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Course Catalog

Undergraduate Students

Graduate Students

Undergraduate Students

ART_HIST 235 – Introduction to Latin American Art

ART_HIST 250 – Introduction to European Art

Wracked by revolutions religious and secular, defining itself in relation to the many new worlds that became visible through colonial conquest and through microscopes, and ushering in new social and political forms with the rise in power of cities as well as absolute monarchs, early modern Europe was also a time and place within which what we now call “art” came into being. This course will consider works of art and architecture by well-known artists such as Donatello, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Bernini, Borromini, Caravaggio, Gentileschi, Velázquez, Rembrandt, and Wren within religious, political, and scientific contexts. But we will also examine popular prints, urban space, fashion, and performances in cultural centers like Rome, Amsterdam, Paris, and London.

This course is intended as an introduction both to the period/place, and to fundamental modes of art historical analysis and interpretation. There are no prerequisites for this course.  

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ART_HIST 255 – Introduction to Modernism

ART_HIST 319 – Special Topics in Ancient Art: Monsters, Art, and Civilization

Griffins, sphinxes, demons, and other fabulous creatures appear frequently in the art of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Eastern Mediterranean world. They stand at the intersection of the normal and abnormal, the natural and unnatural. Why did these images become so widespread, and what cultural functions did they serve? Can we connect their invention and dissemination with key moments in human history and cross-cultural interaction? What was the role of material representations of the supernatural in preventing and healing disease and other human misfortune?

This course explores the supernatural subject in ancient art with new perspectives drawn from art history, history, anthropology, and archaeology. We will examine a wide range of objects and representations (including sculptures, figurines, seals, amulets, and other media) along with ancient texts that help us understand their meaning and function.

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ART_HIST 319/HUM 370-4-22/CLASSICS – Special Topics in Ancient Art: Constructing Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean World

How did individuals define themselves in the ancient Mediterranean world, and how did they express their affiliation with multiple and diverse ethnic, religious, linguistic, and other collective social identities? How did groups portray perceived differences between themselves and others? What do we know of the construction of gender identities, race, age, and class distinctions? What dynamic roles did dress, hairstyle, body decoration or ornament, and personal possessions play in establishing and expressing individual and collective identities?

This course explores evidence for self-and group-fashioning in Greece, Rome, and their neighbors in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia. We examine a wide range of textual and material sources, including works of art, archaeological contexts such as burials and religious institutions, biographies, autobiographies, and legal documents, including dowries. We also consider culturally significant modes of self-representation and commemoration, such as portraits and funerary monuments, along with the collecting and transfer of objects that represented accumulated social entanglements, such as heirlooms.

ART_HIST 340-1 – Baroque Art: Italy and Spain, 1600 to 1750

This course surveys painting and sculpture, plus some architecture and urbanism, of the Baroque era (ca. 1580 to 1750) in Italy and Spain. Examining works of art in their social and cultural contexts, the course touches upon major themes of the historical period including the impact of religious reform on the visual arts; the notion of classicism as an aesthetic ideal; the intersection of art and science; and cultural exchange between Italian and Spanish places. Artistic centers such as Rome, Naples, Madrid, and Seville feature prominently, but the course will also consider artistic developments in cities such as Bologna, Milan, Valencia, Mexico City, and Cuzco. Along the way, we will study works by a range of artists including Gianlorenzo Bernini, Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Artemisia Gentileschi, Peter Paul Rubens, Jusepe Ribera, Luisa Roldán, Diego Velázquez, and Cristóbal de Villalpando.

The course will be taught remotely and synchronously. Pending developments, one class meeting will take place at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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ART_HIST 340-2 – Baroque Art: Northern Europe 1600-1700

ART_HIST 349 – Special Topics in Baroque Art: TBD

ART_HIST 350-1 – 19th Century Art 1: 1800-1848

The more than five decades from the French Revolution to the Great (Crystal Palace) Exhibition in London of 1851, marked the near complete demise of the Classical tradition in art and architecture, the rise of art for the public (as opposed to an elite of collectors and connoisseurs), and the emergence of the “avant-garde.” The period also saw the appearance of a succession of individuals who, regardless of their allegiance to the governing artistic and political institutions of the day, stood out as critical individuals, willing risk public incomprehension or even ridicule in pursuit of their singular, artistic visions. The names of the latter artists include David, Gericault, D’Angers, Soane, Goya, Blake, Turner and Courbet and they will be the chief artistic subjects of the course.

