Undergraduate Courses in Art History 2012-2013

Fall 2012

ARTH 204 (CRN 13389) Intro to Medieval Art & Architecture (3 credits), Prof. Cecily Hilsdale, M, W, 1435-1555, Arts W-215.

This course offers an introduction to major artistic monuments of the medieval world from the
fourth to the fifteenth century in both the eastern and western Mediterranean. It surveys a diverse
range of Byzantine, Islamic, and European works of art and architecture from this period and
positions them within their original social, political, and spiritual contexts. Lectures will trace
the ways in which these monuments were defined and perceived over time. Textbook readings
will be supplemented with a series of culturally and historically specific case studies in order to
provide exposure to a wide variety of materials within diverse methodological frameworks. In
addition to becoming familiar with the central tenets of medieval art and architecture, students
will therefore also develop skills in visual literacy and gain a basic understanding of the methods
and aims of art historical study.

In tandem with this course a selection of medieval manuscripts in Arabic, Greek, Latin, and
Persian will be on view in the library this semester: “Book Culture in the Medieval
Mediterranean: Selections from Special Collections and Rare books, McGill University.” The
final research assignment will involve works on view in this exhibition and the final week of the
semester will be dedicated to this exhibition as well.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

Final grades will be based on two in-class tests plus a short formal analysis and a research
assignment according to the following percentages:

Test 1: 15% (October 3)
Test 2: 20% (October 31)
Test 3: 25% (November 21)
Essay: 15% (November 28)
Research Assignment: 25% (December 4)

Completion of all course requirements is mandatory. Failure to complete all three tests plus both
written assignments will result in a failing grade. This means missing one component will result
in a failing grade, no matter the numerical average of the other component.


ARTH 226 (15332)Intro to 18th Century Art & Architecture (3 credits), Prof. Matthew Hunter, T, TH, 1605-1725, Arts W-215.

This lecture course provides an introduction to the visual arts and architecture of the “long” eighteenth century. Focusing primarily upon developments in Britain, France and their North American colonies ca. 1660-1850, we will examine key issues of the period including competing conceptions of the public for art, claims for modernity against established traditions, and the agency of art in negotiating the politics of class, race, gender and distance within and between industrializing, imperial states. Exploring the dynamic, evolving encounters between the visual arts and the science/technology of the Enlightenment will constitute a key thematic concern throughout the lectures and readings.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

25% - mid-term examination
40% - term paper
25% - final examination
10% - participation


ARTH 321 (15756) Visual Culture – Dutch Republic (3 credits), Prof. Angela Vanhaelen, W, F, 0835-0955, Arts W-215.

As Svetlana Alpers wrote in her provocative book, The Art of Describing: “In Holland the visual culture was central to the life of the society. One might say that the eye was a central means of self-representation and visual experience a central mode of self-consciousness. If the theatre was the arena in which the England of Elizabeth most fully represented itself to itself, images played that role for the Dutch.” In this course, we explore how the 17th-century Dutch Republic represented itself to itself through the examination of a wide range of visual imagery, from Rembrandt and Vermeer to various forms of ‘popular’ culture. The focus will be on the role of the visual in shaping merchant capitalist identity in a society dominated by Calvinism. This process of self-definition will be examined in relation to a number of key symbolic sites such as the home, the marketplace, the tavern, the brothel, the theatre, the town hall, the anatomy theatre, the curiosity cabinet, the church, the synagogue, the city and the countryside, the nation and its colonies. Our exploration of Dutch visual culture as a central mode of self-consciousness will thus open into a broader understanding of economic, social, historic, religious, literary, colonial, and scientific developments.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

Attendance at lectures and class discussions is mandatory. If you have to miss a class, be sure to get notes from a classmate and to look at the images that were discussed in that class (posted on WebCT).

Please turn off cell phones and electronic devices during class time. I prefer that laptops not be used in class, as they can be very distracting for those sitting nearby.

