VAPA Courses

students interacting with projection on gallery wall

VAPA Courses

The courses below fulfill the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) requirement of the undergraduate Core Curriculum.

Details below are subject to change. Please confirm all information in the official Course Schedule.     

Fall 2024 Courses     

ARH 301     
Introduction to the Visual Arts

Dr. Ann Johns    
MWF 10–11 + Discussion Section

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Art is a language: how do we decode its meaning and its extraordinary effect on us, the viewers? How does art reflect the era, location, and culture of both its maker and its patron? Through a blend of online lectures (2 per week), quizzes (each class through Canvas), and tests (3 on Canvas), as well as TA-led visits to UT’s Blanton Museum of Art, students will learn that art is a prism—often beautiful, always challenging—through which we can view the human experience, both past and present. Throughout the semester, students will increase their visual literacy and critical thinking skills by looking at a global array of works from many eras and locations. The only prerequisites are open eyes and open minds! We will concentrate on the familiar media of painting, sculpture, and architecture, but we will also examine drawings, prints, photography, garden planning, ceramics, textiles, earthworks, installation art, and other forms of visual culture, both through live online lectures and through in-person visits to UT’s collections of art.

ARH 302 
Survey of Ancient through Renaissance Art

Dr. Nassos Papalexandrou    
MW 11–12 + Discussion Section

Instructor TBA    
TTH 5–6:30

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

This course discusses art from the prehistoric period to the Early Renaissance (ca. 1300) in Europe, the Middle East and the ancient Americas, with emphasis on style and social and cultural context. The focus on arts-architecture and city planning, sculpture, painting, metalwork, and ceramics—is global with special attention lavished on ancient Near East, Egypt, Africa, Greece, Rome, Islam, Mesoamerica, India, and the European Middle Ages. The control of the viewer’s experience, the political and religious use of art, the meaning of style, the functions of art in public and private life, and the role of art in expressing cultural values will be among the major themes considered. This is also an introduction to the discipline of art history and archaeology, training students in basic vocabulary and techniques of close looking and analytical thinking about visual material.

ARH 303     
Survey of Renaissance through Modern Art

Instructors TBA    
MWF 11–12   
TTH 8–9:30

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

As a class, we will explore an extraordinary array of art and architecture from across the globe, including art of Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Cultures. Our course begins c. 1300, in the late Global Middle Ages, and concludes with international artistic trends of the early 21st century. While we will concentrate on the familiar media of painting, sculpture, and architecture, we will also be looking at drawings, prints, photography, the decorative arts, garden planning, ceramics, textiles, interior design, earthworks, installation art, and digital media.

ARH 327U     
Love, Beauty, and Protection in the Visual Culture of Ancient Greece and Rome

Dr. John Clarke    
TTH 2–3:30

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

This course aims to examine Visual Culture to gain a better understanding of how ancient Greeks and Romans thought about themselves with regard to love, sexuality, divine and human beauty, and protection from demonic forces. We will analyze specific works of Greek and Roman art between the sixth century B.C. and the fourth century A.D. to increase our understanding of what these concepts meant within social and cultural contexts that were very different from our own.

My hope is that you will leave the course with a greater understanding of the processes of acculturation or attitude-formation. You will be able to recognize how, in a given culture, the processes of acculturation lead to specific constructions of love, beauty, and security. Indeed, you may come to realize that all the practices of everyday life are cultural constructions: that each culture constructs the rules that regulate social behavior. I hope that your study of these ancient cultures will give you greater understanding of the phenomena of cultural diversity in the world. You should also gain a greater understanding of the major developments within the visual arts over this long period, from classical Greece to early Christianity.

You will improve your ability to read critically, and to recognize and scrutinize the arguments presented in the readings. The course will help you develop your ability to express your ideas in writing and speaking.

This is primarily a lecture course with three exams. The exams combine slide identifications and comparisons with prepared essays. These exams have the goal of getting you to engage with visual representations through the lens of class discussion and the readings. In particular, the prepared essay should develop your critical skills as well as your writing skills. Finally, the five assignments are designed to help you think about how different cultures mirror or contradict the Greek and Roman cultures we are studying.

Exam 1: 25% of grade   
Exam 2: 25% of grade   
Exam 3: 25% of grade   
5 assignments each 5% of grade

ARH 331P     
Art and the City in Renaissance Italy

Dr. Ann Johns    
MW 12–1:30

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Florence, Venice, Siena: the cultural landscape of Italy is dominated by cities so rich in artistic treasures that any one example is worthy of a whole course. We begin with the most famous Renaissance city-state, Florence. We will explore the development of art and architecture in civic, ecclesiastic, monastic, palatial, and private settings, from Brunelleschi’s dome to private, secular decoration in the city’s palazzi. We will then examine the cities of Venice and Siena; each of these cities is distinguished by its own unique style of art and architecture. We’ll study Italy’s “court” cities, including Ferrara, Mantua, and Urbino. We’ll observe the unique sense of “place” that distinguishes these communities, but we’ll also discover cultural, artistic, and urban commonalities throughout Renaissance Italy.

