Art History Courses, 2007-2008Last updated: September 20, 2012
P. Berlekamp, C. Cohen, J. Elsner, D. English, P. Foong, M. Ghose, T. Gunning, N. Harris, E. Helsinger, M. Jackson, A. Kumler, C. Mehring, W. J. T. Mitchell, R. Neer, V. Platt, J. Snyder, K. Taylor, H. Thomsen, Y. Tsivian, M. Ward, H. Wu, R. Zorach
Introduction to Art. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment. For nonmajors, this course meets the general education requirement in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts. This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and appreciation when dealing with a variety of visual art forms. It encourages the close analysis of visual materials, explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given work of art, and examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study of art. Most importantly, the course encourages the understanding of art as a visual language and aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Examples draw on local collections. Autumn, Winter, Spring.
ARTH 14000 through 16999.
Art Surveys. May be taken in sequence or individually. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment. For nonmajors, any ARTH 14000 through 16999 course meets the general education requirement in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts. The major monuments and masterpieces of world painting, sculpture, and architecture are studied as examples of humankind’s achievements in the visual arts. Individual objects are analyzed in detail and interpreted in light of society’s varied needs. While changes in form, style, and function are emphasized, an attempt is also made to understand the development of unique and continuous traditions of visual imagery throughout world civilization. Courses focus on broad regional and chronological categories.
ARTH 14007 Visual Cultures of Ancient Rome. (=CLCV 15007)
This course surveys the visual arts of Rome in the late Republican and Julio-Claudian periods (100BC – AD69). Students will be introduced to major objects and monuments produced for Roman patrons, in a variety of contexts from public spaces such as the Roman Forum to Imperial villas and private houses such as those of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The emphasis throughout will be on the dynamic role that visual culture played within Roman social, political and religious life, and the many cultural influences which contributed to the development of an identifably ‘Roman’ art, especially that of Hellenism. We will pay special attention to the function and significance of portraiture, copying, naturalism, classicism and the relationship between art and power. V. Platt. Spring.
ARTH 14107 Greek Art and Archeology. (=CLCV 21807)
This course will survey sculpture, painting, and architecture from ancient Greece from the Bronze Age to the coming of Rome. In addition to close study of the major works, particular attention will be paid to their cultural context and to key issues such as nudity in art and life, the origins and development of narrative, art and politics, the status and role of the artist, and also to fakes, forgeries and the difficulties of archaeological inference. Wherever possible, newly-discovered artifacts will be included and given special attention. R. Neer. Autumn.
ARTH 14200 Introduction to Medieval Art: From Missionary Images to Image Explosion
This course explores the changing and challenging world of medieval art. Beginning with the fourth-century fusion of imperial and Christian images and ending with the advent of print, we will trace how images and art-making took on new roles—and re-invented old ones—over the course of the Middle Ages. We will consider architecture, sculpture, wall-painting, manuscript painting, stained glass, metalwork, and textiles in their historical contexts, questioning why medieval objects look the way they do and how they were seen and used by medieval viewers. Readings will include medieval sources (in translation) and exemplary modern scholarship. For non-majors, this course meets the general education requirements in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts. A. Kumler. Spring.
ARTH 15200 The Baroque World.
Previously offered as ARTH 14600. This course surveys the arts and culture of Europe and other cultures in contact with Europe in the period sometimes known as the Baroque. The history of art from 1563 to 1715 is full of famous names: Caravaggio, Bernini, Gentileschi, Velázquez, Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Poussin. Through the lens of their works and those of others, we examine a range of issues in the relation of art and society: the rise of genre and realism; gender and sexuality; science and the observation of nature; the notion of the master artist, the organization of the workshop, and the rise of art academies; print culture, decorative arts, and "low" vs. "high" styles; religion, colonial endeavors, war, and the court of Louis XIV and political absolutism. Attendance at weekly discussion sections is required. R. Zorach. Spring.
ARTH 15600 Twentieth-Century Art: Modernity to Post-Modernity.
During the twentieth century, the visual arts underwent a series of revolutionary transformations. What conditions made for this unprecedented, dramatic, and exciting development? What and who make up a Cubist collage, an abstract image, a Dada photomontage, a Pop Art combine, a Minimalist object, or an art performance? We view a selection of works by artists ranging from Pablo Picasso and Wassily Kandinsky to Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. Attendance at weekly discussion sections required. C. Mehring. Winter.
ARTH 15700 Introduction to the American Built Environment.
The American landscape is filled with houses, factories, highways, and other monuments to its inhabitants’ impulse to build. What do these structures tell us about American culture? This course surveys the American-built environment from the eighteenth century to the present day. Particular attention is paid to issues of social history, the history of technology, and the manipulation of historical traditions in defining American architectural identity. V. Solan. Spring.
ARTH 16507 Art of Asia: China (=EALC)
This course is an introduction to key monuments in Chinese art, with a focus on Chinese painting from the pre-modern eras. We will survey a range of image-making traditions, for example, paintings found on tomb walls and Buddhist cave temples, court-sponsored palatial works, and the elite art of the literati class. Visual analysis will be further elucidated through considering major interpretive approaches that are current in modern art historical studies, such as by evaluating aesthetic theories against pictorial conventions, surviving works on silk or paper in conjunction with archaeological findings, artistic production in light of social and political contexts. P. Foong. Autumn.
ARTH 16900 Survey of Japanese Art
This class will offer a survey of Japanese art from prehistory to the present. It will begin with an account of the devotional objects and funerary monuments of Japanese prehistory, passing then on to the influence of Buddhism on Japanese sculpture and painting. The close interaction between art and popular culture will be considered, beginning with the prints and illustrated books of the floating world of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, and moving on to the manga and anime in the post-World War II era. The impact of Western culture on the development of modern Japanese art will also be an important issue, from the introduction of perspectival illusion and oil painting techniques to modernist abstraction and recent Pop art. R. Holmberg. Winter.
