Courses

Explore the course offerings in art history, including cross-listed classes. Much of the coursework offered by art history faculty encourages direct engagement with art historical sources and original works of art, taking advantage of the resources of the Smart Museum and other art institutions in Chicago and beyond. Part of the Rhoades Exchange Program, the annual Rhoades Seminar is taught by a curator at the Art Institute. The Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Seminars are offered by a conservator or conservation scientist based at the Art Institute. Gold-Gorvy Traveling Seminars involve class travel to work with objects, buildings, and sites first hand.

Graduate courses are numbered between 30000-59999. Courses of study should be developed in close consultation with the advisor and/or Director of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Courses

20304
/
30304
Ancient Stones in Modern Hands

Consent Only

Objects from classical antiquity that have survived into the modern era have enticed, inspired, and haunted those who encountered or possessed them. Collectors, in turn, have charged ancient objects with emotional, spiritual, and temporal power, enrolling them in all aspects of their lives, from questions of politics and religion to those of race and sexuality. This course explores intimate histories of private ownership of antiquities as they appear within literature, visual art, theater, aesthetics, and collecting practices. Focusing on the sensorial, material, and affective dimensions of collecting, we will survey histories of modern classicism that span from the eighteenth century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. In addition to primary source materials readings will include scholarship from the fields of gender studies, art history, and the history of emotions.

A. Goff
2022-2023
Autumn

21205
/
31205
From the Non-Object to the End of Art: The South American 1960s

Beginning with the 1959 publication of the “Neo-Concrete Manifesto” in Rio de Janeiro, this course traces the radical transformations of art objects and artistic practices in Brazil and Argentina over the course of the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Through the study of both works of art and the writings of artists and critics, we will investigate new definitions of the art object, revolts against existing institutions of art, and the emergence of performance, media, and conceptual art. These developments will be read against the philosophical and theoretical texts in which they were in dialog (phenomenology, media theory, and structuralism) as well as the social and political changes in the region, including the impasse of mid-century modernization efforts and the rise of repressive dictatorships.

2022-2023
Autumn

21313
/
31313
Video Art: The Analog Years. Theory, Technology, Practice

The course gives a critical introduction to early video and television art – from the proto-televisual impulses in the historical avant-gardes to the increasing proximity between analog and digital technologies in video art in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. We will focus on the various technical aspects of analog video, as well as on artistic practice and early writings on the subject. Topics may include the technics and politics of time; video, feedback systems and ecology; the reconfiguration of the artist’s studio; guerilla politics and alternative TV; video and autobiography; the relation between video and painting; the musical history of video; the invention of new machines; and video as a “television viewer”.

2022-2023
Autumn

21325
/
31325
Monochrome Multitudes

(
KNOW 21325, KNOW 31325
)
Consent only

This seminar traces modern monochrome art as a fundamental if surprisingly expansive artistic practice. Discussions will center on artworks in the eponymous fall 2022 exhibition at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art curated by the instructors. We will revisit classic North American Modernism—“essentialist” flatness, idealized form, and color theories—while opening monochrome art up to culturally resonant color, a range of media, and global influence. Student research will enrich and expand existing histories of “the monochrome” by articulating cultural, political, racial, or gendered meanings of monochrome art; emphasizing the significance of materials and media; and engaging North American art in a global dialogue. Students will have the opportunity to contribute their research and writing to the exhibition’s web-based audio app and to a research symposium and possible publication.

2022-2023
Autumn

21506
/
31506
Medieval Visions

This seminar will introduce students to key medieval theories of vision in western Europe ranging from the theological to the scientific. We will explore the ways in which beholders approached and interacted with images, as well as how they understood and theorized these visual experiences. Ultimately, this course will interrogate the overlaps and gaps between theories of looking and practices of looking in order to better understand what looking at an image in the Middle Ages entailed. Topics will include, but are not limited to: visionary experience; optical science; female mystics; devotional images; the Book of Revelation; dream theory; and changes in pre-modern “visuality” on the eve of the Reformation.