We’ll also examine issues such as the role of women and the family; the importance of race and international trade; the rise of specialized hospitals and quarantine islands in an era of plague; and the delicate balance between the growing urban centers and the control of the surrounding territory, so necessary for crops and other resources.

All readings will be posted on Canvas. Assignments include reading responses and other urbanistic analyses. All tests are non-cumulative.

ARH 335J     
Nineteenth Century Art

Dr. Douglas Cushing    
MW 11–12:30

Fulfills → VAPA

This course examines art produced in Europe and the Americas during the so-called long nineteenth century—spanning from the French Revolution through the First World War. A chronological survey, the class explores art in terms of historical contexts of production and reception, key themes, functions (social, cultural, and aesthetic), literary connections, and legacies.

ARH 339M     
American Art, 1958–1985

Dr. John Clarke    
TTH 11–12:30

Fulfills → VAPA

This course surveys the major movements in American art from about 1958 to about 1985. We will look at the work of selected artists associated with the major trends, including pop art, minimalism, conceptual art, site-specific art, performance and body art, photorealism, patterning and decoration, and the varieties of figural art that emerged in the 1980s, including neo-expressionism, graffiti, and appropriation.

We will look at these trends from three principal points of view: their relationship to prior historical developments, their self-stated aims, and their treatment by contemporary critics.

This course should give you a good survey knowledge of the art—including much more than traditional painting and sculpture—between 1950 and 1985. You will gain an understanding the interactions between art movements, artists, critics, and dealers, and you should be able to walk into a museum or art gallery and recognize all of the styles and approaches mentioned above. More importantly, you will learn how visual representation reflects social change. “Art”—broadly defined—always reflects social change, but in this period there were many Counter-Cultural Movements. Most importantly, the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality. But also important were the development of Feminism, the Hippie Movement, and the Gay Liberation Movement—all with important visual components.

This is primarily a lecture course. To help you study the content of these lectures, I will post lecture outlines and the PowerPoints of each lecture on Canvas after I present them to you in class. I expect you to keep up with the assigned readings on canvas and to memorize a group of images.

There will be three one-hour examinations at the end of each of three modules, testing you on the content of that group of lectures and images. I also regularly set “plus” assignments that will give you the opportunity to raise your exam grades.

ARH 345J     
Contemporary Artists of the African Diaspora

Dr. Eddie Chambers    
MW 9:30–11

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

This class will look at the work of a fascinating group of contemporary artists. These are artists of African origin/background, living and working in what we now sometimes refer to as the “African diaspora”. Such communities of people, and the artists they have produced, owe their present-day existence to a variety of factors including the trans-Atlantic slave trade, 20th century patterns of migration and travel, and the evolving nature of the art world. Today, a growing number of artists of African origin have become major players in the art market. Others have become reflective of shifts and developments in 20th Century Black cultural politics. This class will examine the work of a range of Black artists whose practice came to the fore over the course of the last three or four decades, from the early 1970s right up to the present time. Artists to be studied include US practitioners such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Faith Ringgold, Artists of Caribbean background such as Albert Chong and Barrington Watson, and British artists of the African diaspora such as Chris Ofili and Godfried Donkor.

ARH 346K     
Introduction to African Art

Dr. Moyosore Okediji    
MW 12–1:30   
Instruction Mode: Internet

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

This course is a comprehensive study of the visual arts of Africa, in the social and cultural contexts within which people make and use these images. Students will explore historical, contemporary, and diasporic aspects of African art, as part of a larger expressive complex that includes music, dance, literature, and cinematography.  The course will present the works of major artists, art groups, ethnicities, and communities, as a lively dialog between the creative imaginations of those who make the objects, and the philosophical responses of those to whom the artists address the objects.

ARH 346L     
Africana Women's Art

Dr. Moyosore Okediji    
MW 9:30–11   
Instruction Mode: Internet

Fulfills → VAPA

Can we adopt the criteria used for the analysis and presentation of western art and artists for the analysis and presentation of works by Africana women artists? How do we define Africana women’s art and artists? Who are the most influential Africana women artists, and in which mediums do they work? What tasks do they tackle and what challenges face them? What are the stylistic diversities that define and distinguish their contributions? What are the technological tools available to them, and how have they manipulated and fashioned these tools? How have they shaped the past and present trends in art history, and what are their aspirations and hopes for the future? These are some of the questions that this course will investigate with the use of art historical and critical theories that draw on oral and written literatures, music, films, and other formal and informal documents.

ARH 347L     
Mesoamerican Art and Culture

Dr. Julia Guernsey    
TTH 9:30–11

Fulfills → VAPA / Global Cultures flag

This course surveys the art, architecture, and material culture of a number of the ancient civilizations of Precolumbian Mesoamerica that flourished in what are now the modern countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. The course spans the time of the Olmec through that of the Aztecs, or from the 2nd millennium BC through the arrival of the Spanish in 1519. The goal of this course is to provide students with a general knowledge of the history, ritual traditions, and belief systems of ancient Mesoamericans, as expressed through sculpture, painting, architecture, archaeological remains, and ancient writing systems.