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Art History Courses

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

Fall 2019 Courses

ARH 301
Introduction to the Visual Arts

VAPA • Global Cultures flag



Ann Johns
MW 10–11 (plus weekly discussion section)
Online Course

Art is a language: how do we decode its meaning and its extraordinary effect on us, the viewers? Through a blend of online lectures, quizzes, and tests, as well as TA-led visits to UT’s Blanton Museum, students will learn that art is a prism — often beautiful, always challenging — through which we can view the human experience, both past and present. 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.



Instructor TBA
MWF 9–10

Instructor TBA
TTH 2–3:30

Instructor TBA
TTH 5–6:30

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



Nassos Papalexandrou
TTH 11–12 (plus weekly discussion section)

Was the Egyptian Sphinx as enigmatic in antiquity as it is today? Why did the Greeks need images? Why did Islam negate figuration? Why were the medieval cathedrals laden with cute but ominous monsters? Artistic creations have always enshrined a gamut of experiences and mental states: emotions, desires, fears, frustrations, power, repulsion, propaganda, memory, nostalgia, and play, to name but a few. Focusing on major achievements of painting, sculpture, and architecture and on their roles as vehicles of expression for individuals and societies alike from the Stone Age to the end of the Medieval Period, our goal will be to examine precisely how these elements were expressed in individual cultures, how they changed over time, and whether or not their messages are still recoverable today.

ARH 303
Survey of Renaissance through Modern Art

VAPA • Global Cultures flag



Instructor TBA
MW 4–5:30

Instructor TBA
TTH 3:30–5

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

ARH 304
Issues in Visual Culture

Ethics flag



Adele Nelson
TTH 12:30–1:30 (plus weekly discussion section)

As the notions of participation and the efficacy of contemporary political art have attained (renewed) currency and urgency in art making and art historical debates in recent years, this class will take a critical look at the history, trajectory, and manifestations of art that involve spectator participation. We will consider interactive art practices from the late 1950s until the present in Europe and the Americas that have variously been described as activism, community art, participatory art, political art, public art, relational aesthetics, social engaged art, and social practice, among others. What are the art historical, philosophical, ethical, and societal stakes of art that seeks to reject the disinterested, contemplative observer and to demand active, engaged subjects? What practical ethical dilemmas do artists, art historians, art educators, and curators undertake in creating, enacting, displaying, and acquiring participatory works? How do we fruitfully analyze projects that range from temporary kitchens and roving schools to moving mountains — as images? as spaces? as art? as social action?

ARH 321
Problems in Art Historical Research

Eddie Chambers
TTH 2–3:30

How do we as art historians and emerging art historians create art history from fragments, or from that which has been marginalized, obscured, and rendered less than the hegemonic narratives that tend to dominate the canon of Art History? Art History has at its core a pronounced euro centrism, within which is an inherently problematic framing of certain people - women, ethnic minorities and others - within the subaltern. What challenges do art historians face in their attempts to excavate wider art histories? What methodologies might be employed? In sum, how do we create art history from that which is not immediately recognizable, accessible, or given status? The class will reflect on a wide range of texts, from Virginia Wolf’s A Room of One’s Own, through to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” It will consider why artists primarily regarded by the dominant culture according to raced, or gendered constructs are and have been routinely and systemically marginalized within Art History. The class will periodically utilize the HRC and students will each work towards a research project that reflects on, as well as seeks to overcome, problems of art historical research.

ARH 331K
Early Italian Renaissance Art to 1470

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Ann Johns
MWF 1–2

In this course, we’ll trace the “rebirth” of the visual arts in Italy during the era of Dante (c. 1300), to the heyday of the Medici and the renewed vibrancy of papal Rome in the later 15th century. We’ll begin with the rich artistic culture of the early city-states, cut short by both the Plague and the removal of the Papacy to France. We’ll continue by exploring the emerging status of the Renaissance artist in the 15th century, as exemplified by Brunelleschi, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, and others. We’ll end c. 1470, with the Medici consolidation of power in Florence and the papacies of Nicholas V and Pius II. Throughout, we’ll analyze art in formal terms and in relation to contemporary society, religion, philosophy, and economics.

