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VAPA Courses

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

Additional information can be found in the official Course Schedules.

Fall 2018 Courses

ARH 301
Introduction to the Visual Arts

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Ann Johns
MW 10–11 (Lectures Taught Online)

Art is a universal yet highly varied language: come learn it with us! Over the course of the semester, students will learn to decode art’s meaning, its intent, and its effect on viewers, 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! While we will concentrate on the familiar media of painting, sculpture, and architecture, we will also be looking at drawings, prints, photography, design, garden planning, ceramics, textiles, earthworks, installation art, and other forms of visual culture.

This course will be a blend of convenient, online lectures, quizzes, and tests with on-site, TA-led visits to UT’s Blanton Museum.

Instructor TBA
MWF 9–10

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

Instructor TBA
MWF 12–1

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

Joan Holladay, Nassos Papalexandrou, and David Stuart
TTH 11–12

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 cultural context. The arts—architecture and city planning, sculpture, painting, metalwork, and ceramics—of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Islam, Mesoamerica and the Middle Ages are included. 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 the cultural values will be among the major themes considered. This is also an introduction to the discipline of art history, training students in basic vocabulary and techniques of close looking and analytical thinking about visual material.

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 328J
Arts of Islam: From Caliphs to Sultans


Stephennie Mulder
MWF 2–3

Has Islam, as one of the world’s great religions, given a special character to its art? Or is the term “Islamic” perhaps a misnomer to describe an artistic tradition that spans 1,400 years and five continents? In this course, we’ll start in Byzantium and end with the Mongols, roving from Spain to China. We’ll investigate architectural patronage and the value of the portable arts, we’ll explore how it is that a religion that ostensibly forbade image-making produced one of the world’s greatest painting traditions, and we’ll learn why a medieval Caliph thought a wine glass was an appropriate diplomatic gift. By the end of this course, you’ll confidently navigate both the basic outlines of Islamic history and its rich and spectacular visual culture.

ARH 331P
Art and the City in Renaissance Italy

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Ann Johns
MWF 12–1

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 of all the Renaissance city–states, 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 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, Padua, 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.

ARH 333L
The Age of Rembrandt and Rubens

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

Jeffrey Smith
MWF 9–10

This course surveys Northern European art from about 1580 to 1700. We shall delve deeply into the creativity of such masters as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, and others during the golden age of Dutch and Flemish baroque art as well as during the reign of King Louis XIV of France, the builder of Versailles. As Dutch traders explored Asia, Africa, and the Americas, exotic art and cultural knowledge transformed European conceptions of the world. These artists probed human nature, including our folly and deepest aspirations, as well as the beauties of the natural world.

ARH 337K
20th Century European Art to the 1940s

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.

ARH 339M
American Art, 1958–1985


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 341K
Modern Art of Mexico

VAPA • Global Cultures flag

George Flaherty
TTH 11–12:30

Mexican art and visual culture from the late nineteenth century through the 1950s, a period characterized by rapid modernization but also violence and glaring social and political injustices. With the Mexican Revolution, the first major social upheaval of the twentieth-century (1910–20), the country became a beacon for politically committed art throughout the Americas and beyond. Emphasis will be on emergence of cosmopolitan avant-garde artists and their relationship to government and society. Mixing native and international influences, these artists, writers and intellectuals contributed to notions of national identity (lo mexicano) that still resonate today.

ARH 346L
Africana Women’s Art

VAPA • Cultural Diversity in the United States flag • Global Cultures flag

Moyo Okediji
TTH 9:30–11

Can we adopt the criteria used for the analysis and presentation of western art and artists for the presentation and discussion 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.