Graduate Courses in Art History 2019-2020

Fall 2019

ARTH 600 (CRN 3400) (3 credits)
Advanced Professional Seminar
Prof. Cecily Hilsdale
Wednesday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM
Arts W-220

This seminar explores key art historical methodologies, historiographies, and critical debates in the field. Approaching art history as a set of interrelated practices, it is designed to build and refine the primary critical skills of the discipline—both practical and theoretical. In first half of the term we will devote particular attention to the art of compelling and argument-driven art historical writing, including grant writing (drafting, revising, and assessing grant applications). The second half of the semester turns to a selection of thematics—from Riegl’s Kunstwollen to the ubiquitous problematic of iconoclasm—that cut cross across periods, geographies, and specializations of Art History. Covering a capacious set of intellectual debates, at its core this seminar is intended to prepare students for a productive and engaged graduate career.

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

Supervisor approval required.

ARTH 653 (CRN 27652) (3 credits)
Topics: Early Modern Visual Culture 1: The Moving Image
Prof. Angela Vanhaelen
Tuesday, 8:35 AM-11:25 AM
Arts W-220

Early modern art criticism conveys a fascination with the moving image—an artwork so strikingly lifelike that it appears to come alive. The force of the moving image is physical, immediate, and emotive. Such works consume their beholders, deploying stunning visual effects that move and even change their human interlocutors. In this seminar, we will seek to redress art historical neglect of the moving image and explore its multifaceted potentialities. If the power of such works was to transform viewers, how was the rhetorical force of the moving image mobilized to inspire or manipulate political, religious, colonial, and social actions? Focusing on case studies, student research can take up any aspect of the moving image in the early modern period (1500-1700).

Keywords: emotions, senses, vision and visuality, idolatry, fetishism, animated art, the living image, automata, waxworks, death, early modern period.

ARTH 678 (CRN 27653) (3 credits)
Topics: 19th - Century Art & Architecture 2: The Visual Culture of Slavery
Prof. Charmaine Nelson
Thursday, 8:35 AM-11:25 AM,
Arts W-5

The field of Slavery Studies is dominated by historians, sociologists, anthropologists and others and even boasts stellar contributions from the human sciences. Despite the plethora of art and visual culture that was produced within the 400-year period of Transatlantic Slavery, art historians have arguably been one of the last groups of scholars to contribute to this important field. Drawing upon art historical and other literature, this course seeks to explore the role of art and visual culture in Transatlantic Slavery. Focusing mainly on the British Empire, but with some attention to the Danish, Dutch, French, Portuguese, and Spanish Empires, the course will explore the nature of slavery and the experiences, productions, and representations of the enslaved, the indentured, and the slave owning classes in both tropical (slave majority) and temperate (slave minority) sites. The complexity of identities and social interactions of different populations will be explored across various types and media of “high,” “low,” and popular art and visual culture, within the spectrum of abolitionist and pro-slavery intentions.

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

For the completion of thesis research.

ARTH 699 (CRN 20087) (12 credits)
Thesis Research 2
Advisor approval required

Supervised independent research work on an approved topic relating to thesis preparation.

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

Compulsory examination for all doctoral candidates.

ARTH 714 (CRN 27249) (3 credits)
Directed Reading 2

Supervisor approval required.

ARTH 725 (CRN 27654) (3 credits)
Methods in Art History 1: Living Archives: Indigenous Materialities, Visual Sovereignties, and Cultural Belongings
Prof. Gloria Bell
Monday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM
Arts W-220

Drawing inspiration from Seneca historian Arthur Parker who described First Nations wampum as an “ancient archive” for Indigenous peoples in 1916, this seminar investigates wampum, beadwork, and other arts practices as archives both ancient and living. Our readings include a mixture of art history, materiality studies, and archival theories. We will make site visits to art institutions including the McCord Museum and the McGill Rare Books and Special Collections to think about the competing sovereignties of Indigenous cultural belongings and artworks within colonial art institutions and to encourage sustained respectful engagement with material things for Indigenous and Settler communities.

