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Department of Art History

Chair

  • Christine Mehring

Professors

  • Charles Cohen
  • Darby English
  • Tom Gunning
  • Christine Mehring
  • William J. T. Mitchell
  • Richard Neer
  • Joel M. Snyder
  • Yuri Tsivian
  • Wu Hung

Associate Professors

  • Niall Atkinson
  • Persis Berlekamp, Director of Graduate Studies
  • Claudia Brittenham
  • Chelsea Foxwell
  • Cécile Fromont
  • Matthew Jesse Jackson
  • Aden Kumler
  • Wei-cheng Lin
  • Andrei Pop
  • Katherine Taylor
  • Martha Ward

Assistant Professors

  • Patrick Crowley
  • Megan Sullivan

Harper Schmidt Collegiate Assistant Professor

  • Tatsiana Zhurauliova

Emeritus Faculty

  • Neil Harris
  • Reinhold Heller
  • Robert S. Nelson
  • Linda Seidel
  • Barbara Stafford

Visiting Professors

  • Ina Blom, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art, and Ideas, University of Oslo
  • Jas' Elsner,  Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford

The department offers a program for the study of the history and theory of art, leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. We provide a forum for exploring the visual arts of European, Near Eastern, Asian, African, and American civilizations. The department seeks to cultivate knowledge of salient works of art, of the structures within which they are produced and used, and of the ways in which the visual environment in the broadest sense generates, acquires, and transmits meaning. We encourage the exploration of diverse approaches. Ways of addressing and analyzing the range of materials that constitute visual culture are emphasized in lectures, seminars, and workshops through the oral and written presentation of research and inquiry into specific objects, periods, and issues.

Admission

A student wishing to enter the graduate program should have a sound undergraduate education in the humanities and liberal arts, preferably but not necessarily with a major in the history of art. It is highly recommended that students have usable skills in French, German, or other major languages relevant to the student’s area of focus. More specific information about appropriate languages can be found on the department’s website. Applicants are normally required to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude scores. Both applicants with a B.A. and applicants who bring an M.A. in Art History from another institution are welcome to apply for admission to the Ph.D. program. The department grants M.A. degrees but does not have an independent M.A. program.

The combined application process for admission and financial aid for all graduate programs in the Division of the Humanities is administered through the divisional office of the Dean of Students. The application and instructions, deadlines and department specific information is available online at: http://humanities.uchicago.edu/prospective/#admissions|the-application

Questions about admissions and aid should be directed to humanitiesadmissions@uchicago.edu or (773) 702-1552.

The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The department sets specific requirements for language skills, course distribution, and procedures leading to the completion of a dissertation. These are worked out individually, in accordance with a student’s interests, in consultation with the student’s major faculty advisor and the director of graduate studies. Ordinarily they include proficiency in two foreign languages and eighteen courses, at least ten of which are in art history, distributed between major and minor fields. These courses are taken during a two-year period and include the Art History Proseminar (ARTH 40200) and the COSI Objects & Materials Seminar (ARTH 44002). Independent research work in the student’s area of interest completes the program and guides the development of a dissertation proposal.

After completing course work, including a qualifying paper written over two quarters, the student prepares for a written examination testing knowledge in his or her major field of study and probable area of dissertation research. Successful completion of these preliminary examinations and departmental approval of the dissertation proposal qualifies the student for admission to candidacy. This identifies the final, most challenging and gratifying stage of doctoral study, the research and writing of the dissertation, an original contribution of scholarly or critical significance. Because the requirements for the programs in art history are regularly reviewed and revised, applicants should consult the departmental handbook for up-to-date statements.  The handbook is available on the Art History website.

The Degree of Master of Arts

The objective of the program is the Ph.D. degree.  Doctoral students in the program are eligible for the M.A. degree after completing the following requirements: one foreign language required for the student’s field; nine one-quarter courses at the University of Chicago which meet the first-year distribution requirements, including the Art History Proseminar (ARTH 40200) and the COSI Objects & Materials Seminar (ARTH 44002); and approval of the qualifying paper from both readers. 

