Art History Courses

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

Summer 2020 Courses

First Session

ARH 301
Introduction to the Visual Arts
Online and On-Demand

In this course, students will learn one of the most important skills one can learn in a media-saturated society like ours: how to think critically about what we see. To do this, we will look at a wide range of global artistic traditions and media organized thematically rather than chronologically in order to emphasize the commonalities and shared ideologies that have influenced art around the globe and over time while also demonstrating the unique cultural heritages of societies around the world. This web-based class allows students to electronically access lectures, assignments, quizzes, and tests via Canvas at their own pace; we will also host “in-person” museum-related activities and office hours “live” through Zoom. Assignments consist of two online exams, short quizzes associated with course “lectures,” and participation in a limited number of “in-person” museum-related activities conducted by the professor.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Christine Zapeda
Online and On-Demand (Learn More)

Second Session

ARH 303
Survey of Renaissance through Modern Art
Online and On-Demand

In this online course, 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 early Renaissance of Western Europe, and concludes with global 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, and installation art.

Students will electronically access lectures, assignments, quizzes, and tests via Canvas at their own pace; we will also host museum-related activities and office hours “live” through Zoom.

There will be three tests (15% test I; 20% for tests II and III, totally 55%). There will also be brief daily quizzes (20%) and other short assignments (25%). There will be no final exam.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Ann Johns
Online and On-Demand (Learn More)

Fall 2020 Courses

ARH 301
Introduction to the Visual Arts

Art is a language: how do we decode its meaning and its extraordinary effect on us, the viewers? Through a blend of 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.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Ann Johns
MW 10–11 (Online) + Discussion Section

ARH 302
Survey of Ancient through Medieval Art

Why did somebody scratch a chain of impeccably drawn diamonds on a chunk of red stone 77,000 years ago? Was the Egyptian Sphinx as enigmatic in antiquity as it is today? Why did the Greeks need images? Why were the medieval cathedrals laden with cute but ominous monsters? There are no easy answers to these questions but works of art are fun to look at and think about. A chronological survey of the visual arts from the Stone Age to the end of the Medieval Period, this course will focus on major achievements of painting, sculpture, and architecture and on their roles as vehicles of expression for individuals and societies alike. 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. 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. Although major emphasis will be given to the western world, non-western developments will also be considered.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Astrid Runggaldier
TTH 11–12 + Discussion Section

ARH 304
Issues in Visual Culture

This course will consider the modern and contemporary history of animation in relation to a broader set of formal, conceptual, philosophical, spiritual, and ethical issues that artists and audiences for art have been addressing for centuries: the representation of animate life in images, the life and potential death of art objects, and animism, the attribution of conscious life to nature and all inanimate objects, including works of art. All of these issues generate ethical dilemmas for artists, art historians, art educators, curators, and art collectors such as who decides which moment in a work of art’s history is the privileged one and the one that must be restored or maintained or should the ongoing “life” or “death” of an art object—the history of physical alterations made to it, how it has been used, the contexts within which it has been used, and changes in how it has been interpreted, including alterations and partial or complete destruction—be expressed? What role do value-laden terms such as restoration, augmentation, appropriation, vandalism, or destruction play in our understanding of works of art? And how might current philosophical, social cybernetic descriptions of a potential fluidity of life force or anima across the previously discrete categories of organic and inorganic; animal, vegetal and human; and cybernetic and human make the ethical dilemmas generated for centuries by different conceptions of the “life of the art object” even more relevant to our lives as artists, curators, art historians and art educators today?

Assignments: two short papers (2-3 pages), one simple animation exercise, one longer paper and visual project (4-6 pages), and a final exhibition project.

This course is restricted to Art History majors only.

Fulfills →  Ethics flag / Independent Inquiry flag / Writing flag

Dr. Ann Reynolds
TTH 11–12:30

ARH 321
Problems in Art Historical Research

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.

Fulfills →  Independent Inquiry flag / Writing flag

Dr. Eddie Chambers
TTH 9:30–11

ARH 322
Issues in Exhibitions and Collections of Visual Art: Consequences of Collecting and Exhibiting Buddhist Art

How are temporary art exhibitions developed? In what ways can they be evaluated? And how does this activity relate to broader collecting practices by individuals and institutions? Such questions frame this course which focuses on a temporary exhibition to be held at the Blanton Museum this fall, entitled “Realms of the Dharma: Buddhist Art Across Asia”. Drawn from the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, this is a major international survey of Buddhist art created throughout Asia, from India to Japan. The course considers myriad factors that shape perceptions of value and the resulting consequences. Students will also develop a broad understanding of Buddhist art, learning to assess significant artistic achievements and the religious practices for which these works were created.

