Annual 2019-2020 Class ScheduleArt History offerings for the 2019-20 school year are tentative and subject to change without notice.
|Freshman Seminar: The Life and Afterlife of Art Objects
ART_HIST 101-6 Freshman Seminar: The Life and Afterlife of Art Objects
Taught primarily at the Block Museum, this course is based on close engagement with artworks as ever-changing material objects and the methods and issues that they raise. From raw materials in an artist’s studio to fragile objects that require or resist conservation, we will trace the life history of things and consider the ethical and interpretive questions that arise from their changing states. Students will be introduced to the material histories of objects and global media practices, basics of technical and scientific analysis and related theoretical debates that resituate art history as a study of physical things as well as their disembodied images.
|Freshman Seminar: Everest: Altitude and Attitude
ART_HIST 101-6 Freshman Seminar: Everest: Altitude and Attitude
Mountains of trash, littered empty oxygen bottles, corpses covered in snow and ice for decades, deep within crevasses or left in the open to serve as path markers, blackened frostbitten fingers, toes and noses, later amputated, $45–130K per attempt paid to commercial climbing companies, including an $11K fee to the Nepalese government. At least 296 deaths on the mountain are known to have occurred, a third of them Nepalese Sherpas engaged as guides and porters to carry supplies, set the ropes and metal bridges and assist the wealthy climbers. Every year, about 1000 people attempt to reach the 29,029 (and still growing) peak; more than a third turn back, despite the upfront, prepaid cost. Why do they come? Do they know why, themselves? What are the rewards and motivations for attempting it? In the past century and a half, there have been both national and personal pride invested in being the first, or one of the only. But for most of human history, climbing into the “death zone” was considered suicidal and avoided at all costs. Even today, most of the people who live in the Himalayas consider it an unnecessary sacrilege to trample on the goddess, Chomulungma, and do it only regretfully to support their families via adventure tourism. This course will examine the geology of Everest, explore different perspectives on the history of attitudes toward it, as well as the motivations, costs and rewards for those who attempt to climb it today.
|Introduction to Art of the African Diaspora
ART_HIST 222 Introduction to Art of the African Diaspora
This course examines the intersections between historical and political developments in the African diaspora and the history of art. It starts with a consideration of slavery and its visual representations and thereafter explores efforts by people of African descent to forge the contours of an internally complex diasporic community through visual means. Broader issues—such as modernity, race, capitalism, coloniality, syncretism, transnationalism and the limits of visibility—are productively complicated both historically and theoretically when examined through a consideration of visual arts in and representations of the African diaspora. Readings in the course will include work by Robert Farris Thompson, Paul Gilroy, Saidiya Hartman, and Richard Powell.
|Introduction to Ancient Art
ART_HIST 224 Introduction to Ancient Art
Some of the most influential works of art and architecture and enduring styles in world history were created in the ancient cultures of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran, Greece, and the Roman Empire. In this course we investigate their artistic traditions, styles, and built environments, focusing on the highlights—by general consensus—of these cultures’ artistic and technological achievements. A primary objective is to examine the key monuments that have influenced Western (and global) art over the centuries, along with gaining skills in visual literacy and an understanding of art historical methods and aims. Another goal is to provide insight into the specific historical contexts in which buildings, sculptures, and paintings were produced and the particular political, social, and religious functions they served. To provide exposure to a wide variety of material within a critical framework, we will examine specific case studies to supplement textbook readings.
|Introduction to the History of Architecture and Design
ART_HIST 232 Introduction to the History of Architecture and Design
This course explores modern architecture, design, and urban planning from the late 19th century to the early 1970s. Focusing primarily on the modern movement in architecture, we will situate key figures, objects, and design practices within broader political, cultural, social, and economic contexts. Among the themes we will explore are how the major world wars, the Soviet Revolution, colonialism and decolonization influenced the production of architecture; how aesthetic considerations such as the relations between form and function were imbricated with questions about technology and labor; how architectural modernism became the International Style and how this internationalization took place in various parts of the globe, beyond Europe and the US.
