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Graduate Courses in Art History 2014-2015

Fall 2014

ARTH 600 (CRN 3400) Advanced Pro-Seminar (3 credits), Prof. Chriscinda Henry, Th, 1135-1425, Arts W-220

This advanced pro-seminar introduces key concepts and practices of art history through guided 
discussions of issues, ideas, and trends central to the current practice of the discipline and its historical formation. Class sessions will be led by McGill faculty members from AHCS and associated departments and institutes, as well as local museum professionals who will address critical debates in the field. Providing orientation to the field and to the department, this course also emphasizes 
key skills and issues of professionalization. One week will be dedicated to the essential art of grant 
writing, preparing you for specific funding applications. As the semester progresses, we will also discuss 
career opportunities, conference participation, publication strategies, and essential resources for success in 
the field. 

At its core, this seminar is intended to prepare you for a productive and engaged graduate career. We will emphasize four key skills, all central to advanced art-historical research:  

1. Close and careful reading and analysis. Although topics and methods under consideration will differ 
from week to week, we will be working together to hone a core set of critical reading skills. What, we 
will ask, are the key claims asserted in our readings? How is evidence constituted and deployed? Are the arguments compelling? What broader intellectual agendas give them urgency?  

2. Clear and critical written exposition. This is a writing-intensive seminar. In addition to the grant proposal and near-weekly responses to the readings, you will also produce a critical essay reflecting 
on a departmental lecture and a final paper due December 5th. Reading and discussion in Week 9 will also be dedicated to the practice and conceptual implications of descriptive writing. 

3. Confident oral participation and presentation skills. Informed, open-minded and respectful participation in every class is mandatory. Come to class with views, opinions, points for discussion and questions about the sources used. As in most graduate seminars, students will lead research presentations
in advance of the final paper. Student presentations are scheduled for the last two classes of the semester. 

4. Visual analysis. Sophisticated visual interpretation is a key skill that art historians bring to the
interdisciplinary table. When doing the readings, consider how the author approaches visual material. We will also analyze images in many of our sessions.

Weekly Responses and Participation: 25% 

Departmental Lecture Essay: 5% 

Grant Writing: 10%

Final Research Paper: 60% (5% proposal, 20% presentation, 35% paper)

ARTH 606 (CRN 7027) Research Paper Preparation (3 credits)

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ARTH 608 (CRN 8957) Research Paper 1 (6 credits)

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ARTH 609 (CRN 14699) Research Paper 2 (6 credits)

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ARTH 630 (CRN 5256) Directed Reading 1 (3 credits)

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ARTH 698 (CRN 19380) Thesis Research 1 (12 credits)

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ARTH 701 (CRN 3402) Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam (0 credits)

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ARTH 725 (CRN 18655) Methods in Art History 1 (3 credits), Prof. Matthew Hunter, W, 1435-1725, PL 3463, room 201

Nearly a half century after the publication of his landmark essay “Art and Objecthood”, Michael Fried (b. 1939) remains a polarizing figure. Whether hailed or reviled, Fried cuts a long shadow across the modern tradition and its persistence in the contemporary moment through his work as critic, poet, and interlocutor with several of the period’s major artists and intellectuals including T.J. Clark, Jacques Derrida, Clement Greenberg and Stanley Cavell. Yet, much of Fried’s extensive writing has been been art-historical in nature, ranging from studies of Caravaggio to Greuze—from Courbet and Manet to Thomas Demand and Jeff Wall. Neither a biographical survey nor a retrospective assessment of his oeuvre, this seminar uses Fried’s writings to assay the practices and stakes of art-writing that have been formulated in, and in response to, his unflinchingly ambitious work. The seminar will explore the relations between the history and theory of art, the modern and the early modern, and the politics of criticism in an era of neoliberalism through dialogue with several guest-participants who have studied with Fried and/or engaged critically with his work.

Assessment in this seminar is determined by three factors:
25%) class performance (including attendance, contribution to discussion, and any other activities assigned by the instructor)
25%) in-class presentations (of weekly readings and research)
50%) research paper: 15-20 pages on a topic of your choice relating to the problematic of the course.

ARTH 730 (19316) / COMS 675 (CRN 18662) Current Problems in Art History 1:”Media and Urban Life” (3 credits), Prof. Will Straw, W, 1135-1425, PL 3463 Rm 201 (MISC)

This course deals with cities and with the place of culture within urban life.  Its main focus is on the ways in which various cultural forms may be seen as contributing to the “mediality” of urban life – that is, to the storing, transmission and processing of information and cultural expression.  Designed for both Communications and Art History students, the course will deal with such topics as the transformation of urban facades into expressive surfaces, the cultural role of the urban night, the sensory character of cities, shifting patterns of urban media and so on.  The main focus of the course will be Montreal, but we will be looking at other cities as points of comparison and dealing in a more general sense with cities and their culture. 


