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

20700
/
30700
Understanding the Built Environment

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.
2018-2019
Spring

21320
/
31320
Philippe Parreno’s Media Temporalities

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

In the 2013 exhibition Anywhere, Anywhere Out Of The World, the French artist Philippe Parreno (b. 1964) turned the monumental space of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris into a living, evolving organism, where music, light, films, images and performances led visitors through a precisely choreographed journey of discovery, based on the idiosyncratic body of work that he had created since the early 1990s. This course is devoted to an in-depth study of Parreno’s work, and the highly original form of media thinking that informs it. Rather than focusing on the properties of distinct media, or on multimedial forms or presentation, his works explore the new forms of life and social existence that result from the various ways in which 20th and 21st century media technologies store, manipulate and produce time. This is a form of thinking and artistic creation that adresses the realities of formats, programs and platforms rather than media apparatuses and messages, and that engages everything from architecture and design to social situations, natural worlds and virtual beings. (The course will be taught in collaboration with Jörn Schafaff)

2018-2019
Autumn

22020
/
32020
Contemporary Art from Latin America

(
LACS 22020, LACS 32020
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This seminar examines developments in art from Latin American since the 1960s. A set of questions will guide our investigation: What is contemporary art? How has globalization affected the production and reception of art from Latin America in recent decades? What are the advantages and disadvantages of hanging on to regional or national frameworks in the study of contemporary art?

2018-2019
Winter

22405
/
32405
Perspective: Rhetoric & Poetics

At least 1 previous art history course. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

By reading classic texts and analyzing works of art deploying linear perspective, from paintings to the built environment and photography, this course will examine ways that perspectival projection functions as a poetics –as a purportedly coherent system of organizing form – and as a rhetoric – as a means of persuading viewers of perspectivally-informed works of art to perceive them in particular terms. To this end, it will necessarily also consider the history of the rise and uses of perspective, and place texts and works of art within that history.

2018-2019
Winter

24110
/
34110
Venetian Painting from Bellini to Titian

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

The works of Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and other major figures are studied in the context of the distinctive Venetian version of the Renaissance. The course will explore the patterns of patronage, iconography and practice as they are impacted by the Venetian cult of the state, the role of the great charitable institutions in Venetian society, the conservative Venetian guild and workshop organization. Some of the major art-historical themes will include the understanding of Giorgione and Giorgionism as a decisive turn towards modernity in European art; the complex place of the long-lived Titian throughout the entire period; the role of drawing in an art most noted for its light, color and touch; the complex interaction of Venetian and Tusco-Roman visual cultures throughout the Renaissance.

2018-2019
Spring

24170
/
34170
Research the Chicago Cityscape

(
AMER 24170, AMER 34170
)
Please email the instructor explaining your interest and any relevant background experience (e.g., previous course work in architectural or urban history, urban problems, or experience with any aspect of the built environment or Chicago history).

This course has three goals: (1) To support artist Theaster Gates’s renovations of South Side Chicago buildings for civic uses with student research on the architectural and social history of prospective buildings and their environs. The Stony Island Arts Bank and the Arts Incubator at the University are examples of Gates’s work: https://rebuild-foundation.org/ (2) To develop research skills, which can be adapted to other built environments. (3) To develop an understanding of Chicago’s built environment and its social history. We meet twice a week, once to discuss common readings and once for a longer session to enable field trips (a tour of Gates’s area; visits to research archives) and collaborative research work among students. Students will work together to produce historical reports. Permission of instructor required. Please send an email explaining your interest in the course and any relevant background experience (e.g., previous course work in architectural or urban history, urban problems, or experience with any aspect of the built environment or Chicago history). Although the course does not require significant background, ideally it will include students with diverse pockets of expertise.

2018-2019
Spring

24615
/
34615
Modern & Contemporary Materialities (Suzanne Deal Booth Conserv

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This course aims to explore the links between materiality, making and meaning of modern art and investigate how surface, form, texture and color are localized in particular artistic or historical contexts. It can be argued that the discipline of art history still remains substantially divided between those who study what objects mean and those who study how objects are made, where 'meaning' typically derives from cultural hermeneutics, while 'madeness' remains the province of technical analysis. The course will discuss the methods, theory and strategies of a material-based approach, its forms of writing and claims to meaning. Readings will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, including art history, visual and material culture, anthropology, philosophy, and material science.