|Introduction to European Art
ART_HIST 250 Introduction to European Art
This course surveys Renaissance and Baroque painting, sculpture, architecture, and other visual media produced in Europe from ca. 1400 to ca. 1800. Beginning in the fifteenth century, we will examine the power that images and monuments have held in Western European society. We will also focus on the achievements of singular individuals in history and consider the changing role of the artist in society over time. This latter topic is especially relevant in the sixteenth century when artistic biography emerged as a popular form of writing and, one could argue, art history as a discipline began to take shape. Additionally, we will investigate how art has responded to technology from the development of linear perspective in the early Renaissance period to the assimilation of advances in optical sciences in the Baroque era. Throughout the course, we will pay attention to the ways in which art reflects Europe’s engagement with the wider globe, via colonialism, trade, and cultural exchange with Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In short, Art History 250 evaluates works of art from the past as expressions of their particular social, political, and historical contexts.
Writing assignments will help students learn the skills of visual analysis. A visit to the Art Institute of Chicago will provide students first-hand exposure to works of art and the raw material for the term research paper. Students are expected to complete reading assignments prior to class meeting times and be prepared for active classroom discussion during Friday sections led by Teaching Assistants.
|Introduction to Modernism
ART_HIST 255 Introduction to Modernism
This undergraduate lecture course introduces one of the most contested terms of art-historical inquiry today: modernism. For some, the word simply defines Western art of the last two hundred odd years. For others, modernism refers to forms of advanced visual art, whether the cubist distortions of Pablo Picasso or the all-over abstractions of Jackson Pollock, that break with established representational conventions. For still others, the term singles out modes of artistic opposition to the ravages of capitalism, colonialism, industrialization, imperialism, and war that continue to define our world. Over the course of the quarter, we will keep these competing definitions in play as we examine signal episodes of European and U.S. modernism from the mid-nineteenth- through mid-twentieth- centuries as well as their counterparts in Brazil, China, Haiti, India, Japan, Mexico, and Nigeria. At the same time, we will engage the work of thinkers from Freud to Marx whose writing has come to define the modern era and our approaches to its understanding within humanistic discourse. We will proceed more or less chronologically, doubling back or projecting forward when necessary to understand the determinative historical influences that have shaped the development of modernist idioms in particular times and places. In every instance, we will study works of art that have confronted our culture’s visual means—of life, death, consumption, and display—and attempted to work them over into critical form.
|Exhibiting Antiquity: The Culture and Politics of Display
ART_HIST 318 Exhibiting Antiquity: The Culture and Politics of Display
How do institutions such as museums, along with other created contexts such as websites and archaeological sites developed as tourist destinations, shape and construct our notions of the past? How are these institutions enmeshed with broader cultural and political agendas regarding cultural identity and otherness, the formation of artistic canons, and even the concept of ancient art? This course explores modern strategies of collecting, classification, and display of material culture from ancient Egypt, the Middle East, Greece, and Rome, both in Europe and the United States and in their present-day homelands.
By analyzing programs of collecting and display, it seeks to understand both the development of modern scholarship in ancient art and the intersection of institutional and scholarly programs. Topics examined include the historical development of modern displays devoted to ancient civilizations in public and private museums, notions of authenticity and identity, issues of cultural heritage and patrimony, temporary and “blockbuster” shows, virtual exhibitions and museums, and the archaeological site as a locus of display.
REQUIRED TEXTS: None. Assigned readings will be available on CANVAS.
|Medieval Art Byzantine: Byzantine Art and Architecture
ART_HIST 320-1 Medieval Art Byzantine: Byzantine Art and Architecture
This course examines the formation and development of Byzantine art from the foundation of Constantinople in the 4th century to the city’s fall to Ottoman forces in 1453, as well as its subsequent legacy. Special attention will be given to the debates surrounding the role and nature of images in the Iconoclast controversy, the use of images in Orthodox practice, and the networks of cultural exchange and competition that linked the Byzantines to their neighbors and spread their artistic influence from the Italian peninsula to Russia and beyond.
|Baroque Art: Rembrandt
ART_HIST 340-2 Baroque Art: Rembrandt
Who was Rembrandt and (why) are his works still relevant? The Dutch artist is celebrated as the inventor of the selfie; as a master of landscape, portraiture, and history (narrative) paintings; and as an experimental printmaker. He experimented throughout his life with materials, media, and genres. His most famous work, The Nightwatch, updated the sober conventions of group portraiture in ways we are still accounting for. He was a Dutchman by birth and never left his native country, but has been claimed as an intrinsically German and even a modern artist.