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ART_HIST 359 – Special Topics in 19th Century: TBD

ART_HIST 367/ENVR_POL 390-0-25 – Special Topics in American Art: The Visual Language of Protest

The year 2020 has witnessed a series of crises in which protest has been both effectively and creatively used and also, at times, demonized. This class examines themes in the visual language of protest in the United States since the 1960s, with particular emphasis on recent political movements and topics that will include climate change and global climate justiceand responses to police violence, prisons, and antiblackness, and may also include Indigenous sovereignty, antifascism, disability and trans rights, activism around Covid19, and other efforts. We will bear in mind relationships to more traditional forms of art like painting and sculpture as well as print media and social media; we will also discuss theories of collective action and questions of force and violence as well as nonviolence, but the main focus is on modes of creativity connected to protest. The organizing principle will be specific tropesand mediaof protest: for example, tree-sitting, tents and occupations; the megaphone, sound, and music; bicycles, automobiles,pushcarts, floats, and other vehicles; the mask; giant puppets;parties and pleasure; coffins, memorials,and the Grim Reaper; stenciling, graffiti, murals, and mark-making; video and social media; and other modes of performance and strategies for producing visibility. Class will be held remotely; if possible, we may have one or two optional socially distanced field trips.Following a short sequence of introductory readings, students in small groups will participate in researching imagery and themes that they will present to the class as a whole for group discussion. The final project will involve small groups each making contributions to the curating of a collective “guidebook” of protest imagery, format to be determined.Work will be assessed both collectively and individually.

ART_HIST 368 – Special Topics in Modern Art: Russian Revolution

ART_HIST 369/ITAL 377 – Special Topics in 20th and 21st Century Art: Feminist Utopias and Dystopias in Art, Literature, and Film

How can we imagine modes of life that oppose social injustice and the tangle of race, gender, and class hierarchies that sustains it? What would a world that radically promotes or even realizes justice look like? This course will investigate the ways in which feminist writers, artists, and filmmakers have imagined a future that does not resemble the past, reinventing for us the very texture of daily life. Among the themes we will explore are the relation between architecture, urban planning, and various forms of surveillance/control; the relation between work and life, with a focus on domestic labor and the struggles of the 1970s international feminist movement; and the relation between the demands of the community and personal freedom. While concentrating on 20th and 21st century, we will draw our cases from literature and speculative science fiction (Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale) and a variety of media practices: film (Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames and Elizabeth Tadic’s Umoja: No Men Allowed), installation art and architecture (WomanHouse and feminist architectural theorists) performance and video art (Martha Rosler’s Semiotics in the Kitchen and Beyoncé’s Lemonade), and TV series (Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake and the recent The Handmaid’s Tale).

ART_HIST 389 – Special Topics in Asian Art: Oriental Rugs

ART_HIST 390 – Undergraduate Seminar: On South African Cultural Expression: Art and the Post-Apartheid Imagination

ART_HIST 390 – TBD

ART_HIST 390 – Special Topics/Seminar in Asian Art: Gyantse Kumbum, 15th & 20th Centuries

The Kumbum of Gyantse is a landmark in the histories of Tibetan architecture, painting, and Buddhism, comparable in complexity and stature to Borobudur in Java, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople/Istanbul and the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  As a senior scholar of Tibetan culture remarks, the Kumbum of Gyantse and its surrounding temples “are understood both within traditional Tibetan sources and among contemporary art historians to represent the pinnacle of Tibetan artistic creation.” The course will consider the patronage, architecture, styles of painting and sculpture, iconography, and iconology of the site, as well as somatic and visual modes of experience within Tibetan Buddhist artistic production.   After exploring the systematic integration of architecture, sculpture, and painting of the 15th century Gyantse Kumbum, the course will examine the site’s afterlife in the 20th century, raising issues of contested and shifting meanings projected onto works of art.  Gyantse was the locale of a battle during the 1904 British invasion of Tibet.  Objects looted by British soldiers continue to turn up on the art market, offering opportunities to discuss colonialism and collecting.  The Chinese, who have directly administered the area since 1950, have also used Gyantse for varied purposes including promoting tourism, critiquing the pre-modern social order in Tibet, and anti-colonial propaganda in films and sculptural tableaux.  Although largely protected during the convulsions of the Cultural Revolution, it still suffered damage. The course will examine these issues along with the impact of the Cultural Revolution and contemporary tourism on the site.

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ART_HIST 390 – An Art of Describing Blackness: Early Modern Visual Culture of Race

How did early modern northern European images participate in and help to form a visual culture of race? Taught by a scholar of Dutch art of the seventeenth century, this seminar will explore sixteenth- and seventeenth-century northern European representations of Blacks and blackness by German and Dutch artists Albrecht Dürer, Hans Burgkmair, Hieronymus Bosch, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, and others. We will also consider ethnographic prints, printed maps, and allegories. The general focus is on interactions among German, Flemish, and Dutch Europeans and black Africans and Melanesians that resulted in images made between 1550 and 1700. How do images of Blacks operate within the artistic conventions of the time? How do they relate to conceptions of the exotic? And how did they then and how do they now contribute to the construction of race?