ARH 332L
Northern Renaissance Art and Architecture, 1500–1600

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Jeffrey Chipps Smith
MWF 9–10

The sixteenth century was a period of violent social and artistic changes in Northern Europe. This included the rise of the Protestant Reformation and iconoclasm or the intentional destruction of religious art. The first half of the course focuses upon German art, especially the works of Albrecht Dürer, Matthias Grünewald, Lucas Cranach, Hans Baldung, Albrecht Altdorfer, and Hans Holbein, among others. The second half of the class examines the art of the Low Countries up through Pieter Bruegel, as well as the rise of court art in England and France under Henry VIII and Francis I respectively.

ARH 337K
20th Century European Art to 1940

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Linda Henderson
TTH 12:30–2

With a particular emphasis on cultural context, this course surveys the development of modern art in Europe, starting with a review of the Post-Impressionists Seurat, Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin and concluding with Surrealism. The primary emphasis, however, is on the major artists and movements of the early 20th century, including Fauvism, German Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Vorticism, Russian Suprematism and Constructivism, De Stijl, the Bauhaus, Dada, and Surrealism. Although painting is the major focus of the class, we will also consider sculpture and architecture. In addition to lecture, class discussion forms an important part of the course.

ARH 339M
American Art, 1958–1985

VAPA

John Clarke
TTH 9:30–11

This course surveys the major movements in American art from about 1958 to about 1985. We will look at 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, narrative, 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 will deepen your knowledge of the history of this period and help you to hone your own critical thinking about visual art. It will cultivate your own ideas about both the works of art and the criticism written about them.

ARH 346K
Introduction to African Art

Cultural Diversity flag • Global Cultures flag

Moyosore Okediji
TTH 8–9:30

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

VAPA • Cultural Diversity flag

Moyosore Okediji
TTH 11–12:30

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 348N
Buddhist Art

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Hillary Langberg
MWF 10–11

This course analyzes the development of Buddhist art throughout the world. There is a shared focus on how it first developed in South Asia, but also on how art forms changed as the religion spread elsewhere and over time. Lectures and selected readings introduce key elements for understanding developments in various cultures where Buddhism flourished with particular attention to the interplay between religious issues and other factors that resulted in specific changes. Students learn to see commonality in certain developments despite surface differences such as in the creation of monuments that mark or articulate sacred space.

ARH 361L
Arabs and Vikings Art Culture

Global Cultures flag

Stephennie Mulder
MWF 2–3

In AD 921, a learned courtier from the glittering capital of Baghdad, set off on a journey into the uncharted land of the Vikings as ambassador for the Abbasid caliph. Then in 1130, a Christian king would conquer the Italian island of Sicily and begin to create a kingdom that merged Islamic and Christian cultural traditions. A few decades later, a young Crusader would journey to the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and find a Christian Kingdom that had all the hallmarks of an Islamic Sultanate. This course will look closely at recent films, popular and academic publications, and works of art and architecture that explore the interconnected character of the European and the Islamic worlds in the Middle Ages.

ARH 362
The Art and Discovery of the Ancient Greek World

Global Cultures flag

Peter Bonfitto
MW 5–6:30

The art and culture of the ancient Aegean has had an enormous impact on the development of art history, shaping many artistic traditions in the West. The artistic characteristics and historical significance of these artworks, and the nature of their archaeological discovery and dissemination, has played an important role in our understanding of these objects. This course will survey the major works of ancient Greece, from the Cycladic and Bronze Age through the Classical and Hellenistic periods by analyzing the religion, mythology, politics, and other cultural factors that contributed to their making. The course will also focus on how these artistic styles relate to regional traditions in antiquity, their reception in the modern era, and contemporary debates on cultural heritage.