ARTH 17000 through 18999.
Art in Context. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment. For nonmajors, any ARTH 17000 through 18999 course meets the general education requirement in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts. Courses in this series investigate basic methods of art historical analysis and apply them to significant works of art studied within definite contexts. Works of art are placed in their intellectual, historical, cultural, or more purely artistic settings in an effort to indicate the origins of their specific achievements. An informed appreciation of the particular solutions offered by single works and the careers of individual artists emerges from the detailed study of classic problems within Western and non-Western art.
ARTH 17207 Image and Word in Chinese Art.
PQ: Arts of China or with instructor permission. The dynamic interplay between painting, poetry, and calligraphy in the Chinese tradition is encapsulated by Su Shi’s observation that there is “poetry in painting, and painting in poetry.” Further articulation of this truism requires us to examine developing modes of visual expression, and to define ways in which a painting might be “written,” or a text “imaged.” We will consider case studies which demonstrate increasingly fluid negotiation between these mediums: from pictures that labor in “illustrative” juxtaposition with didactic texts (image vs word), to representations of the natural world that are inscribed with poetry as sites of social and cultural identity (image cf word), and which achieve formal and conceptual integration in expressive purpose (imageword). P. Foong. Spring.
ARTH 17301 Art and Death in Ancient Greece and Rome (=CLCV 24607)
This course focuses on the different representational strategies by which Greek and Roman societies commemorated their dead, from Archaic Greek kouros statues and Classical funerary reliefs to grand monuments such as the original Mausoleum, and the rich iconography of Roman sarcophagi and tomb-painting. We will examine the socio-political, ritual and aesthetic factors influencing each genre of funerary art, focusing on the power of the image to act as a vehicle of remembrance and sign of loss in the context of death. V. Platt. Winter.
ARTH 17407 Making Classicism.
Using exhibitions at the Smart Museum and Special Collections in Regenstein Library as our laboratory, we will examine the contribution of the graphic arts – prints and drawings – to the formation of a notion of the “classical” in early modern Europe (1500-1800). During this period (also known as the Renaissance and Baroque) these images disseminated knowledge of the Roman republic and empire, aesthetic ideals for both architecture and the body, and ancient history and culture. Prints and drawings were a crucial element of the education of artists and, for others, helped create a visual sense of European tradition. The class will address artistic techniques and aesthetic values, and also examine social and cultural issues such as the intertwining of moral and aesthetic judgment; the uses of classicism as a secular tradition; and the political ideologies embedded in different forms of classicism. R. Zorach. Winter.
ARTH 17400 The University of Chicago Campus.
An introduction to architecture and planning, this course examines the changes in thinking about the University campus from its origins in the 1890s to the present. Many of the University’s choices epitomize those shaping American architecture generally and some of our architects are of national significance. The course develops skill in analyzing architectural and urban form in order to interpret: how the university images itself in masonry, metal and lawn; how it works with architects; whether buildings have influenced social and intellectual programs or values; the effects of campus plans and the siting of individual buildings; the impact of technological change, and of notions of history and progress. Many sessions are “on site,” looking at buildings; we also look at archival documents that illuminate why and how they were designed. Discussion and bi-weekly papers, based on visual analysis and readings, are central to the course. K. Taylor. Spring.
ARTH 17607 Word and Image in Japanese Art.
Japanese art presents a rich history of interaction between the written word and the graphic image. This class will offer an opportunity to think about the relationship between word and image in such Japanese art forms as emaki (narrative hand scrolls), calligraphy, ink painting, illustrated pulp fiction of the Edo period, and manga (comic books). Issues to be considered include the translation from word to image in the illumination of narrative texts, the visualization of the spoken word in Buddhist art, the imagistic nature of Japanese writing, and the uses and meanings of the speech balloon in manga. R. Holmberg. Autumn.
ARTH 17701 Europe in the 50's: Art and Reconstruction.
This class examines the art produced in Western Europe during the 1950s and the ways in which it grappled with the horrors of World War II, with efforts towards reconstruction, and with the continent’s new role in the Cold War. With few exceptions, the class will focus on the art of France, Italy, the Benelux and German speaking countries. A recurring focus of discussion will be the extent to which we can identify the emergence of a continental, pan-European identity, and ways in which European art defined itself through, and redefined, national identities. Artistic problems central to modern art will be discussed as well, including the monochrome, self-expression, and the ready-made. Discussions, student presentations, and short papers based on readings and works of art in local collections are central to this course. C. Mehring.
ARTH 17800 Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo: Their Art in Context
This course examines the art and personality of the two artists who are often considered the culminating figures of the Italian Renaissance with special attention to their identification as "High Renaissance" practitioners. We will be try to understand the Florentine artistic and cultural context out of which these two near-contemporary, but very different, individuals emerged. Their careers will then be studied in the context of the other major centers in which they worked, especially Milan and Rome. We will concentrate on relatively few works, while taking seriously the attempt to introduce students with little or no background in art history to some of the major avenues for interpretation in this field including formal, stylistic, iconographical, psychological, social and theoretical. Readings are chosen with this diversity of approach in mind. Special attention will also be given to the writings and drawings of the artists as means of thinking about their creative methods and the complex issue of artistic intention. C. Cohen, Winter.
ARTH 17903 1900 in the Smart Museum.
All the materials considered in this course are twentieth-century works of art located in the University’s Smart Museum. Group discussions will focus on how to look at works of art and the questions to ask of them. We concentrate on different media (painting, sculpture, and print) and works drawn from different movements (Cubism, German Expressionism, Abstract expressionism and contemporary art). M. Ward. Winter.