Maria Kokkori
2018-2019
Autumn

24810
/
34810
The Body and Embodiment in Ancient Greek Art

(
CLCV 24818, CLAS 34818
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

Whether naked or clothed, male or female, mortal or divine, the body takes pride of place in the visual worlds constructed by ancient Greek artists. Yet this emphasis on depicting the body begs the question: What is a body that exists as an image? What, in other words, is a body that is not embodied? This problem, articulated already in our ancient sources, serves as the starting point for this course’ investigation of the relationship between images of the body in Greek art and the experiences such images solicited from their viewers. It examines, on the one hand, how Greek art promoted the body as a social construct—through artistic practices that configured the body’s appearance, like distinctive techniques, styles, and iconography; through conceptual categories that ascribed identities, like gender, class, and race; and through contexts that integrated depictions of the body into lived experience, like sanctuaries, cemeteries, and domestic settings. But we will give equal attention to the viewer’s subjective experience of embodiment, including its sensorial and affective dimensions, and the ways in which that experience is negotiated and articulated as a function of works of art. Finally, we will turn to the legacy of the Greek body in more recent centuries and consider its enduring impact as a visual paradigm today.

2018-2019
Winter

25202
/
35202
Visual Encounters in the Global Renaissance

(
LACS 25202, LACS 35202
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This course examines the visual, material, and political encounters between the peoples of Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas between the era of European expansion inaugurated circa 1450 to the abolitionist period of the mid eighteen hundreds. It seeks to bring a multicultural framework to the understanding of the early modern period. We will examine the role of images, material exchange and visual reckoning in the early modern institutions and endeavors that helped shape our current world: the Atlantic slave trade, envisioning the other in European and non-European art, religious encounters and conflicts, visual and material exchange in scientific explorations, imperialism and colonialism. Special attention will be given to the enduring effects of these interactions in contemporary European societies and emphasis brought to a critical consideration of the idea of the Renaissance as a keystone of histories of ‘Western’ art, culture, and science.

2018-2019
Winter

26105
/
36105
A Curating History: The Documenta Case

(
ARTV 20007, ARTV 30007
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.
2018-2019
Winter

26110
/
36110
Ways of Curating and Collecting

(
ARTV 20008, ARTV 30008
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.
2018-2019
Spring

26114
/
36114
Invention and Revival in European Prints, 1500-1900

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This course will offer a wide-ranging panorama of European printmaking using works exclusively drawn from the Smart Museum’s permanent collection. We will be closely engaged with the historical development of print media and the technical advances that opened new possibilities to artists, while also addressing prints’ relationship to other art forms. In addition, we will tackle broad thematic issues including originality and reproduction, dissemination and collecting, formats and genres, and markets and value. Grounded in the firsthand examination of original works of art, the course will encompass leading masters of printmaking such as Dürer, Callot, Rembrandt, Goya, and Whistler, as well as lesser-known figures and side currents in the European tradition. In concert with other course requirements, students will have the opportunity to help prepare a small exhibition of prints.

2018-2019
Winter

26790
/
36790
A Curating Case-Study: The Hut

(
ARTV 20012, ARTV 30012
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.
2018-2019
Spring

27304
/
37304
Photo/Modernism/Esthetic

(
ARTV 20704, ARTV 30704
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

The course presents the history of photographic practices in the United States, beginning in the late nineteenth century and extending into the 1980s, aimed at gaining an audience for photographs within museums of art. The issues under study include the contention over claims about medium specificity, notions of photographic objectivity, a peculiarly photographic esthetics, the division of photography into two categories—art vs. documentary— and the role of tradition and canon formation in the attempted definition of the photographic medium.

2018-2019
Spring

27420
/
37420
Modernist Architecture on Campus

A previous course on architectural history or design, or permission of the instructor. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

How have universities brought modern architecture into campuses designed in traditional architectural styles, whether classical or medieval? How have they balanced architecture’s capacity to exemplify a consistent institutional image and to symbolize innovative leadership? Can the two be integrated, whether in single new buildings, renovations of old buildings, or groupings of old and new? What effect do new building materials, methods, and technologies, as well as new purposes for buildings, have on these questions? While acknowledging other institutions, the course will focus on our own campus history, examining varied approaches to updating our collegiate Gothic campus architecture and layout from the construction of Levi Hall (the Administration Building) in the 1940s to the present. We will analyze buildings and campus plans in relation to the abundant and largely unstudied drawings and related building documents at Special Collections, and work together to interpret the histories we produce in the context of the broader, changeful history of modernist architecture and its debates. Our work will lay the foundation for a future architectural exhibition.

