Courses

Explore the undergraduate course offerings in art history, including cross-listed classes and college core classes offered by art history faculty. 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.

Undergraduate courses are numbered 10000-29999. 100-level courses satisfy Arts Core requirements, while 200-level courses fulfill major and minor requirements.  Courses of study should be developed after consulting the catalog for required classes and conferring with the advisor and/or Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Undergraduate Courses

10100
Introduction to Art

This course develops skills in perception, comprehension, and evaluation of various art objects. It encourages close analysis of visual materials, exploring the range of questions and methods appropriate to works of art, in their historical, theoretical, and social dimensions. Most importantly, the course emphasizes articulate writing and salient argumentation about visual and other aesthetic phenomena. Three coherent units, on Monument/Site, Image/Medium, and Object/Museum, explore these issues across cultures and periods. Examples draw on original objects in campus collections.

2017-2018
Spring

14105
Introduction to Roman Art and Archaeology

(
CLCV 14113
)

This course offers a survey of the art and archaeology of the Roman world from the founding of Rome in the eighth century BC to the Christianization of the Empire in the fourth century AD. Students will witness the transformation of Rome from a humble village of huts surrounded by marshland in central Italy into the centripetal force of a powerful Empire that spanned mind-bogglingly distant reaches of space and time. Throughout the course, we will consider how the built environments and artifacts produced by an incredible diversity of peoples and places can make visible larger trends of historical, political, and cultural change. What, we will begin and end by asking, is Roman about Roman art?

2017-2018
Winter

14107
Greek Art and Archaeology

(
CLCV 21807
)

This course examines the art and archaeology of ancient Greece from ca. 1000 BCE – ca. 200 BCE. Participants will learn a lot of facts about the Greek world; they will see the Greeks emerge from poverty and anarchy to form a distinctive political and social system based on city-states, and they will see that system grow unstable and collapse. They will see the emergence of distinctive forms of sculpture, architecture, pottery, and urban design – many of which are still in use today. Along with these facts, they will acquire a conceptual toolkit for looking at works of art and for thinking about the relation of art to social life.

2017-2018
Autumn

14200
Introduction to Medieval Art

This course explores the challenging world of medieval art. Beginning with the fourth-century fusion of Imperial and Christian images and ending with the advent of print, we trace how images and art-making took on new roles—and re-invented old ones—over the course of the Middle Ages. We 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 include medieval sources (in translation) and exemplary modern scholarship.

2017-2018
Spring

14400
Italian Renaissance Art

This course will familiarize students with developments in the art production in Italy from the 15th through the early 17th centuries. The course will survey a broad range of objects and settings, and attempt to familiarize students with relevant media and techniques, as well as important intellectual, social, and political developments that informed the production and reception of art. Students will hone their skills in visual analysis and their ability to engage art and express positions and observations about art orally and in writing. The major assignments for the class will include two papers, a formal analysis and a formal comparison (the latter building upon the former), as well as a final exam. Students will gain exposure to original works through appropriate use of resources on campus as well as a couple visits to the Art Institute. The textbook for the course will be complemented by selected original readings (in translation) and exemplary art historical scholarship on the period.

2017-2018
Autumn

15600
20th Century Art

This class provides a critical survey of the major movements, paradigms, and documents of European and American art of the 20th century. Special attention will be given to crucial problems: the relation of art and politics, art’s response to mass media and consumer culture, and the understanding of terms such as “modern,” “avant-garde,” and “postmodern.” More broadly, we will study fundamental tools for examining works of art formally, historically, and critically. The course is not intended as a complete survey of 20th century art; rather, it will address the complex set of aesthetic, philosophical, and political motivations that shaped the artistic production of select figures and movements, including Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Performance Art, and Appropriation Art.

2017-2018
Autumn

15600
20th Century Art

This class provides a critical survey of the major movements, paradigms, and documents of European and American art of the 20th century. Special attention will be given to crucial problems: the relation of art and politics, art’s response to mass media and consumer culture, and the understanding of terms such as “modern,” “avant-garde,” and “postmodern.” More broadly, we will study fundamental tools for examining works of art formally, historically, and critically. The course is not intended as a complete survey of 20th century art; rather, it will address the complex set of aesthetic, philosophical, and political motivations that shaped the artistic production of select figures and movements, including Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Performance Art, and Appropriation Art.

2017-2018
Spring

16100
Art of the East: China

(
EALC 16100
)

This course is an introduction to the arts of China focusing on the bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese appropriation of the Buddha image, and the evolution of landscape and figure painting traditions. This course considers objects in contexts (from the archaeological sites from which they were unearthed to the material culture that surrounded them) to reconstruct the functions and the meanings of objects, and to better understand Chinese culture through the objects it produced.

2017-2018
Autumn

16100
Art of the East: China

(
EALC 16100
)

This course is an introduction to the arts of China focusing on the bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese appropriation of the Buddha image, and the evolution of landscape and figure painting traditions. This course considers objects in contexts (from the archaeological sites from which they were unearthed to the material culture that surrounded them) to reconstruct the functions and the meanings of objects, and to better understand Chinese culture through the objects it produced.

2017-2018
Spring

16220
Aztec Art & Architecture

(
LACS 16220
)

This course offers an introduction to the art of the Aztecs, the last major civilization to inhabit Central Mexico before the Spanish Conquest. As we trace the development of Aztec art over time, from its earliest appearance in the archaeological record, through the development of sophisticated imperial styles, and finally in its survival after Conquest, we will consider works of stone sculpture, architecture, figurines, and painting, as well as objects in other media like gold, turquoise, bone, and feathers. Along the way, students will learn to use visual evidence to think critically about works of Aztec art; major themes include the representation and reification of power in works of ancient art, antiquarianism and the Aztec relationship to the past, and the relationship between art and sacred landscapes, among others. Lectures will be supplemented by sessions at the Art Institute and Special Collections to view objects and manuscript facsimiles.