Midterm Exam: 25% (October 19, in class)
Term Paper: 35% (Papers due at the beginning of class, November 14)
Final Exam:  35% (during final exam period)
Participation: 5%


ARTH 323 (CRN 15331) Realism and Impressionism (3 credits), Prof. Mary Hunter, T, TH, 1435-1555, Arts W-215.

At first glance, this course will appear somewhat traditional: it looks at major artistic movements in the history of European art, examines oil paintings that are often described as “masterpieces”, and focuses on well-known artists who are regularly called “geniuses”. Yet this class will be critical of these terms and histories. The point of the class is to learn about the works themselves, the context in which they were produced, and the historiography of Realism and Impressionism. Through an investigation of the various theoretical and methodological approaches to looking at art and visual culture, students will learn to look and read critically.

While most recent approaches to teaching the art and visual culture of this period of French art have focused on thematic concepts, this course will examine individual artists in order to further critique the concept that ‘Impressionism’ and ‘Realism’ were/are static terms. We will question the categories of “the real”, “realism”, “impressionism”, “the modern” and “modernism” to look at the problems with categorization and the difficulties of writing art’s histories.

The course readings consist of articles and chapters, as well as texts from survey books. The surveys are from the 1970s to the present – this will allow us to examine the historiography of these well-researched “isms”.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

Museum Assignments: 5% and 10%
Mid-Term Exams: 2 x 20%
Research Paper: 30%
Summary Quiz: 15%


ARTH 339 (CRN 15364) Critical Issues – Contemporary Art "The Body in Contemporary Art" (3 credits), Prof. Amelia Jones, T, TH, 1135-1255, Arts W-215.

The body was largely absent as a referent or visible agent in European and American modernism and its supporting discourses, particularly with the rise of abstraction in the twentieth century. This absence had explicit ideological motivations that began to be exposed and challenged with the rise of the rights movements in the 1950s and beyond. Returning the body to the frame of understanding art can thus be a key strategy to repoliticize the history of contemporary art and to recontextualize the history and theory of art in relation to social movements and events. This course thus proposes that one key way to view the history of contemporary art is to understand it in relation to the increasingly overt and highly motivated enactment, solicitation, or representation of the body in art since WWII and particularly since 1960—either that of the artist, subjects of representation, or future viewers/participants. We will trace the rise of the body as an active agent or element in art since 1960, with particular emphasis on contemporary art in Europe and North America, but with some attention to global practices. Through lectures, readings, and discussions of a range of contemporary art practices, we will return the body to the picture of contemporary art history, and trace its relationship to contemporary art strategies and critical art discourse, as well as to contemporary social movements.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

Attendance at lectures and class discussions is mandatory. If you have to miss a class, be sure to get notes from a classmate. Please turn off cell phones and electronic devices during class time. I prefer that laptops not be used in class, as they can be very distracting for those sitting nearby.

Participation and attendance: 5%.
Mid-term exam: 25% - in class October 18.
Field trip/ writing project (research paper): 30% - papers due November 1, beginning of class, for group discussion.
Final writing assignment: 40% - in class essay November 29.


ARTH 353 (CRN 15334) / CANS 301 (8231) Selected Topics in Art History I: “Aboriginal Art and Culture” (3 credits), Dr. Elizabeth Kalbfleisch, W, F, 1005-1125, Arts W-215.