2022-2023
Spring

22115
/
32115
Iconoclasm

The recent removal of Confederate statues in the US and ISIL’s destruction of ancient sites in Iraq and Syria, while motivated by different aims, find a common solution in dealing with images deemed inappropriate. Context is crucial to understanding what is at stake in these different iconoclastic acts: What is being destroyed? Who is destroying it and why? Although the term “iconoclasm” initially was used to describe the violent clashes between rival Christian ideologies over the status of images in a religious context in the 8th century, scholars now use it more capaciously and it refers to any movement dedicated to the destruction of images, be it in ancient Mesopotamia, Reformist Europe, or Talibanist Afghanistan. While the term offers syntactical clarity, it simultaneously obscures the various processes that go into practicing iconoclasm; for example, what motivated Byzantine destruction of icons is distinct from why European colonizers destroyed Native American heritage. This seminar proposes a broad and historically contingent study of iconoclasm. By looking at a range of examples from different periods and geographical contexts, we will examine the ways in which images have been perceived as threats, aberrations, seductions, or inconveniences best removed. We will also explore the various ways in which removed images continue to resonate with new meanings. The seminar spends a week defining the key terms before delving into particular case studies of iconoclasm.

2022-2023
Spring

22305
/
32305
Rhoades Seminar: Spiritual and Protective Lives of Objects in African Art

This seminar explores visual culture and historical arts of Africa primarily from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through a broad geographical range of case studies in practices and uses for art and objects of devotion in everyday life. Investigations will highlight objects’ tangible and intangible elements to examine their spiritual and protective dimensions through various lenses: organized religions, including Islam and Christianity, local belief systems and ritual practices, social or political organizations, and other cultural distinctions. Such contextualization will contribute to students’ recognition of the diversity and historical depth of the continent’s arts and cultures. We will visit objects in local museums and special exhibitions for in-person, close looking and to fuel discussions surrounding the role of museums and museum display and interpretation. 

J. Purdy
2022-2023
Winter

22606
/
32606
Renaissance on Foot

Consent only

This course traces the movements of foreigners who explored, imagined, represented, and reinterpreted the Italian Renaissance from the late sixteenth century to the Enlightenment.  In texts and images, both Italian and transalpine visitors began to construct our modern understanding of Renaissance urban culture, its monumental achievements, its artistic, economic, and political experiments, and its heroic failures, while they also began to tell the story of its inevitable decline and ultimate descent into decadence.  In many ways these narratives of the Renaissance began their own complementary itinerary across Europe, detached from the rough and tumble conflicts in which it was born and entering into a discursive realm of increasingly erudite reflection by travellers from all over Europe. 

2022-2023
Autumn

22650
/
32650
Luxury and Crisis

Consent Only

What role have those objects considered superfluous, lavish, personal, and fashionable played in sculpting our collective social, political, and economic worlds? Furnishings, tapestries, silverware, porcelain, and jewelry are often cast as superficial indulgences of the elite, existing outside the space and time of historical change. Yet such items have of course permeated all classes of society and processes of production, promotion, consumption, disparity, power, exploitation and campaigns to resist it. Some historians have understood crisis as integral to capitalist modernity and its rupture, while theorists of artistic and architectural modernism have paradoxically imagined luxury as instrumental in building socially equitable futures. In this course, we will investigate moments in which luxury and crisis, these seemingly opposed terms, were negotiated and galvanized by makers, wearers, collectors, and the objects in their possession. This seminar will work intensively with the Chipstone Foundation for the Decorative Arts in Milwaukee. Our objects of study will include silverware from the trans-Atlantic slave trade; a political manifesto of “communal luxury;” furniture crafted by a free cabinetmaker of color in North Carolina; and modernist residential architecture in Chicago, among others.

2022-2023
Spring

22812
/
32812
Making art for the princely court in fifteenth-century France and the Burgundian Netherlands

Looking at the visual culture of fifteenth-century France and the Netherlands through the lens of the patronage of the kings of France and their ambitious cousins the dukes of Burgundy, we will consider palace design and decoration, the places for art in an itinerant court, and the central role of dynastic memory and ceremony in support of the ruler. The wide range of tasks performed by artists working for the rulers and their courtiers will highlight the interconnections between works in different media and bring out the complex role of artists like Jean Fouquet, Jan van Eyck, and Rogier van der Weyden, whose fame rests on their achievement as painters. Case studies of painting, tapestry, embroidery, and other media--where possible using objects in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago--will be entry points for this exploration of the patron's needs and the artist's process.