Timed to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the death of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), “Rembrandt Year 2019,” this lecture course offers students an introduction to the works, life, and critical legacy of the seventeenth-century Dutch artist. By the end of the quarter, students will be familiar with the most central aspects of his art, its primary themes and concerns; the place of Rembrandt’s oeuvre within early modern art in a general sense; and the ways in which his memory has been preserved and his efforts celebrated over the intervening centuries. We will also consider the matter of connoisseurship (“who done it?”) with direct reference to workshop practice, considering technological methods of analysis. This course coincides with a stunning exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago of Dutch and Flemish Drawings, which we will visit. Topics to be addressed include but are not limited to: Rembrandt Storyteller; early modern self-portraiture; Rembrandt experimental printmaker; Rembrandt and the Dutch landscape; the representation of the passions; Rembrandt and classical antiquity; Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt (connoisseurship and attribution); the representation of women; sight and blindness; Rembrandt and film; and Rembrandt collector.
|Special Topics in Baroque Art: Materiality and Experience
ART_HIST 349 Special Topics in Baroque Art: Materiality and Experience
The materiality of art is evident—and central to how art looks, how it means, and how it endures. This new course is intended as an introduction to the materiality of objects and works of art made during the early modern era (c. 1400-1700) and to concepts for understanding and interpreting them. Works in a variety of materials—ivory, wax, woods, feathers, shells and mother-of-pearl, oil paint, lacquer, metal, fresco, stone, porcelain and earthenware—populate a series of case studies drawn from European, Mesoamerican, and East Asian workshops. In addition to learning about what goes into making an early modern work of art, students will trace the geographies of materials, and the ways in which materials, format, and durability all affect the viewer’s experience. Students will read, analyze, and discuss current research on the makings of art, on theories of the materiality of art, and problems in art conservation—and will participate in close examination of works in museum and special collections. Our specific focus is on the materiality of early modern art works, and on what sorts of experiences that materiality represents. How were the materials sourced? acquired? prepared? valued? appreciated? This course will introduce students to some of the central topics in early modern art history as it is practiced by scholars/historians *and* by archaeologists, museum curators, archivists, and conservators. Students will be introduced to a wide data set of objects and art works, and will learn how to analyze, articulate, discuss, and research aspects of their materiality. Rather than focusing on memorization, this course encourages using concepts from a set of assigned readings to reflect on the objects we discuss together. Students will work in small groups and as a class to advance their own vocabulary for and understanding of early modern materiality.
|19th Century Art I: European Art from 1785 to 1855
ART_HIST 350-1 19th Century Art I: European Art from 1785 to 1855
The course will study “The Age of Revolution” in Europe with heavy emphasis upon artistic and political developments in France, but developments in the German states, England, and Spain will also be discussed. Major themes are the rise of an art for the public, art and revolution, art and empire, the invention of Orientalism and Romanticism, caricature and the press, new image technologies including photography and lithography, and the rise of landscape painting and portraiture. The key artistic practices studied in the course are those of David, Goya, Ingres, Daumier, Géricault, Delacroix, and Constable. The course subtitle may as well be: Sex, Violence, Politics, and the Land.
