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VAPA & Flag Courses

Many Department of Art and Art History courses fulfill the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) requirement of the undergraduate Core Curriculum and/or various Flag requirements.

Spring 2018 Lower-Division Courses

ARH 301 — Introduction to the Visual Arts
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

See Course Schedule for various day/time options

A broad survey of selected traditions of art with an emphasis on understanding their visual elements and cultural significance.

ARH 302 — Survey of Ancient through Medieval Art
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

See Course Schedule for various day/time options

A study of selected visual works throughout the world from prehistoric time to 1400 CE.

ARH 303 — Survey of Renaissance to Modern Art
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

See Course Schedule for various day/time options

A study of selected visual works throughout the world from 1400 CE to the present.

Spring 2018 Upper-Division Courses

None of the upper-division courses below have any prerequisites. Undergraduate students in any major may self-register for these courses.

ARH 326J — The Parthenon Through the Ages
Global Cultures flag

MWF 11–Noon
Dr. Nassos Papalexandrou

Admit it! You have known about the Parthenon since your early years in elementary school. You probably take for granted its coveted role as the iconic monument of western civilization. You may also be aware that the monument is at the center of a cultural controversy evolving around the fate of its architectural marbles at the British museum. This class will center on the Parthenon in order to unravel its mystique, its history, its contemporary relevance and the implications of the various debates around it. Our working premise will be that no understanding of the value of the Parthenon is possible unless one is aware of the various functions the monument embodied throughout its history. Moreover, the monument offers itself as a most appropriate portal to the core ideas of western civilization, to classical culture, and its contemporary relevance or lack thereof. Our class will address debates ranging from “Who owns the past?” and “Why does the past matter?” to “What is an honest restoration of a historical monument?” and “What is a just solution to the Elgin Marbles controversy?” even as it introduces disciplines and methodologies for studying the past and creations like the Parthenon. Our inquiry or preparation for debates will take us to various resources around the UT campus whereas discussions in class will center on directed reading and writing assignments. No matter what we all decide about the value of the Parthenon in the contemporary world, or the outcome of the contemporary debates, studying it is fun!

ARH 327N — Art and Politics in Imperial Rome
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

TTh 2–3:30
Dr. Penelope Davies

This survey of the public art of Rome begins with Augustus’ accession to power (27 BCE) and ends in the late antique period in the early fourth century CE. Lectures are primarily concerned with state or imperial works of architecture and sculpture in Rome. The works are assessed within their cultural, political and topographical contexts as vehicles for propaganda, commissioned and designed by the powerful elite, often in the interests of confirming legitimacy. Politics and power changed the face of Rome through these monuments, which in turn provided sculptural, architectural and urbanistic models that influenced western cultures for centuries to come.

ARH 327R — Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

MWF Noon–1
Dr. John Clarke

This course will examine how study of visual representations allows us to enter into the mentality of ancient non-elite Romans. We will survey the art and architecture of Roman Italy between 100 B.C. and A.D. 315 with special attention to the practices of daily life: religion, work, theater, gladiatorial games, tavern-going, banqueting, sexuality, self-representation, death, and burial. One of our main goals is to learn how the Romans were — and were not — “just like us.”

ARH 330K — The Gothic Cathedral Amiens
VAPA • Global Cultures flag • Writing flag

TTh 9:30–11
Dr. Joan Holladay

Using the cathedral at Amiens, built between 1220 and 1269, as a paradigm, we will study High Gothic art and architecture from a variety of angles. After investigating the meaning of the cathedral as an earthly vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, we will examine the building history, considering both the structural and technological aspects of the construction and the political and financial settings for the erection of the building. How were the political and devotional concerns of the builders and patrons reflected in the decorative programs, specifically the façade sculpture and stained glass? Finally we will look at contemporary perceptions of the cathedral as evidenced in its immediate influence on other buildings in both France and Germany and in renovations to the structural fabric between 1300 and 1380. Our goal is to understand one building in all its complexity; students will center their written work on a second building to broaden their knowledge of the buildings produced in this time period.

ARH 331K — Early Italian Renaissance Art to 1470
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

MWF 10–11
Dr. Ann Johns

In this course, we’ll trace the beginnings of the “rebirth” (Renaissance) of the visual arts in Italy c. 1300 (the era of Dante and the Black Death) to the heyday of the Medici and the renewed vibrancy of papal Rome in the later 15th century. We’ll begin with the seminal works of Nicola Pisano, Duccio, Cavallini, and Giotto, in the key cities of Pisa, Assisi, Siena, Florence, and Rome at the end of the 13th century. We’ll discuss the twin disasters of 14th century Italy: the devastating plague of 1348 and the retreat of the papacy to Avignon, France.

