Spring 2020 Class Schedule
|Course #||Course Title||Instructor||Day/Time||Location|
|ART_HIST 101-6||Freshman Seminar: Everest: Altitude and Attitude||Linrothe||TR |
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.
|ART_HIST 224||Introduction to Ancient Art||Gunter||MW |
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.
|ART_HIST 250||Introduction to European Art||Escobar||TR |
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.
|ART_HIST 320-1||Medieval Art Byzantine: Byzantine Art and Architecture||Normore||TR |
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.
|ART_HIST 350-2||19th Century Art 2: 1848-1900||Eisenman||TR |
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.
|ART_HIST 390/Crit Theory||Undergraduate Seminar: Afro-Pessimist Aesthetics (partially on-site at SAIC)||Copeland/Sam Aranke||F |
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_HIST 395||Collecting/Critique: Art, Museums, and Thinking About History||Feldman/Essi Rönkkö/Kate Hadley Toftness||W |
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.
|ART_HIST 395||Chicago Object Study Initiative Undergraduate Seminar: Medieval Art and the Decorative Arts||Miller||F |
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.
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|ART_HIST 406||Dissertation Prospectus||Feldman||T |
ART_HIST 406 Dissertation Prospectus
|ART_HIST 420||Studies in Medieval Art: Mapping the Middle Ages||Normore||R |
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.
|ART_HIST 440||Worldly Goods: Art, Bounty, Trade, Knowledge||Swan||W |
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.
|ART_HIST 450||Studies in 19th-Century Art: The History of 19th-Century Art Now||Clayson||M |
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.
|ART_HIST 460||Special Topics in Literature: The Surreal World||Bush||W |
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.
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