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 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 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


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 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.

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