This is Professor Clayson’s last 300-level class.
|19th Century Art 2: 1848-1900
ART_HIST 350-2 19th Century Art 2: 1848-1900
The fifty-year period from 1850 to 1900 spans both the birth of European modernism and its first period of crisis. Following the worldwide year of revolution (1848) insurgent forces, appeared in the artistic no less than the political arena. They demanded the abolition or reorganization of the conservative academies of art with their restrictive jury systems. They rejected the idea of artistic subservience to wealthy or powerful patrons, insisting that the first responsibility of artists is to themselves and their imaginations. And they preferred to depict the popular classes – their struggles as well as their heroism – instead of the established cannon of stories from ancient history and myth, or the Christian bible. There were many artistic radicals in this period, but we will focus on just a few, including Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, Francois Millet and Edouard Manet in France and the Pre-Raphaelites in England. By the end of the century, a different crisis arose. The modernists had so far dominated the scene, that the risk arose that audiences would be left behind. So thoroughly had Symbolist artists such as Redon, Gauguin, Hodler, Van Gogh, Ensor and Munch rejected traditional subjects, that their work was becoming almost incomprehensible to audiences. Even erstwhile Impressionists such as Monet, Degas and Cezanne confronted a crisis: Would they follow their own, creative and interrogative path wherever it led them, of would they retreat to more solid ground, surrendering the very idea of progress and experimentation? These are among the questions the course will address.
|Media Theory: An Introduction
ART_HIST 375 Media Theory: An Introduction
How do media impact our sense of such fundamental concepts as personhood, social life, and time and space? How do new technologies transform sensory experience at different moments in history? This course provides an introduction to the field of theoretical writings within the humanities addressing the nature of media and the role of technology in twentieth- and twenty-first century culture. We will pay close attention to the work of key media theorists, including (but not limited to) Walter Benjamin, Marshall McLuhan, and Donna Haraway. We will also analyze works of art, sound, film, and literature in order to catalyze, test, and expand our sense of how media matter.
|Special Topics in Asian Art: Portraiture in Himalayan Buddhist Art
ART_HIST 389 Special Topics in Asian Art: Portraiture in Himalayan Buddhist Art
One of the highly developed genres of Himalayan Buddhist art that corresponds (to an extent) with Euro-American artistic traditions is portraiture. This course will look at the development of portraiture in pre-modern and contemporary Himalayan art across media, including painting, sculpture, and photography. After grappling with theoretical accounts of portraiture in general, we will look at the functions and the conventions of portraiture in its Himalayan religious and socio-cultural contexts, paying special attention to the ways that align with and differ from other traditions of portraiture, broadening its definition and questioning assumptions about universal values. Studies of specific portraits will be drawn from Central Tibet, Nepal, the Western Himalayas, and Tibetan-inspired contexts in the Mongol and Manchu courts of China.
|Undergraduate Seminar: Art, Ecology, and Politics
ART_HIST 390 Undergraduate Seminar: Art, Ecology, and Politics
This course studies art that is motivated by ecological concerns, exploring how artists and activists have adapted artistic strategies to address environmental issues over the past 50 years. Themes to be addressed may include sustainability, materiality, labor, and recycling; how artists collaborate with natural processes; how art can address crises such as industrial toxins and global warming; and the place of human ecologies and political struggles in relation to gender, race, poverty, territory and indigeneity. The class will look broadly at environmental art but will focus specifically on one or two neighborhoods as case studies in the Chicago area; another case study will be the region around Carbondale in southern Illinois. There will thus be several field trips outside of class hours. In particular, a required field trip to Carbondale (with travel costs and accommodations covered) will be held from the afternoon of Thursday, October 24 to the evening of Sunday, October 27. Students must be available for this trip in order to take the class.
|Undergraduate Seminar: Black Art of the 1960s: New Paradigms
ART_HIST 390 Undergraduate Seminar: Black Art of the 1960s: New Paradigms
Recent scholarship has broadened the canon of “black art” produced in the long 1960s looking anew at how the politics of the era was manifest in art and art history. This course examines debates that surrounded black art during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements as well as new efforts to redefine, to relook at, “the political” in art and visual culture of the period, from abstract art to the artistic strategies of the Black Panthers. The class will be attentive to how gender, sexuality, and geography informed formulations of black art and alert to the limits of conventional narratives of art in the 1960s. The course interrogates how the unfinished political and artistic projects of the 1960s continue to shape memory, activism, art, and art history today. Readings will include work by Naomi Beckwith, Susan Cahan, Huey Copeland, Margo Crawford, Darby English, James Meyer, and Michele Wallace.