We’ll continue by exploring the work of Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, and other 15th century artists in the urban centers of central Italy. We’ll end c. 1470, with the Medici consolidation of power in Florence and the thriving, post-Avignon papacies of Nicholas V and Pius II. Throughout, we’ll analyze architecture and works of art both in formal terms and in relation to contemporary society, religion, philosophy, economics, and statecraft. In particular, we’ll examine the emerging status of the Renaissance artist, exemplified by Donatello, Alberti, and Piero della Francesca

ARH 339R — Painting in America to 1860
VAPA

TTh 3:30–5
Dr. Susan Rather

What is American painting? Who are “Americans,” what does it mean to be a painter, what kind of cultural work do paintings perform? During the first half of the semester, we’ll consider these questions in regard to British colonial North America with a focus on portraiture, the dominant type of subject matter and keenly expressive on matters of class, politics, gender, and race. During the early United States, historical subjects and their painters briefly contended for public attention, and we’ll consider their aims and why such works never gained traction. By around 1820, landscape and genre (scenes of everyday life) began to play an important role in shaping national identity; they will be our primary focus later in the semester.

ARH 339Q — Modernism in American Design and Architecture
VAPA

TTh 2–3:30
Dr. Jeffrey Meikle

This lecture course is intended to provide a broad knowledge of major issues in the history of American design and architecture from about 1880 to the present. The central assumption of the course is that our environments both shape us and reflect what manner of people we are. The word design is understood to include all elements of the built environment, ranging from the smallest artifacts and products through buildings (whether vernacular or elite) to the shape of suburban and urban landscapes. Students are encouraged to consider design in the context of social and cultural history, and as it relates to issues of functionality, civic responsibility, and community engagement on both regional and global levels. Among topics to be considered are methods of cultural analysis of material artifacts; the rise, triumph, and fall of functionalism and the International Style; the emergence of uniquely American varieties of commercial design in a consumer society; the interactions of technology, economics, and design; the impactof the automobile on all levels of design; the rise of postmodern design and deconstructive architecture as counters to the modernist tradition; and design for the information age. Among problems to be considered and discussed are tensions between tradition and novelty, between functional and expressive theories of design, between elite ideologies and popular desires, and between European and American design.

ARH 341P — Contemporary Latin American Art
Global Cultures flag

TTh 12:30–2
Dr. Adele Nelson

It is an exciting moment of heightened visibility for postwar and contemporary Latin American art in the U.S., with key figures featured in retrospectives, such as Hélio Oiticica at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the 70+ exhibitions up in Los Angeles (as part of the Getty Foundation Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative). This course will take advantage of both the university’s rich modern and contemporary Latin American art collections to study artwork first-hand and the bevy of new scholarship generated by recent exhibitions and publications to examine key artists and critical debates from 1945 to the present. Particular attention will be paid to transnational artistic exchanges, including the role of new art institutions, such as the São Paulo and Havana Biennials. We will consider Latin America-based artists in their distinct contexts and in relation to broader political, social, and economic forces, among these violent dictatorial governments, boom and bust economic cycles, and the Cold War and its aftermaths.

ARH 345L — Diaspora Visions
Global Cultures flag

MWF 2–3
Dr. Moyo Okediji

Border crossing by cultures and groups including Africans, Jews, Armenians, Tibetans, Hamish, Pakistanis, and Indians has generated the production of images by immigrants, exiles, and nomads in alien lands. With examples drawn from Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas, class investigates art across borders in the contexts of the cultural circumstances that produced the diasporas. Students will investigate the arts of voluntary, forced, colonial, distant, and recent diasporas. Illustrations will draw on images, music, and videos.

ARH 347M — Maya Art and Architecture (Maymester Study Abroad Program)
VAPA

Dr. Astrid Runggaldier

Must be enrolled in the Bridging Cultures Maymester program.

This course is an introduction to the artistic traditions of the ancient Maya, tracing their development up to the time of European contact, the Spanish Colonial period, and the contemporary culture of ethnic Maya descendants in Guatemala and Belize. Students will examine various important themes of Maya culture including history, ritual, and cosmology as revealed in sculpture, hieroglyphs, painting, and architectural design. This class offers an interdisciplinary overview of Maya civilization and culture, spanning thousands of years and encompassing the latest research from archaeology, history, linguistics, and anthropology. We will highlight a number of new and exciting discoveries that are changing earlier ideas about the Maya past, overturning long-standing theories about their supposed rise and fall. We will also examine how Maya people of more recent times still adapt to a changing global setting. Today six million strong, the modern Maya continue to express their cultural identity in the art and politics of modern Mexico and Central America.