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag / Writing flag

Dr. Janice Leoshko
MW 1–2:30

ARH 327R
Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans

This course examines how the study of visual culture allows us to enter into the mentality of ancient non-elite Romans, including the freeborn working poor, slaves, and former slaves. Through the lens of the art and architecture of Roman Italy between 100 B.C. and A.D. 315, we explore Roman attitudes toward the practices of daily life: religion, work, theater, gladiatorial games, tavern-going, banqueting, sexuality, self-representation, death, and burial. By framing visual culture as an expression of the beliefs, aspirations, and tastes of ordinary people, we will gain insight into the ways that the Romans were—and were not—“just like us.” There will be three one-hours exams (half slide discussions and half prepared essays). With the instructor’s permission, students may substitute an oral presentation or an 8–10 page essay in lieu of the third exam. Textbook: Clarke, Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. John Clarke
TTH 9:30–11

ARH 328L
Medieval Middle East History in 100 Objects

Objects, “things”—whether mundane, everyday household items or great works of art and architecture patronized by merchants, religious leaders, or rulers—have had a profound impact on the course of history. Indeed, recently historians have begun to speak of a “material turn” within the field—a movement away from a purely text-based model of understanding the past. This model acknowledges that things can often reveal a more nuanced and rich picture of past lives, in particular, allowing us to understand how ordinary people lived. And yet, history is often still taught as though our only source of knowledge about the past comes through texts. This course will be a survey of the history of the medieval Middle East, from the period of Late Antiquity (in the seventh century) to the rise of early modern empires of the Safavids, Ottomans, and Mughals (in the seventeenth century), taught by a close examination of the meaning and significance of 100 objects. The objects will come from sources as diverse as archaeological investigations, museum collections, and European Church treasuries, but all of them will tell a vivid story about their time. Students will learn basic skills of visual analysis and object analysis, and will gain an introduction to theories of seeing and interpreting works of art and architecture—essential skills in today’s increasingly visually-based information economy. At the end of the course, students will not only have a clear sense of the histories of the great medieval and early modern Islamic dynasties, but will also be able to use works of art and architecture, as well as everyday objects, as an effective tool of analysis. This is a cross-listed course with Middle Eastern Studies

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag

Dr. Stephennie Mulder
MWF 1–2

ARH 331K
Early Italian Renaissance Art to 1470

Renaissance means “rebirth”, and the rebirth of art and culture is a concept that was very vividly alive in fifteenth-century Italy. This course looks at the great artists and innovations of the period that spans:
...from Brunelleschi to Bramante in architecture
...from Masaccio to Botticelli to Leonardo in painting
...from Donatello to the young Michelangelo in sculpture
Among the issues to be discussed will be: the development of mathematical perspective, art and engineering, the revival of ancient Greek and Roman culture, the role of women in society, religion, gender and sexuality, politics and warfare, technology and science—and how all these themes are reflected in important works of art.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Louis Waldman
TTH 2–3:30

ARH 331P
Art and the City in Renaissance Italy

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.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Ann Johns
MWF 12–1

ARH 332K
Northern Renaissance Art, 1350–1500

This course traces the origins and first flowering of the Renaissance in Northern Europe from the late Gothic courts of France and Bohemia to the apocalyptic visions of Hieronymus Bosch. The class will concentrate upon Netherlandish art, especially the works of Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, and Bosch. Since much of the surviving art is religious, we shall examine its liturgical and theological functions and how the art relates to the ideas of Thomas à Kempis and the Modern Devotion movement. This brilliant period witnessed the invention of prints and book publishing, developments that transformed contemporary attitudes about art and its purposes.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Jeffrey C. Smith
MW 8:30–10

ARH 337K
Twentieth Century Art to 1940

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.

Grading: Two exams and a final, each 30% of the grade; class participation, 10%; optional paper may replace one of the exams or the final.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Linda Henderson
TTH 11–12:30

ARH 341P
Contemporary Latin American Art

This course examines art in Latin America from 1945 to the present. It investigates the distinct social, political, and historical contexts of art making in various Latin American centers, with particular attention to the artists and artistic movements of South America. Discussions will focus on the emergence of abstraction after World War II; the effects of economic development, immigration, and violent dictatorships on artistic production; the relation of Latin American art and artists to European and U.S. cultural centers; and the role of art criticism and art institutions. We will take advantage of the large-scale re-installation of the permanent collection galleries at the Blanton Museum of Art to study works in person and to analyze curatorial models and approaches to Latin American art.

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag

Dr. Adele Nelson
MW 10–11:30

ARH 341S
Art Cinemas of the Americas

This course examines art cinemas from the Spanish-speaking Americas from the 1950s to the present. Weekly screenings and readings foreground the audio-visual experiments and historical contexts, both national and transnational, of films at the intersection of art worlds and film industries. Emphasis will be placed on narrative cinema, with a handful of shorts.