|ART_HIST 390/Crit Theory
|Undergraduate Seminar: Afro-Pessimist Aesthetics (partially on-site at SAIC)
ART_HIST 390/Crit Theory Undergraduate Seminar: Afro-Pessimist Aesthetics (partially on-site at SAIC)
Current debates in Black Studies have taken shape around interventions colloquially referred to as 'Afropessimism.' Often associated with theorists Frank B. Wilderson III and Jared Sexton, the term refers to a series of political orientations that help us understand the paradigmatic antiblack violence that structures everyday Black life. These theoretical interventions have entered the popular culture, as artists, critics, and cultural producers across various contexts have turned to Afropessimism as both a framework for artistic production and a means of critical engagement with it. This class, co-taught with Sampada Aranke (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art History, Theory, and Criticism), will consider the possibilities of an 'Afropessimist Aesthetics' in the wake of such interventions. We will read works by scholars including but not limited to Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, Frank B. Wilderson III, Fred Moten, Krista Thompson, and Adrienne Edwards in addition to relevant texts authored by the course instructors. Artists to be considered include Arthur Jafa, Wagenchi Mutu, Lorna Simpson, Renée Greene, Glenn Ligon, Melvin Edwards, David Hammons, and Barbara Chase-Riboud. Course meetings will alternate between NU and SAIC.
|Art Historical Methods Seminar: Making Art History
ART_HIST 391 Art Historical Methods Seminar: Making Art History
This seminar centers around two basic but difficult to answer questions: What is art history? And how did it get that way? Our aim will be to identify and question the validity of current disciplinary boundaries, and to begin to unravel how these concerns came to shape the field. Intended for undergraduate majors.
|Museums: Japanese Woodblock Prints: From 1660 to the Present (onsite at the Art Institute of Chicago)
ART_HIST 395 Museums: Japanese Woodblock Prints: From 1660 to the Present (onsite at the Art Institute of Chicago)
The production of commercial prints in Japan was the result of a popular revolution in Japanese society. Japan’s great premodern cities, especially Edo (now Tokyo), were home to an increasingly prosperous, sophisticated, and literate urban dweller who would purchase images of their favorite celebrities of the day or the latest illustrated novel. This class will explore the birth of the commercial Japanese print, and its many incarnations leading to the designs of contemporary artists. During our discussions we will consider the changing role of the artist and issues of use and reception, including the part the West played in the interpretation of Japanese prints into the 20th century.
Connoisseurship will feature strongly in this class taught from a curatorial point of view. As this class will be conducted largely in the Art Institute’s Japanese print storage area, it is a rare opportunity to view works of art up close and unframed, essential for an understanding of printing techniques and collecting practices.
|Collecting/Critique: Art, Museums, and Thinking About History
|Feldman/Essi Rönkkö/Kate Hadley Toftness
ART_HIST 395 Collecting/Critique: Art, Museums, and Thinking About History
Across the country, and indeed across the world, curators, directors, and museum board members are rethinking what it means to collect and display works of art in an era increasingly recognized as global and in societies that aspire to be integrated and equitable to all their members. Last year, for example, a group called “Decolonize this Place” protested at the Whitney Museum of American Art, challenging both the financial affiliations of a prominent board member and the diversity of artists collected by a museum meant to represent American art, broadly speaking. While groups like “Decolonize this Place” participate in a long history of cultural practice called “institutional critique” and engage in extra-muros activist strategies, curators and other museum employees are now also engaged in this self-critical project. Indeed, these concerns are forefront in the Block Museum of Art’s plans for an exhibition of contemporary art drawn from its own permanent collection and tentatively titled “Thinking about History.” Focused on artists who shape, present, and represent the past in their work, the exhibition also aspires to present a self-critical analysis of its own strategies for shaping its collection and promoting a set of social values in an educational context. This seminar will take up similar concerns. Looking at a history of critical museum studies and art associated with “institutional critique,” the course asks questions about the politics of museum finances; the ideological underpinnings of inclusion and exclusion; canon formation; boycotts; and what it means to “decolonize” the museum in relationship both to the history it presents and the futures it maps. The course culminates in the extraordinary opportunity for students to decide upon the purchase of a work of contemporary art for the Block’s permanent collection that the group selects from local galleries and justifies to museum staff, arguing for the merits of the work, its relevance to the Block’s teaching mission, and its relationship to “Thinking about History.” Students are required to attend one Saturday class visit to contemporary art galleries in the Chicago area, and some seminar sessions will be held off campus visiting museums and private collections. Interested students should write a formal letter of application to Prof. Feldman at email@example.com by February 15, outlining their intellectual reasons for wanting to take the course; the courses they have taken that have prepared them for this study of museum practices and contemporary art/history; their Saturday availability throughout the quarter; and, a brief reflection on what they think the museum brings to the construction of social values and understandings of the past, present, and future.
