 The Art Market

This course investigates the relationship between art and commerce in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. What is the network of auctions, galleries, and fairs overseeing the buying and selling of works of art and how is value decided, constructed, and transformed in the process? How do we understand and calculate the value of art in both economic and symbolic terms? How do you buy and sell a work of performance art? What agency do artists possess in determining how their work operates in the market and how have artists played with the market since the 1960s? Finally, in what ways does the making, buying, and selling of works of art conform to and diverge from the operations of the economy at large? Using texts by Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, Eve Chiapello, and Jean-Joseph Goux, among others, as a theoretical foundation, we will explore the relationship between works of art and commodities and the ways in which artists both embrace and critique the commercial side of the art world. We will also study the recent attention paid to the “dirty money” funding arts institutions and trace a longer history of this phenomenon and its contestation by artists, activists, and artist-activists.

Requisite: One course in the history of art or cultural studies or permission of the instructor. Recommended requisite: ARHA 155. Limited to 25 students. Spring 2025: Professor Vicario.

267 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.

Fall 2024: Professor Rice.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2024

285 Roma Redux: The Eternal City Across Time

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2023

301 Space and Design: Advanced Design Studio

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2022, Spring 2024

304 Documentary Photography

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 2025: Professor Kimball.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

319 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 2024: Senior Resident Artist Garand.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024

323 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 2024: Professor 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, Fall 2024

335 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. Fall 2024: Professor Levine.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

353 Myth, Ritual and Iconography in West Africa

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

355 Solo Performance: Movement, Text, Sound, Video

Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

380 World-Making: Art in Times of Global War

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2023

389 El desierto: Capital, Surveillance, Nomadism

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

417 The Mughal Empire: Art, Architecture, and Power in India

(Offered as ARHA 417, ARCH 417, and ASLC 417) Founded in 1526 by a Muslim prince from Central Asia, the Mughal dynasty dominated the political landscape of South Asia (including present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh) until the middle of the nineteenth century. The influence of the Mughal Empire also extended well beyond South Asia, making it one of the most important players in the premodern global arena. This course will examine the great range of art and architecture produced for the Mughal emperors and members of their court, placing special emphasis on how these materials (and their makers) helped create a powerful, multifaceted image of empire. We will explore illustrated manuscripts and monumental architecture, including the justly famous Taj Mahal, but also expand our purview to consider less studied objects such as carved jade vessels, inscribed gems, inlaid metalwork, and textiles. We will pay particular attention to Mughal encounters with the arts of India's Hindu kings, the Safavid Empire, the Jesuit missionaries, the royal courts of Europe, and the British East India Company. We will also consider how race, gender, sexuality, and colonialism factored within these contexts. Films and field trips to local museum collections will supplement assigned readings and lectures. Participation in class discussion, a significant component of the course, is expected. No previous background is presumed, and all readings will be available in English. 

Limited to 18 students. Spring 2025: Professor Rice. 

418 Replicative Histories of Art

Walter Benjamin, writing in the 1930s, famously said that when it comes to a photograph, there is no original. While predominant thinking about the copy hinges on the example of photography, how can we understand this idea as part of a longer history of replication that includes a much more expansive range of media, including ceramics, printmaking, and bronze-casting? Why replicate the object or image? How does replication relate to mass production and the market, and how does it challenge an idea of the work of art as a unique creation? What is the connection between the proliferating images we find on the Internet and older types of circulating, spawning forms? The course will include guest speakers, including artists and art historians, whose knowledge will diversify the geographical, technical, and historical breadth of our discussions.

Fall 2024: Professor Vicario

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

444 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. Spring 2025: Professor Levine.

Requisite: One 200-level production course or relevant experience (to be discussed with the instructor in advance of the first class). 

Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

462 Curating Film and Video

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2017

490 Special Topics

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, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

498, 499 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. Fall 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, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

Non-Language Departmental Courses

244 Kyoto: City, Image, Text

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

357 The Persian Book of Kings

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022, Spring 2024

Non-Language Russian Courses

321 Monuments, For and Against

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024