ARTH 18000 Photography and Film.
This course serves as an introduction to the history of art by concentrating on some fundamental issues in the history of photography and film and covers both still photography and film during the past 164 years. We begin with some of the earliest views about what photographs are and then look at some attempts to make photographs worthy of being called works of art. We then review some early and recent theoretical statements about film as art in conjunction with viewing some motion pictures. The aim of the course is to familiarize students with the history of photography and film using some of the critical tools we have for understanding art. J. Snyder. Autumn, Spring.
ARTH 18305 New Art in Chicago Museums and Other Spaces
Through very regular ,required site visits to museums, galleries, and experimental spaces in the greater Chicago area, this course will introduce students to the close consideration—in situ—of works of art created in our times, as well as to the application to these works of pertinent modes of critical and historical inquiry. Sites to be visited include the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, the Fraction Workspace, Mess Hall, the Hyde Park Art Center, The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, among others. D. English. Winter.
ARTH 18400 Divination and Diagnosis in African Art
This course will introduce a range of artworks created as medicines for mind and body. In Africa, some diviners and doctors use art objects to identify the cause of a client~Rs misfortune or a patient~Rs illness. These ritual specialists also commission sculptures, painted scrolls, and earthen assemblages to treat physical ailments, relieve psychological trauma, and deflect or even cause harm. Students will be encouraged to consider viewers' responses to these artistic prescriptions, and think critically about how personal encounters can "activate" objects. We will see the divination process as an artistic performance, as it brings together a diviner/artist, a client/patron, an audience, sculpted artworks, organic materials, and special behaviors to access esoteric knowledge and produce ways of understanding the world. J. Levin Martinez. Autumn.
The following courses do not meet the general education requirement in the dramatic, musical, and visual arts.
ARTH 20300/30300 Traveling Seminar: Greek Sculpture
This Traveling Seminar is open to graduate students and to advanced undergraduates with backgrounds in Art History or Classics. An introduction to Greek sculpture with particular emphasis on the terms that Greeks themselves used to describe the confrontation with images: wonder (thauma), grace (kharis) and complexity (poikilia). We will spend the first half of the course examining these terms and their broad pertinence to Classical sculpture. We will then spend the second half in detailed consideration of a few monuments, including the temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Parthenon and Temple of Athena Nike at Athens, the Riace Bronzes, the Prokne and Itys of Alkamenes, the Hygeia of Timotheos and Athenian grave stelai produced during the Peloponnesian War. All ancient texts will be read in translation. Funding has been obtained to permit all participants to travel to Greece during the week of Spring Break (airfare, hotels, transportation and museum admissions). During this week we will conduct intensive study of monuments in situ and in museums; participants will give presentations on site. Draft papers will be due by the end of 10th week of Winter Quarter. Final write-ups will be due by the 10th week of Spring Quarter. R. Neer. Winter.
ARTH 20500/30500 Pompeii (=CLAS 37707, CLAS 22707)
Pompeii is an iconic site because of its preservation and excavation history. It is tempting but problematic to treat it as ‘the’ paradigmatic Roman city. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD Pompeii was a small country town well past its prime and not the home of wealthy and educated aristocrats that the more aesthetically minded branch of classical scholarship tends to populate it with. New results on the actual living and economic conditions, such as the predominance of rented housing, throws a new light on the visual culture of the city. We will discuss Pompeii’s urban development and social life in relation to evolving trends in what is traditionally called ‘art’. E. Mayer, Winter.
ARTH 20507/30507 Art and Aesthetics in the Hellenistic World (=CLCV 24707 CLAS 34707)
The Hellenistic period (3rd to 1st Centuries BC) was a period of extraordinary cultural innovation and experimentation, in which the expansion of the Hellenic world, an increasing urbanization and a flourishing multiculturalism combined to produce a rich, sophisticated and highly self-conscious visual culture, heralding the development of ‘art history’ as a cultural practice and influencing much of later Western art. This course will examine the theory and practice of artistic production and reception in prominent Hellenistic centres such as Alexandria and Pergamon, exploring contemporary aesthetic concerns such as the science of vision; tensions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art; the rise of portraiture; the relationship between art and nature; miniaturism and the colossal; the power of allegory; and interactions between art and text. V. Platt. Spring.
ARTH 20907/30907 The Archaeology of the Roman Economy (=CLAS 38407, CLAS 28407)
In the absence of good documentary evidence, the functioning of the economy is one of the least understood aspects of Roman society. Literary sources display a class-bound senatorial consensus on socially acceptable commercial behaviour but show no serious interest in actual business practices. Even handbooks such as Cato’s de agri cultura are mainly concerned with morally uplifting activities such as the cooking of cabbage soup, yet are, if taken seriously, no manuals for good management but rather a sure advice for running any farm into the ground. Archaeological evidence, even though anecdotal, provides a more nuanced and complete picture. When used in conjunction with global and representative scientific data on air pollution, pollen profiles, and bone analysis the increasingly sophisticated remains of dams, watermills, olive presses, garum factories, and mines help explaining the drastic changes in ancient urbanism that occurred in the late Hellenistic period. E. Mayer. Autumn.
ARTH 23300/33300 Early Renaissance Painting in Florence
PQ: Any 10000-level ARTH or ARTV course, or consent of instructor. This course will focus on two themes: 1) The origins of the Renaissance in Florence as seen in the painting and sculpture of the early fifteenth century examined in the context of civic humanism and contemporary politics; and 2) The diverse responses of the second generation of artist to these radical ideas especially in the linked areas of style and religious expression. The implications of this artistic environment for Leonardo and the last generation of Quattrocento painters will be considered. Attention will be given to the changing social status of the artist as manifested in both the theoretical writings and the artists’ working methods.. Primary artists studied in the course will include Masaccio, Donatello, Gentile da Fabriano, Lipp, Angelico, Uccello, Veneziano, Castano, and Piero della Francesca. C. Cohen. Autumn.