|Chicago Object Study Initiative Undergraduate Seminar: Medieval Art and the Decorative Arts
ART_HIST 395 Chicago Object Study Initiative Undergraduate Seminar: Medieval Art and the Decorative Arts
The objects at the core of the Art Institute’s collection of medieval art fall under the aegis of the “minor” or “decorative” arts. Yet this post-medieval and frequently pejorative term is at odds with medieval categories and methods of valuation. This seminar, taught primarily on-site at the Art Institute of Chicago and focused on objects in the museum’s collection, investigates the value and limitations of the category of “decorative art” to the study of medieval art. It will also consider the category’s role in forging the modern legacy of these objects, especially their preservation, collecting history, and impact on modern art. Along the way, investigations into medieval materials and craft process will reveal the power of traditional technical analysis, emerging scientific techniques, modern craft knowledge, and experimental archaeology to offer new insights into these often-neglected objects.
|Back to Top
ART_HIST 401 Proseminar
This course offers an introduction to the analysis of art and visual culture. The course will review research tools, cultivate analytic and writing skills, and survey a broad spectrum of themes and issues that inform current work in art history. The course will give some attention to classic, field-defining texts, but more to recent critiques, issues pertinent to scholarship in a globally and historically broad range of subfields, and approaches drawn from feminist, queer, trans, decolonial, and critical race theory.
ART_HIST 402 Writing Seminar
This seminar is designed for second year graduate students to rework an existing seminar paper into their Qualifying Paper. Organized around a series of assignments, it will be conducted as a workshop, focusing on both style and content. We will work on maximizing the effectivity of the paper’s arguments by considering its narrative structure and the use of sources and images. While the primary aim of the seminar will be to perfect the communicability and rigor of the arguments, this process is also designed to reflect on and distill our individual voice as writers and scholars.
|Mellon COSI Objects and Materials
ART_HIST 403 Mellon COSI Objects and Materials
ART_HIST 406 Dissertation Prospectus
|Studies in Medieval Art: Mapping the Middle Ages
ART_HIST 420 Studies in Medieval Art: Mapping the Middle Ages
What qualities make an image of the world into a map? How do the processes of abstraction inherent in the process of representation as well as deliberate alterations and additions in map-making reflect and create understandings of space and its inhabitants? This course examines the map as a visual form in the European Middle Ages in light of the last generation of work in critical map studies. In the first half of term we will discuss readings on mapping with a focus on its typical medieval forms and historiography within medieval studies. Students will be expected to choose a map at the beginning of term as a focus for research (suggested possibilities will be pre-circulated) and class meetings in the second half of the course will consist of weekly presentations on specific aspects of these objects such as their spatial systems, use and deployment of figural motifs.
|Studies in Renaissance Art: Spain and Its Wider World
ART_HIST 430 Studies in Renaissance Art: Spain and Its Wider World
This seminar will explore Spanish art in all media (including painting, sculpture, architecture, and prints) produced over the course of the long sixteenth century. It will begin with the reign of Fernando and Isabel and then trace artistic developments during the emergence and consolidation of the Spanish Habsburg transatlantic empire.
