Fall 2018 Courses

Typically, we think of sacred space as that found in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, etc. This seminar will explore notions of the sacred in unexpected locations, as we consider how the secular world intertwines with the profane. Through an examination of selected works from various regions, traditions, and cultures, this course will consider the manner in which users make space sacred beyond that of the established Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religions. Topics to be considered will come from the following: chapels in war museums and other war related sites; memorials; nature, landscapes, and gardens; shopping centers; Disney; sporting events; civil religion and the landscape of Washington DC; museums and exhibitions on religion; material religion; facilities for the homeless and elderly; domesticity; the Burning Man festival; non-traditional religions including Mormonism, Christian Sciences, Theosophy, Zen Buddhism etc.;  megachurches, and pilgrimage and tourism.

Classroom discussions will be supplemented with teaching presentations and site visits. On the site visits, you will consider how materials and structure, ritual function and liturgy, decoration, symbolism, physical context, and social/religious context inform these spaces. You’ll also be expected to complete for this class, a prospectus, full research paper, and twenty-minute presentation on a topic of your choice. 

Suggested Background Reading: Pick up works on more traditional sacred space and explore. You might also look through histories of architecture in the modern era to get an understanding of stylistic traditions and key themes. 

This course fulfills the European/European-American requirement. 

This seminar is Museum Studies Certificate designated.

ARHS 540 The Sacred in Unexpected Places Mondays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. Victoria Young OEC 414

This course will consider Chinese objects generally excluded from Chinese and Western art-historical narratives of “fine art” that focus on calligraphy, painting, sculpture and bronze vessels. The object types under examination will encompass imperial, scholar, and merchant family collectibles including ceramics, jewelry, silks and tapestry, paper sculpture and prints, stone and marble items, wood carving, and silver and gold utensils. We will examine not only the objects and art-historical narratives surrounding them, but also various current methodologies museum professionals, social historians and material culture historians are applying to their study. The issues and methodologies we address in relation to these objects will include production and technique; surface aesthetics; craft and craft history; folk art; commerce, colonialism, and consumption; museology; private and public collecting practices; Orientalism and self-Orientalism; the local and global lives of objects; the miniature; the economic history of luxury objects in global perspective; and cultural encounters, artistic exchange and hybridity. 

Students are not expected to have a background in Chinese studies. All readings will be in English.

This course fulfills the Non-Western/Non-European requirement.

This seminar is Museum Studies Certificate designated.

Background Reading

Craig Clunas.  Art in China.  Oxford; New York:  Oxford University Press, 2009. 

ARHS 530 Chinese Objects & Craft Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. Elizabeth Kindall OEC 311

The class will begin with a consideration of the beginnings and definition of art history and then move on to a survey of different methods or approaches, considering a new method each week beginning with stylistic/formal analysis and moving on to methods that consider meaning and context. Common readings will consist of historiographical overviews, theoretical explanations, and practical applications of each method; students will present summaries and critiques on selected additional readings for class discussion. Students will be asked to write a synopsis of each method defining its goal, basic process, terminology, and evidence. In addition, they will write short essays that will apply some of the methods in assigned projects drawing from a range of historical and geographic periods. We will also spend several nights discussing the role of ethics in art history. Unlike other graduate seminars that produce an in-depth research paper, this class will produce a portfolio of shorter writings that focus on processes. The course will also be held jointly with ARTH 211 (undergraduate majors and minors).

This course fulfills the Theory and Methodology core requirement and is required for all newly admitted students.

ARHS 500 Methods & Approaches to Art History Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. Craig Eliason OEC 414

How do collections define museums? This course provides students with the tools to investigate the role of museums in creating national identity and cultural constructions. Students will explore the work of curators, registrars, conservationists, collections managers, and visual resource managers in the museum world. Additionally, the practical knowledge gained in the course will be interwoven with discussions of collecting theory and museum controversies. From ethics, looting, and contested provenance to NAGPRA, institutional critique, and social experiments gone wrong, this course will critique the “museum as temple” through the lens of collections. Museum Studies: Collections, Curation and Controversy will include opportunities for dialogue with museum professionals, hands-on projects, and field trips to apply museum studies theory to the visitor experience.

This is a core course in the Museum Studies Certificate program.

ARHS 571 Museum Studies: Collections, Controversy and Curation Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. Jayme Yahr OEC 414

Spring 2019 Courses

Not long after Europeans stumbled across the Americas, a whole new genre of visual culture was born: representations of new lands and new peoples. Early European imagery was dominated by graphic works catering to audience fascination with the new, the bizarre, and things of prurient interest. The story of these images and their makers is fraught with issues of exoticism and justifying colonial subjugation of Indigenous peoples. Despite this, many of these early Othering images remain foundational to commonplace depiction of Indigenous Americans to this day. There is also a large body of visual works wherein indigenous Americans tried to incorporate Europeans and others into their own extant traditions and created representations of themselves and their cultures for the new European audience, using both traditional means and the new Western visual idiom. This seminar will critically reassess this body of work as well as looking into the history of those who sought out and collected such imagery through time.

Recommended reading: llona Katzew. Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 2011

This course fulfills the Non-Western/Non-European requirement.

This course fulfills the Museum Studies requirement.

ARHS 536

Imaging the Other: Representing Colonized and Colonizer in the Americas

Mondays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. William Barnes OEC 414

From Civil War battlefields to Tiananmen Square. Inside factories and living rooms. Mountain peaks, city streets, wars, and birthday parties. Public lives and private moments around the world. Since the invention of photography in 1839, photographers around the world have documented people, places, and moments, allowing us to transcend our own experiences through the photograph. This course examines the development of documentary photography over the course of time and space/place, addressing broad questions such as: What is the purpose of documentary photography and how has it changed over time? What is the is meant by documentary photography, photo-journalism, and photography as art ? What is the relationship of photography to notions of “truth?” What ethical issues are at play in the production and consumption of documentary photography? What drives photographers to document the world? Can documentary photographs lead to changes in society? We will read key theoretical texts as well as current scholarship on the topic. Other specific topics to explore include photography and the built environment, women documentarians working in a male-dominated field, war photography, photography and racial and social justice, documentary film and its relation to photography, documenting the landscape, and museums/galleries & the acceptance of photography as an art form. While this course is conceived from an art historical perspective, students will be required to experiment with designing and producing their own documentary project (no special equipment required). 

Photographers to be studied include well-known documentary photographers such as Bernice Adams, Walker Evans, Louis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Mary Ellen Mark, Gordon Parks, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Jacob Riis, and Ansel Adams, as well as many other photographers working globally, from 1839 to the present.

Suggested background reading: Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History

This course fulfills the European/European-American requirement. 
This seminar is Museum Studies Certificate designated.

ARHS 545 Documentary Photography Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. Heather Shirey OEC 414

Echoes of Greek and Roman art have been used to shape and frame western art and culture for centuries. In this course, we will examine how ancient Greeks and Romans used images to reflect personal and cultural ideologies and how those images were borrowed, appropriated, used, and abused, in later periods. We will consider how iconographic and stylistic choices were deployed to convey or reify meaning at the time of production, as well as how the meaning of those objects might have been reinterpreted, or influenced the art of later eras. We will look at the legacy of antiquity especially in the context of the 18th-19th century birth of archaeology and building of European collections and how they influenced modern notions of the Antique and Western art. The vagaries and issues surrounding the contemporary market in antiquities will also be explored.

This course fulfills the European/European-American requirement.
This seminar is Museum Studies Certificate designated.

ARHS 510 Greek and Roman Art in Constructions of Identity Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Dr. Vanessa Rousseau OEC 414