2017-2018
Winter

16709
Islamic Art & Architecture, 1100-1500

(
NEHC 16709, NEAA 10630
)

This course surveys the art and architecture of the Islamic world from 1100-1500. In that period, political fragmentation into multiple principalities challenged a deeply rooted ideology of unity of the Islamic world. The courts of the various principalities competed not only in politics, but also in the patronage of architectural projects and of arts such as textiles, ceramics, woodwork, and the arts of the book. While focusing on the central Islamic lands, we will consider regional traditions from Spain to India and the importance for the arts of contacts with China and the West.

2017-2018
Winter

17000
Introduction to Architecture

This course aims to equip students with the basic skills and knowledge required to analyze architecture and the urban environment. It offers an introduction to the methods and procedures of the architectural historian. These include practical tasks such as understanding architectural terminology, reading and interpreting architectural drawings, engaging with buildings ‘on site’, and studying buildings in context through urban design issues, such as street networks and public spaces. At a broader level, the course will involve critical discussions about the relationship between architecture and society, the building as a historical object, cultural representations of architecture, and modes of perceiving/experiencing the built environment. The course will operate through a combination of in-class seminars and site visits to buildings in Chicago.

NOTE: On Fridays the class will often meet off-campus at sites throughout the city. Students will need to be able to get to these sites in plenty of time, and therefore should not have other classes directly before or after.

2017-2018
Autumn

17209
Art in France, 1598-1661

France emerged from the 16th century devastated by wars of religion. Sixty years later it was the most powerful state in Europe. This course will provide an overview of French art and in this period. Three themes will predominate: the rise of philosophical skepticism (pyrrhonisme) and the New Science, and their impact on ideas of painting; the relationship between new “practices of the self” and practices of knowledge; and political centralization and the emergence of the police state. We will discuss major artists like Nicolas Poussin, Philippe de Champaigne, Georges de la Tour, Claude Lorraine and Charles Le Brun, as well as lesser-known figures like Laurent de la Hyre, Lubin Baugin, Eustache Le Sueur and Valentin de Boulogne. Readings will be drawn largely from primary sources, all in translation.

2017-2018
Spring

17302
Art and Archaeology of Death and Mourning in Ancient Greece

(
CLCV 20017
)

No aspect of human existence so preoccupied the ancient Greeks as the condition of mortality—the knowledge that, unlike their immortal gods, they would inevitably die. This course will explore the role that material culture played in helping individuals process the effects of death in a variety of times and places within ancient Greece. It will provide an overview of burial and commemoration practices, tomb offerings and funerary monuments, as well as artistic and literary representations of death, mourning, and the afterlife. Many of the readings will be primary texts in translation—epic poems and plays, myths and stories that offered the Greeks paradigms for their own experiences. Throughout, we will consider the role works of art play in helping individuals cope with as personal an issue as bereavement, and we will draw on parallels from contemporary culture to help frame the ancient material.

2017-2018
Spring

17311
Art of the Book in the Middle Ages

Many of the greatest works of art from the Middle Ages come in the form of illuminated books. This course will introduce students to the history of the art of the book in medieval West, exploring what kinds of books were made by medieval scribes and artists, how they were made, and what they meant to the men and women who gazed at their pages. We will meet in the Special Collections of the Regenstein Library, allowing us to explore the history of medieval book arts through close examinations of original medieval books and rare facsimiles. A wide range of illuminated books will be discussed--from those used in church rituals to those made for private aristocratic amusement.

2017-2018
Autumn

17410
Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and Beyond

(
AMER 17410, FNDL 20502
)

This course looks at Wright’s work from multiple angles, examining his architecture, urbanism, relationship to the built environment and socio-cultural context of his lifetime, and legend.  We’ll take advantage of the Robie House on campus and the rich legacy of Wright’s early work in Chicago; we’ll also think about his later “Usonian” houses for middle-income clients and the urban framework he imagined for his work (“Broadacre City”), as well as his Wisconsin headquarters (Taliesin), and spectacular works like the Johnson Wax Factory (a required one-day Friday field trip, if funds permit), Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim Museum.  By examining on architect’s work in context, students will gain experience analyzing buildings and their siting, and interpreting them in light of their complex ingredients and circumstances.  The overall goal is to provide an introduction to thinking about architecture and urbanism.

2017-2018
Autumn

17610
Modernism

This course will explore the development of European and American modernism by concentrating on examples in local collections, especially the Smart Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. The modernist era, from roughly 1860 to 1960, brought dramatic changes in the conception and making of art. We will analyze these by attending to the media of painting, sculpture and printmaking.

The class will meet frequently at the Art Institute, and students will need to be able to arrive at the museum in time for classes beginning there at 3:30.

2017-2018
Winter

17612
The Art of Michelangelo

(
FNDL 21411
)

The focus of this course will be Michelangelo’s sculpture, painting and architecture while making use of his writings and his extensive body of drawings to understand his artistic personality, creative processes, theories of art, and his intellectual and spiritual biography, including his changing attitudes towards Neoplatonism, Christianity and politics. Our structure will be chronological starting with his juvenilia of the 1490s in Florence at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent through his death in Rome in 1564 as an old man who was simultaneously the deity of art and a lonely, troubled, repentant Christian. Beyond close examination of the works themselves, among the themes that will receive attention for the ways they bear upon his art are Michelangelo’s fraught relationship with patrons; his changing attitude towards religion, especially his engagement with the Catholic Reform; his sexuality and how it might bear on the representation of gender in his art and poetry; his “official” biographies during Michelangelo’s lifetime and complex, ambivalent, reception over the centuries; new ideas about Michelangelo that have emerged from the restoration and scientific imaging of many of his works. At the same time, the course will be an introduction of 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, feminist, theoretical and reception.