Martha Wolff
2022-2023
Autumn

23007
/
33007
Authorities of Knowledge in Islamic Art

In these times of profound challenge and change, questions of how art both confronts and asserts authorities of knowledge are manifold. In this course we will delve into varying historical iterations of the art - authority - knowledge trifecta, as they emerge from selected topics and case studies in Islamic art and architecture.

2022-2023
Spring

23008
/
33008
Markets and Madrasas: Islamic Art beyond the Courts

The history of medieval and early modern Islamic art has mostly been written around its most easily identified patrons, the princes of the courts; yet most surviving Islamic art was produced elsewhere. New scholarly approaches to Islamic art most likely produced for sale in open markets, or made in the context of non-courtly institutions such as madrasas (colleges), offer new insights. What can we learn about Islamic art by deliberately directing our attention beyond the courts? How might doing this change our broader perception of Islamic art?

2022-2023
Winter

23010
/
33010
From Ground to Gallery: Visual Culture of the Ancient Near East

(
HIST 25624 HIST 35624 NEAA 20610 NEAA 30610
)

What is the “ancient Near East”? What is its visual culture? This course explores the ancient art and architecture of the regions of Western Asia and North Africa, that is to say, of Mesopotamia, Syro-Anatolia, the Levant, Persia, and Egypt dating from the fourth through the first millennium BCE (3500 to 330 BCE). Such a corpus includes palaces, temples, and ziggurats, as well as carved reliefs, royal images, votive statues, cylinder seals, and cuneiform tablets crafted of clay, rock, semi-precious stones, metals, ivory, and pigments. In addition to their formal and stylistic qualities, we will consider the practices by which this corpus was made, the cultural value of the raw material, life histories and modes of circulation, interactive and experiential potential, significance within the larger social and political climate, and the reception and treatment of these works of art in a modern context, including the museum space. Class meetings—structured around thematic case studies of material groups generally presented in chronological sequence—address conceptual issues (agency, materiality, aesthetics, narrative, ideology, space, representation, style, sensory experience), theoretical and methodological considerations (archaeological, art historical, anthropological, philological, historical), and current topics and debates related to these fields of study and museum practice (colonialism, ownership, repatriation, stewardship). The course draws primarily on archaeological evidence and ancient textual sources and includes regular visits to the Oriental Institute Museum.

2022-2023
Winter

23312
/
33312
Visual Art and Technology: From the Historical Avant Garde to the Algorithmic Present

(
KNOW 23312, KNOW 33312, MAAD 15312
)

This course tracks the entanglements of visual art and “technology,” a term which took on an increasingly expanded set of meanings beginning in the early decades of the twentieth century. Focusing on the period between World War I and the present, we examine these expanded meanings and ask how the work of art fundamentally shifted with, extended, tested, or acted upon “technology.” We consider cases from the art historical avant gardes, the impact of cybernetics and systems thinking on architecture and visual perception, midcentury collectives that sought to institutionalize collaborations between artists and engineers, as well as more subtle exchanges between art and technology brewing since the Cold War. We will conclude with a look at present-day practices that integrate visual art, design, and technology. Course readings drawn from art history and the histories of science and technology, as well as site visits to art collections and laboratories on campus, will inform our investigation. Students will gain historical insights into the relation between visual art and technology; develop analytical tools for critically engaging with the present-day interface of art, science, and engineering; and consider the implications for the futures we imagine.

2022-2023
Winter

24602
/
34602
Image, Medium and Context of Chinese Pictorial Art

In this course, pictorial representations are approached and interpreted, first and foremost, as concrete, image-bearing objects and architectural structures---as portable scrolls, screens, albums, and fans, as well as murals in Buddhist cave-temples and tombs, and relief carvings on offering shrines and sarcophagi. The lectures and discussion investigate the inherent features of these forms, as well as their histories, viewing conventions, audiences, ritual/social functions, and the roles these forms played in the construction and development of pictorial images.