Winter 2015

ARTH 607 (CRN 7305) Research Paper Proposal (3 credits)

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ARTH 609 (CRN 8029) Research Paper 2 (6 credits)

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ARTH 630 (CRN 7429) Directed Reading 1 (3 credits)

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ARTH 660 (CRN 13880) Contemporary Art and Criticism 1 (3 credits) Dr. Adair Rounthwaite and Dr. Milena Tomic, T, 1435-1725, Arts W-5

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ARTH 675 (CRN 13914) Topics: 19th Century Art & Architecture (3 credits) Prof. Mary Hunter, W, 1135-1425, Arts W-5

Curating Medical Spaces: Art, Objects, Ethics and Display

This class will explore the role of art and curating in medical spaces from the nineteenth century to the present. It will provide students with a historical understanding of how images and objects were displayed in medical and scientific spheres - from pathological specimens in medical museums to professional portraits in hospital hallways to large-scale contemporary sculptures in the grand entrances of public hospitals.  Through a variety of readings that examine the ethics and politics of display in medical spaces, as well as key theoretical concepts that inform our reading of “medical” and “artistic” images and objects, students will acquire a framework from which to build original research and exhibition programs.

The two main assignments for this class will be based on original research undertaken at the McGill University Heath Centre’s Art and Heritage Collection.  The MUHC is one of the largest medical institutions in Canada; it is set to open in spring 2015.  This class will give students the opportunity to do original research on the artworks (paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, etc.), medical objects (scalpels, x-ray bulbs, microscopes, etc.) and paraphernalia (uniforms, cutlery, antique furniture, etc.) in this largely un-researched collection, which contains all the artworks and historical objects from 5 hospitals in Montreal.  In addition to writing a research paper based on a work or series of object in the MUHC collection – that will allow students to engage with theoretical concepts explored in class as well as intensive primary research -, every student will be responsible for curating a space at the hospital based on their research.  Working closely with the curators of the MUHC, students will get hands-on experience and the opportunity to have their exhibition on display at the MUHC.  For this reason, student’s exhibition plans must adhere to professional standards and limitations.

Three of the main aims of the seminar are:

1. To help student produce new knowledge about the MUHC’s collections by giving them the opportunity to research the hospital’s collection of paintings, photographs, medical instruments, and other archival materials. Students will utilize methods and theories learned in class, in addition to historical research, to write up labels and short information panels for the hospital’s collection. They will learn first-hand how writing the history of these images and objects can form and change public understanding. This is an excellent opportunity for students to create and share knowledge, and learn about the politics and roles of display.

2. To help students develop exhibition programs for the hospital that can be shared with the hospital’s Arts and Heritage workers and volunteers. The MUHC’s curators will take part in some of the seminars, and will encourage student involvement in the exhibition programming. Students will be taught about how space and context affect the meaning of artworks, and how exhibitions are designed thematically and practically. They will also learn about the practicalities of curating public spaces, particularly how to curate in spaces that are visited by diverse populations.

3. To improve the hospital experience for patients, workers and caregivers by making sure that every artwork and object is displayed and labeled in a purposeful, respectful, and engaging manner.

Method of Assessment

Reading Notes and Presentation                                            10%   
Participation                                                                           10%
Exhibition Analysis and Critique                                            10%
Exhibition Pitch                                                                      15%
Exhibition/Research Presentation                                           25%
Research Paper                                                                       30%

ARTH 678 (CRN 13915) Topics: 19th Century Art & Architecture 2 (3 credits) Prof. Charmaine Nelson, M, 1135-1425, Arts W-220

Creolization and the Trans Atlantic World

European colonization forced a variety of populations into extended and imbalanced contact around the world. The populations and cultures of the Americas were particularly disrupted and remade in a process that had slavery at its centre. The transplantation of Africans as slave labour for plantations and other resource extraction across the Americas was coupled with the containment, exploitation, assimilation and genocide of indigenous peoples and the strategic exploitation of other “undesirable” groups (ie. Irish, Asian etc.). Within the trans Atlantic world, identities were constantly policed to ensure the maintenance of social and cultural hierarchies. The effects of this cultural and social clash are often referred to as creolization. This class explores the processes of creolization and its artistic, cultural, social, and political outcomes. It pays close attention to the significance of place and racial identity and takes up the under-explored issue of whiteness in the trans Atlantic world (British, Dutch, French, Spanish).

Participation: 15%
Short Essay: 10%
Archival Presentations and Catalogue Entries: 30%
Seminar Presentation: 15%
Final Paper: 30%

ARTH 699 (CRN 14533) Thesis Research 2 (12 credits)

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ARTH 701 (CRN 2935) Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam (0 credits) Instructor’s Approval Required

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