Art collections, royal portraiture, building decorative programs, cartographic imagery — all of these complementary endeavors, and others, will be investigated to help situate Spain in the wider world of Renaissance culture in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Americas.
Seminar participants will make use of the rich holdings of the Newberry Library and Chicagoland museums for individual research projects. As some course readings will be in Spanish, a reading knowledge of that language would be beneficial but is not required.
|Studies in Renaissance Art: Exposed to the Elements: Matter and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (onsite at the Newberry Library)
ART_HIST 430 Studies in Renaissance Art: Exposed to the Elements: Matter and Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (onsite at the Newberry Library)
This seminar examines early modern European modes of knowledge-production by zeroing in on the idea of the “elemental.” From geometry to medicine and alchemy, almanacs and handbooks of prognostication to natural history (including colonial natural history), the Newberry’s collection includes books that deploy the notion of an “element” (and the “elemental” or even the “elementary”) in many different ways. We will emphasize the four traditional elements (earth, water, fire, and air), gaining an overview of premodern European categories of material knowledge. Held in conjunction with the “Renaissance Invention” exhibition and the symposium, “Elemental Forces,” (May 7-9), students in the course will have the opportunity to present their research in a workshop meeting with visiting scholars.
Enrollment is limited, by competitive application. The application deadline is November 1, 2019. Compete this online application form to apply: https://www.newberry.org/renaissance-center-graduate-seminar-application.
SCHEDULING NOTE: There will be a two-week break during the seminar. Class will NOT meet March 19 and 26, but will reconvene for the final class on April 2.
|Worldly Goods: Art, Bounty, Trade, Knowledge
ART_HIST 440 Worldly Goods: Art, Bounty, Trade, Knowledge
Over the past decades, the history of the early modern era has been reconceived and rewritten along vectors populated by material goods and the practices by which they were valued, exchanged, studied, and used. Aesthetics, scientific investigation, identity formation, political relations, and devotional practices were shaped by material goods, many of them newly available on a global scale. This seminar interrogates recent historiography and a variety of objects and artistic practices from around the globe, focusing on conditions of production, circumstances of exchange, and aesthetic considerations. We will consider the dissemination and valuation of artistic materials; the movement of goods, materials, persons, and knowledge around the globe; the concept of property and ownership in the context of global trade; the relationship between trade and knowledge formation. Authors we will engage include Daniela Bleichmar, Jerry Brotton, Harold J. Cook, Anne Dunlop, Anne Gerritsen, Christine Göttler, Serge Gruzinski, Christopher Heuer, Lisa Jardine, Christopher Pinney, Giorgio Riello, Ulinka Rublack, Alessandra Russo, Timon Screech, Pamela Smith, Sanjay Subrahmanyam. Students will be responsible for weekly responses, presentations of the weekly readings, and for researching and writing a final paper.
|Studies in 19th-Century Art: The History of 19th-Century Art Now
ART_HIST 450 Studies in 19th-Century Art: The History of 19th-Century Art Now
The seminar will be explicitly and trenchantly historiographic. In the 1970s and 1980s, the study of 19th-century French art occupied the intellectual and institutional center of the study of art history in the anglophone world. We will investigate the “state of play” twenty years into the 21st century, roughly fifty years later. Why is that subfield no longer reckoned to mark the center of gravity in art history? What questions do scholars and students ask now? Are they substantially different? What is a “21st-century perspective”? What are the privileged objects and practices under scrutiny now, and why? Several recent publications will launch our inquiry: Petra Chu and Laurinda Dixon, eds., Twenty-First-Century Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century Art (for Gabriel Weisberg), 2008; Hollis Clayson and André Dombrowski, eds., Is Paris Still the Capital of the Nineteenth Century? 2016; H-France Salon, Volume 9, Issue 14, “The Social History of Impressionism,” 2017; Malcolm Baker and Andrew Hemingway, eds., Art as Worldmaking, Critical Essays on Realism and Naturalism (for Alex Potts), 2018; Denise Murrell, Posing Modernity, 2018.