2017-2018
Autumn

17700
19th Century French Art in the Art Institute

In this course, we will closely examine 19th century paintings and other media in the Art Institute of Chicago and seek to understand how and why art changed during this period. Topics to be considered include the meaning of stylistic innovation in the 19th century, the development and dissolution of the genres of landscape and portraiture, and varying conceptions of realism and abstraction. Most class sessions will be devoted to looking at works in the galleries of the Art Institute. Because attendance is mandatory, students should consider whether their schedules will allow time for traveling to and from the museum for class meetings.

2017-2018
Spring

18000
Photography and Film

This is a core course that serves as an introduction to the history of art by concentrating on some fundamental issues in the history of photography and film. The course is divided roughly in half between still photography and film. The central theme of the course concerns the way in which photographs and films have been understood and valued during the past 165 years. There have been profound changes in attitudes and beliefs regarding the nature of photographs throughout the history of photography (this is likewise true of film). The current range of views is very different from those held by the various audiences for photographs and films in the last century and the century before. For instance, photographs were originally conceived of as copies of things that can be seen, but the notion of copy was drawn from a long established set of views about what makes a picture a work of art and copies were said to be incapable of being works of art. This view continues to haunt the writings of some critics and historians of photography and film. The course will concentrate on the work of photographers, theorists of photography and film, and on films by John Huston, Billy Wilder, and Roman Polanski.

2017-2018
Autumn

18202
Creative Destruction: War, Violence, and Upheaval in 20th C. Art

Articulated by Joseph A. Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy from 1942, the term “creative destruction” refers to capitalism’s inherent tendency to destroy existing economic systems through incessantly creating new ones in order to generate additional wealth. In a similar vein, the history of artistic avant-gardes is often told as a succession of radical formal innovations, a string of revolts against existing artistic conventions in search of a new visual language. This course will draw on Schumpeter’s concept of creative destruction, positioning it within a larger cultural context in order to examine the creative potential and ethical limitations of violence and destruction in art. Focusing on visual arts from World War I to the 9/11 attacks, we will question the concept of avant-garde innovation in order to consider the relationship between artistic gesture and social upheaval. Addressing such issues as political violence, radical visuality, and trauma, the class will focus on various forms of creation, from painting and sculpture to performance and photography.

2017-2018
Winter

18305
Art in Context: New Art in Chicago Museums

Instructor consent required.

Through very regular, required site visits to museums, galleries, and experimental spaces in the greater Chicago area, this course introduces students to the close consideration—in situ—of works of art created in and for our time, as well as to pertinent modes of critical and historical inquiry. Sites visited can include our own Smart Museum of Art, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and private collections and galleries.

2017-2018
Spring

18606
Structuring China’s Built Environment

(
EALC 18606
)

This course asks a basic question: of what does China’s built environment in history consist? Unlike other genres of art in China, a history of China’s built environment still waits to be written, concerning both the physical structure and spatial sensibility shaped by it. To this end, students will be introduced to a variety of materials related to our topic, ranging from urban planning, buildings, tombs, gardens, and furniture. The course aims to explore each of the built environments--its principles, tradition, and history—based on existing examples and textual sources and to propose ways and concepts in which the materials discussed throughout the quarter can be analyzed and understood as a broader historical narrative of China’s built environment.

2017-2018
Winter

18610
The Words around Art

We are all the time describing, such as when we give accounts of things, places, moments, and impressions. Description provides extravagantly for our basic needs as communicating social actors—giving us the means to elaborate a groundwork for dialogue with others, tools for differentiating and ranking stuff, even solid pretexts for legal rulings. Description is singularly crucial for art history, which demands of all its practitioners not only a basic aptitude for describing objects and situations but also a willingness to showcase this aptitude when ‘doing’ art history. But there’s far more to description than art history formally acknowledges. In this course we will track modes of description across the disciplines—such as poetry, which values both metaphorical and plainspoken descriptions; and astronomy, where ‘description’ denotes the tracing out of a given path by an object’s motion along a certain course—exploring their convergences with art-historical ways of describing. Readings will include ancient texts (in translation), modern scholarship and artists’ writings, technical manuals, poetry, and other literary works. Participation will require occasional travel within Chicago.

2017-2018
Spring

20000
Introduction to Film Analysis

(
CMST 10100, ARTV 25300, ENGL 10800
)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres.  Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception.  Films discussed include works by Hitchcock, Porter, Griffith, Eisenstein, Lang, Renoir, Sternberg, and Welles.

2017-2018
Spring

20000
Introduction to Film Analysis

(
CMST 10100, ARTV 25300, ENGL 10800
)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres.  Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception.  Films discussed include works by Hitchcock, Porter, Griffith, Eisenstein, Lang, Renoir, Sternberg, and Welles.

Takuya Tsunoda
2017-2018
Autumn

20000
Introduction to Film Analysis

(
CMST 10100, ARTV 25300, ENGL 10800
)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres.  Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception.  Films discussed include works by Hitchcock, Porter, Griffith, Eisenstein, Lang, Renoir, Sternberg, and Welles.

