Fall 2017 Course Schedule 
Spring 2018 Course Schedule

 

    Code
    Course
    Credits
    AH 101

    Art History Survey I

    This art history course is a chronological overview of artworks from the prehistoric period up to the 15th century Renaissance period. This course introduces students to the major historical monuments of world art as well as a variety of art forms from different cultures and periods. The course explores how individual artworks express form, style, and cultural meaning, while also introducing students to art historical vocabulary and various methods of art historical research. The class meets twice a week and features a mix of lectures and student participation. The course integrates a visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

    No Prerequisites

    3 credits
    AH 102

    Art History Survey II 

    The second semester of the art history survey course combines a chronological overview of art works from the seventeenth century through 1960 with a rigorous investigation of the contexts in which art has been made. The course covers major art historical developments in the western and non-western worlds with an evaluation of their form, content, style, cultural meaning, and historical import. The course also introduces students to art historical vocabulary and various methods of art historical research. Each section meets twice a week for lecture and student discussion.

    No Prerequisites

    2 credits
    AH 250

    Critical Approaches to Contemporary Art

    This class provides a foundation in critical theory and in critical thinking and writing skills. We will consider the relationship between the theory and practice of art. Each week we will look at a different critical issue related to making and interpreting art, covering- the sometimes overlapping- issues of form, process, representation, reproduction, originality, distribution, institutions, gender, identity, culture and politics. We will frame these issues in relationship to specific case studies drawn from a range of media, including examples from studio areas at MECA. Students will be encouraged to make links between critical issues covered in class and their own work, and to understand the ways that theory connects to artistic practice.

    Prerequisites : H 101-102 or equivalent

    3 credits
    AH 276

    Islam and Europe: A History of Artistic Exchange

    This course takes a historical and critical view of the artistic exchange between Europe and the Islamic world from the 15th to the 20th centuries. It traces a reciprocal current of visual and cultural encounter in order to highlight continuities and ruptures between imperial centers and across national borders. Beginning with the conquest of Constantinople, this course examines exchanges between Venice and the Ottomans, Islamic Spain, Paris, Tehran, and Istanbul as well as England and India through the First World War and fall of the Ottoman Empire.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    9 credits
    AH 277

    Art & Text

    This class explores the relationship between poetry and visual forms. Initial study will introduce historical precedent for twentieth century practices of visual poetry including illuminated manuscripts, "Pattern Poetry" and the work of William Blake. Exploring these paired methods of communication, the class will focus its attention on forms of visual poetry developed since the 1900s, including modernist work by Concrete Poets, experimentation by Surrealist poets, Lettrisme, May Swenson's Iconographs and contemporary visual poetry by Howe, Carson, Vicuña and others. Practices of poetic ekphrasis (writing in response to visual stimuli and art in particular) will also be explored. In addition to regarding poetic examples and creating experimental poetry of their own, students will gain a nuanced understanding of the ways in which text and visual form communicate differently. Additional reading will be drawn from Perloff's Poetry On and Off the Page and Bergman Loizeaux's Twentieth-Century Poetry and the Visual Arts.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 300

    Imitation, Appropriation & Re-enactment

    As art historian Leo Steinberg pointed out in 1978, the practice of creating “art after art” permeates art history; in fact, this practice of “borrowing” from the past is almost as old as art itself. Nevertheless, Steinberg’s insight seems to directly contradict more traditional art-historical notions of signature style and artistic originality. Inherent to these contradictions are important questions about what constitutes a work of art. As it turned out, Steinberg’s observation proved to be quite prescient. Less than three years after Steinberg’s comments, Sherrie Levine turned her camera toward pictures of Edward Weston’s photographs and snapped the shutter. Using the titular traditions of Renaissance Imitation, she exhibited these “copies” under her own name, as new artworks “after Weston.” Levine was one of a number of artists in the late seventies and early eighties who were dubbed the Pictures Generation, a moniker derived from Helene Winer’s commercial gallery Metro Pictures, which represented many of them, and Douglas Crimp’s 1977 curatorial essay entitled “Pictures.” Their practice of “appropriation art” raised legal questions around copyrights, which intersected with other questions around originality and who or what constituted an author. Pushing these questions farther, commodity artists of the 1980s created multiples and appropriated commercial presentation techniques to interrogate the market value of art. As the digital era gave rise to sampling, more “translational” approaches to representation and constructing meaning developed. Over the course of this semester we will examine these different approaches to copying and explore how these practices have transformed our understanding of what constitutes an artwork, authorship, value, meaning, and even history itself.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 319