ARH 347N — Aztec Art and Civilization
VAPA • Global Cultures flag

MWF 1–2
Dr. David Stuart

This course examines ancient Aztec civilization through visual and monumental art produced in ancient Tenochtitlan and surrounding areas of central Mexico between the 14th and sixteenth centuries. The class emphasis is on contextualizing sculpture, architecture, pictorial documents and other artworks, using them all as key windows into Aztec history, religion, ritual and statecraft. A larger goal is to examine the ancient Mesoamerican tradition and its colonial disruption through an in-depth study of the Aztecs and their visual legacy.

ARH 348M — Taj Mahal and Diversity of Indian Art
Global Cultures flag

TTh 5–6:30
Dr. Janice Leoshko

Although best known, the marble mausoleum called the Taj Mahal is but one of many remarkable monuments created in the South Asian subcontinent after the fifteenth century. It was also a period that witnessed remarkable developments in painting due to the lavish patronage of Islamic and Hindu elites. In this course students will master the concepts of art history necessary to understand the significance of how these artistic practices emerged as well as the socio-historical and religious concerns that they reflect.

ARH 348P — Art in the Himalayas
Ethics & Leadership flag • Global Cultures flag • Writing flag

TTh 12:30–2
Dr. Janice Leoshko

This course examines certain subjects and styles in order to comprehend the roles of art in shaping cultures and societies in the Himalayas, the area designated by the impressive mountain range that divides the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan plateau. The course also considers the role of art in the complex political events that have occurred there with a focus on how museum exhibitions have emphasized only certain views of the region. Buddhism and Tibet are the major focus, and the course emphasizes three main themes: (1) “Constructions” (Art and Ritual) (2) “Geographies” (Place and Environment) and (3) “Viewing” (Now and Then).

ARH 361 — Art Cinemas of the Americas
Cultural Diversity in the United States flag • Global Cultures flag

TTh 11–12:30
Dr. George Flaherty

This course examines art cinemas from Latin America and the Latino United States, or the intersection of art worlds and film industries. Weekly screenings and readings will foreground the aesthetic experiments and social contexts, both national and transnational, of avant-garde films from the 1950s to the present.

ARH 364 — Art, Geology, and Place in Italy
Global Cultures flag

MWF 1–2
Dr. Ann Johns

The most casual visitor to Italy immediately notices the tremendous diversity of “place” within the Italian peninsula: the hills of Rome, the canals of Venice, the hilltop cities of Siena and Orvieto, the flat expanses of the Po valley, and the dramatic and urgent volcanism of the region of Naples and the island of Sicily. In this course, we’ll explore the unique intersection of art, geology, and the geographic notion of “place” in Italy with a thematic rather than chronologic approach. While historical events and politics have unequivocally shaped the art and architecture of the various and highly distinct regions of Italy, geological geographic, and climatic elements have also profoundly shaped both the landscape and the architecture, which in turn is manifested in the art.

ARH 366N — The Fourth Dimension in 20C Art and Culture
Writing flag

TTh 11–12:30
Dr. Linda Henderson

“The fourth dimension” has had many meanings from the late 19th century into the 21st century. Initially the term signified a higher, invisible dimension of space, of which our world might be merely a section; with the rise of Einstein after 1919, however, the fourth dimension was redefined as time in the space-time continuum of Relativity Theory. That meaning remained dominant until the rise of string theory in physics and computer graphics in the 1980s, after which the spatial fourth dimension and the four-dimensional “tesseract” [hypercube] returned in popular culture. Throughout the 20th-century as well as now, artists have responded creatively to the fourth dimension in its various guises, a subject that forms the core thread of the class.

ARH 370 — Architecture and Sculpture in the Maya World
Global Cultures flag • Writing flag

TTh 9:30–11
Dr. Astrid Runggaldier

This course explores, through the lens of architecture and sculpture, the ancient world of the Maya. Students will learn about the Maya from recent research highlighting the deep history of architectural design, and the social functions of sculptural programs. With a focus on different periods and regions within the Maya area, students will develop an understanding of the role architecture and sculpture play in reflecting social change, starting from the development of the institutions of kingship in the first millennium BCE, through the Classic period when Maya art and architecture reached their highest diversity of form with a variety of regional styles.