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag

Dr. George Flaherty
MW 4–5:30

ARH 345J
Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora

This class will consider a fascinating group of contemporary artists, of African origin/background, in what we now refer to as the “African diaspora”. This diaspora owes its existence to a variety of factors including the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and 20th century patterns of migration and travel. Today, because of the evolving nature of the art world, a growing number of artists of African origin have become major players in the art market. And artists’ work has become reflective of shifts and developments in 20th century Black cultural politics. This class examines the work of artists whose practices came to the fore, from the early 1970s up to the present time. Artists to be studied include Jean-Michel Basquiat, Faith Ringgold, Albert Chong, Chris Ofili, Godfried Donkor.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag / Writing flag

Dr. Eddie Chambers
TTH 2–3:30

ARH 346K
Introduction to African Art

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.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. Moyo Okediji
TTH 11–12:30

ARH 346L
Africana Women’s Art

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.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Cultural Diversity flag

Dr. Moyo Okediji
TTH 8–9:30

ARH 347N
Aztec Art and Civilization

This course examines the rich visual culture of the Aztecs, covering roughly four centuries of development before the arrival of Spanish in 1519 CE, and into the first century of the early Colonial era. The focus will be on the study and interpretation of architecture, stone sculpture, and pictorial documents from this timespan, centered on the Mexica capital of Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City). Major themes include the nature of religious art, cosmology and the visual display of state power and rulership. Students will learn details of Aztec symbolism and iconography, as well as elements of Nahuatl language and hieroglyphic writing. The class will also look at the important role of indigenous artisans in the creation of new artistic cultures in early New Spain.

Fulfills →  VAPA / Global Cultures flag

Dr. David Stuart
MWF 2–3

ARH 362
Ancient Lives of Roman Buildings

Taking a broad view of Roman architecture from Republic to Empire, this seminar examines the evidence for different phases of ancient buildings’ lives, from construction to restoration to demolition, with a view to determining their political significances. Readings will cover issues such as damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) and vandalism, from diverse periods and cultures.

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag

Dr. Penelope Davies
TTH 3:30–5

ARH 364
The Baroque Imagination in Italy: Art, Spectacle, and Imagination

The word “Baroque” probably comes from a term for a freshwater pearl. If you haven’t seen one, just imagine a wad of ABC gum: irregular, strange in shape, bizarre. All of these adjectives could equally be applied to the art of Baroque Italy. Artists in Italy during the seventeenth century forged a new language of art that was characterized by high drama, theatricality, and visual excitement. They used light, movement, and color to tell stories in new and unprecedented ways. Working in the atmosphere of a Catholic church bent on reviving its spirituality through direct appeal to the heart and emotions, artists found themselves charged with reinventing the whole language of religious imagery in ways that would more directly engage the faithful. It was an art of contradictions, driven by the demands of different patrons. The painter Caravaggio could produce religious art of unheralded intensity and secular images of unabashed eroticism; the sculptor Bernini glorified the Church Triumphant but also the personalities of earthly princes and princelings; while Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few women allowed to practice art, may have infused her art with an intensity born of her own personal experience as a victim of sexual violence.

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag

Dr. Louis Waldman
TTH 5–6:30

ARH 366J
The Individual Artist in the 19th Century: Eduoard Manet

The work of Edouard Manet (1832–1883) is usually seen as one of the foundations of Modernism in painting. This course will consider all aspects of his painting together with many aspects of the way it fitted in to the society he lived in, especially his friendships with figures such as Charles Baudelaire. A certain emphasis will be placed on cultural politics, and in particular the way in which his work of the 1860s can be seen as a wholesale attack on the culture and politics of the self-styled French “emperor”, Napoleon III.

Fulfills →  Global Cultures flag / Writing flag

Dr. Michael Charlesworth
TTH 12:30–2

ARH 375
Art Historical Methods

This course provides an introduction to the discipline of art history and to some of the most significant methodological approaches and challenges to the study of art and visual culture. This course does not follow a lecture format but instead focuses on class discussion, active participation, and collaborative learning. Our goal is to become familiar with the fundamental characteristics and objectives of various methods and traditions in art history, and to create a productive environment in which to analyze, critique, compare, and utilize them. Because this class carries both Writing and Independent Inquiry flags, emphasis will also be placed on a series of written assignments and papers that enable the student to more fully research and explore a topic of particular art historical interest to her or him.

Prerequisite: ARH 321: Problems in Art Historical Research. Restricted to Art History Majors only.

Fulfills →  Independent Inquiry flag / Writing flag

Dr. Julia Guernsey
TTH 9:30–11

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