COVID-19

Undergraduate Courses in Art History 2020-2021

Fall 2020

ARTH 205 (CRN 17738) (3 credits)
Introduction to Modern Art
Dr. Julia Skelly
Monday, Wednesday, 10:05 AM-11:25 AM

This course examines modern art produced in France, Germany, and Mexico from approximately 1850 until 1945. Major figures, including Courbet, Monet, Manet, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Frida Kahlo, will be considered, as well as lesser-known artists such as Tamara de Lempicka. Modern art movements including Impressionism, PostImpressionism, Primitivism, German Expressionism, New Objectivity, Dada and Surrealism will be discussed. The period between 1850 and 1945 was a time of rapid social, economic, and political change, and modern art movements will be considered in light of socio-historical contexts. In other words, we will be using a social history of art methodology throughout the term, drawing on T.J. Clark’s important scholarship. Readings and lectures will give particular attention to issues related to gender, class, race and sexuality.
Syllabus (pdf) 

ARTH 215 (CRN 17740) (3 credits)
Introduction to East Asian Art
Prof. Jeehee Hong
Tuesday, Thursday, 8:35 AM-9:55 AM

This course provides a historical overview of East Asian art and visual cultures from early dynastic times (ca. 6th century BCE) to the 21st century. Focusing on shared cultural foundations, we will mainly discuss China, Korea, and Japan. The course will be structured around several important themes such as funerary, Buddhist, landscape, and literati arts, each of which will be dealt with in chronological order, generally following the order of China, Korea, and Japan. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to think about both the overarching characteristics and more particularly local and temporal variations in East Asian art.

Syllabus (pdf) 

ARTH 226 (CRN 17741) (3 credits)
Introduction to Eighteenth-Century Art and Architecture
Prof. Matthew C. Hunter
Wednesday, Friday, 2:35 PM-3:55 PM

ARTH 226 has two aims. First, it provides an historical overview of art and architecture in the “long” eighteenth century (ca. 1660-1860), with particular emphasis on Britain, France and their global, imperial projects. Second, it welcomes students to the discipline of art history. We will practice formal analysis, visual comparison, critical contextualization, evidence-building and other fundamental techniques that will serve you well whether you aspire to pursue art history or are simply visiting the field.

Syllabus (pdf) 

ARTH 315 (CRN 17742) / CANS 315 (CRN 17971) (3 credits)
Indigenous Art and Culture
Prof. Gloria Bell
Tuesday, Thursday, 1:05 PM-2:25 PM

This course will examine the production of contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists in Canada from the 1990s to the present. A diverse range of contemporary art practices – including painting, drawing, photography, film, performance, installation and new media art – will be considered in relation to key aspects of the cultural, political and social life of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Much of the work examined reflects and responds to the continuing legacy of colonization and successive Canadian governments’ policies of assimilation and segregation. Artists, artworks and exhibitions examined will therefore be both historically and contemporarily contextualized. We will discuss the impact of the Indian Act, the establishment of Reserves and conflicts surrounding sovereignty and status, as well as the portrayal of Indigenous identity in art, popular culture and news media. Additionally, we will engage with the recent scholarship in Indigenous studies and material culture, and current events related to the theme of the course. The course is divided thematically, rather than chronologically, with weekly topics addressing significant aspects of Indigenous art and culture in Canada today.
Syllabus (pdf)

ARTH 353 (CRN 17743) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art History 1
Dr. Julia Skelly
Tuesday, Thursday, 2:35 PM-3:55 PM

This is a moment of reckoning in Canada and around the world. Police brutality, the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter protests, and debates about statues of racist white men who have long been regarded as “great,” mean that this course is an opportunity not only to look critically at Canadian art and visual culture, but also at the long history of anti-black and anti-Indigenous racism in Canada. (This is not to ignore the other kinds of racism that have occurred, and continue to occur, in Canada.) As Dr. Charmaine Nelson has repeatedly shown in her scholarship and teaching, slavery happened in Canada. The territory now known as Canada was formed as a result of the theft of Indigenous land, and that theft, and the concomitant genocide of Indigenous peoples, continues to have ripple effects today in the lives of Indigenous peoples that impact mental health, housing, and physical safety, among many other facets of life. I want us to make this class matter in the context of discussions related to race and racism in Canada. Drawing on recent scholarship concerned with African Canadian Art History, intersectionality, and settler-colonial art history, this course will cover a range of visual material from the nineteenth century to the present. Case studies will include Montreal artist Prudence Heward’s paintings of black female subjects, as well as other white artists representing subjects of colour. Readings will discuss, among other topics, residential school photography, contemporary Indigenous photography, and Rebecca Belmore’s performance Vigil (2002), which commemorated the missing and murdered Indigenous women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Ultimately, the objective of the course is to encourage students to think about both artistic producers and the subjects of representation through the lens of intersectionality, an analytical tool that has been 2 adopted by some feminist art historians as a way to address not only gender, but also class, race, and sexuality, and which reminds us that whiteness must be critically interrogated as a racial identity. Violence will be a central motif in this course, and assignments will be dedicated to both critical thinking and activism. NB: This is a reading-heavy course.