2022-2023
Winter

24616
/
34616
Pop & Politics

As Andy Warhol famously put it, Pop art is about “liking things.” Derived from the word “popular” and suggesting the fizzy effervescence of soda, could Pop be anything other than easy and breezy and fun? Exploring Pop art creating across the Americas, this course will interrogate Warhol’s sound-bite-turned-Pop-gospel and plumb beneath the slick surfaces of those objects and images that have come to define the genre. From Warhol’s depictions of race riots, to Colombian artist Antonio Caro’s appropriation of the Coca Cola logo as a critique of U.S. imperialism, to Brazilian painter Antônio Henrique Amaral’s decades-long series of banana paintings that less and less subtly critiqued the military dictatorship, we will investigate the political stakes that motivated key examples of Pop art. What was lost and remained buried when early pop critics took Warhol’s comment at face value? When they assumed pop art was easy, straightforward, and uncritical? How might those same assumptions have enabled artists across the Americas to hide political commentary in plain sight?

2022-2023
Autumn

24617
/
34617
Modernism and its Others

This course investigates modernism’s relationship—both intimacy with and enforced distance from—a number of adjacent categories that were more often than not of modernism’s own creation: primitive art, folk art, kitsch, art brut, arte popular, craft, and design. Case studies, drawn from Europe, North America, and Latin America, will include primitivism in early-twentieth-century Europe, displays of folk art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the study of arte popular in Mexico, Peru, and Brazil, and the formation of the Museo del Barro in Paraguay. Through these cases, we will ask how the ways in which artists and critics identified modernism’s others and drew distinctions from those others might inform our understanding of modernism.

2022-2023
Winter

25112
/
35112
Objects of Andean Art

This seminar introduces Pre-Columbian Andean material culture and built environments surveying the region from the early Chavín culture through the Incas. Readings and class discussions examining broad cultural issues will be elaborated by hand-on analysis of artifacts in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as interactive explorations of art-making techniques. The course particularly seeks to develop understandings of the raw materials used to make objects in order to contextualize them within trade networks, the Andean landscape, and cultural value systems, as well as artistic knowledge and skills.

2022-2023
Winter

25118
/
35118
Color Everywhere: Synthetic Dyes and Modern Art

This course will consider the profusion of new dyes (aniline, azo, and vat) available for coloring textiles, foodstuffs, and other materials in the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth and ask if these industrial innovations, which fueled subsequent rapid shifts in fashion, paved the way for modernist experiments with color. Artists who engaged with various media, including Sophie Taeuber Arp, Sonia Delaunay, and Marguerite Zorach, will be central to the discussion. Modern artists’ engagement with theories of color, particularly those expounded by specialists working in the textile industry, such as Michel-Eugène Chevreul, will also be examined.

2022-2023
Autumn

25140
/
35140
Aesthetic Ecologies

(
GRMN 2/33523
)

What would an intellectual history of the environment look like when told from the perspective of art history writing? The geographer Friedrich Ratzel, who first began using the term “Umwelt” (“environment”) in a systematic way, claimed that, up to the end of the 19th century, the idea of environment had been primarily discussed not in scientific contexts but rather in aesthetic ones, by “artistically predisposed thinkers.” In this course, we will take Ratzel’s claim seriously and aim to recuperate the aesthetic side of theories of environment across diverse areas such as: notions of landscape (“the picturesque”); aesthetic and biological theories of milieu (Haeckel’s “ecology,” Taine’s “milieu,” Uexküll’s “Umweltlehre”); Warburg’s cultural history; the “sculpture of environment” (Rodin and Rilke); the “space-body” in modern dance (Laban). This course is about artworks that continue beyond their material confines into the space environing them. It focuses on evocations of air as the material space surrounding an artwork in texts that thematize the continuity between artwork as image and material object. Materials include: Aby Warburg, Rudolf Laban, Siegfried Ebeling, Camillo Sitte, Otto Wagner, Alois Riegl, R.M. Rilke, Wassily Kandinsky, Martin Heidegger, and others. MAPH and undergraduate students welcome.