Students seeking a master’s degree should apply to the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH), a three-quarter program of interdisciplinary study in a number of areas of interest to students.  Further details about the MAPH program are available at http://maph.uchicago.edu/

Courses

For more information on recently taught courses, please see the course description page of the departmental website

Art History Courses

ARTH 30506. Pompeii: Life, Death, and Afterlife of a Roman City. 100 Units.

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 the first century. In the late summer or early autumn of AD 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.

Instructor(s): P. Crowley     Terms Offered: Spring,Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CLCV 20516,CLAS 30516,ARTH 20506

ARTH 30510. Minoan Art, Modern Myths, and Problems of Prehistory. 100 Units.

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 course 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.

Instructor(s): S. Estrin     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CLCV 21517,CLAS 31517,ARTH 20510

ARTH 30609. Early Christian Art. 100 Units.

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?

Instructor(s): Karin Krause     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): RLVC 43107,ARTH 20609,HCHR 43107

ARTH 31315. Introduction to Art, Technology, and Media. 100 Units.

The course gives an introduction to the relationship between art, media, and technology, as articulated in art practice, media theory, and art theory/history. The 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.

Instructor(s): I. Blom     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 27815,CMST 37815,ARTH 21315

ARTH 32302. Byzantium: Art, Religion, Culture I. 100 Units.

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. 

Instructor(s): K. Krause     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): RLST 28310,RLVC 32302,ARTH 23202,HCHR 32302

ARTH 34002. Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing About the Arts. 100 Units.

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, DuSable Museum of African American History, Smart Museum of Art, Oriental Institute Museum, and National Museum of Mexican Arts.  

Instructor(s): R. Cohen     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Submit nonfiction writing sample when applying to register for the course.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 24002,CRWR 44002,ARTH 24002

ARTH 34170. Research the Chicago Cityscape. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): K. Taylor     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 24170,AMER 34170,ARTH 24170

ARTH 34180. Into the City: Art in Chicago from the Fire to Now. 100 Units.

“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”.

Instructor(s): M. Taft     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 24180

ARTH 34602. Mediums and Contexts of Chinese Pictorial Art. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): Wu Hung     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): EALC 24622,EALC 34622,ARTH 24602

ARTH 34650. Chinese Pagoda. 100 Units.

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. 

Instructor(s): W. Lin     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): EALC 24650,EALC 34650,ARTH 24650

ARTH 34711. Raphael and the High Renaissance. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): C. Cohen     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 24711

ARTH 34720. Goya and Manet. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): A. Pop     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): SCTH 35004,ARTH 24720

ARTH 34812. Museums and Art. 100 Units.

This course considers how the rise of the art museum in the 19th and 20th centuries affected the making of modern art and the viewing of past art. It is not designed to be a survey course, but rather a historical investigation of certain issues and developments. We will concentrate on the following: what has been said to happen to objects when they are uprooted and moved into the museum; how and why museums have changed display practices so as to get viewers to look at art in new ways; what artists have understood museums to represent and how they have responded to that understanding in their work and their display preferences. Though reference will be made to the contemporary art world, the focus will be on materials and case studies drawn from the French Revolution through the 1960s. French, German, English, and American museums will be featured.

Instructor(s): M. Ward     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 24812

ARTH 35005. Nineteenth-Century Prints. 100 Units.

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. Major artists to be considered include Delacroix, Daumier, Whistler, Meryon, Buhot, Fantin-Latour, Tissot, Bonnard, and Toulouse-Lautrec. 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 concert with other course requirements, the class will make a visit to a local print dealer, propose an acquisition, and help prepare a small exhibition drawn from the Smart Museum’s holdings.

Instructor(s): A. Leonard     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 25005

ARTH 35106. Art & Urbanism at Teotihuacan. 100 Units.

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.  

Instructor(s): C. Brittenham     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LACS 24106,LACS 34106,ARTH 25106

ARTH 35300. Pilgrimage in Antiquity and the Early Christendom. 100 Units.

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!

Instructor(s): J. Elsner     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): 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.
Equivalent Course(s): RLVC 38802,ARTH 25300

ARTH 35940. The Artist as Ethnographer. 100 Units.

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 globalized 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, among others. 

Instructor(s): Y. Umolu     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): This course is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTV 20940,ARTV 30954,ARTH 25940

ARTH 36410. Rhoades Seminar: 19th Cent. Photography – Image, Object, Idea. 100 Units.