2017-2018
Winter

20228
William Blake: Poet, Painter, and Prophet

(
ENGL 20228
)

William Blake is arguably the most unusual figure in the history of English poetry and visual art.  Recognized now as an essential part of the canon of Romantic poetry, he was almost completely unknown in his own time.  His paintings, poems, and illuminated books were objects of fascination for a small group of admirers, but it was not until the late 19th century that his work began to be collected by William Butler Yeats, and not until the 1960s that he was recognized as a major figures in the history of art and literature.  Dismissed as insane in his own time, his prophetic and visionary works are now seen as anticipating some of the most radical strands of modern thought, including Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche.  We will study Blake’s work from a variety of perspectives, placing his poetry in relation to the prophetic ambitions of Milton and his visual images in the European iconographic tradition of Michelangelo and Durer.   The course will emphasize close readings of his lyric poems, and attempt to open up the mythic cosmology of his allegorical, epic, and prophetic books.

2017-2018
Spring

20506
/
30506
Pompeii: Life, Death, and Afterlife of a Roman City

(
CLCV 20516, CLAS 30516
)

This course takes an in-depth look at the exceptional and exceptionally preserved city of Pompeii (along with others in the Bay of Naples region including Herculaneum, Stabiae, and Oplontis) as a microcosm of the forms of Roman life in in the first century. In the late summer or early autumn of A.D. 79, Pompeii suffered a cataclysmic event when Mount Vesuvius exploded in a terrible and spectacular fashion, spewing forth a tremendous cloud of ash over the city. While the disaster claimed the lives of tens of thousands of inhabitants in the area, the peculiar conditions of the eruption preserved the material traces of their daily lives. Students will explore the civic, commercial, and domestic spaces of Pompeii including its forum, temples and sanctuaries, cemeteries, theaters, brothels, bakeries, and especially its townhouses, the latter of which were decorated with brilliant wall paintings, floor mosaics, furniture, and lush portico gardens designed to offer rest and relaxation from the bustle of city life. Significant attention will also be paid not only to the discovery of Pompeii and its neighboring towns in the 18th century, but also its reception in the archaeological and popular imagination up to the present.

2017-2018
Spring

20510
/
30510
Minoan Art, Modern Myths, and Problems of Prehistory

(
CLCV 21517, CLAS 31517
)

This course will provide an introduction to the art of the Bronze Age culture of Minoan Crete, with an emphasis on the Palatial Period (ca. 1900-1450 BCE). We will cover both well-known works and recent archaeological finds, including those from outside of Crete that have altered our view of Minoan art in recent years. At the same time, we will investigate how our knowledge of this civilization and its art has been shaped by the mentalities of those who have excavated its remains and collected and displayed its art. We will look closely at archaeological reports, restorations, forgeries, and concepts of style and iconography to reveal how archaeological remains are transformed into historical narratives. While focused on the Minoans, the class is designed to build the analytical skills necessary for engaging with the art of prehistoric cultures and other ancient cultures heavily shaped by modern imaginaries.

2017-2018
Autumn

20609
/
30609
Early Christian Art

(
HCHR 43101, RLVC 43107
)
Advanced undergraduates may enroll with instructor consent only.

This course will focus on the visual arts as ubiquitous, understanding them as an essential part of early Christian culture and identity. Close attention will be paid throughout to interdisciplinary scholarly methods that have been developed in order to approach early Christian art within the larger framework of late antique culture and to decode the symbolism that characterizes it. Some sample questions we are going to discuss include: What do the earliest Christian images in the catacombs and on sarcophagi convey about the hopes and fears of those who commissioned them? In which ways did the design and furnishing of religious architecture respond directly to needs associated with the celebration of the liturgy or other cultic activities? What were the functions and messages of the splendid mosaic programs that survive, for instance, in various churches in Rome and Ravenna? To what extent may they be understood (possibly until today) as an aid to religious imagination and worship? How were visual means employed to provide complex theological exegesis, and what is the relation of the imagery to religious writings? What is the place of early Christian manuscript illumination within the larger context of late antique book culture? What do we know about viewer response to Christian art both in the private and the public spheres?

2017-2018
Winter

21210
Simultaneity: Political Art of the 1960s and 70s Americas

Taking its cue from Argentinian artist Marta Minujín’s seminal Simultaneidad en Simultaneidad (1966), which proposed a collaborative Happening between three countries in real-time, this course casts aside reductive concerns of primacy and originality and focuses instead on this notion of simultaneity. Exploring the multitude of artists’ engagement with political issues in 1960s and 70s Americas, it asks, how did artists enlist key tropes of artistic production of the period to wrestle with their specific political issues? Focusing on the work of artists in Argentina, Brazil, and the US, we study artworks by Minujín, David Lamelas, Cildo Meireles, Lygia Clark, Sonia Andrade, Artur Barrio, Allan Kaprow, Carolee Schneemann, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Ana Mendieta, and ASCO, among others. Reading widely, from Marshall McLuhan to Timothy Morton, looking closely at art across a range of media with particular attention to the use of unusual materials, new technology, and body practices, and considering such material engagements with particular sites, this course takes an approach of productive juxtaposition to demonstrate the value of thinking across national borders and formal boundaries.

2017-2018
Spring

21315
/
31315
Introduction to Art, Technology and Media

(
CMST 27815, CMST 37815
)

The course gives an introduction to the relationship between art, media and technology, as articulated in art practice, media theory and art theory/history. Key focus is the relationship between 20th Century art and so-called \"new media\" (from photography, film, radio, TV to computers and digital technologies) but older instances of art- and media-historical perspectives will also be discussed. The objective of the course is to give insight into the historical exchanges between art and technological development, as well as critical tools for discussing the concept of the medium and the relationship between art, sensation/perception, visuality and mediation. The course will also function as an introduction to the fields of media aesthetics and media archaeology.