|Studies in 20th and 21st Century Art: The Fugitive and Fugitivity
ART_HIST 460 Studies in 20th and 21st Century Art: The Fugitive and Fugitivity
This seminar examines scholarship and visual practices that address different understandings of the fugitive and fugitivity. This scholarly terrain ranges from an interrogation of historical incidents and processes of flight of the formerly enslaved to theoretical considerations of ongoing states of fugitivity that characterize the political positioning of black subjects in Western societies. Fugitivity will be complicated through and against an interrogation of concepts like the wayward, maroonage, errancy, and escape. The class is particularly attentive how these terms and concepts might shape and be shaped by an interpretation of the visual and visual materials. What might it mean to produce scholarship attentive to concepts of fugitivity? Authors we will engage include Tina Campt, Hannah Crafts, Avery Gordon, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Barnor Hesse, Jessica A. Krug, Richard Iton, Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, and Neil Roberts. Students are responsible for weekly response papers, co-presentations of weekly readings, and a final research presentation and project.
|Special Topics in Literature: The Surreal World
ART_HIST 460 Special Topics in Literature: The Surreal World
This course offers an introduction to what was arguably the most long-lasting and widespread avant-garde movement of the twentieth century: surrealism. In addition to reading several of the most important figures of Parisian surrealism (Breton, Aragon, Artaud, Bataille), we will explore a variety of affiliated non-European movements in Latin America (particularly Mexico) and Japan, as well the Cairo-based Art and Liberty group and international négritude (in Martinique, Senegal, and Angola).
Our focus will be on manifestos and literary works, but we will also study their close relationship to the visual arts. Students will have the opportunity to develop a research project relevant to their field and/or national area of interest. In addition to our regular seminars, we will also have small-group meetings with several of the scholars whose work we will be reading.
|ART_HIST 460/Critical Theory
|Studies in 20th & 21st Century Art: Appropriation ('North' and 'South')
ART_HIST 460/Critical Theory Studies in 20th & 21st Century Art: Appropriation ('North' and 'South')
“Appropriation” is a capacious term equally indexical of cultural, power, and proprietary relations. In the South African art-historical context, appropriation can refer to the ongoing forms of displacement, marginalization, and primitivization of the continent’s artistic production. Within North American art-historical discourse, appropriation often refers to a brand of photo- based practice associated with the work of white women artists such as Cindy Sherman who emerged in the New York art world of the late 1970s. In this exploratory graduate research seminar, we will aim to historicize, contest, and crosswire these mobilizations of the term by considering how various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences have differentially conceived of appropriation as well as how forms of “borrowing” and theft—whether of images, artifacts, bodies, or lands—continue to shape the politics of cross-cultural encounter in the Americas and beyond, whether “North” or “South.” For the first day of seminar, all interested students should read Athi Mongezeleli Joja’s “Challenging Appropriation vs. Scapegoating” and review the Fall 2019 version of the course syllabus, both of which can be accessed here: https://www.criticaltheory.northwestern.edu/mellon-project/critical-theory-in-the-global-south/sub_projects/appropriation-and-its-discontents.html
|Studies in Modern Architecture: Ruins of Modernity: Temporality, Architecture, and the Archive
ART_HIST 470 Studies in Modern Architecture: Ruins of Modernity: Temporality, Architecture, and the Archive
This seminar posits the figure of the ruin as a heuristic device to reflect upon time and memory in our approaches to the built environment as archive. While the ruin was a source of fascination and study throughout the 18th and 19th century as the emblematic embodiment of historical consciousness, its status in the 20th century has radically diminished with the advent of modernism. Nonetheless, the idea of the ruin, and by extension, its often ambivalent or dialectic representation of history, has not disappeared but persistently gained new meanings in its different modes of manifestations, for example as a novel aesthetic based on the fragment, or as a practice of ruination in urban warfare. Through an examination of a series of readings and case studies encompassing such topics as the dialectics of destruction and reconstruction, obsolescence, post-industrial dilapidation and infrastructural precariousness drawing from postwar and contemporary cases studies from across the globe, the seminar will explore the various ways in which questions of memory, nostalgia, crisis, and catastrophe inform new approaches to the archive and the historiography of modernity.
|Back to Top