ARTH 24600/34600 Spatial Strategies in the Chinese Tradition
Are there spatial dispositions particular to China? How do historical and culturally specific projects reify or challenge spatial categories? This course is an object-orientated exploration of space as an analytical category for the interpretation of Chinese cases: we may consider burials, temples, imperial cities, landscape, etc. Readings will include seminal and recent texts on space and place, and writings in area studies which make use of these concepts. Particular attention will be paid to hierarchical arrangements which conceptualize as infrastructures of power, in particular those that are institutional and/or geopolitical in nature. P. Foong. Spring.
ARTH 25200/35200 Pilgrimage in Antiquity and the Early Christendom
This course will present an interdisciplinary interrogation into the nature of pilgrimage in pre-Christian antiquity and the rise of Christian pilgrimage in the years after Constantine. It will simultaneously be a reflection on the disciplinary problems of examining the phenomena of pilgrimage from various standpoints including art history, archaeology, anthropology, the history of religions, the literary study of travel writing, as well as on the difficulties of reading broad and general theories against the bitty minutiae of ancient evidence and source material. Inevitably, in examining material from this time frame and across the divide between pagan and Christian, the course will touch on issues of Christian origins and the investments in pilgrimage as a specially Christian phenomenon. It will be taught over 5 weeks in the Spring quarter. Assessment will be by means of a paper due at the end of the quarter. J. Elsner. Spring.
ARTH 25900/35900 Theories of Media (=CMST 27800,CMST 37800,COVA 25400,ENGL 12800,ENGL 32800,ISHU 21800)
PQ: Any 10000-level ARTH or ARTV course, or consent of instructor. This course will explore the concept of media and mediation in very broad terms, looking not only at modern technical media and mass media, but at the very idea of a medium as a means of communication, as set of institutional practices, and a habitat in which images proliferate and take on a “life of their own.” The course will deal as much with ancient as with modern media, with writing, sculpture, and painting as well as television and virtual reality. Readings will include classic texts such as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Cratylus, Aristotle’s Poetics, and modern texts such as Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media, Regis Debray’s Mediology, and Friedrich Kitler’s Gramaphone, Film, Typewriter. We will explore questions such as the following: what is a medium” What is the relation of technology to media? How do media affect, simulate, and stimulate sensory experiences? What sense can we make of concepts such as the “unmediated” or “immediate”? How do media become intelligible and concrete in the form of metapictures” or exemplary instances, as when a medium reflects on itself from another, and how do they become “mixed” in hybrid, intermedial formations? We will also look at recent films such as The Matrix and Existenz that project fantasies of a world of total mediation and hyperreality. Students will be expected to do one “show and tell” presentation introducing a specific medium. There will also be several short writing exercises, and a final paper. WJT. Mitchell. Winter.
ARTH 26305/36305 20th Century American Landscapes
This course treats changes in the natural and man-made environment, focusing on the settings American designers, builders, architects, and their clients developed for work, housing, education, recreation, worship, and travel. Lectures attempt to relate specific physical changes to social values, aesthetic theories, technological skills, and social structure. N. Harris. Autumn.
ARTH 26701/36701 Abstraction, Decoration, and Design
This course explores the relationship of abstract art to decoration and design in the 20th century. Many modern artists felt ambivalent about the applied arts, about the decorative, ornament, or design. Abstract artists in particular were often apprehensive about their painting and sculpture approaching “mere” decoration, superficial and superfluous. Yet some of these very same artists also embraced these practices by appropriating decorative staples such as flatness and bold color to facilitate abstraction’s departure from mimetic modes of representation, by finding inspiration in the practical and social relevance of design, or by appropriating materials and techniques of the decorative arts for abstract art. Class discussions will examine these constantly changing attitudes at different historical moments. Artists and movements to be discussed include Wassily Kandinsky, Russian Constructivism, De Stijl, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Sonia Delaunay, Abstract Expressionism, Informel, and Minimalism. Discussions, student presentations, and short papers based on readings and works of art in local collections are central to this course. Familiarity with 20th century art is required. C. Mehring. Winter.
ARTH 26803/36803 Architectural Theory and Practice in the Enlightenment and 19th Century
This course examines influential new ideas about architectural design from the Enlightenment and nineteenth century in terms of writings and related buildings in Europe and the U.S. This experimental period generated theoretical writing that continues to matter to architects today; we will study it in terms of its initial contexts and application. Major themes are: (1) the relationship of a building’s structure to its decoration (or body to clothing, as it was sometimes put); (2) the rise of historical interest in older buildings from divergent stylistic traditions (e.g., classical and Gothic) and its impact on new design; (3) the development of aesthetic theory suited to mass as well as elite audiences (e.g., the sublime and the picturesque); and (4) the idea that architect and building could and should be ethical or socially reformative. K. Taylor. Autumn.
ARTH 26805/36805 Visual Culture of Rome and Her Empire (=CLAS 26200)
This general survey of Roman material culture will use the archaeological evidence complementary to literary sources in order to delineate the development of Roman society from the Early Republic down to the first sacking of Rome in 410 CE. Urban planning, public monuments, political imagery, and the visual world of Roman cities, houses and tombs will be discussed in relationship to the political and social processes that shaped their formal development. E. Mayer, Winter.
ARTH 27304/37304 Photo/Modernism/Esthetics
PQ: Any 10000-level ARTH or COVA course, or consent of instructor. J. Snyder. Spring.