    Revolutionaries to Radicals: Art of the 19th Century

    This course will examine the remarkable developments in European art of the 19th century, including Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism, in the context of the political, social, and economic transformations of the century. We will focus on French painting, with forays into Spain, England, and Germany. Readings and class discussions will consider the impact of industrialization; political instability and democratic revolutions; academic art and the opposing avant-garde styles; the growth of popular culture; gender and the roles of women; the artists’ choices between social engagement and artistic independence, individuality, and innovation; and the concept of modernity. The course will encourage close readings of images by artists such as David, Delacroix, Goya, Turner, Courbet, Manet, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cézanne.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 326

    Modern Art: 1900-1970

    Modern Art 1900-1970 investigates various international avant-garde movements, including Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, the Russian avant-garde, de Stijl, Dada and Surrealism, the Bauhaus, Art Deco, abstract expressionism, Pop art, and Minimalism. The course will focus on examining developments in painting and sculpture, as well as design, furniture, ceramics, furniture, textiles, and other media, through readings of primary sources and art historical analyses. Lectures, group discussions, responses to readings, a research paper, and a presentation will enable students to evaluate the meanings and developments of 20th-century art.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 349

    This is a Portrait if I Say So: Understanding Portraiture as a Medium

    This course reconsiders conventional notions of portraiture. It positions portraits, and their study in the history of art, as visual and material objects that form a medium (and not a genre) by which multiple social and subjective identities are formed. In considering portraiture as a ground upon which ideas, values, beliefs, and materials can be added, subtracted, exposed, and/or manipulated, we are able to think more broadly about how portraiture operates in different social and cultural contexts. Portraiture, in both visual and verbal representations, offers an opportunity to study how facial likeness both reflects and constructs conceptions of identity particularly with photographic, scientific, and non-representational imagery. In addition, this course will address historical precedents such as those in the Renaissance, the response in successive centuries as well as themes around biography, autobiography, and the sustained interrelationship between the theories of the self and of self-representation.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 353

    Walking: An Art History 

    The revelatory power of mobilizing the entire body transforms us as well as the spaces we pass through. Modifying the sense of space crossed, walking has been claimed as our first aesthetic act. Walking, an Art History will regard walking as methodology, performance and practice within the history of 20th and early 21st century art. Following lines established by early Surrealist wandering and the dérive of the Situationist International and connecting to earlier histories of pilgrimage, aboriginal mapping, and the notion of the flâneur, students will investigate a cross-disciplinary arts history that engages questions of mark-making, mapping, historical memory, spatial politics, measurement and myth. In addition to readings, discussions and lectures, the course will include walks led by the instructor, students and visitors.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 354

    Reading the Landscape of Modernism 1850–1950

    During an era in which place and community have increasingly become the medium, subject, and content of artworks, this course will situate landscape as a cultural construct that has been defined by the discourses and theoretical tenets that have shaped aesthetics. This “expanded field” of literature has framed the landscape in terms of Modernist, Postmodernist, and Marxist theories. Within this context our understanding of landscape has expanded; much more than a history of gardens, landscapes have become generative and performative sites. Through the reading and analysis of texts and places, students will gain an appreciation of landscape as an expressive medium that operates along side of the other more traditional mediums of painting, sculpture, film, ceramics, and other arts.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 365

    Systemic Landscapes: Art in the Age of Mechanical Ecology

    Beginning with a critical (re)reading of Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” this course will assess artists and designers utilizing ecological systems for functional and symbolic value. Issues of authenticity, “place-making,” and civics will be grounded in a review of art projects that challenge assumptions regarding the real and the uncanny. Our goal is to update and recontextualize such terms as the beautiful, the sublime, and the picturesque. In what some call the epoch of the Anthropocene, it is essential to reconsider binary thought leading to such classifications as the “natural” and the “unnatural” in order to realize Robert Smithson’s concept of the “dialectical landscape.”

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 383

    Contemporary Chinese Art

    This course chronologically surveys and thematically examines the developments and changes in Chinese contemporary art. The survey focuses on the relationship between changes in Chinese contemporary art and the changing politics, economics and society of China. At the same time, it pays close attention to the relevance of western contemporary art.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent and AH 250

    3 credits
    AH 440

    Art History Minor Thesis

    Students pursuing the minor may enroll in this course either semester. Students work with a thesis advisor.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and permission of Minor Program Coordinator

    3 credits
    AH 440

    Art History Minor Thesis

    Students pursuing the minor may enroll in this course either semester. Students work with a thesis advisor. Independent Study: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and permission of Minor Program Coordinator

    3 credits