This course will examine 20th and 21st century Aboriginal art and culture as it relates to key aspects of the cultural, political and social life of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada. We will consider how various points of influence – traditional practice, cosmology, colonization/decolonization, interculturalism and globalization – inform artistic and cultural expression from the Reservation Era to the present. Through selected case studies, students will explore aspects of Aboriginal art that include the objects of ceremony and of the everyday; handicraft and tourist art; Native modernism and renaissance; post-colonial, multimedia interventions of the 1990s; and post-Indian practices of the contemporary moment. We will consider how Aboriginal artists have responded to colonialism, re-shaped and renewed artistic practices and innovated new forms of expression. Students will have the opportunity to engage with current affairs, such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Indian Residential Schools, and with cultural events, such as museum and gallery exhibitions in the Montreal area.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

1. Critical Exhibition Assignment, 15% 750 words (3 pages typed, double spaced).
2. Written Responses (Participation), 15% - Students will occasionally be asked to respond to a particular discussion topic, work of art or video in writing during class time.
3. Research Paper, 35%
4. Take Home Exam, 35%


(temporarily closed) ARTH 358 (CRN 11559) / EAST 358 (11681) Later Chinese Art (960-1911) (3 credits), Prof. TBA, W, F, 1605-1725, STBIO N2/2.

ARTH 400 / 401 (CRN 6241 / 6242) Selected Methods in Art History / Honours Research Paper (3 credits), Prof. Amelia Jones, T, 1435-1725, Arts W-220. Advisor’s Approval Required.

This is an advanced seminar on art historical methods, focusing on the question of how we “think” art (what “is” art? how do we evaluate something we think of as “art”? where do the models for understanding and even defining “art” come from?). The ultimate goal of the course is for students, by questioning the history of how the idea of “art” came to be, to gain a fuller understanding of art history, the discipline that reciprocally defines and constructs “art.” To focus our discussion, we will trace key historical and methodological issues with attention to key debates in contemporary art history and theory.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

ARTH400
1. Participation, including discussion leader and SSHRC application draft 30%
2. Proposal of Research Paper and Research Paper Presentation 30%
3. Response Essay (in class) 40%

ARTH401 (PAPER)
4. Research Paper 100%


ARTH 420 (CRN 6773) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 1"The Art and Anthropology of Gift Exchange" (3 credits), Prof. Cecily Hilsdale, M, 1135-1425, Arts W-220.

A contradiction lies at the heart of the term “gift:” the Oxford English Dictionary emphatically
stresses the free and disinterested nature of a gift but anthropologists and sociologiests have
understood the gift as deeply entangled in agendas of hierarchy and reciprocity. A gift, in general
usage and by definition, is something freely given; it is predicated on a lack of self-interest.
Whether property, a thing, an experience, or even personhood itself, a gift is offered in exchange
for nothing. Yet anthropologist Marcel Mauss in his 1925 Essai sur le don famously declared
that there could be no free gift, and that giving always to a certain degree involves self-interest.
From a philological-linguistic perspective, Émile Benveniste has traced the ambivalent
etymology of the gift in Indo-European language, demonstrating that the language of giving and
taking are intimately related. Later Jacques Derrida called the free gift further into question,
claiming that there could be no gift at all let alone a free one: to give always already negates the
giving.

Building on this rich body of anthropological and sociological scholarship, this seminar
examines the phenomenon of gift exchange in the ancient and medieval Mediterranean, both east
and west, with a particular emphasis on the visual field. In addition to gifts themselves, we will
consider classes of luxury items intended for circulation of gifts as well as sumptuary laws that
aim to withhold such items in order to regulate their value. Further consideration of structures of
patronage, secular and sacerdotal, will be addressed, as will case studies in tribute, spoliated
reuse of gifts, votives, theft, and gender.

In order to analyze the visual culture of gift-exchange the pre modern world, the seminar will
introduce some of the canonic theoretical texts from the field of anthropology and sociology
ranging from the works of Marcel Mauss through Pierre Bourdieu. It will further explore the
potential and relevance of such theories within the discipline of Art History, thus attending to the
larger methodological project of interdisciplinarity, in particular the relationship between
anthropological theory and art historical practice.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

Final grades will be divided evenly between a substantial research project and participation as
follows:

Participation (50%)
The participation portion of the final grade includes weekly attendance and participation in
seminar (20%), and also leading discussion on at least two occasions (30%). The seminar’s
success depends upon an active and engaged group dynamic. Attendance and participation is
mandatory. If you miss a class, you will be expected to write a short response to the readings for
the missed class session (the response must be emailed to me by the end of the week of the
missed class).

