BFA Course Schedule: Fall 2021

    AH 101

    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. Required: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : No prerequisite

    3 credits
    AH 102

    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. Required: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : None

    3 credits
    AH 250

    AH 250 (W) 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&D. 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. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/ week.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 or equivalent.

    3 credits
    AH 323

    AH 323 History of Photography

    This course surveys the historical development of photography from its beginnings in the nineteenth century to the present. We will cover a roster of artists, theoretical concerns, and technical developments that have contributed to the field, both historically and contemporarily. In a series of lectures and seminars, we will be examining how the camera has functioned as a tool for documentation, portraiture, scientific inquiry, social commentary, journalism, advertising, personal expression and fine art. Additionally, the coursework is designed to develop research methodologies in art history while reinforcing the basics of critical reading, writing, and editing. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/ week.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    3 credits
    AH 356

    AH 356 (W) Global Contemporary Photography

    This course explores developments in visual cultural and photographic technology in contemporary culture across the World and surveys photography's role in shaping world histories, cultures, and identities. It will introduce students to the work of pioneering photographers from the Americas, Europe, Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East in the late-20th and early 21st century. With the advent of the internet, globalization has changed the history of photographic exchange. It is through thematic lectures and discussions that this course will examine and assess the impact of globalization on photographic practices. Major topics include the worldwide production and dissemination of photographic images; the local and global character of specific genres, such as portraiture and photojournalism; the photographic representation of human movement and migration; and (post)colonial photographies. This course will begin with a historical survey and a review of important movements, historical events and significant theoretical issues that relate to what is now called the "global art world." Over the semester students will learn to think critically about the relationship between history and cultural representations, particularly through the international circulation of photographic images. This way of thinking will reorient their compass toward different and vibrant centers of artistic production that are too often kept at the margins of the art historical discourse. This course places a strong emphasis on art-historical writing and research practices. Three major writing projects incorporate original artworks at the Portland Museum of Art and Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : AH101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    3 credits
    AH 357

    AH 357 Visions of Dissent: Moving Images and Resistance

    Film and video have the potential to become tools for effecting social change. This course explores the material and the social conditions of filmmaking, and the relationships between aesthetics, resistance, and representation. In-class screenings and discussions will focus on international film and video works that present a wide range of approaches to the subject, including experimental, documentary, détournement, auto-ethnographic, and verité. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent

    3 credits
    AH 358

    AH 358 (W) On the Wall: Museum History & Theory

    This course introduces students to the history of museum culture, practice and theory. Through text and image (as well as experiential learning), it explores a range of issues such as ethics, provenance, audience, and architecture. Using Maine’s excellent examples, students study present realities and future possibilities of local institutions. Issues and debates confronting museums today will be considered in the light of historical development and changing communities. Through both physical and virtual exhibition display, we can explore questions that continue to circulate around the museum as a collecting institution: who chooses what we see and what we do not see? What happens when artwork enters the museum? Are all museums (and museum goers) created equal? Does artwork perform differently on the wall than in the vault? What are the social implications of art exhibitions? Over the course of the semester, we will investigate and strive to answer these questions in our study of museums and modern museum culture.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or equivalent.

    Additional Notes : Elective: 3 hours/ week.

    3 credits
    AH 369

    AH 369 (S) Radical Cartography

    The practice of cartography does not simply depict geographic space in the form of maps, it projects social and historical imaginaries. Radical cartography understands maps not simply as objects but as embodying and enacting historical, social, emotional and political processes. As we will see, cartography has been used historically to define the normative practices that different spaces can be used for, and, just as crucially, who can use them and in what ways. For this reason, mapping practices have been an important tool in the colonial exercise of power and a key part of racial capitalism. In this class, we will endeavor to understand mapping as participating in the creation of what we could call “cartographic regimes”—ways of perceiving, navigating and orienting to the world. We will ground our critical focus by concentrating on four cartographic regimes: the institution; the settler-colonial reservation; the imperialist plantation; and the capitalist city. What racial, gendered and social assumptions inform these cartographies? What are their visual and political assumptions? Alongside this work, we will look at how artists, activists and theorists have responded to these histories and have attempted to reveal them, as well as focusing on the social worlds their practices of radical cartography imagine otherwise.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    Additional Notes : Elective: 3 hours/week