2018-2019
Autumn

27800
/
37800
The Material Science of Art (Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Se

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.
Maria Kokkori
2018-2019
Winter

28002
/
38002
Islamic Art and Arch of the Medieval Perso-Turkic Courts

(
NEHC 28002, NEHC 38002
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This course considers art and architecture patronized by the Seljuk, Mongol, and Timurid courts from Anatolia to Central Asia from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries. While the princes of these courts were of Turkic and/or Mongol origin, they adopted many of the cultural and artistic expectations of Perso-Islamicate court life. Further, many objects and monuments patronized by these courts belong to artistic histories variously shared with non-Islamic powers from the Byzantine Empire to China. Questions of how modern scholars have approached and categorized the arts and architecture of these courts will receive particular attention. Each student will write a historiographic review essay with a research component.

2018-2019
Winter

29410
/
39410
Dimensions of Citizenship: the Venice Architecture Biennale 201

This is a traveling seminar; the course in its entirety will be taught over 3 weeks in September in Venice. Registration by instructor consent only.

In conjunction with the US pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, this course will explore the multiple relationships between architecture and citizenship both in contemporary practice and in historical perspective. The course will be centered around the pavilion's theme of architecture and citizenship at seven spatial scales: Citizen, Civitas, Region, Nation, Globe, Network, Cosmos. Through these scales, students will engage critically with the works of participating artists, architects, and designers, works that address the spatial dimensions of belonging in contemporary society. Students will also explore the historical dimensions citizenship through Venice's complex history as a globally connected maritime empire that incorporated multiple linguistic, ethnic, and religious communities. Finally, the seminar will take account of the politics of national display at the root of the biennale itself and the relationship between historical and contemporary spatial experiences of citizenship and rights of abode, belonging and exile, migration and refuge, and the design of liminal spaces such as ships, ports of entry, quarantine centers, and ghettoes as places of agonistic cultural exchange. This course will take place over three weeks in Venice, where students will focus on the US pavilion amid the constellation of national ideologies of architecture, and a swiftly vanishing but stubbornly active local Venetian culture.

2018-2019
Autumn

39800
Approaches to Art History

Open to MAPH students concentrating in Art History; others by instructor consent only.

Open to MAPH students concentrating in Art History; others by instructor consent only. This seminar will examine a range of methodological approaches to doing the work of art history. Through close reading of key texts, we will interrogate how various authors have constructed novel ways of seeing and understanding visual and material objects. Crucially, this course doesn’t assume “theory” or “methodology” to be a set of texts we use to explicate or read works of art in specific ways. Rather, we investigate how each of our authors forges new concepts in response to an object’s specific exigencies. Students need not self-identify as art historians to enroll in this seminar—it will be helpful for all students who want to think deeply and in self-reflexive ways about their own approaches to visual and material objects (still or moving images, sculpture, performance, architecture, etc.), particularly if those objects feel genre-bending, difficult to theorize, or recalcitrant in any way. Readings will include foundational texts by Erwin Panofsky, Alois Riegl, and Meyer Schapiro and more recent texts by Yves Alain Bois, Rosalind Krauss, T.J. Clark, Douglas Crimp, Anne Wagner, Darby English, and others (as determined by students’ interests).

STAFF
2018-2019
Winter

40200
Art History Proseminar

Required of all first year ARTH PhD students.

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.