ARH 362
Art and Politics in Republican Rome

Global Cultures flag

Penelope Davies
TTH 11–12:30

This course covers the art and architecture of Republican Rome, ca. 500–44 BC, when Rome began to establish dominance in the Mediterranean and to develop an artistic tradition that would flourish into the Empire. Copious wealth from victories abroad led to massive public works such as temples, civic buildings and triumphal monuments, which articulated the competing ambitions of elite families, jostling for political prominence. Students should gain a good grounding in Republican Roman visual culture and politics, and be able to assess works of art within their political and social context.

ARH 364
Michelangelo and His World

Global Cultures flag

Louis Waldman
TTH 5–6:30

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564) was by any measure one of the greatest artists of all time, a defining figure of the Italian Renaissance, and a huge influence on art for centuries. But what is it exactly that makes his work the towering achievement it is? This course attempts to approach that question, by very close looking at his entire body of work in sculpture, painting, architecture, and poetry. What it reveals is a complex personality, one of the first artists to actively shape his public image, and a human being possessed of a powerful intellect, tumultuous emotions, and a conflicted relationship to his own (still largely mysterious) sexuality.

ARH 366P
Collage, Photomontage, Assemblage, 1850–1980

Ariel Evans
TTH 2–3:30

Collage – along with its descendants, photomontage and assemblage — has a peculiar history, one simultaneously embedded in tradition but also radically new. Often used by Victorian-era women in family albums and quilts, the medium was picked up by twentieth-century artists to interrogate the nature of painting and the work of art itself. Critics, historians, and philosophers came to theorize collage as an inherently modern and avant-garde medium, pointing toward boundary-pushing characteristics later strengthened by collage’s frequent use in low-budget zines and flyers. Tracking the course of an artistic technique according to its social uses, this class intersects women’s histories, radical politics, high art, and visual culture.

ARH 370
Architecture and Sculpture in the Maya World

Global Cultures flag • Writing Flag

Astrid Runggaldier
TTH 11–12:30

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.

ARH 372
East Asia in Global Contemporary Art

Global Cultures flag

Ariel Evans
TTH 9:30–11

This class examines globalism and globalization in the arts since 1980; looking specifically to East Asia’s place within these phenomena. Through artworks, exhibitions, and publications of artwork from China, Japan, South and Southeast Asia, Korea, and the Middle East, this seminar investigates how Asian artists and curators represent their art worlds to global audiences—and how, in turn, such audiences come to understand Asian art. Combining artistic practice and cultural geography, students will consider Asia’s role in the significant historical transformations of today’s global art world.

ARH 374
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul: The Space of Sacred Spectacle in Antiquity, Byzantium, and Islam

Amy Papalexandrou
MWF 11–12

Of all the magnificent buildings constructed by the emperor Justinian in the sixth century A.D., the church of Hagia Sophia (‘Holy Wisdom’) in Constantinople — modern-day Istanbul — was the most important and splendid. It is so much a spatial wonder that, upon its completion in 537 CE the emperor is said to have declared ‘Solomon, I have outdone thee!’ And indeed, it remained the largest building on the planet for the following 800 years. In this course we will delve deep into the form, planning, structure, decoration, condition, and functions of this highly complex and overwhelming monument.

ARH 374
Harlem Renaissance

Cultural Diversity flag • Global Cultures flag

Eddie Chambers
TTH 9:30–11

The Harlem Renaissance, sometimes referred to as the New Negro Movement, stands as a towering and defining cultural moment in 20th century American history. It was in some respects the period in which African American artists, writers, poets and others tabled bold new agendas for the ways in which they, as individuals, and as a nation-within-a-nation, might advance in what was to become the American century. This class will give consideration to the multiple factors that gave rise to this astonishing and compelling cultural moment.

ARH 374
Doing Art History: Early American Case Studies

Susan Rather
TTH 2–3:30

How do historians of any kind “do” history? The question matters because we only know history through those who relate it. Our inquiries will be framed in terms of British North America and the early United States, so students will gain understanding of American material culture from the 17th to early 19th centuries, while expanding their appreciation for historical research generally and art historical study in particular.

Grades will be based on diverse weekly assignments — listening to podcasts, engaging primary and secondary texts, using digital and archival resources, interviewing faculty, etc. — and a modest project. No exams or textbook. All majors welcome!

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