We will study images made in the era of Atlantic slavery and early European colonialism, and how these intertwined histories structured and benefited from forms of visual representation. In the early modern era, it was conventional to depict the youngest of the three Magi who travel to adore the Christ child as a black African. By the end of the seventeenth century, portraits of bourgeois white families often included a black servant. Throughout the era, ethnographic prints of black Africans encountered in the context of trade circulated widely. Made and admired in the context of the transatlantic slave trade, these images were also in some cases records of individual encounters between artists and the men and women they depicted. Can we square the personal with the political in the case of an art of describing blackness?

The seminar opens with readings on the invention of whiteness in the early modern colonial era in the context of the slave trade and recent research on “Black Tudors” and on relations between Elizabethan England and the Ottoman Empire. It will showcase recent research on black Africans in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, and on Dutch investment in the transatlantic slave trade and plantation colonialism. We will consider specific case studies of northern European prints, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and architecture that frame constructions of blackness. Geographically, the materials we study issued from The Netherlands and Germany, but the course considers European engagement in the American colonies, Melanesia/Indonesia, and the Atlantic and Brazil.

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ART_HIST 391 – Art Historical Methods Seminar

This seminar provides an introduction to art historical research methods for undergraduates, particularly those interested in writing an honors thesis. The seminar will survey the history of art history with a focus on recent debates and interventions within the field (e.g. feminist, critical race theory, and decolonial approaches). The seminar will also provide students with concrete tools to develop, research, and write a piece of original art historical scholarship. What does it mean to ask an original art historical research question? What is historiography and how it is critical for mapping out and developing an original thesis statement and argument? How does one effectively analyze and implement primary sources? What constitutes “evidence,” and how is the dominant perception of “evidence” shaped by art history’s origins?

ART_HIST 395 – Chicago Object Study Initiative Undergraduate Seminar: Modern American Art in Crisis: The World War II Years

This seminar will utilize the Art Institute of Chicago’s vast collection of American art made during World War II, as well as other local collections, to question why the war is ignored in most scholarship on art of this period. The course will bypass the traditional teaching of modern American art that pits “realism” against “abstraction.” Instead, we will study works from across the aesthetic and ideological spectrum to underscore how all artists in the United States were impacted by the national and global upheaval brought about by World War II.

Each week will focus on a different topic, medium, or artistic style through the close analysis of specific art objects selected to ground our conversation. We will critically assess art ranging from iconic works like Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Jackson Pollock’s abstract drawings to lesser-known Surrealist objects, wartime photographsand prints, and government-sponsored posters to better understand how American artists responded to the conditions of war in their artistic practices. Artists whose work will be discussed include Marcel Duchamp, Kay Sage, Max Ernst, Margaret Bourke-White,Ansel Adams, Isamu Noguchi, Charles White, Thomas Hart Benton, Norman Rockwell, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, John Woodrow Wilson, Ben Shahn, William Gropper, and Barnett Newman. Through object-focused case studies, we as a class will model the importance of recontextualizing wartime American art within the specific social, historical, and political circumstances of World War II; a period marked by the lingering effects of the Great Depression, the country’s long history of racism, antisemitism, and xenophobia, and themilitary industrial complex at large during a time of existential crisis at home and abroad.

The course will be taught remotely and synchronously. Students on campus will be encouraged to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and other local collectionsin Evanston and Chicago.

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Graduate Students

ART_HIST 401 – Proseminar

This course offers an introduction to methods, theory, and issues in art and visual culture. It is not a course in how to do visual analysis, but an overview of themes in art historical historiography and a discussion of the art historian’s “toolkit.” 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. Class will be offered primarily remotely with a small number of outdoor in-person meetings.  

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ART_HIST 402 – Writing Seminar

This course is intended to aid second-year Art History graduate students in the writing of the required QP. It is organized around a series of assignments to facilitate and prompt reflection on the key tasks of art historical writing including the translation of the visual into the verbal, the framing of a question, structuring of a research agenda, proper use of primary and secondary source materials and self- and peer-editing. While our primary purpose is the production of a strong QP final draft, secondary benefits include critical engagement with strategies of writing pedagogy and consideration of our individual priorities and voices as writers.