ARTH 27500/37500 Postwar Japanese Arts, 1945-Present
This course will offer a survey of Japanese artistic production since 1945. Phenomena to be explored include the relationships between painting and performance in the work of the Gutai, the street performances and happenings of the 1960s, the rise of manga, experimental film and video, and the reemergence of neo-traditional practices in the 1990s. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship between art and contemporary social and political issues. R. Holmberg. Spring.
ARTH 28100/38100 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Architecture on the Move
From the glorious excess of nineteenth-century train stations to the bleak passages of many contemporary airports, architecture has served as the spatial representation of the acts of arrival and departure. This course will examine how specific building types—the airport, the train station, the modern highway and its spiraling off-ramp, even the neon-lit roadside diner—have mediated the global experience of travel from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. Careful consideration will be given to concepts of permanence and transience as embodied in architectural design. Readings to include Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Karal Ann Marling and Wolfgang Schivelbusch. V. Solan. Spring.
ARTH 28400 Art, Aesthetics and Productive Spectatorship
Interactivity has become one of the leading catchwords for new media and digital art, promoting the integration of "users" to the site, or object, of production. Discussions of "interactive art" often speculate upon the locus of meaning for such works, questioning at what point the work becomes a work of art, and who or what (if anything) is assigned agency for its production. That these questions invoke the aesthetic ideals of a bygone era should be no surprise; that these same questions were once asked at various historical moments of painting, sculpture, photography and film should, however, give one reason to pause. Despite current discussions of user intervention brought about by new media technologies, evidence of the productive role of spectators and the spectatorial aspects of artistic production can be found embedded in aesthetic discourse dating well before the nineteenth century. This course investigates the long history of productive spectatorship in Western art from the eighteenth century to the present day—from the formal teachings of the French and British Academies to the Ping Body performances of Stelarc—from the camera obscura to virtual reality CAVEs. We will explore the reciprocal relationships of artistic production to aesthetic consumption, as expressed by such authors as Denis Diderot, Walter Benjamin, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Brian Massumi. The course will address art making in a variety of media, old and new, including painting, photography, film, video, performance and installation art, and question the limits, demands, and possibilities that changes in technology and art historical styles bring to aesthetic experience. We will consider the role of art criticism in constructing paradigms for viewing art objects, and put these paradigms to the test during site visits to local museums. Is there an ethics of viewing art? What do we make of our role as active spectators? A large portion of the course will be spent attending to the issue of spectatorship within the context of modernism, and the applicability of utopian models of spectatorship for our contemporary society. The course will be divided into lectures, discussions, and site visits, with two evening screening sessions. There will be weekly writing assignments/production projects and a final project or paper, along with an ongoing group web project. L. Zaher. Spring
ARTH 28807/38807 Chicago 1968
For modern art in Chicago, 1968 was bookended by the unveiling of “The Picasso” downtown in late 1967, and Christo’s wrapping of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 68-9. In between, the city witnessed turmoil around the world and exploded with the momentous Democratic convention and associated protests, including creative forms of activism that drew on and also influenced movements and events in the art world. This course studies political and artistic events and their intersections in and around 1968, mostly in Chicago (but with additional background relating to contemporary events in other places). We will examine texts, images, film and video, and archival materials. Students should expect to do rigorous primary historical research (with guidance) on an aspect of the topic, culminating in a collective writing project. R. Zorach. Winter.
ARTH 29207/39207 Jasper Johns (et al.)
This course will take advantage of a major thematic retrospective of Jasper Johns’ work that is to open at the Art Institute of Chicago in early November. The course is designed primarily as an exercise in extremely close looking: at a ranging body of artistic work and the dynamic and diverse literature it has provoked. Yet as one of the most consequential artists of the last century, Johns’ career provides a remarkable lens through which to view a range of practices, themes, and concepts in postwar visual art production and the broader culture of the United States. D. English. Autumn.
ARTH 29307/39307 Collaboration and Collectivity in Recent Art.
In the discourse on contemporary art, there is currently a vogue for “participation” and “interactivity.” One wonders: Is this simply art institutional hype? Or is it indicative of "the utopian impulse" at work in the artworld? Or perhaps a bit of both? In this course, we will examine this state of affairs by surveying historical precedents for "relational aesthetics" (such as Soviet Constructivism in the 1920s), while focusing our attention on art produced since 1970. Among our key points of interest will be the 2007 Documenta and Venice Biennale, as well as the global circuit of art fairs and artist-run spaces. M. Jackson. Spring.
ARTH 29308/39308 Aspects of Indian Painting.
This course is designed to cover a broad spectrum of painting in India from its earliest extant remains until the middle of the 20th century. It will consider the early wall paintings of Ajanta and the manuscript painting traditions within Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Islam. The courtly and religious traditions of the Mughal and Rajput courts will be a major area of attention (the latter encompassing both the Rajasthani and Hill regions). The course examines how artists working under Rajput and Mughal patronage further developed the art of the book, expanding its subject-matter and developing new techniques through the creative interaction of different traditions. The course’s later topics include Company Painting and the Bengal Revival, and twentieth century painting, concluding with the Progressive School.
Lectures will be presented each week with a display of visual material. Discussions of key issues in each topic will be conducted, based upon prior reading of selected articles or texts. Access will be provided to related paintings from the collection of the Department of Asian and Ancient Art of The Art Institute in order to familiarise students with original works of art. M. Ghose. Spring.
ARTH 29600 Junior Seminar: Doing Art History.
Required of third-year concentrators; open to nonconcentrators with consent of instructor. The aim of this seminar is to build up an understanding of the way art history has developed as a discipline and the range of analytic strategies it affords to students beginning to plan their own B.A. papers. Students read essays that have shaped the discipline and test their applicability and limitations. Students then begin to identify the kinds of problems that most interest them in the history and criticism of art and visual culture. A. Kumler. Winter.
ARTH 40100 Art Historical Methodology.