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. 

Instructor(s): L. Siegel     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): This class will meet at the Art Institute of Chicago. Registered students should account for travel time in their schedules.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 26410

ARTH 36510. Architecture and the Zionist Imagination. 100 Units.

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 sitco

Instructor(s): A. Nitzan-Shiftan and N. Rokem     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): NEHC 25149,NEHC 35149,ARTH 26510

ARTH 36615. Before the Global: the Emergence of an International Art World. 100 Units.

This course will consider the growing and intensifying artistic relations between Europe and the United States in the postwar era through the lens of transatlantic art movements like Fluxus and Conceptual Art, internationally ambitious exhibitions like documenta 4 and 5, multi-national curators and “exhibition makers” like Harald Szeemann, cross-continental dealers like Heiner Friedrich, and art made for international events like the Munich Olympics. The seminar will focus on archival and collections research. As a Gorvy-Gold traveling seminar, students will travel to visit documenta in Kassel and Athens as well as Skulptur Projekte Münster; as a Getty Research Institute seminar, it is one of three international seminars given unlimited digital access to the GRI’s Szeemann archives and exploring possibilities for collaborations among students across continents. 

Instructor(s): C. Mehring     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): NOTE: Students may only register with instructor consent.

ARTH 37220. Dimensions of Late Sculpture. 100 Units.

For centuries, the discrete annex it established within three-dimensional space characterized the medium of sculpture. Think of a monument, an architectural relief carving, or a Brillo box. In and after high modernism, artists—not all of them self-identified sculptors—made a range of propositions that put huge pressure on sculptural convention. Today, a work construed as 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 character of this attempt? Not to be a thing, or art, at all? If so, then why not entirely abandon art’s traditional physical and institutional frameworks? 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 from a range of modes including the history, theory, and criticism of art; artists’ writing; as well as cultural studies, continental philosophy, political theory, psychoanalysis, and queer theory. Several visits to Chicago venues will be required in order to pass the course.

Instructor(s): D. English     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 27220

ARTH 37304. Photo/Modernism/Esthetic. 100 Units.

The course presents the history of photographic practices in the United States, beginning in the late 19th 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.

Instructor(s): J. Snyder     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ARTV 20704,ARTV 30704,ARTH 27304

ARTH 37800. The Material Science of Art (Suzanne Deal Booth Conservation Seminar) 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): M. Kokkori     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 27800

ARTH 38405. The Films of Alfred Hitchcock. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): T. Gunning     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): PQ: CMST 10100 - Introduction to Film Analysis, and preferably CMST 28500 - History of International Cinema, Part I.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28405,CMST 36500

ARTH 38406. The Cinema of Charlie Chaplin. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): Y. Tsivian     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): PQ: CMST 10100 Introduction to Film or consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 26402,ARTH 28406,CMST 36400

ARTH 38500. History of International Cinema I: Silent Era. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): J. Lastra     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): This is the first part of a two-quarter course.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28500,CMLT 22400,CMLT 32400,CMST 48500,ENGL 29300,ENGL 48700,MAPH 36000,ARTV 20002,CMST 28500

ARTH 38600. History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): Y. Tsivian     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): CMST 28500/48500 strongly recommended
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28600,CMLT 22500,CMLT 32500,CMST 48600,ENGL 29600,ENGL 48900,MAPH 33700,ARTV 20003,CMST 28600

ARTH 38606. Early Twentieth-Century Urban Visions. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): K. Taylor     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28606

ARTH 39800. Approaches to Art History. 100 Units.

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).

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open to MAPH students concentrating in Art History. Others by consent only.

ARTH 40200. Art History Proseminar. 100 Units.

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. Required of all first year ARTH PhD students.

Instructor(s): C. Brittenham     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Required of all first year Art History PhD students.

ARTH 40600. What is Style? 100 Units.

