Art History


  • Arthist 592: Shamanism and Art in the Americas
    • Course Description: The underlying religious complex of ancient and modern indigenous American cultures can be understood under the umbrella term of shamanism, or the direct visionary contact with the spiritual world by trained intermediaries in order to promote balance, fertility, and health. Art is deeply implicated in this system, from earliest times through to today. This seminar will discuss the parameters of shamanic belief and practice as applied to the visual elements, from the “tools” of curing to the achievement of trance to the recording of experience and imagery of healing itself. An emphasis will be placed on plant and animal iconography.
    • Frequently Taught By: Rebecca Stone


  • Arthist 735: Textiles of the Americas & Museology
    • Course Description: Fiber arts were and remain central to the artistic output of the indigenous American peoples. From the earliest known Andean fragment of a twined basket dated to 8800 BCE to a tall Apache container from 1880, plant fiber objects are key. A small exhibition opening in Fall 2016 at the Carlos Museum, “Coiling Culture: Basketry Arts of Native North America” will serve as one focus of this seminar. Another emphasis will be on preparations for a large, comprehensive show “Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles” going on view in the fall of 2017. Related class projects include textiles from the ancient and modern Andes, as well as modern Panama and Guatemala. An overview of textile traditions will be featured, with emphasis on the world’s longest textile record from Peru.
    • Frequently Taught By: Rebecca Stone


  • Arthist 769: The Bauhaus and After
    • Course Description: The legacy of the Bauhaus runs deep. The art, architecture, photography, film, theater dance, design, and educational theories produced and theorized by the Bauhaus teachers Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee, Mies van der Rohe and others between 1919 and 1933 have shaped the character of modern and contemporary art theory and practice at large. This seminar explores the central ideas and practices of the Bauhaus at its origins and its posthumous resonance within a wide range of associated artistic events in the 20th century. We will also consider central examples of International Style architecture (Richard Neutra and R.M. Schindler, for instance) and “New Object” photography that emerges from the Bauhaus approach as well as the works of John Cage whose basic attitude was shaped by the Bauhaus example.
    • Frequently Taught By: Todd Cronan


  • Arthist 789: The Seen, the Unseen, and in Between: Art and Ambiguity, Assemblages, Secrecy and Silence
    • Course Description: Michael Taussig distinguishes between the ¿secret,¿ which he suggests exists only as an invention, and the ¿public secret [that is] fated to maintain the verge where the secret is not destroyed through exposure, but subject to a revelation that does justice to it¿ (1999: 7-8). In this seminar, we will explore how concepts of the secret and public secret relate to the arts by focusing on seen and unseen dimensions of art as well as tensions seeing and not seeing produce. We will investigate ambiguity, assemblage, secrecy, and silence in art and consider how art makers and art viewers meet or intersect through the seen, the unseen, and the tension in between the two. Our conversation will begin with a case study and Georg Simmel¿s generative article on secrecy and secret societies. We will spring from that platform to examine different theoretical approaches to and expand our understandings of concealment and revelation, the visible and invisible, and the known and unknown. The case studies we will discuss throughout the term relate to arts of Africa and its diasporas. However, students are welcome to write final research papers that engage with the seminar¿s theme but focus on historical or contemporary arts from areas beyond Africa and its diasporas.
    • Frequently Taught By: Susan Gagliardi


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