As this is an advanced seminar, weekly class sessions will be student led primarily. Working
together as a group (numbers will depend on final enrollment), discussion leaders will outline the
scope of the reading, select works of art and architecture to structure the discussion and prepare
power point presentations with works of art and other relevant contextual material. Most
importantly, however, discussion leaders will raise questions to prompt and guide discussion.
The last page of the syllabus lists the key research resources that will be invaluable for leading
discussion (and for your individual research projects). After each class session you serve as
discussion leader, you are to post your power point presentation on the course web site and to
email me a self-assessment by the end of the week (details on this to follow).

Research Project (50%)
The research project encompasses the following three components: (1) a preliminary one-page
abstract of research topic with a bibliography of ten sources, five of which must be annotated; (2)
a formal oral presentation of your research topic in the final weeks of the term; and (3) a final
10-15 page formal research paper (formatted according to the Chicago Manuel of Style). Late
papers will be graded down 5% per day.


ARTH 421 (CRN 13403) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 2 "The Black Subject in Western Film and Television" (3 credits), Prof. Charmaine Nelson, TH, 1435-1725, Arts W-5.

Large populations of African peoples came to be a part of western societies from the 15th century. Through Trans Atlantic Slavery, millions of Africans were forcibly scattered across Europe and the Americas, creating the African Diaspora and becoming subjects of western art and media. Slavery spawned a prolific anti-black racism which is embedded in western filmic and televisual representation. As such, this course shall be attentive to where, how, when and which types of black subjects were allowed to be represented in western film and television at different historical moments. It shall also explore alternative and resistant forms of representation. The course will pose questions of cultural access and control, production, representation and audience. Although mainly American productions shall be discussed, other national contexts will also be explored.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

It is expected that students develop a competence in identifying and analyzing significant issues in the study of race and media. Full participation is a fundamental requirement for students in a seminar course. Classes will be discussion-driven (by the students) and as such students are expected to attend all classes having read all required readings and having taken any additional steps to prepare themselves for an engaged contribution to the seminars. The final mark will reflect the student’s in-class participation, research skills, writing and communication skills.

Course Assignments Participation: 10%
Short Essay: 10% Mid-Term Exam: 25%
Film/Television Analysis Assignment: 15%
Seminar Presentation:15%
Final Paper: 25%


ARTH 430 (15786) Concepts-Discipline Art History: “Making and knowing: Art and Science in Early Modern Europe” (3 credits), Prof. Matthew Hunter, TH, 1135-1425, Ferrier 456.

In recent decades, the complex interplay between visual artists and scientific practitioners in early modern Europe has generated a rich body of interdisciplinary research and by lively theoretical debate. How, scholars have asked, do we explain the historical coincidence between the coming of the Scientific Revolution and the “rise of Western naturalism” in European art? Did scientific techniques enable Renaissance artists to accomplish marvelous representational feats just as those artists’ skills rendered the natural world newly comprehensible to educated Europeans? Where and how did these generative interactions unfold? When and why did they stop—or did they do so at all? Drawing upon a sequence of key case studies, this seminar provides a chronological overview of art/science interactions in the “long” early modern period (ca. 1430-1830) with a strong emphasis on major theoretical debates that have driven research in the field.

Requirements/Method of Evaluation:

Class Participation (25%): This class is designed as a seminar. Satisfactory participation requires attendance at all class meetings, along with preparation for and active engagement in discussion of assigned readings. In-class work may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor.

Presentations (25%): In addition to preparing discussion questions and presenting readings in class, you will be assessed on your presentation of your final paper topic to the class, scheduled for Weeks 12 & 13.

Final Paper (50%): 15-20 pages on an approved topic of your choice relating to the problematic of the course


ARTH 447 (CRN 5097) Independent Research Course (3 credits) Instructor’s Approval Required.