I. Christian
2022-2023
Autumn

25706
/
35706
Public Land as Landscape: Ecosystems, Representation, and American Nation Building

Consent Only

The history of landscape art in the United States has often been described as fundamentally intertwined with American identity and nation building. In many of these interpretations, a tension exists between reading landscape as purely symbolic representations of abstract ideals or as mere description of a physical place and its flora and fauna. This course will examine that tension by interrogating the history of public land and its representation in the United States, thinking through methods drawn from art history, indigenous critical theory, and the environmental humanities to understand landscapes both for their symbolic and ecological values. Federal land, like that managed by the National Park and Forest Services as well as state, county, and local parks will be analyzed. We will look at canonical works of the American landscape, including by artists such as Thomas Moran and Ansel Adams, photographs from 19th-century geological surveys, as well as contemporary artists’ responses to these works. Additionally, we will visit local sites of public land as case studies such as Jackson Park, the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, and ‘Site A’ in Red Gate Woods (where UChicago housed a self-contained nuclear lab and buried the world’s first nuclear reactor). The course will help students think through the ecology of public land and the ways in which historical understandings of habitat function, landscape, and American identity have shifted over time.

2022-2023
Spring

26705
/
36705
Approaches to Contemporary Chinese Art

(
EALC 26705, EALC 36705
)

This course examines histories of contemporary artmaking from China since the 1970s. The course will begin by introducing post-Mao artistic avant-garde movements, the response to urbanization in art at the turn of the 20th century, and the influence of globalization since 2000. Attention will then be offered to a new generation of young artists from China as well as diasporic artists working transnationally. This course is particularly interested in contemplating ways in which artists capture facets of accelerated time all the while living in a culture where physical environments and interactions are becoming increasingly obsolete due to major investments in robotics, AI technologies, online communication platforms, and virtual monetary exchange applications.    

2022-2023
Autumn

28330
/
38330
Art and Religion from the Roman to the Christian Worlds

(
RLVC 38330, CLAS 38322, CLCV 28322, RLST 28330
)

This course will be an introduction to Roman and early Christian art from the early empire to late antiquity. It will explore the significance of the changes in visual production in relation to different attitudes to religion and society; its specific and conflictive historiography; the particular issues involved in the move to Christianity and a Christian visual culture. We shall veer between an empirical inductive approach, looking at lots of stuff and a more general account of theoretical overviews that have been offered for Roman and late art – overviews that have been influential in the broader historiography of art history as a discipline. Course Note: The course will be taught over 5 weeks in the Spring Quarter on an intensive schedule. 

2022-2023
Spring

28605
/
38605
Earthworks Revisited

Consent Only

More than half a century after the first modern artworks were made using the land and earth as central materials, new understandings of this seemingly canonical phase in postwar Western art history are emerging from new questions, perspectives, and contexts. As these “earthworks” have found a place in the long history of art, what is their relationship to ancient and indigenous artistic and architectural practices? From the vantage of potential ecological destruction, might this “land art,” makeable and reachable only by car and plane and sponsored in part by the De Menil family, be better understood as "oil art”? What new insights do newly accessible archives by now deceased artists yield, for example the estates of Walter De Maria and Robert Smithson? How have these works aged, and what is their longterm future from the perspectives of material, technical art history, and conservation?

2022-2023
Spring

29162
/
39162
Masquerade as Critique

Consent Only

Critique is most often figured as an act that reveals a reality that was previously hidden, as though one were pulling back a curtain or lifting a veil. But, as the critic Craig Owens points out, “in a culture in which visibility is always on the side of the male, invisibility on the side of the female…are not the activities of unveiling, stripping, laying bare…unmistakably male prerogatives”? This interdisciplinary seminar develops an alternate genealogy of critique informed by feminist, queer, and Black studies perspectives. It eschews the modernist drive toward transparency, instead examining tactics of resistance such as masquerade, disidentification, appropriation, drag, fugitivity, and critical fabulation. This course pairs readings by authors including Eve Sedgwick, bell hooks, José Muñoz, and Saidiya Hartman with art, performance, and films by figures like Claude Cahun, Carrie Mae Weems, Jack Smith, the Karrabing Film Collective, Cheryl Dunye, David Hammons, and Jennie Livingston. Together, we will ask: What is critique, and how does it relate to power? How have artists engaged strategically with visibility and invisibility, and what can their work teach us today? This course will incorporate guest lectures and fieldwork in museums and archives. Culminating in a creative final project, it aims to develop a toolkit for critique that thinks past the timeworn imperative to render the invisible visible.

