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 2020 Teaching Formats

The course is taught entirely online and does not require in-person activities on campus.

Online with Elective In-Person Component
The course is taught mostly online, but includes optional opportunities for in-person activities on campus.

Online with Required In-Person Component
The course is a hybrid format that blends online instruction and required in-person activities on campus.

The course is taught entirely in-person on campus.

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 + Discussion Section
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Class meetings are asynchronous/on-demand
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  In-Person

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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
Teaching Format →  Online

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