Archaeologists and art historians characteristically rely upon "the evidence of the eye" or "perceptual proof" to identify their objects of research: they identify, attribute and date artifacts (from potsherds to paintings) just by looking at them. The operative concept is "style"; the generation and deployment of stylistic evidence is "connoisseurship." Both are widely disparaged, yet remain integral to the disciplines at every level. This seminar examines the theory and practice of attribution by style, from eighteenth century origins to present day debates about computer-aided stylometry. Each week will focus on a few key texts, juxtaposing philosophical theorizing and scholarly practice. We will look at the notions of “period” and “personal” style, at the methods by which different art historians have arrived at attributions, and at the ideas of community, personhood and embodiment that such methods express. Key points of reference will be Kant, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Sibley, Wollheim, Goodman and Cavell. Key historiographic figures will be Richardson, Winckelmann, Morelli, Berenson, Pater, Beazley, Panofsky. Throughout, the focus will be on finding alternatives to the traditional conception of style as an immanent property of objects.

Instructor(s): R. Neer     Terms Offered: Winter

ARTH 41305. 20th Century Theories of Art: Historiography, Religion, Crisis. 100 Units.

This course will serve as a historically situated, philosophically inflected, introduction to the methods developed in the twentieth century for the study of images.  It will address the discipline of Art History in Germany and Austria in the years up to 1933, the conflict of Protestant and Catholic models for the historiography of images before the first World War, the effects of the Nazi regime on the writing of the history of art, and the impact of the Second World War on scholarship in both Germany and among refugees, many of them Jews.  It is intended to serve both as an introduction to the critical historiography of art and to some of the prime methods developed in the last century for the study of images.

Instructor(s): J. Elsner     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): This course will be taught in an intensive format twice per week for the first five weeks of the quarter.
Equivalent Course(s): RLVC 41205

ARTH 41313. Media Archeology vs. Media Aesthetics. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): I. Blom     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 47801

ARTH 42106. Art of the Book in the Islamic World. 100 Units.

This seminar offers an opportunity for in-depth consideration of methodological and theoretical issues as they pertain to the study of arts of the book in Islamic cultures. These include relationships between calligraphy, illumination, and painting; visual paradigms of authority from scribal culture to lithography; problems of copying and originality; challenges posed by manuscripts that have been altered by successive generations of users; multiple levels of text-image relationships; verbal and visual translation; and the history of arts of the book as a reference point for contemporary artists. Each student will write a research paper on a topic to be developed in consultation with the instructor.

Instructor(s): P. Berlekamp     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): NEHC 30685

ARTH 44002. COSI Objects & Materials Seminar. 100 Units.

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. Required for all first-year art history graduate students. Open to first year ARTH PhD students.

Instructor(s): M. Ward     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Open to first year Art History PhD students.

ARTH 44502. The Aesthetics of Socialist Realism. 100 Units.

Socialist Realism was declared the official mode of Soviet aesthetic culture in 1934. Though it has been dismissed within the totalitarian model as propaganda or kitsch, this seminar will approach it from the perspective of its aesthetics. By this we mean not only its visual or literary styles, but also its sensory or haptic address to its audiences. Our premise is that the aesthetic system of Socialist Realism was not simply derivative or regressive, but developed novel techniques of transmission and communication; marked by a constant theoretical reflection on artistic practice, Socialist Realism redefined the relationship between artistic and other forms of knowledge, such as science. Operating in an economy of art production and consumption diametrically opposed to the Western art market, Socialist Realism challenged the basic assumptions of Western artistic discourse, including the concept of the avant-garde. It might even be said to offer an alternate model of revolutionary cultural practice, involving the chronicling and producing of a non-capitalist form of modernity.

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The seminar will focus on Soviet visual art, cinema and fiction during the crucial period of the 1930s under Stalin (with readings available in translation), but we welcome students with relevant research interests that extend beyond these parameters. 

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Course meetings will be divided evenly between the campuses of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Instructor(s): Robert Bird and Christina Kiaer     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): REES 36053

ARTH 44590. Medieval ‘Indexicality’: Practices and their Theorizations. 100 Units.

This seminar will focus on the theoretical and historical significance of images and forms generated by acts and techniques of impression in medieval Europe. Our aim will be to explore the historical foundations of modern theorizations of the “index,” a material and intellectual tradition that has too often been occluded in recent accounts of indexicality in relation to the arts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Rather than assuming the priority of “theory” over practice, we will instead attend closely to the theoretical stakes and discursive afterlives of a range of material practices, including stamping, molding, and casting in order to examine how material culture shaped intellectual horizons of possibility, the play of metaphor, and the formation of concepts of the trace, authenticity, and presence. In addition to foundational medieval sources, readings will include postmedieval critical contributions (including Pierce and more recent work in semiotic anthropology) as well as art historical and archaeological scholarship.