2022-2023
Spring

39800
Approaches to Art History

Consent Only

This seminar examines a range of methods for doing the work of art history with an eye toward strengthening your own original contributions to the field. Through close reading and discussion of recently published scholarship, we will interrogate how art historians generate novel ways of seeing and understanding the objects that they study. This course will be structured around the framework of scale. What is the scale of art historical analysis? Moving from macro to micro, we will traverse units ranging from canons, empire, and environments to art scenes, institutions, and audiences, to the artist, the art object, and the fragment. We will examine how scholars constitute the objects of their criticism, the breadth and explanatory force of their arguments, and the ethics of their endeavors. This approach traverses perspectives from feminism and queer theory, post- and decolonial thought, Black studies, material culture, social history, and critical theory. Some of our guiding questions will be: How does thinking at different scales help us understand visual and material objects differently? How can these methods help us rethink, modify, or dismantle canons? And how do they enable us to reappraise issues of power and exchange within the history of art? In order to think through these and other methodological questions, students will adopt an object on view in a Chicago-area art institution to work with over the course of the semester. Students need not identify as art historians to enroll in this seminar—it will be helpful for all students who want to think deeply about their approaches to visual and material objects, whether still or moving images, sculpture, or performance, particularly if those objects feel genre-bending, difficult to theorize, or recalcitrant.

2022-2023
Winter

40200
Art History Proseminar: Methodology and Historiography

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, as well as the foundations of the art historical discipline as it emerged from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Both theory and practice will be considered through select texts, with special focus on art history as a distinct scholarly discipline today. Rather than attempting to cover a comprehensive history of the methodological and historiographic traditions, the readings will attempt to present a coherent, if highly complex and conflictive, narrative that remains open to continued interrogation by its practitioners.

2022-2023
Autumn

41313
Media Archeology vs. Media Aesthetics

The course stages an encounter between media archeology and media aesthetics, two distinct but related research perspectives that are at times seen as incommensurable approaches to the media technological environment. Media archeology focuses on the non-human agencies and complex machinic arrangements that are at work in technologies whose microtemporal operations cannot be grasped by human perception: media archeology typically refuses phenomenological approaches. In contrast, media aesthetics focuses on the phenomenological interface between machine systems and human perception and sensation, and various forms of cultural and political negotiations of a lifeworld that is increasingly dominated by technologies that both store and produce time. We will read key texts from both fields and discuss how we may understand their differences as well as their points of intersection.

2022-2023
Autumn

41602
The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond

(
HCHR 41604, RLVC 41604
)

The cult of relics played a vital role in Byzantine culture and, consequently, left a strong imprint on the artistic production. Not only did the veneration of relics find expression in personal devotion, but the image of the Byzantine court was largely modelled on the claim that the emperors possessed the most precious of all sacred remains, first and foremost those associated with the Passion of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The outstanding treasure of relics housed in the imperial palace significantly contributed to the understanding in the medieval Christian world of Constantinople as the “New Jerusalem.” We will begin our investigation in the ancient Near East, where major centers of pilgrimage developed from the fourth century on. These sites considerably fueled the early Byzantine cult of relics and the associated artistic production. The chief focus of the seminar will be on the major urban centers of the Byzantine Empire, especially the capital city of Constantinople. We will closely study different types of reliquaries manufactured in the Byzantine Empire over the centuries and investigate how their design responded to devotional needs, ritual practice and political claims. Historical developments and primary texts (in English translation) will be addressed throughout to better understand the circumstances of the acquisition of relics and the motivations guiding their veneration.