ART_HIST 406 – Dissertation Prospectus

ART_HIST 420 – Decolonizing the Medieval Wing

This course considers the past and future of European medieval collections in light of recent critical museology and curatorial practice. Through thematic discussions and selected case studies, we will examine the longer history of the ‘medieval wing’ in encyclopedic museums and dedicated museums of medieval art alongside more recent debates concerning the presentation of the art and artifacts of Indigenous and other marginalized groups in museum contexts. We will interrogate some of the modern uses of the medieval as a category and European medieval art as materials in the formation of national, imperial and White racial identities in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will also consider the future of medieval collections and their display, particularly in light of the current calls for a ‘global medieval’. Our goal will be to find a path forward that resists the supposed universalism and neutrality of the presentation of the European past and the colonial and neocolonial projects in which medieval art has been enmeshed. To this end, for their final project students may write a traditional research paper or offer a proposal for the reinstallation of a section of a current medieval collection.

ART_HIST 440 – Studies in Baroque Art: Collection and Dispersal

ART_HIST 440 – Studies in Baroque Art: Empire of Cities

This seminar will examine recent and past scholarship on the built environment of the transnational and transatlantic Spanish Habsburg monarchy (c. 1500 to c. 1700), with special consideration given to spatial theory and comparative history astools for reimagining an architectural history of thepolitical domain. Following an introduction to important writings by Fernand Braudel and Henri Lefebvre, the seminar will focus on key cities of the empire including Santo Domingo, Cuzco, Seville, Madrid, Naples, and Mexico City. We will consider monuments and public spaces in each of these places as products of a vast network of people, ideologies, and aesthetic principles that circulated in multiple directions.

Each week, the seminar will meet synchronously for two hours and asynchronously for one hour. Students will write weekly responses to readings and prepare two or three presentations that will be posted for viewing and commentary by all members of the seminar.Reading knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese would be beneficial but is not required.

ART_HIST 440 – Studies in Baroque Art: Collection and Dispersal

ART_HIST 450 – Studies in 19th Century Art: William Blake and Karl Marx

ART_HIST 460/COMM 525 – Studies in 20th & 21st Century Art: Black Arts Archives in Chicago

Exploring the deep histories, artistic movements, social and political context, and key players, this seminar will engage the rich archive of Black arts in Chicago over the past 80 years. The course involves readings and discussion and will be offered largely remotely but include select visits (where possible) to organizations and institutions such as the South Side Community Art Center and Stony Island Arts Bank. Final project will be a digital project: video, sound, mapping, blog, or other web-based project or essay about some aspect of the history of one of the organizations, and a significant portion of the course will be given over to a studio format with presentations and discussion of work in progress. 

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ART_HIST 460 – Studies in 20th & 21st Century Art: Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminar: Black Arts in Anti-Black Worlds: From Chicago to Cape Town

ART_HIST 460 – Studies in 20th & 21st Century Art- “Create Dangerously”: Contemporary Caribbean Art

This course examines the work and role of contemporary Caribbean artists who use their practices to address, to intervene into, crises facing the region.  Whether calling attention to climate change, state violence, LGBTQ rights, racism, sexism, colonialism, national insecurity, service and servitude industries or systems of monetary debt and finance, artists engage regional issues that are increasingly urgent in many parts of the world.  We will read work by a number of scholars, including Edwidge Danticat, Deborah Thomas, Gina Athena Ulysse, and Monique Allewart.

 

ART_HIST 480 – Special Topics/Seminar in Asian Art: Gyantse Kumbum, 15th & 20th Centuries

The Kumbum of Gyantse is a landmark in the histories of Tibetan architecture, painting, and Buddhism, comparable in complexity and stature to Borobudur in Java, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople/Istanbul and the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  As a senior scholar of Tibetan culture remarks, the Kumbum of Gyantse and its surrounding temples “are understood both within traditional Tibetan sources and among contemporary art historians to represent the pinnacle of Tibetan artistic creation.” The course will consider the patronage, architecture, styles of painting and sculpture, iconography, and iconology of the site, as well as somatic and visual modes of experience within Tibetan Buddhist artistic production.   After exploring the systematic integration of architecture, sculpture, and painting of the 15th century Gyantse Kumbum, the course will examine the site’s afterlife in the 20th century, raising issues of contested and shifting meanings projected onto works of art.  Gyantse was the locale of a battle during the 1904 British invasion of Tibet.  Objects looted by British soldiers continue to turn up on the art market, offering opportunities to discuss colonialism and collecting.  The Chinese, who have directly administered the area since 1950, have also used Gyantse for varied purposes including promoting tourism, critiquing the pre-modern social order in Tibet, and anti-colonial propaganda in films and sculptural tableaux.  Although largely protected during the convulsions of the Cultural Revolution, it still suffered damage. The course will examine these issues along with the impact of the Cultural Revolution and contemporary tourism on the site.

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