    3 credits
    AH 373

    AH 373 Kill Yr Semiotics: A Critical History of Post-Punk

    Kill Yr Semiotics is a seminar devoted to a cultural history of the experimental lyricism of post-punk through the analysis of music, film, poetry, prose, art, and theory with a particular emphasis on 1970s’ New York and postmodernism. An expanded spatial/temporal dialogue regarding a range of artists such as Lorna Simpson, Valie Export, Robert Smithson, Joan Jonas, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Serra, Patti Smith, Gordon Matta-Clark, Yvonne Rainer, Ellen Gallagher, Eileen Myles, Stan Brakhage, The Talking Heads, and Television will challenge the legacy of the post-punk as an anti-aesthetic. Kill Yr Semiotics will revisit the clichés of punk as well as look at such proto-punk precedents as Arthur Rimbaud, The Velvet Underground, Karl Marx, Yoko Ono, Fluxus, and The Situationists in order to triangulate the expressive and iconic role of history, race, class, gender, religion, and urbanism in the post-punk arts. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    3 credits
    AH 374

    AH 374 Affect & Assemblages: Media, Politics, & Emotion

    One of the many things that the 2016 U.S. American presidential election demonstrated was that the media offers a powerful vector through which affect and emotions migrate, producing virtual forms of kinship based on shared feelings rather than factually informed agendas. How do these assemblages operate and changing our culture? How do they come into existence and move through culture? To paraphrase Lauren Berlant, the conjunction of politics with norms of affective investment demands a rigorous investigation of the aesthetic components that structure social narratives. Using the 2016 presidential campaign as a case study along with examples from advertising and social messaging, this course will attempt the investigation Berlant calls for. Toward that end, the course begins with a simple question: why do people vote against their own self-interest? Over the course of the semester we will find numerous answers to this question. Drawing on Sara Ahmed’s, Hannah Arendt’s, James Baldwin’s, Berlant’s, and other author’s texts we will explore how social relations of “compassion” have been used historically to generate pity and empathy in audiences with startling different outcomes. Expanding upon this research we turn our attention to advertising and examine how compassion and empathy flow through these forms, capitalizing on the enchanting affects of movement. Central to our exploration is an investigation of how these efforts often gloss over gaps in the promises of democracy that hierarchies of class, race, and gender create. With insight from Sara Ahmed’s work and others we will attempt to analyze what gaps are currently being glossed through the social relations that expressions of hate and love in contemporary public discourses are creating.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    Additional Notes : 3 hours/week

    3 credits
    AH 375

    AH 375 Introduction to the Arts and Visual Cultures of Africa and the Diaspora

    This course provides a chronological introduction to the arts and visual cultures of the African continent and the diaspora. Works of selected cultures from the pre-historic to the post-colonial eras will be examined in depth, considering the formal characteristics of objects within the contexts of the political, social, religious and belief systems in which they were produced. Among topics to be considered are the role of objects within the political governance of centralized royal kingdoms and non-centralized village communities, within the initiation and education of community members, and within the mediation between the spiritual and the everyday. The dynamic impact of reciprocal exchanges between indigenous cultures of the continent and between African traditions and those originating outside the continent—such as Christianity and Islam--will be investigated. A variety of media will be explored, including masquerade, regalia, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and architecture as well as sculpture, painting, photographs and performance art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    Additional Notes : 3 hours/week

    3 credits
    AH 380

    AH 380 (W) Identity & Authenticity in Art and Craft

    This class will investigate the social construction of identity and authenticity in various art and craft movements. From the Craft Revival to Outsider Art, certain movements have relied on identity to frame and market both craft and art. The social construction of these identities have served some very well, while erasing or rejecting others. This course will deconstruct and reconstruct these histories with particular attentiveness to issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Students will be asked to consider the role of identity in both their own art and the art they admire. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week.

    Prerequisites : AH 101-102 and AH 250 or the equivalent.

    3 credits
    AH 440

    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