Syllabus (pdf) 

ARTH 354 (CRN 17744) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art History 2: Latin America
Julia Skelly
Monday, Wednesday, 11:35 AM-12:55 PM

This course examines modern art produced by a range of Latin American artists based primarily in Paris and Mexico between the two World Wars. Major figures such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Remedios Varo will be considered, as well as lesser-known artists. Works by Latin American artists will be examined in relation to modern art movements including Primitivism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Surrealism. The period between the wars was a time of rapid social, economic, and political change, and modern art movements will be considered in light of socio-historical contexts. In other words, we will be using a social history of art methodology throughout the term. Readings and lectures will give particular attention to issues related to gender, class, race and sexuality. We will conclude the term by discussing contemporary female Latin American artists whose art is related to violence.

Syllabus (pdf)  

ARTH 400 (CRN 17745) / ARTH 401 (CRN 17746) (3 credits)
Selected Methods in Art History: Historiography and the Practice of Art History / Honours Research Paper
Prof. Angela Vanhaelen
Thursday, 8:35 AM-11:25 AM

This seminar approaches art history as a set of practices. Weekly exercises and workshops are designed to offer training in the following arts: writing a compelling visual analysis, putting together a successful research proposal, critiquing an exhibition, explaining your research with clarity and confidence. A key aim of the class is practical skill building. The weekly writing exercises are designed as building blocks for the Honours Research Paper (ARTH 401). We will also consider the history of art history in relation to recent developments in the discipline, especially the ‘material turn’ and the ‘global turn,’ paying particular attention to the racialized discourse that has structured the discipline and its methods. The major outcome of this course will be a strong honours research paper.

Syllabus (pdf)

CANS 404 (CRN 17973) (3 credits)
Critical Museology and Heritage in Canada
Dr. Shelley Ruth Butler
Monday, 2:35 PM-5:35 PM

This seminar focuses on critical museology and heritage in Canada, with a focus on theoretical and practical approaches from the 1990s until the present.  Museums and heritage sites have historically operated as sites of control and exclusion, but they can also be sites of resistance, self-determination, and reconciliation. Students will appreciate why critical museology and heritage is necessary and how it is changing through a variety of case studies.  Museums and heritage sites in the age of COVID and social movements such as Black Lives Matter will be addressed. Students will conduct field research based on virtual or real exhibition and heritage sites and will be guided to develop their own “Curatorial Dreams” in response to their critical assessments.

For more information, contact David Roseman at david.roseman [at] mcgill.ca or visit
www.mcgill.ca/misc/undergraduate/cans

ARTH 411 (CRN 17747) (3 credits)
Canadian Art and Race
Dr. Joana Joachim
Friday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM

In this course, we will consider some of the key issues related to Black Canadian history as they relate to race and art history in Canada. We will examine the cultural and historical contributions by Black people and think critically about the disciplines of museology, curating and art history in Canada. We will develop an understanding of Black feminisms as well as harness skills to discuss art from critical perspectives considering issues around identity, gender, race, sexuality and class.

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with some basic principles of Black feminism, key aspect of Black Canadian history and how these apply to art history. This course will lead students to gain an understanding of key political and museological stakes of Black Art Histories in Canada and beyond. Students will be encouraged to question the practices which have led to the marginalization of these histories. At the end of the course students will be able to articulate these issues in a compelling manner and will have a general knowledge of Black Canadian art contributions from the nineteenth century to today. Students will also develop basic curatorial skills and learn how to facilitate conversations around Black Canadian contributions to art histories.
Syllabus (pdf)

ARTH 420 (CRN 17748) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art and Architecture 1: "Global Impressionisms"
Dr. Elizabeth Stone
Monday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM

This undergraduate seminar will focus on the development and afterlife of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting in the late nineteenth-century. Focusing on both specific aesthetic practices and the social and cultural conditions that surrounded them, we will consider topics such as urban redevelopment, technical artistic processes, the creation of transnational artist colonies, and the effect of new art exhibition venues. Our investigation of these and other themes will be grounded in close attention to particular works of art as we revisit Impressionism’s central place in the history of art and new methods through which to examine its global impact and reception. Assignments will ask students to think critically about the stylistic translation of Impressionism through its global dissemination both in the nineteenth century and beyond. While this course aims to familiarize students with the critical texts, artists, and movements that shaped the development of Impressionism, it also aims to interrogate “Impressionism” as a stable or singularly definable term. What are its geographical bounds? Who does it include? Who does it leave out? What is its relationship to local histories and national schools?
Syllabus (pdf)

ARTH 421 (CRN 17749) / EAST 493 (CRN 18358) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art and Architecture 2: "Face as World in Chinese Art, ca. 1000"
Prof. Jeehee Hong
Monday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM

What did smiling, crying, or frowning in art signify in classical China?  In a visual culture where displaying of explicit emotional expressions was discouraged, what might emotion-driven faces created by the hands of artists have meant?  Against the background of the cultural phenomenon in premodern Chinese art that facial expressions were generally demure, the beginning of the second millennium in Chinese history presents as a curious swerve; the sudden efflorescence of “faciality” is witnessed in the fields of pictorial and sculptural arts.