ARTH 457 (15757) / EAST 457 (15763) Brushwork in Chinese Painting (3 credits), Prof. Jeffrey Moser, M, 1435-1725, Arts W-220.

Chinese painting has often been called “the art of the brush.” It was not always so. The standardization of brushstroke typologies through the publication and dissemination of painting manuals in sixteenth and seventeenth century China brought to a close a thousand-year long process of negotiation over the appropriate means of measuring quality in painting. This course examines how and why the character of an individual brushstroke came to be recognized as the primary index of value by historical Chinese connoisseurs. It explores the implications of this recognition for the formal development of Chinese painting, and traces the trajectories of other measures of quality that were eventually marginalized. In so doing, the course situates the great monuments of premodern Chinese painting within the discursive contexts that they engendered and to which they responded. Together, we will explore how the history of painting in China from the seventh to the seventeenth centuries can be narrated in the languages of its time.

No prior knowledge of Chinese or Chinese art is required. All of the primary sources will be made available in English translation, and in-class discussion will help students understand the historical valence of critical Chinese terms. The course will proceed chronologically, with each session featuring visual analysis of key paintings and textual analysis of related writings from the middle of the first millennium to the seventeenth century A.D. By so assessing the primary sources for the history of Chinese painting, the course provides students with the means to interrogate the secondary literature in the field and thereby think critically about how the interpretation of Chinese painting can contribute to the analysis of the visual arts in other cultural contexts. It also equips students interested in other fields with the knowledge and vocabulary necessary for integrating painting into broader studies of East Asian history, literature, and philosophy.

Requirements/Methods of Evaluation:

Participation (30%)
Interpretative Paper (20%)
Longer Research Paper (50%)


ARTH 490 (CRN 1493) Museum Internship (3 credits) Advisor’s Approval Required.
For additional information about the Museum Internship follow this link.

Winter 2013

ARTH 205 (7952) Introduction to Modern Art (3 credits), Dr. Samantha Burton, W, F, 1605-1725, Leacock 219.

ARTH 215 (CRN 10257) / EAST 215 (10347) Introduction to East Asian Art (3 credits), Prof. Jeffrey Moser, T, TH, 1135-1255, Arts W-215.

ARTH 305 (CRN 3190) Methods in Art History (3 credits), Ms. Abigail Shapiro and Mr. Tomasz Grusiecki, W, 1435-1725, Arts W-215.

ARTH 314 (CRN 10259) The Medieval City (3 credits), TBA, M, 1435-1725, Arts W-215.

ARTH 340 (12157) The Gothic Cathedral (3 credits), Dr. Mailan Doquang, T, TH, 0835-0955, Arts W-215.

ARTH 354 (CRN 11701) / COMS 354 (CRN 11740) Selected Topics in Art History 2: “The Visual Culture of Crime” (3 credits), Prof. Will Straw, T, 1435-1725, Arts W-215.

ARTH 420 (CRN 12156) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 1 "TBA" (3 credits), Dr. Samantha Burton, M, 1135-1425, Arts W-220.

ARTH 421 (CRN 11707) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 2 "TBA" (3 credits), Prof. Charmaine Nelson, T, 1005-1255, Ferrier 230.

ARTH 422 (CRN 7975) Selected Topics in Art & Architecture 3 "TBA" (3 credits), Prof. Christine Ross, T, 1435-1725, Arts W-5.

ARTH 430 (CRN 12833) Concepts - Discipline Art History: "Home" (3 credits), Dr. Elizabeth Kalbfleisch, W, 1435-1725, Ferrier 230.

ARTH 447 (CRN 1673) Independent Research Course (3 credits) Instructor’s Approval Required.

ARTH 490 (CRN 1674) Museum Internship (3 credits) Advisor’s Approval Required.
For additional information about the Museum Internship follow this link.