How do we do art history? What is it? What are its premises and where does it come from? This seminar will explore the historical foundations, formulations and applications of current art historical methods. Both theory and practice will be considered and critiqued through select texts, with especial focus on the problematics of art history as a distinct scholarly discipline today. Students will be responsible for discussions and class presentations. A paper applying particular methodological approaches is also required. J. Snyder. Autumn.
ARTH 40300 Concepts of the Sacred Image in Classical Antiquity
PQ: Should have taken at least one course in Greek or Roman art and/or history. This course will examine the methodological and theoretical issues pertaining to the study of religious art in Greek and Roman culture, based around the central question of what it means to represent or denote the divine in image form. While looking back to Archaic and Classical religious practice and forward to the rise of Christianity in the Mediterranean, we will focus primarily on a rich body of texts from the so-called ‘Second Sophistic’ (2nd and 3rd centuries AD), which explore issues fundamental to sacred art in general, such as the nature of anthropomorphism; the function and significance of different representational styles, from aniconism to illusionistic naturalism; the relationship between art, ritual and religious experience; and the importance of sacred topography. While exploring broader questions raised about the relationship between material representation and the sacred, we shall also place these texts within their specific cultural context, exploring the role played by Greek religious representational practices in the construction of Hellenic identity, and the impact of such debates upon later religious art and scholarly reception. All ancient texts will be studied in translation, though facility with ancient Greek and Latin will be helpful. Students may be expected to read secondary literature in French, German and Italian. V. Platt. Winter.
ARTH 40600 What is style (and why are they saying such terrible things about it)?
PQ: French and German helpful but not required. Style is at once the most important concept in the history of art, and the most unfashionable. Yet even robustly materialist historiographies cannot dispense with it. Sociological, iconological, archaeological, “culturological” and psychological histories of art all presuppose the correct determination of a given artifact’s point of origin. But what allows us to make this determination? What makes people think they can recognize a Rembrandt, or a Middle Helladic IIIc potsherd, in the first place? This seminar examines the theory and practice of attribution, from eighteenth century origins to present day debates. Each week will focus on a few key texts, juxtaposing philosophical theorizing and art historical practice. We will look at the notions of “period” and “personal” style, at the methods by which different art historians have arrived at attributions, and at the concepts of community, psyche and embodiment that such methods express. Readings will include texts by Wittgenstein, Cavell, Wollheim, Alpers, Baxandall, Merleau-Ponty, Schapiro, Kubler, Wölfflin and Panofsky. Throughout, the focus will be on finding alternatives to the traditional conception of style as an immanent property of objects. R. Neer. Winter.
ARTH 41100 Ekphrasis: Art & Description in Greco-Roman Antiquity
This course explores the rich tradition of ekphrasis, meaning description and especially the description of works of art, in Greco-Roman antiquity. It is primarily intended for graduates – and a reading knowledge of Greek and Latin could not be described as a disadvantage! The course will be taught over 5 weeks in the Spring Quarter on an intensive schedule. It will explore the theoretical formulation of ekphrasis in ancient rhetorical theory, and the specific feature of the description of works of art in the Greco-Roman literary canon from Homer and Hesiod to late antiquity – in epic verse, epigram, prose and the novel. The course will focus on complex issues of the meta-reflection of artistic descriptions within a text on the artistry of the text as a whole, and on the potential interrelations of such descriptions with actual works of art and their viewings. Assessment will be by means of a paper due at the end of the quarter. J. Elsner. Spring.
ARTH 42200 Medieval Word and Medieval Image
The relationship between word and image has emerged as a central concern for medieval art history and medieval studies. Attending to this development in the historiography of the Middle Ages, we will explore how medieval theologians, philosophers, mystics, artists—and images—framed and engaged the relationship between the textual and the visual. Our conceptual framework will embrace writings on word and image by authors both medieval and modern, including: Augustine of Hippo, Gregory the Great, Hugh of Saint-Victor, William Durandus, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Erwin Panofsky, Emile Mâle, Friedrich Ohly, Otto Pächt, Meyer Schapiro, Herbert Kessler, Hans Belting, Suzanne Lewis, Michael Camille and Jeffrey Hamburger. We will pursue an interrelated series of questions. What does it mean to “read” an image? What place does the centrality of “the Word” in medieval Christian culture leave for images? Is a notion of visual (as opposed to textual) literacy an operative category in the Middle Ages? Is the ontology of the text always prior when we examine medieval images? What is the place of iconography in a twenty-first century medieval art history? The aim of the course is to grapple with these questions rather than to attempt definitive answers. The seminar will emphasize close readings and engaged discussions of selected works of art. A. Kumler. Spring.
ARTH 43100 Venetian Mannerism: 1525-1575
This course will cover the central post Giorgionesque years of the “golden age” of Venetian painting, including the mature career of Titian and the early years of Tintoretto and Veronese. The principal theoretical thrust will be to understand the uniqueness of Venetian art within the context of the Italian Renaissance by examining Venetian art and culture at a moment when it comes into problematic contact with the art of central Italy. Attention will be given to the nature and mechanisms of this interaction, especially after the sack of Rome, and responses to it such as Titian’s so-called crisis and the meaning of Mannerism in Venice. In addition to painting, we will examine drawing, sculpture, theory (especially the disegno-colorito controversy) and their quite particular venezianità. C. Cohen. Winter.
ARTH 45000 Ruins in Chinese Visual Culture
This course examines some essential changes in the conceptualization and representations of “ruins” in Chinese visual culture from antiquity to the present. Related topics include: the aesthetic of “lamenting the past” (huai gu) and its pictorialization, cultural “relics” and antiquarianism, photojournalism and representation of war ruins, and fascination with the torn and wounded in contemporary art. Students are encouraged to conduct research on both historical and conceptual levels. Wu Hung. Spring.
