Art History Courses
Art History Graduate Seminars, Spring 2018
Art 950.001 Professional Development Seminar
Prof. Carol Magee
Monday 2:30-5:30, HAC 118
This course focuses your attention on the variety of ways in which scholars in art history disseminate their research and market themselves. In it we will analyze various methods of writing in art history, from abstracts to conference papers, from journal articles to grant applications. We will discuss oral presentations, from conference presentations to museum gallery talks, and consider moving through the job application process. Students will engage with each of the various genres through weekly exercises, but will focus on one specific genre, appropriate to your stage in the graduate program, for their semester-long project. This course is most appropriate for students in their second year of study or beyond.
ARTH 956 Seminar in Islamic Art
“Arts of Umayyad Córdoba”
Prof. Glaire Anderson
Wednesday 2:30-5:30, HAC 116
This seminar focuses on the Umayyad dynasty of Córdoba in present-day Spain, which ruled the early Islamic Iberian Peninsula (known in Arabic as al-Andalus) from 756-1031. The Cordoban Umayyads were one of the four great caliphates of the early medieval period of Islamic civilization, and the only one to rule from Europe. Their monuments, notably the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the royal city of Madinat al-Zahra’, and the luxury objects made for women and men of the court, are among the most celebrated in the history of Islamic arts. Readings will introduce the critical historiography of Islamic art history and the caliphal era, providing the historical and critical frameworks for our exploration of Umayyad Córdoba in its Islamic and European contexts.
ARTH 957 Seminar in African Art
“Art and Craft: Deploying classifications across cultures”
Prof. Victoria Rovine
Wednesday 8:00-11:00, HAC 116
This seminar explores a key designation used to define visual culture and, significantly, cultures as a whole: Art or Craft, and Artist or Artisan. These terms have carried varied associations across time. They are rooted in Western forms of cultural and art historical analysis, though they have been widely adapted in cultures around the world, where they are absorbed into the analysis of new sets of objects and practices. They have often been used to create or enforce hierarchies, and the boundaries between the categories have been policed to protect the boundaries of Art. Yet, these boundaries have often been blurred; artistic genres and artists move “up” from craft to art, or reverse this trajectory, according to the priorities of the critics and the art markets in which they circulate. These shifts may occur for entire cultures, as canonical art history encompasses many non-Western forms that were previously excluded, as craft or, a related term, as artifact.
What can we learn from the way these categories have operated? What do they tell us about the way in which art history has operated over time? What does inclusion in one category or the other encourage us to see, and what does it obscure? And what of the role of museums? What do artists and artisans themselves tell us about the usefulness or irrelevance of these categories?
This class is taught by an Africanist who specializes in the study of textiles and clothing, genres that often slip between these broad categories. But the class will not be limited to objects and texts on African art. We will start with readings that explore theorizations of the distinction between these categories. Then, we will use case studies that highlight the operation of art and craft as categories: textiles in Western, South Asian, and African contexts, African popular arts, the Bauhaus, the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Mingei movement in Japan, and contemporary studio artists from Africa and elsewhere who engage with techniques and media associated with craft.
We will read one book in full. Other readings will be available as PDFs.
Book: Glenn Adamson, The Invention of Craft (London/NY: Bloomsbury, 2013).