2022-2023
Autumn

42605
Refashioning the Forbidden City: Emperor Qianlong and Qing Court Art and Interior Decoration

Reading ability of Chinese, the instructor's consent

During his long reign from 1735 to 1796, Qianlong made numerous innovations in Qing court art and interior decoration. This course investigates these innovations from two new perspectives. First, instead of studying them in the separated domains of architecture, object, and painting, it will explore the interconnections of these three visual forms within Qianlong’s specific art/architectural projects. Second, after identifying these projects, the course will use “space” as the central analytical concept to reconstruct their content and process, and to explore Qianlong’s intention, imagination, and experimentation.

2022-2023
Spring

42911
Twenty-first Century Art

Consent Only

This course will consider the practice and theory of visual art in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will read a variety of crucial contemporary texts, including those of Thierry De Duve, Boris Groys, Sianne Ngai, and Hito Steyerl, among others. Students should be prepared to produce a research paper at the conclusion of the seminar. Our first reading will be De Duve’s Kant After Duchamp, which should be completed before our first day of class.

2022-2023
Spring

44002
COSI Objects and Materials

Consent Only

Team-taught between Northwestern, the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Chicago, this course focuses on sustained, close engagement with art objects in the AIC collection and the methods and questions such inquiry raises. Students will be introduced to basic techniques of stylistic and scientific analysis as well as recent theoretical debates that resituate art history as a study of physical things as well as their disembodied images.

2022-2023
Winter

45012
Materializing China's Cultural Ephemera

Consent Only

This seminar explores how a wide range of texts, paintings, and calligraphy originally meant to be ephemeral gain multilayered cultural values over time through materialization in different media. In particular, we will focus on Song and Ming-Qing periods (before modern era) when learned people avidly amassed, compiled, and published these cultural ephemera, an interest further stimulated by the proliferation of printing and a pronounced nostalgia and resulting antiquarianism. The focus of our inquiry will be on the ways in which materiality and media played a critical role in not only transmitting but also enriching and recreating, intentionally or not, their cultural significance, even though the ephemera often survived only in fragments.

2022-2023
Spring

47606
Narrating the Artist in East Asia and Beyond

For the past century, the artist’s monograph –the ‘life and works’ account- has been a mainstay of museum research and art historical publication, even though the genre has been garnering criticism for some time. In the wake of the deconstruction of the author and the emergence of new theories of subjecthood, what is to be gained by writing an extended study of a single artist? Is the model hopelessly encumbered by assumptions about the artist as (white, male) creator-genius, or is there still something important to be accomplished by the intimate study of an individual and her works? How is this project affected as we turn our attention to artists in different centuries and locales?

2022-2023
Autumn

50100
Teaching Colloquium

Led by a faculty member each fall, this seminar meets weekly for 80 minutes, to address various topics through discussion with visitors (especially department faculty members) and occasionally through discussion of assigned readings. On the premise that one learns the most about teaching not well in advance but rather by reflecting with peer and senior colleagues on techniques and problems when one is in the midst of the challenge, this forum is meant to address participants' specific concerns and experiences, especially those related to art history. The quarter's topics are determined with student input and may include: the structure of the art history college core course program in which all faculty and students teach; the jobs of course assistant and writing intern; instructor authority and classroom dynamics; leading discussion; effective lecturing; strategic use of pictures in classroom teaching; small-group class projects; designing and grading assignments; designing syllabi. From year to year, the colloquium may address similar topics but the emphasis and tips will change depending on the participants. The department requires third-year students to participate fully in the colloquium, register for credit, and earn a Pass. More advanced students who have previously taken the colloquium are welcome to return on an occasional or regular basis to share experiences, strategies, and to seek advice on new teaching challenges.

2022-2023
Autumn

50200
Dissertation Workshop

This course is conducted by a faculty member every spring to introduce third-year students to the tasks of preparing grant proposals and applications.  The aim of the workshop is to help you produce a finished proposal by the early autumn of your fourth year and to prepare you to apply for grants at that time.  The department requires third-year students to participate fully in the workshop, register for credit, and earn a Pass.

2022-2023
Spring