ARTH 46200 Exhibiting Art in Late 19th Century France
[description forthcoming] M. Ward. Spring.
ARTH 46604 and 46605 Whose Paris?
Walter Benjamin famously described Paris as the capital of the nineteenth century, and his archival, uncompleted Arcades Project gave that epithet, thanks to recent publications, a very long life. However complex Benjamin's characterization of this proto-modernist capital, the term carries implications of dominion. Paris is equally the city of the commune, the insurrectional and ungovernable metropolis, a figure and object of contention. We will read interpretations of Paris from the point of view of who Paris can be said to belong to, from the Enlightenment to recent times, considering them in light of how modern Paris has changed material form. Seminar members will assume responsibility for different moments in the city's history, helping us to examine our readings from materialist and historical as well as methodological perspectives. This is a two-quarter seminar in which the second quarter will be devoted to advancing and presenting research papers. K. Taylor. Winter (ARTH 46606) and Spring (ARTH 46607) 2-quarter course; okay to take the seminar for winter quarter only.
ARTH 47100 Japanese Art of the 1960s
This seminar will look closely at a number of key artists and monuments in Japanese art of the 1960s. A variety of practices will be considered: conceptual art, theatre, film, and manga amongst them. Topics to be studied include the 1000 Yen Note Trial of Akasegawa Genpei, the performance art of Yoko Ono, the political allegories of Shirato Sanpei, experiments with the representational codes of manga, angura theatre, theatricality in Shinoda Masahiro, Terayama Shuji’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup, and the date projects of On Kawara. Reading competency in Japanese is not required.. R. Holmberg. Winter.
ARTH 47407 Chinese Show
Organizing an exhibition of Chinese art involves both conceptual and practical concerns. Major components of this course will include concept development (by examining a selection of past shows), grant writing, object and venue selection, display, label writing, and other attendant issues that are central to the curatorial process. The class will develop and mount a mock show. Individual final projects may be an exhibition proposal, or a critical consideration of “exhibiting China” based on a historiography of showing Chinese works of art in the West. P. Foong. Autumn.
ARTH 48000 Art and Spectacle: From Debord to Retort
Since its publication in 1967, Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle has come to be viewed as one of the defining analyses of the twentieth-century’s visual culture. And perhaps nowhere has its influence been more pronounced than in the sphere of visual art. In this seminar, we will engage in close readings of the text, while examining varied responses to, and elaborations upon, Debord’s writings and his multi-media interventions. Particular emphasis will be placed on the text’s less familiar passages (on time, labor, and history) and on the implications of “spectacle,” “spectacle culture,” and “the spectacular” for art practice. Reading knowledge of French recommended. M. Jackson. Spring.
ARTH 48500 Early Modern Geographies of Art
This seminar studies the early development of modern concepts of land as nature and/or territory (nation, empire), understood in relation to techniques – overtly “artistic” ones like landscape painting, but also cartography, surveying, and geometry (geo-metry, the measuring of the earth). Along the way, the seminar addresses related recent work in art history that attempts to situate the discipline in a global geographical context. Readings address both European and non-European topics and may include recent work by Edward Casey, Lorraine Daston, James Elkins, Claire Farago, Pierre Hadot, David Harvey, Thomas daCosta Kaufmann, Sabine MacCormack, Chandra Mukerji, Rose Marie San Juan, David Summers, and Bronwen Wilson. Some prior acquaintance with theories of space/place and biopolitics (de Certeau, Foucault) will be useful but is not required. While readings will focus largely on early modern topics (1400-1800), seminar papers may address topics in any period, including recent art based in cartographic and “locative” media. Students should have a relevant research project in mind R. Zorach. Autumn.
ARTH 48600 Art and Television
This course explores the relationship between art and television with an emphasis on the 1960s and 1970s in Europe and the United States. A central question will be the extent to which television can be understood as a new medium for art intersecting with or different from film and video. We will look at the different ways in which artists made use of television as a means of representation, reproduction, or distribution, and as a new technology or material. Individuals, groupings, or institutions to be discussed include Joseph Beuys, César, Bruce Conner, Lucio Fontana, Karl Gerstner, K.O. Götz, Dan Graham, Isidore Isou, Joan Jonas, Edward Kienholz, Nam June Paik, Pop Art, Fernsehgalerie Schum, Jean Tinguely, Bill Viola, Wolf Vostell, Andy Warhol, WDR, WGBH, and Zero. Readings include historical surveys, interpretive essays, and theoretical texts by Walter Benjamin, Stanley Cavell, and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, among others. Familiarity with 20th century art and film is helpful but not required. C. Mehring. Autumn.