2017-2018
Autumn

23202
/
32302
Byzantium: Art-Religion-Culture

(
HCHR 32302, RLVC 32302, RLST 28310
)

In this introductory seminar we will explore works of art and architecture as primary sources for Byzantine civilization. Through the close investigation of artifacts of different media and techniques, students will gain insight into the artistic production of the Byzantine Empire from its foundation in the 4th century A.D. to the Ottoman conquest in 1453. We will employ different methodological approaches and resources that are relevant for the fruitful investigation of artifacts in their respective cultural setting. In order to fully assess the pivotal importance of the visual arts in Byzantine culture, we will address a wide array of topics, including art and ritual, patronage, the interrelation of art and text, classical heritage, art and theology, Iconoclasm, etc.

2017-2018
Winter

23305
Reception and Appropriation of Antiquity in Renaissance Italy

This course will familiarize students with a broad spectrum of responses to the Ancient heritage across a variety of media, including both ephemeral and lasting art forms – from prints to architectural complexes, and from integrated statues to processions and their ephemeral apparati. We shall consider instances of quotation, assimilation, appropriation, and reuse, whereby examining how the fascination with ancient visual vocabulary went hand in hand with the reframing and transformation of surviving ancient art. Occasionally, we will be looking at examples of these modes in our own environment and across modern media to understand the perennial nature of assimilation and appropriation in art.

2017-2018
Winter

23806
COSI: Saints & Heroes, Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe

In this course, students will study the newly opened AIC galleries, “Saints and Heroes: Art of Medieval and Renaissance Europe.” With nearly 700 works on display—including ivories, panel paintings, enamels, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry—this collection affords the rich and timely opportunity to study Medieval and Renaissance art in considerable depth and breadth. Students’ close encounters with these objects will be supplemented by secondary reading along with recently completed studies by AIC conservation and curatorial staff, which have yielded several exciting discoveries.

Each gallery brings together objects that were used in a similar context—whether during the celebration of Mass, in private prayer, at a sumptuous feast, or in battle, for instance—and so the course will be structured accordingly. We will focus our study on a few objects each week, considering the iconography, artistic techniques, and especially materials of their making. The course will also interrogate the different ways these objects are installed in the galleries and how different strategies of display create relationships between objects within a fictive medieval space.

This class will meet at the Art Institute; students should plan their schedules to allow for travel time.

2017-2018
Spring

24002
/
34002
Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing About the Arts

(
CRWR 2/44002
)
Submit nonfiction writing sample when applying to register for the course.

Writing about the arts has long been a way for writers to investigate the wide world, and to look inward.  In this course, we’ll be focusing on the visual arts, and we’ll try to see how reflecting on painting, photography, installation art, and those arts that get called “decorative” gives us ways to consider the object in space, and also history, war, friendship, education, material culture, aesthetics, and coming-of-age.  In writing, we will practice all kinds of forms: lyric fragments; polemics; reviews; catalog essays; museum wall texts; personal meditations on a single work; documentation of lost techniques and lost works; and history, criticism, and biography written for readers outside the academy. Students will also write a longer essay to be workshopped in class.  We’ll read and discuss writers such as Susan Sontag, Geoff Dyer, Claudia Rankine, Tiana Bighorse, Rebecca Solnit, Zbigniew Herbert, Donald Judd, Octavio Paz, Mark Doty, Hervé Guibert, Kevin Young, Lawrence Weschler, and Walter Benjamin.  Students will make some guided and some independent visits to museums including the Art Institute, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Smart Museum of Art, the Oriental Institute, and the National Museum of Mexican Arts.

Rachel Cohen
2017-2018
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.

2017-2018
Autumn

24180
/
34180
Into the City: Art in Chicago from the Fire to Now

“An abundance of life everywhere, and yet no culture.” That is how painter Mitchell Siporin described Chicago in the 1930s. In this course, we will interrogate Siporin’s claim by investigating the city’s history of art, from 19th century forays into social practice via settlement houses like Hull House to 21st century street art that tests the boundaries between radical politics and consumer culture. What, if anything, distinguishes the history of art in Chicago? To answer this question, students will be expected to visit museums around the city; do original, archival research in local collections; and conduct an interview with a contemporary artist (facilitated independently or by the instructor). Topics will include: South Side artist colonies, innovations in and resistance to abstraction, exchanges between WPA-era artists and Mexican printmakers, the pioneering photography department founded by Moholy-Nagy at the Institute of Design, the Chicago Imagists, the Black Arts Movement, and alternative spaces and apartment galleries. This course coincides with the Terra Foundation’s Art Design Chicago initiative and will make use of related exhibitions and programs like “Arte Diseño Xicágo” at the National Museum of Mexican Art, the MCA's Ken Josephson exhibition, and the Chicago Parks Foundation’s “Art in the Park Tour Series”

Maggie Taft
2017-2018
Spring

24190
Imagining Chicago’s Common Buildings

(
ARTV 20210, AMER 24190
)
Interested students should email the instructor (Luke Joyner, lukejoy@uchicago.edu) to briefly explain their interest and any previous experience with the course topics.

This class is an architectural studio based in the common residential buildings of Chicago and the city’s built environment. While a design project and architectural skills will be the focus of the class, it will also incorporate readings, a small amount of writing, and some social and geographical history. We will: (1) give students interested in pursuing architecture or the study of cities experience with a studio class and some skills related to architectural thinking, (2) acquaint students intimately with Chicago's common residential buildings and built fabric, and (3) situate all this within a context of social thought about residential architecture, common buildings, housing, and the city.