This seminar examines historical and conceptual dimensions of the faciality by addressing how such “making” of faces was shaped as a medium indexical of particular social and cultural interests of the middle-period Chinese (9th-14th centuries).  The commonality in such interests was one’s attitudes toward defining, making, and remaking of boundaries that derived from shifting relations between social classes, religious beliefs, as well as from practices of image-making itself.  Focusing on a spectrum of linkage between the represented facial expressions and senses of boundary-making, the seminar explores several distinctive modes of representation identified through various sites of social and religious encounters, ranging from spaces of commemoration or worship (such as tombs or monasteries), through street corners (shared by commoners and literati alike), to the world of animals. This course is suitable for students who have already taken ARTH 215/EAST 215 or any 200 (or higher)-level Art History courses (ARTH).
Syllabus (pdf)

ARTH 447 (CRN 17750) (3 credits)
Independent Research Course

Instructor's approval required.

ARTH 490 (CRN 17751) (3 credits)
Museum Internship
Prof. Mary Hunter

The Department of Art History & Communications Studies offers undergraduate students the opportunity to undertake internships at museums, art galleries, and artist-run centres, among other institutions, as the equivalent of a 3-credit course toward their academic degree programs. Internships provide students with work experience and help to clarify vocational interests. As interns, students have an opportunity to see how things function in particular career fields and get exposure to research, curatorial and exhibition practices, and the multifaceted concerns and distinctive needs and interests of art institutions and organizations. Students learn the range of marketable skills required, the importance of group work, and the value of clear writing and presentation techniques. Added benefits include opportunities to network, find mentors, and earn credits toward their academic program. Please note: The internship for course credit is a two-term process, you must take this into consideration when considering the museum internship course (ARTH 490). You complete the internship at the host institution before doing the course at McGill, which is currently offered only during the fall semester. Thus, whether you do the internship during the fall,, or summer term, you take the course the following fall semester.
Syllabus (pdf)

ARTH 502 (CRN 23675) (3 credits)
Advanced Topics: Art and Architectural History: "Risk, Value, Accident: Art and the Actuarial Imagination"
Prof. Matthew Hunter
Tuesday, 11:35 PM - 2:25 PM

The Slave Ship. J. M. W. Turner
"Art insurance is huge business,” so one recent art-market commentator observes, “and not least now that artworks move around the world in far greater volume and frequency than ever before.” Insurance indeed exerts pervasive influence upon contemporary art: requirement for art’s circulation, judge of its monetary value, arbiter of its conditions of display. But, how has insurance come to occupy such a central position in the arts? Where, when and why have artists and architects made technologies of risk key to their enterprises? And what can a longer history of art’s entanglements with underwriting teach us about the contemporary moment? Art history possesses few working narratives of how insurance has ramified through the visual arts and architecture on its way to literally underwriting their conditions of contemporary ubiquity. This seminar aims to advance such a critical history. Introducing the general problematic, we will work through a sequence of cases as we aim to build a provisional genealogy of insurance’s crossings with art, architecture, and the museum.

Syllabus (pdf)  

Winter 2021

ARTH 200 (CRN 15309) (3 credits)
Introduction to Art History 1
Prof. TBA
Wednesday and Friday, 2:35 PM-3:55 PM
Arts W-215

Description  coming soon.

ARTH 207 (CRN 15310) (3 credits)
Introduction Early Modern Art 1400-1700
Prof. Angela Vanhaelen
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 8:35 AM-9:25 AM
Arts W-215

Description coming soon.

ARTH 305 (CRN 15311) (3 credits)
Methods in Art History
Prof. Matthew C. Hunter
Tuesday and Thursday, 10:05 AM-11:25 AM
Arts W-215

Description coming soon.

ARTH 339 (CRN 15313) (3 credits)
Critical Issues - Contemporary Art
Prof. TBA
Monday and Wednesday, 1:05 PM-2:25 PM
Arts W-215

Description coming soon.

ARTH 353 (CRN 15314) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art History 1
Prof. TBA
Tuesday and Thursday, 8:35 AM-9:55 AM
Arts W-215

Description coming soon.

ARTH 354 (CRN 15315) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art History 2
Prof. Will Straw
Monday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM
Arts W-215

Description coming soon.

ARTH 420 (CRN 15316) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art and Architecture 1
Prof. TBA
Friday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM
Arts W-220

Description coming soon.

ARTH 421 (CRN 15317) (3 credits)
Selected Topics in Art and Architecture 2
Prof. Gloria Bell
Tuesday, 2:35 PM-5:25 PM
Arts W-220

Description coming soon.

ARTH 430 (CRN 15318) (3 credits)
Concepts - Discipline Art History
Prof. Matthew C. Hunter
Friday, 11:35 AM-2:25 PM
Ferrier 230

Description coming soon.

ARTH 447 (CRN 15319) (3 credits)
Independent Research Course

Description coming soon.

ARTH 490 (CRN 15320) (3 credits)
Museum Internship

Description coming soon.

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