Instructor(s): A. Kumler     Terms Offered: Autumn

ARTH 45010. The Animated Image in Recent Histories of Art. 100 Units.

This course focuses on the animated image—a concept familiar from many centers of artistic production globally and historically. Such an image can possess qualities normally only found in human beings or other living creatures: movement, speech, social agency, and even emotion and cognition. In some more traditional art historical discourses, animation depends on practices of representation and artistic styles that bring an image’s depictive content to life. In others, animation occurs as a product of specific kinds of social engagement or religious practice. Yet others hold that images or imaged objects are capable of becoming animate of their own accord—that they are not ontologically distinct from living beings. At the same time, the affective turn in the humanities has suggested the importance of emotional and sensorial intimacy in animating images. We will investigate these and other accounts of image animation, covering literature from a variety of theoretical discourses as well as more focused studies from a number of different subfields. What, we will ask, is the place of the animated image in art history, and how can our understanding of this concept expand or challenge more traditional categories and methods of art historical inquiry?  

Instructor(s): S. Estrin     Terms Offered: Spring

ARTH 46550. Henri Focillon’s “Formalism” 100 Units.

Henri Focillon (1881-1943) advanced an account of form that influenced work in many fields and provoked vehement critique. This seminar takes up Focillon’s thought with a critical eye: immersing ourselves in his writings, we will seek to understand their intellectual debts and contributions and we will also take up the question: what might Focillon still teach us about perennially vexed historical questions of form, style, influence, perception and creativity? Historiographically framed, the seminar will nonetheless seek to attend closely to the works of art and architecture that interested Focillon from his early writings while director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, through his attainment of the Chair of Archeology at the Sorbonne, his election to the Collège de France, and during his time in the United States, before and during World War II.

Instructor(s): A. Kumler     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Many readings will be in French (much of Focillon’s writing has not yet been translated); students who cannot read French should contact Prof. Kumler in advance to discuss how appropriate accommodations might be made.
Equivalent Course(s): FREN 46551

ARTH 46905. Contemporary Photography / Contemporary Art. 100 Units.

The course begins with a review of American Modernist photographic practice from the 1930s through the early 1970s and an examination of the rupture of that practice in the late 1970s and ‘80s, via a critical turn against the notion of medium specificity. The class will then turn its attention to the role played by photographic materials in the constitution of Contemporary Art in the 1990s and later.  Some attention will be paid to recent critical arguments emphasizing the differences between analog and digital technology in contemporary art criticism.

Instructor(s): J. Snyder     Terms Offered: Winter

ARTH 47211. What Was Mise-en-scène? 100 Units.

Mise-en-scène is often understood as a synonym for the act of directing, especially in theater. In film style it is associated with the importance accorded to the placement of props and characters within the film frame, usually in combination with camera movement. This concept was especially important in film criticism of the fifties and sixties and often connected with key post-WWII filmmakers such as Nicholas Ray, Douglas Sirk and Otto Preminger.  This seminar will explore the concept both as historical critical concept, and as an ongoing way to discuss the nature of film style.

Instructor(s): T. Gunning     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 67211

ARTH 47400. Chinese Art and Agency. 100 Units.

Borrowing Gell’s well-known title, Chinese “Art and Agency” asks if the Gellian framework, or related terms of analysis, is useful and productive for understanding Chinese art. Broadly speaking, this inquiry is to shift of our focus of research from what art looks like to what art does, and to find out what it means in the study of Chinese art history by refocusing ourselves on art’s agency and its agentic power in negotiating between art and people or the world. Students will read theoretic works from anthropology, history of material culture, and literary theory, in addition to studying art historical sources and materials.

Instructor(s): W. Lin     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): EALC 47400

ARTH 48209. Unique and Trend-setting Caves at Dunhuang. 100 Units.

This course explores a new way to think about the interrelationship between the 492 Buddhist cave-chapels at Dunhuang. Instead of classifying them into rigid types and arranging them into a given dynastic framework, students are guided to define the moments of invention or borrowing of pictorial and architectural programs, and to reinterpret Buddhist art at the Mogao Grottoes as a complex, continuous process of experimentation, absorption, and popularization. It is hoped that this investigation will lay a methodological basis to envision a new history of Dunhuang caves.