Luke Joyner
2017-2018
Winter

24602
/
34602
Mediums and Contexts of Chinese Pictorial Art

(
EALC 24622, EALC 34622
)

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.

2017-2018
Autumn

24605
A History of Japanese Visual Culture

(
HIST 24609, EALC 24610
)

This course will examine the rich and nuanced material history of Japan, drawing upon religious art, architecture, theater, fine arts, and crafts, as well as creations made through the technologies of photography, cinema, manga, and anime. Note that most of the materials examined will be from the pre-twentieth century. We will also use the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, and the Smart Museum as resources and some of the classes will be held off campus.

James Ketelaar
2017-2018
Winter

24650
/
34650
Chinese Pagoda

(
EALC 24650, EALC 34650
)

More often than not, the Chinese pagoda is considered the most representative of Buddhist architecture in pre-modern China. It is so ubiquitous that many have forgotten the fact that the pagoda actually has a non-Chinese origin; and its vertical building form – rather than the more usual, horizontal sprawl of traditional Chinese architecture – betrays a history that is everything but typical or representative of Chinese Buddhist architecture. Instead of seeing it merely as a building, accordingly, the course will investigate the ways in which the Chinese pagoda was uniquely conceived and constructed as a symbol, artifact, site, structure, space, etc., created to serve specific religious purposes, thereby exerting or evoking specific meanings that engaged both religious and nonreligious ideas and issues in pre-modern China.

2017-2018
Winter

24711
/
34711
Raphael and the High Renaissance

This course concentrates on Raphael, perhaps historically the most influential figure of the outsized trio (including Leonardo and Michelangelo), who embody the ‘culminating moment’ of the Renaissance. Some attention will be given to the history of the idea and to the style concept ‘High Renaissance’ and its usefulness as a vehicle for understanding three such diverse personalities. While we will try to do justice to the enormously diverse, if short, career of Raphael, the investigation of the High Renaissance will lead us to examine the mature works of Leonardo and Michelangelo’s painting and sculpture through 1520 (including the Sistine Ceiling and the Julius Tomb), which is the part of their careers that overlap with Raphael. Special attention will be given to the writings and drawings of the major artists as a means of interpreting their works.

2017-2018
Spring

24720
/
34720
Goya and Manet

(
SCTH 35004
)

Edouard Manet (1832-1883) is often regarded as the first modernist artist, but his practice was deeply rooted in the copying and emulation of Renaissance and Baroque painters, particularly Spaniards. Indeed, many of his subjects, and some of his techniques, from the use of firm outline to muted opaque tones with minimal modeling, are conspicuous in Francisco Goya (1746-1828), a Spanish court painter and moralist whose paintings and prints were received in the late nineteenth century, and in the twentieth, as prefiguring both modernist form and various crises of artistic meaning. This seminar proposes a binocular focus on the two artists, in their individual historical contexts and in dialogue, in order to understand the tension between tradition and innovation in modern art.

2017-2018
Spring

24812
/
34812
Museums and Art

This course considers how the rise and development of the art museum in the 19th and 20th centuries affected the production of modern art and the viewing of past art. This is not a survey course but a historically oriented investigation of certain issues relating to museums, modern art and art history. We will concentrate on these matters: various debates about what happens to past art and to objects when they are uprooted and moved into the museum; how and why museums have changed display practices in the interests of getting viewers to look differently at past art; what artists have understood to museums to represent and how they have responded in their work and display preferences. Though reference will be made to the contemporary art world, we will focus on materials and case studies drawn from the French Revolution to the 1960s. French, German, English and American museums will be featured.

2017-2018
Spring

25005
/
35005
Nineteenth-Century Prints

Using a wide range of examples from the Smart Museum collection, this course will examine the various techniques, meanings, aspirations, and publics of nineteenth-century European printmaking, from the invention of lithography in 1798 to the color innovations of the 1890s. Among the topics to be investigated are prints as multiples; reproduction and originality; caricature; color in prints; the etching revival of the 1860s; and the practice of collecting. Students will not be expected to have any prior knowledge of prints or printmaking techniques but may benefit from a general acquaintance with nineteenth-century art. Artists to be considered include Goya, Delacroix, Daumier, Whistler, Meryon, Bracquemond, Buhot, Fantin-Latour, Tissot, Klinger, Bonnard, and Toulouse-Lautrec, among others. In part a history of nineteenth-century art told through prints, this course will give students the tools to recognize and identify traditional print media and to explore broader themes such as the illustrative and narrative function of prints; their relationship to other art forms; and their participation in discourses of scarcity and value. In addition to standard course requirements, students will have the option to help prepare a small exhibition drawn from the Smart Museum’s holdings.

2017-2018
Winter

25106
/
35106
Art and Urbanism at Teotihuacan

(
LACS 24106, LACS 34106
)

This course will take stock of our understanding of Mesoamerica’s first great city. How did Teotihuacan’s unprecedented urban form, and the art created within it, structure a sense of collective identity for the city’s multiethnic population? How did the city change over time, and how did it engage with its Mesoamerican neighbors? Recent discoveries from the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent and the Temple of the Sun will play an important role in our investigations.

2017-2018
Spring

25300
/
35300
Pilgrimage in Antiquity and the Early Christendom

(
RLVC 38802
)

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. The core material, beyond the theoretical overview, will be largely limited to antiquity and early Christianity; but if students wish to write their papers on areas beyond this relatively narrow remit (in other religions, in the middle ages, modern or early modern periods), this will be positively encouraged! This course will be taught in an intensive format twice per week, plus some individual discussion sessions to set up term papers, for the first five weeks of the quarter.