ARTH 48700 Contemporary Political Documentary
It seems clear that we are living in the golden age of documentary film, (or perhaps a contemporary revival of a genre that gains importance during times of crises) with feature-length non-fiction films assuming an unprecedented popularity and commercial viability, not to mention political impact. Directors such as Michael Moore, Errol Morris, Jason Spurlack, Avi Moghrabi, Ziba mir-Hosseini, and films like Borat, Control Room, Fog of War, Jesus Camp, Nine Bad Apples, the BBC’s Power of Nightmares, Divorce Iranian Style, Avenge But One of My Two Eyes, The Corporation, Fahrenheit 911, Outfoxed, Super Size Me, etc—everyone has their list. The aim of this seminar will be to investigate this phenomenon, map its tendencies, modes of production and distribution, and formal innovations. Why, in the age of simulation and illusory images, has investigative realism, and polemical, adversarial documentary emerged as such an important genre of cinema? We would like to think of this seminar as a learning collective that will begin by sketching out a tentative filmography of contemporary documentary, and discuss the theory of documentary and its relation to documents, monuments, and media. Among topics to consider: the transformation of documentary from a minor, marginal genre into a major element of the contemporary culture industry, employed on both the Right and Left; the nature of “the political” in political documentary; the relation of cinema and other media (television and video), and professions such as investigative journalism. We will try to establish some of the fundamentals of genre, form, and structure, narrative and discourse in documentary film at the outset by reference to important early films by Vertov and Eisenstein, with some sampling of American agitprop films from the sixties as well. We will discuss the question of realism, of course, and its relation to new media like video and digital imaging, and try to parse the issue of truth claims in cinema, photography, and video. We are especially interested in the way documentaries mimic the genres of fictional film, so that Errol Morris is really a kind of noir story-teller, a private eye looking obsessively into the darkness, while The Power of Nightmares, the BBC documentary on the parallel rise of the Islamic Brotherhood and American Neoconservatism, might best be described as an exercise in horror and paranoia. In addition to the obvious “blockbuster” American documentaries in recent years, we may investigate some less well known productions, particularly those focused on Israel and Palestine. An important aspect of the phenomenon we are investigating is the way in which the genre remains open to “work from below,” based in relatively modest resources and passionate commitment. Finally, we must consider the “margins” of documentary—the comic mockumentary, the philosomentary; photographic and filmic documentations of artworks and performances. We will ask students to prepare reports on various films, propose screenings for a mini-“DocFest” in the final 2 weeks, and write a seminar paper or the equivalent. WJT Mitchell. J. Hoffman. Spring.
ARTH 48701 Radical Documentary (=ENGL 48104)
This course will examine the nostalgic and utopian impulses of documentary work in a range of genres: prose, poetry, photography, and film. We will be charting the extreme transformations of regional and urban culture that took place over the turn of the 20th century as they were expressedand producedby works of experimental documentary in various media. We will study regional sites whose endangered cultural artifacts demanded preservation by civic bodies, asking how efforts to salvage them through art led both to transmogrifications of local forms and to the articulation of cosmopolitan modernist aesthetics. We will also study sites whose promise of futurity enlisted records of and imaginative charts toward further modernization. We will be attuned to the distressed tempo of articulating a passing present, asking to what extent the news participates in history, how the documentation of the present or passing aims to alter the future, and how art oscillates between or blurs these temporalities. We will dwell throughout in the foregrounded or receding mediation of the real by technology and text, asking whether recording constitutes merely an act of preservation, or whether it contributes to a transcribed object/ambients growth and emergence. Texts studied may include constellations of John Lomax, Adventures of a Ballad Hunter and selected field recordings; Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus and His Friends; Jean Toomer, Cane; Sterling Brown, Collected Poems; Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men; James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noise & selected futurist poems and recordings; Dziga Vertov, Kino-Eye and Enthusiasm; Louis Zukofsky and Lorine Niedecker, selected WPA project writings & poems; Charles Reznikoff, Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative; Gregory Whitehead, works for radio; Haskell Wexler, Medium Cool.J. Scappettone. Winter.
ARTH 49208 Modernism in the Black Metropolis (=GNDR 49200, CRPC 49208)
In seminal works such as St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Clayton’s Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945), Chicago emerges as a locus of intense sociological interest and telling social transformation. Of course, the city has long been an important center for African-American cultural practitioners of every stripe. In this graduate seminar we will explore Chicago’s role in the development of modernist artistic languages responsive to the shifting contours of black folks’ urban experience in the twentieth century. Drawing upon foundational objects and archival materials at institutions, galleries, and collections throughout the city, we will consider figures such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Jeff Donaldson, Mahalia Jackson, Kerry James Marshall, Archibald J. Motley, Jr., and Sun Ra as well as the wider aesthetic and political landscapes they represented, contested, and in some cases, abandoned. With that end in mind, we will look comparatively and critically at black cultural production in other U.S. urban centers from Harlem to Watts in order to locate Chicago both within a network of African diasporic communities and within the context of American modernism. In addition to art-historical sources, our readings will include cultural criticism, literary theory, and urban studies by a range of commentators. Prospective students should submit a brief letter of intent -- no more than 300 words -- outlining their interest in and preparedness for the course no later than February 1st, 2008. Applications and related questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARTH 49307 Abstraction
This seminar will involve the close reading of seminal and selected later texts that thematize abstraction. Among other questions, this course will ask what, if anything, unifies the meanings that accrue to abstraction as that term migrates from discipline to discipline. We will explore—through texts, works of art, and other objects of extremely close reading—abstraction in art; abstraction in aesthetic and analytic philosophy and; abstraction in theories of culture and society, especially subjectivity; abstraction in the sphere of human action; and, certain representative technologies of abstraction said to be shaping contemporary political culture. English. Autumn 2007.
ARTH 49800 Independent Research: Art.
Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.
ARTH 50200 Dissertation Proposal Writing Workshop.
This faculty-led workshop is intended for Ph.D. candidates who expect to apply for major dissertation research fellowships for the first time in the following Autumn quarter. Participants draft proposals of about 5 pages, plus a one-page selected bibliography, to standards suitable for fellowship competitions. After an organizational meeting, there will be two substantial workshops at which participants analyze one another's proposals to identify ways to strengthen them to reach their intended readership effectively. Art history doctoral students should register for "R" or audit credit only. Staff. Spring.
Northwestern Course: Graduate Seminar
Modernism in the Black Metropolis This seminar will focus on historical and contemporary artists based in Chicago, whose work it will place in the context of varied theories about the development of about black visual expression, graphic design, and cultural identity. An integral part of the course will involve site visits to key locations and collections in the Chicago area, including the Smart Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Du Sable Museum. English (with Huey Copeland, Department of Art History, Northwestern University). D. English. Spring. http://www.cic.uiuc.edu/programs/TravelingScholars/index.shtml