Instructor(s): H. Wu     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Chinese reading proficiency. Consent only.
Equivalent Course(s): EALC 48209

ARTH 48900. Space, Place, and Landscape. 100 Units.

This seminar will analyze the concepts of space, place, and landscape across the media (painting, photography, cinema, sculpture, architecture, and garden design, as well as poetic and literary renderings of setting, and "virtual" media-scapes). Key theoretical readings from a variety of disciplines, including geography, art history, literature, and philosophy will be included: Foucault's "Of Other Spaces," Michel de Certeau's concept of heterotopia; Heidegger's "Art and Space"; Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space; Henri Lefebvre's Production of Space; David Harvey's Geography of Difference; Raymond Williams's The Country and the City; Mitchell, Landscape and Power. Topics for discussion will include the concept of the picturesque and the rise of landscape painting in Europe; the landscape garden; place, memory, and identity; sacred sites and holy lands; regional, global, and national landscapes; embodiment and the gendering of space; the genius of place; literary and textual space.
,Course requirements: 2 oral presentations: one on a place (or representation of a place); the other on a critical or theoretical text. Final paper. Preference to PhD students in ENGL / ARTH / CMST / CMLT.

Instructor(s): W.J.T. Mitchell     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 69200,CMLT 50900,ENGL 60301

ARTH 48905. Style and Performance from Stage to Screen. 100 Units.

Actor is the oldest profession among arts. Cinema is the youngest art there is. What happens with faces, gestures, monologues, and voices; ancient skills like dance or mime; grand histrionics etc. when arts of performance hit the medium of screen?  This course will focus on the history of acting styles in silent films, mapping "national" styles of acting that emerged during the 1910s (American, Danish, Italian, Russian) and various "acting schools" that proliferated during the 1920s ("Expressionist acting," "Kuleshov's Workshop," et al.). We will discuss film acting in the context of various systems of stage acting (Delsarte, Stanislavsky, Meyerhold) and the visual arts.

Instructor(s): Y. Tsivian     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): CMST 68400

ARTH 49800. Independent Research: Art. 100 Units.

Individualized study focused on PhD research in Art History.  This course can also be used as the preliminary exam reading course.  

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter

ARTH 49808. Qualifying Paper Course I. 100 Units.

Individualized study for Art History students working on their Qualifying Paper; first of two quarters.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter

ARTH 49809. Qualifying Paper Course II. 100 Units.

Individualized study for Art History students working on their Qualifying Paper; second of two quarters.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter

ARTH 50101. Teaching Colloquium. 100 Units.

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. 

Instructor(s): P. Berlekamp     Terms Offered: Autumn

ARTH 50200. Dissertation Proposal Workshop. 100 Units.

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 dissertation 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.

Instructor(s): P. Berlekamp     Terms Offered: Spring

ARTH 50204. Destruction of Images, Books and Artifacts in Europe and South. 100 Units.

The course offers a comparative perspective on European and South Asian iconoclasm. In the European tradition, iconoclasm was predominantly aimed at images, whereas in South Asian traditions it was also enacted upon books and buildings. The combination of these traditions will allow us to extend the usual understanding of iconoclasm as the destruction of images to a broader phenomenon of destruction of cultural artifacts and help question the theories of image as they have been independently developed in Europe and South Asia, and occasionally in conversation with one another. We will ask how and why, in the context of particular political imaginaries and material cultures, were certain objects singled out for iconoclasm? Also, who was considered to be entitled or authorized to commit their destruction? Through a choice of concrete examples of iconoclasm, we will query how religious and political motivations are defined, redefined, and intertwined in each particular case. We will approach the iconoclastic events in Europe and South Asia through the lenses of philology, history, and material culture. Class discussions will incorporate not only textual materials, but also the close collaborative study of images, objects, and film. Case studies will make use of objects in the Art Institute of Chicago and Special Collections at the University Library.

Instructor(s): Tyler Williams and Olga Solovieva     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): SALC 50204,CMLT 50204,SCTH 50204,RLVC 50204,HREL 50204,CDIN 50204