2017-2018
Spring

25505
The Detective Film

(
CMST 25505
)

This course will survey the detective genre from its origins in the silent serial film through its development in film noir and neo-noir as well as its transformation in what is often called Metaphysical Detective films which explore the limits of the genre.

2017-2018
Spring

25880
/
35880
Fashion and Twentieth Century Art

This seminar will investigate topics central to the relationship between fashion and modern, avant-garde, postwar, and contemporary European and American art from the standpoint of production, display, and reception. To what extent might theories of fashion and fashionability allow us to understand dynamics of stylistic change in art? What can we learn about art movements from the way they have been appropriated by fashion designers? What issues are at stake when we ask whether fashion is “art” as such, and when we put fashion on display in the art museum? Through close-readings and local collection visits, we will explore the role of fashion in histories of twentieth century art including the role of design in early abstraction, concepts from subculture to merchandising in dada and Surrealism, and the importance of clothing in performance and installation.

Jen Cohen
2017-2018
Winter

25940
/
35940
The Artist as Ethnographer

(
ARTV 20940/30954
)

This interdisciplinary seminar considers the idea of the artist as ethnographer in contemporary art and curatorial practice. Through lecture, screening and group discussions, we will trace the historical relationship between visual culture and the social sciences, uncovering how this has impacted ways of viewing objects, people and cultures within the Western tradition. Armed with this knowledge, we will consider how the ethnographer’s commitment to the study of Others has been challenged by an increasingly globalised and post-colonial world. We will explore questions of authority and subjectivity in ethnographic fieldwork. Finally, we will look to contemporary artworks and exhibitions that have reinvested in the image and practice of the ethnographer to uncover the politics and poetics of their work. You will be introduced to the practices of Brad Butler and Karen Mirza, Paulo Nazareth, Marine Hugonnier, Camille Henrot, Kapwani Kiwanga et. al. Sessions will include close reading and discussion of texts by Hal Foster, James Clifford, Clementine Deliss, Okwui Enwezor and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, amongst others. 

2017-2018
Spring

26410
/
36410
Rhoades Seminar: 19th Century Photography – Image, Object, Idea

This course will meet at the Art Institute of Chicago.

This seminar will explore the social, technological, and artistic histories of photography from 1839 through the beginnings of the twentieth century. Photographs will be discussed in terms of different categories of function—art, document, science, and market—and the ways in which they overlapped throughout the first century of the medium. The course will examine photographs as both images and objects, and will explore the circumstances of their production, circulation, and reception. The course will focus on close examination of works in the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection, with readings drawn from both primary sources and recent scholarship.

Liz Siegel
2017-2018
Spring

26510
/
36510
Architecture and the Zionist Imagination

(
NEHC 25149
)

This course explores the intersection of form and ideology through the example of the built environments (both speculative and realized) that were part of the formation of the Jewish state and its history. We will follow the evolution of Israeli architecture, starting with the interwar period, in which Zionist institutions were built in Palestine under British colonial rule. In this context, debates centered on the question of how different modernist styles developed in Europe and imported to the Middle East can respond to different streams within Zionism. We then move on to the period of nation-building, in which attempts were made to develop an Israeli architectural style that would respond to the waves of immigration and the formation of state institutions. Now, a debate emerged between the modernist style that came to represent an emergent tradition, and a new generation of architects who sought to develop a more local idiom. The current phase of Israeli architecture is influenced by the political turn to the right, the institution of liberal economic policies, the arrival of a large wave of post-Soviet Russian immigrants, and an opening to global commerce, all of which have weakened the nation state. In addition to studying this architectural history, we will engage with cultural texts (literary, filmic, artistic) that imagine and describe Zionist spaces and places, starting with Theodor Herzl’s Zionist Utopia, Altneuland, and all the way through contemporary TV sitcoms.

Na'ama Rokem
2017-2018
Autumn

26515
/
36515
Architecture in Action: Modernism & Politics in Israel/Palestine

(
NEHC 26515, NEHC 36515
)

How does architecture provoke change? What is the knowledge and praxis through which it competes over the meaning of space? The agency of architecture in constructing political spaces is contingent on its capacity to frame the private domain of everyday life on the one hand, and to articulate ideological narratives through bodily experience in space on the other. We will examine why and how the distracted experience of the built environment as a matter of fact empowers architecture and highlights its unique position in assuming national identities as a natural, essential and indispensable phenomenon.

We will discuss the relationship between political and architectural modernism in order to primarily understand architecture neither as an autonomous field, nor as a set of technical expertise executing a meaning beyond its domain. Rather, we will examine, mainly through the case study of Israel/Palestine, how architecture acts through its own cultural toolkit, and how as a result, it articulates ideas ranging from progress to war, and from settlement to heritage, in form, space, materials and orchestrated movement. To that end the course introduces and weaves key ideas of architectural modernism, particularly since WWII, and key moments in the cultural and political history of the Israeli state and its conflict with Palestine.

2017-2018
Spring

27220
/
37220
Dimensions of Late Sculpture

For over a millennium, the discrete annex it established within three-dimensional space characterized the medium of sculpture. Think of a monument, a carved architectural relief, or a screenprinted wooden box. In and after high modernism, artists—not all of them self-identified sculptors—have made a range of propositions that hugely pressure sculptural conventions. Today, a work considered unequivocally to be sculpture may disappear entirely into the space that ostensibly contains it, or may be impossible to distinguish from a decidedly nonart thing nearby. What is the attempt here? Merely to be a new kind of sculpture? Not to be a thing, or art, at all – in which case, why not abandon art’s traditional physical and institutional frameworks entirely? This discussion-based course will explore the complex of challenges the sculptural medium faced as it approached the end of its putative discreteness. How and why has sculpture managed to endure beyond this terminal point? Course readings are drawn not only from the history, theory, and criticism of art, but also from artists’ writing, continental philosophy, cultural studies, memoir, political theory, psychoanalysis, and queer theory. Several visits to Chicago venues will be required in order to pass the course.