Keywords: Indigenous art, settler-Indigenous relations, materiality studies, museums, archival methods, wampum, tufting, beadwork

ARTH 731 (CRN 27658) / COMS 675 (3 credits)
Current Problems in Art History 2: Media and Urban Life
Prof. Will Straw
Wednesday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM
SH688 465

This course deals with a variety of ways in which we might think about the relationship of cities to media. Cities “contain” media, of course, but the relationship between the two goes beyond this. Cities are themselves media-like in the ways in which they process information, structure cultural expression and give material form to social history and memory. This course will examine a variety of relationships between cities, media and cultural expression.

Keywords: media, cities, culture

Winter 2020

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

Supervisor approval required.

ARTH 646 (CRN 19516) / EAST 503 (CRN 17277) (3 credits)
Topics: Chinese Visual Culture: Borders and Boundaries in Traditional Chinese Art
Prof. Jeehee Hong
Wednesday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM
Arts 350

Boundary-making is one of the most fundamental ways in which humans engage with their environs. While the core workings of the boundary-making are universal in a philosophical sense, its manifestation—at both conceptual and physical levels—is configured through specific historical and cultural conditions. In the field of visual art in which the image-maker encounters her/his surroundings as a multifaceted “self” (e.g., the self as a being in the phenomenal world; the self as a creator of art; the self as an occupier of social and political orders; the self as a member of certain religious communities, etc.), the visible world is dynamically represented in response to that complexity of the artist as a boundary-maker of the world. This seminar explores various modes in which the visual art in pre-modern China reveal conceptions of the boundary in philosophical, social, and religious terms as negotiated through the artist’s eyes and hands. While including the mimetic aspect of the images representing borders/boundaries of the cognizable world in the familiar dualistic scheme (e.g., self vs. the other, inside vs. outside, elite vs. non-elite, mundane vs. sacred, etc.), the central theme in our inquiry will revolve around how the two sides divided by a border were visualized (as well as whether the binary scheme was always the case), and how our recognition of such modes can help to better understand the intersections between diverse “selves” of society in classical China.

Keywords: Boundaries, world-making, modes of representation, pre-modern China

ARTH 647 (CRN 19512) (3 credits)
Topics: Renaissance Art & Architecture 1: Cities, Monuments, Memory
Prof. Chriscinda Henry
Tuesday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM

Cities, Monuments, and Memory examines the relationship between geography, the built environment of cities, their visual dissemination in circulated media such as prints, maps, and postcards, and cultural constructions of memory. Topics will include, but not be limited to, the mythography of ancient and medieval cities across the longue durée, the destruction, neglect, or desecration of memorials, changes in civic memorial conventions, the recent rise in interest in memorials and commemorative activity, the reconstruction of place at sites such as Dubai and the World Trade Center, and theories of place and memory. Readings will include Frances Yates’s The Art of Memory, Pierre Nora’s Lieux de mémoire, Alois Riegel on the cult of monuments, Serguisz Michalski on the politics of European memorials, Françoise Choay on the idea of the monument, Kirk Savage, Edward Said, and a range of other essays and books. The course will give students the opportunity to write an original seminar paper about cultural memory and the built environment in a time and place of their own choosing.

Keywords: cultural memory; memorialization; built environment

ARTH 660 (CRN 16872) (3 credits)
Contemporary Art & Criticism 1: Coexistence in Contemporary Art II
Prof. Christine Ross
Monday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM
Arts W-220

This seminar examines 21st-century art’s engagement with coexistence — the state, awareness and practice of existing interdependently — as a response to the refugee crisis. Focusing on artistic practices based in the West and attentive to their cultural diversity, it asks: “How is art performing the environments of coexistence(s)?” and “What are the possibilities of this aesthetics, i.e., how does it generate new modes of perceiving, knowing and relating?” Artists whose work will be considered include: John Akomfrah, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Angela Melitopoulos, Bouchia Khalili, Olu Oquibe and Ai Weiwei.


ARTH 675 (CRN 21435) (3 credits)
Topics: 19th Century Art and Architecture: The Body in Time: Identity, Temporality and Power
Prof. Mary Hunter
Tuesday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM
Ferrier 230

Description coming soon.

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

Supervised independent research work on an approved topic relating to thesis preparation.

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

Compulsory examination for all doctoral candidates.

ARTH 714 (CRN 14814) (3 credits)
Directed Reading 2

Supervisor approval required.