2018-2019
Autumn

41350
Straight Lines and Infrastructural Sensibilities

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

In this course, we will use the proliferation of straight lines in 20th century art as a point of departure for studying the changing relations between art and infrastructural frameworks - whether such frameworks are used as models or sources of inspiration, or are concretely deployed as a technical or material support. In this context, composer and Fluxus pioneer La Monte Young’s 1960 Draw A Straight Line and Follow it (and a number related works) may be seen to signal a shift in the relation between art and infrastructure: Here, the industrial technologies evoked in the work of Bauhaus, Constructivism and Dada/Surrealism seem to have given way to the post-industrial infrastructures that become more socially and economically significant after 1945, with the emergence of electronic and digital networks. We will study the significance of the straight line across a wide range of media and expressions, including architecture, painting, drawing, film, video and computer art. More specifically, we will look at how the changing deployment of the straight line in art signals changes in the relation between bodies, sensation/sensibility and technical systems that operate at macroscale as well as microscale levels

2018-2019
Autumn

42009
Art, Science, and Magic in the Pre-modern Islamic World

(
NEHC 40723
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This seminar examines relationships between arts and the study of the cosmos in the pre-modern Islamic world. Our objects of study mediated human understanding of the cosmos, and/or offered humans the possibility of manipulating their position within it. The media in which these objects were made include manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, metalwork, and architecture. Recurrent questions of the seminar include the following. How closely can we define historically appropriate theoretical frameworks (eg., Neoplatonic, Hermetic, Aristotelean, Prophetic Medicinal) for particular objects? How do we explain objects of similar forms which might be theorized through divergent models, or objects of divergent forms which might be theorized through similar models?

2018-2019
Autumn

42511
Origin of the Fetish

Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

Since the 17th century, the term fetish has been a key word in discourses about African visual, material, and spiritual culture. In fact, following the origins and evolution of the word and of the objects to which it has been attached along the centuries maps out a history of Atlantic Africa’s relationship with the wider world. Bringing together African and European objects that participated in the construction of the term and its multivalent meanings, this graduate seminar investigates the origins and history of the fetish in Atlantic Africa.

2018-2019
Winter

42911
21st Century Art

(
ARTV 39901
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

This course will consider the practice and theory of visual art in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

2018-2019
Spring

44002
COSI Objects & Materials Seminar

Required for all first-year art history graduate students. This course will meet at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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.

2018-2019
Winter

45006
Breakage and Fragments in China’s Visual and Material Culture

(
EALC 45006
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

Although art historians mostly work with complete and fine artifacts, the same artifacts are subjected to breakage in one way or the other. After broken, while they may escape art historical scrutiny, most of the artifacts of our research don’t just get discarded like trash; rather they solicit various cultural practices in order for people to come to terms or deal with the very existence of their fragments. Fragments of artifacts do not completely erase their past, but incompleteness nonetheless challenges their previous ontology. It is in this regard that breakage and fragments shift our focus from appreciating forms and functionalities of artifacts to reconciling with their terminations (death) and continuous survivals (afterlife), thus entailing our attention paid to their incomplete visual qualities and material properties. In this course, students will investigate ways in which breakage can be considered as an important cultural agency that could regenerate meanings and significance of fragments throughout the history of China’s visual and material culture – in such forms as relics, ruins, memorabilia, etc.

2018-2019
Spring

45015
Miraculous Images, Animated Objects, & Enchanted Places in Chin

(
EALC 45015
)
Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

Through relating actual objects, paintings, religious icons, and constructed spaces to accounts in different literary genres, this course explores how imagination is connected to image-making, and how visual and architectural forms express desire and fantasy.

2018-2019
Autumn

47105
The End of Dharma and Buddhist Art in Medieval China

(
EALC 47105
)
Chinese reading proficiency. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

According to a widespread belief in medieval China, Buddhism as a religion would go through three stages and end with the Age of Final Dharma (Mofa), when the Three Treasures (the Buddha, the Dharma law, and the monastic community) would be extinguished. This course explores the impact of this belief on artistic production in various forms of sculpture, sutra-engraving, and others.

2018-2019
Winter

47605
Photography and East Asian Art

(
EALC 47605
)
Museum visits and other field trips may be required. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.

How does photography make art and architecture and shape our understanding of it? This course begins with the earliest years of photography in East Asia and covers both the photography of sites and artifacts and discourses surrounding photography's status as an art. Japan is the instructor's area of expertise, but efforts will be made to cover China and Korea as well. Students will pursue individual research projects and share them with the class.

2018-2019
Autumn

48215
Modernism into History

Survey knowledge of 19th century art. Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment.
2018-2019
Winter

50101
Teaching Colloquium

Required of all third year ARTH PHD students.

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.

2018-2019
Autumn

50200
Dissertation Proposal Workshop

Required of Third Year ARTH PhD Students

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.

2018-2019
Spring