2017-2018
Winter

27304
/
37304
Photo/Modernism/Esthetic

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.

2017-2018
Autumn

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

Students must have instructor consent to register for this course. Please email Dr. Kokkori at mkokkori@artic.edu by Friday, November 17 to express your interest.

This course will introduce students to the methods, theories, and strategies of scientific approaches to studying art objects and consider the meaning of different materials and surfaces across artistic media. It will showcase new scholarship generated in the field of conservation science and object-based art history that draws its strength from the collaborative work among scientists, conservators, art historians, and theorists. Conservation science draws on the applied sciences and engineering to understand how to preserve the world's cultural heritage and forge connections between making and meaning. The course will explore scientific examinations to investigate the production and use of art objects. Focusing on material studies of paintings and sculptures, pigments as well as their binding media, students will learn about the material make-up of art objects by employing visual analysis alongside practical studies using scientific analysis and imaging on campus and at the Art Institute of Chicago. Readings will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, including material science and chemistry, art history, visual and material culture, anthropology, and philosophy.

Maria Kokkori
2017-2018
Winter

28405
/
38405
The Films of Alfred Hitchcock

(
CMST 2/36500
)
CMST 10100 - Introduction to Film Analysis, and preferably CMST 28500 - History of International Cinema, Part I.

No single filmmaker has equaled Alfred Hitchcock’s combination of popular success, critical commentary and widespread influence on other filmmakers. Currently, his work is so familiar it threatens to be taken for granted. This course will reveal Hitchcock as the filmmaker who systematically used the stylistics of late silent film to forge a dialectical approach to the so-called Classical Style. Hitchcock devised a relation among narrative, spectator and character point of view, yielding a configuration of suspense, sensation and perception. Tracing Hitchcock’s career chronologically, we will follow his intertwining of sexual desire and gender politics, and his reshaping of melodrama according to Freudian concepts of repression, memory, interpretation and abreaction, as he navigates from silent film to sound and from Great Britain to Hollywood.

2017-2018
Spring

28406
/
38406
The Cinema of Charlie Chaplin

(
CMST 2/36400
)
CMST 10100 or consent of instructor

The course looks at Chaplin and his long film career from a number of perspectives. One of these is Chaplin’s acting technique inherited from commedia dell’arte and enriched by cinematic devices; another is Chaplin as a person involved in a series of political and sexual scandals; yet another one is Chaplin as a myth fashioned within twentieth-century art movements like German Expressionist poetry, French avant-garde painting, or Soviet Constructivist art.

2017-2018
Autumn

28500
/
38500
History of International Cinema I: Silent Era

(
ARTV 26500/36500, CMLT 2/32400, CMST 2/48500, ENGL 29300/48700, MAPH 36000
)

This course introduces what was singular about the art and craft of silent film. Its general outline is chronological. We also discuss main national schools and international trends of filmmaking.

James Lastra
2017-2018
Autumn

28600
/
38600
History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960

(
ARTV 26600, CMLT 2/32500, CMST 2/48600, ENGL 29600/48900, MAPH 33700
)

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

2017-2018
Winter

28606
/
38606
Early Twentieth-Century Urban Visions

A prior course in art history, or permission of the instructor.

It is hard to understand contemporary architectural debate about how cities should develop without knowing its origins in the influential city planning proposals developed by architects and planners in pre-World War II Europe and North America. This course studies those foundations, looking at the period when modernist architects and intellectuals proclaimed the obsolescence of the metropolis just as it came to dominate the modern landscape. We will examine a variety of strategies devised to order or replace the metropolis during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ranging from the City Beautiful movement in Chicago and Hugh Ferriss's later skyscraper version, Camillo Sitte’s influential critique of Vienna’s Ringstrasse, and the English garden city alternative Lewis Mumford championed for the New York region, to Le Corbusier’s Voisin Plan for Paris and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City model displayed in New York’s Rockefeller Center. We conclude with a glimpse of urban renewal in New York and Chicago, and Jane Jacobs’s celebrated reaction. Course readings are in primary sources. Focusing on particular projects and their promulgation in original texts and illustrations, as well as in exhibitions and film, we will be especially concerned with their polemical purposes and contexts (historical, socio-cultural, professional, biographical) and with the relationship between urbanism and architecture.

2017-2018
Winter

29600
Junior Seminar: Doing Art History

Required of third-year students who are majoring in art history; open to non-majors with consent of instructor.

The aim of this seminar is to deepen an understanding of art history as a discipline and of the range of analytic strategies art history affords to students beginning to plan their honors papers or, in the case of students who are minoring in art history, writing research papers in art history courses. Students read essays that have shaped and represent the discipline, and test their wider applicability and limitations. Through this process, they develop a keener sense of the kinds of questions that most interest them in the history and criticism of art and visual culture. Students develop a formal topic proposal in a brief essay, and write a final paper analyzing one or two works of relevant, significant scholarship for their topics.

2017-2018
Winter

29800
Senior Seminar

Required of fourth-year art history majors in the class of 2018.

Problems and methods in Art History.

Refer to the undergraduate major requirements page for additional information regarding whether or not this course is required based on your year in the program.

2017-2018
Autumn