2024-2025 Art History Courses

Please find below the undergraduate and graduate Art History courses for the 2024-25 academic year. Full details can be found in the university-wide Academic Calendar. Information about our recently offered Art History courses can be found here. For our Art Conservation courses, please visit this page.

2024 Fall Term Courses

ARTH 121: Global Art Histories: Parallels & Contacts

An introduction to the study of art, architecture, and material culture from a global perspective, including Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Organized around themes, parallels and connections will be drawn between artistic objects and buildings from across history and around the world. Case studies consider art and architecture’s relationship to religion, monarchy, colonialism, indigeneity, missionization, cultural appropriation, commodification, and self-representation. Others will consider medium, technique, perspective, composition, and art’s relationship to narrative and meditation. 

Course Description

ARTH 210: Introduction to Technical Art History

Looking into a painting’s genesis: Technical Art History looks closely at the materials and techniques used to create art -- from Early Italian panel paintings to Piet Mondrian's abstract canvases -- and better understand when, how, why and by whom these works were created.

Course Description (766KB)
ARTH 212 poster

ARTH 212: Arts of the Middle Ages

We explore the pivotal period of European, North African, and Middle Eastern art history between c. 300-1400. This period not only brought forth our dominant systems of faith and their related artistic traditions (the mosques of Islam, the churches and chapels of Christianity), but also many of our institutions (monarchy, the earliest universities), and gave shape to many of our cities (Paris, London, Rome, Istanbul, etc). This course reframes the period through careful contextual analyses of major monuments and argues for the importance of the medieval world for shaping world art.

ARTH 226: Modern Arts in a Globalizing World

This course examines the histories, meanings, and sites of modern arts in a globalizing world. Students become familiar with key art works, transnational and global networks of art, shifts in critical conceptions, and art historical problems surrounding modernity, modernisms, and modern arts.

Course Descritpion (15KB)
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ARTH 250: Art, Society and Culture

This online course is an introduction to the social conditions and cultural movements that shaped nineteenth-century European visual arts in their global context. Two main themes will be stressed:  1) the tension between modernity and anti-modernism and 2) competing views on the very nature of the visual arts.  The dramatic social and political developments of the period were reflected in diverse cultural movements, some of which embraced change while others rejected it and looked to the past for artistic models.  Closely related to these cultural movements was the fundamental question of what comprised the visual arts.  For example, increased exposure to non-Western visual culture challenged European assumptions about art.


ARTH 272: Latin American Art

Explores the art and architecture of Latin America, from Argentina to the Caribbean and Southeastern United States, from ca. 1200 BCE to the present. The course will look at the great civilizations of pre-Hispanic America (Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs, Moche, Inca and others), colonial Latin America (Spanish America, from New Mexico to Patagonia, and Portuguese Brazil), and the arts from Independence in the early 19th century to the present, including a consideration of figures such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Wifredo Lam, and Tarsila do Amaral.

Course Description

ARTH 277: Artists and Artisans in South Asia

Focusing on a selection of thematic studies from across history, from the Indus Valley Civilization to the present day, this course examines a range of artistic and artisanal works across South Asia including painting, architecture, arts of the book, sculpture, textiles, metalwork, and ceramics, as well as theories of aesthetics and craftsmanship. 

Course Description

ARTH 308: Gothic Art: Romance, Power and Magnificence c. 1150-1450

The period we now call "Gothic" was one of the most vibrant in the entire history of art. Covering all of Europe and the Mediterranean, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (via the Silk Roads), the Gothic might have been the first "international style" in art history. This course looks at the period anew through its art but also its literature.

Course Description (1MB)

ARTH 374: Early Netherlandish Painting in the 16th Century: From Bosch to Breughel

How can it be that the mysterious works that Jheronimus Bosch created 500 years ago are still puzzling art historians today? Why was Pieter Bruegel the Elder so fascinated with Bosch that he set out to emulate him, 50 years after the death of his famous predecessor? This course surveys painting in the Low Countries between c. 1500 and c. 1570. Triggered by the Reformation and the advent of Humanism, this period is characterized by major political upheaval and military conflict, resulting in important changes in the patronage, production, marketing, and function of art. 

Course Description (59KB)

ARTH 391: Art Forgeries

Forgeries have an incredible allure.  As with a conjuring trick, we are bemused when we are fooled, especially when our own finances and reputations are not involved.  However, on a societal level, rarely do we investigate this phenomenon in more than a superficial manner resulting in little understanding of the depth of a fake’s impact.  This class will delve more fully into the world of art forgeries to provide a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of their history, production, identification, and reception.  In order to encapsulate the nuances of this phenomenon, this class will take an interdisciplinary approach, including guest lectures, to foster discussion about the impact of art forgeries on a wide range of disciplines including art history, finance, law, museology, and conservation.  Through interdisciplinary dialogue, students will attempt to form their own philosophical approach to forgeries based on their fields of study in combination with art history.


Course Description

ARTH 395: Internship

Education in practice: Art History and Fine Art students can apply for a practical internship at a museum or gallery, taking on research or curatorial activities. Applications must be approved in advance by the Undergraduate Chair. 


Course Description

ARTH 405: Cultural Heritage Preservation

An investigation of how cultural heritage has been preserved in different parts of the world in the past and the present, focusing on methods used to ameliorate or prevent damage and destruction caused by the environment, war, looting and restoration. Case studies will be drawn from the UNESCO World Heritage list.




Course Description (700KB)

ARTH 485/842: Crafting Flesh: Collaboration in the Creation of Multimedia Sculptures in the Renaissance

Want experience in curation and a digital publication?  Collaborate with your peers to carry out original research and co-curate a digital exhibition that demonstrates that Italian Renaissance sculpture is not just a series of white marble statues by revealing the variety of multimedia works made in the period.

Course Description

ARTH 812: Head and Hand: Craft, Knowledge, and the Body

Each week, students will work on learning a craft while also reading theoretical and historical texts on knowledge, craft, and the body. Our goal will be to understand how theory and practice, the head and the hand, and making and knowing relate to each other, and how making might be used as a research process.  


Course Description

2025 Winter Term Courses

ARTH 203: Art and Popular Culture

What does The Matrix Trilogy have to do with critical theory? What does Harry Potter tell us about our fascination with the Middle Ages? What is “camp” and what does it have to do with queer culture and representation? As art is freed from the confines of the gallery where it is conventionally located in Western art history, it potentially becomes a “popular”, even democratising medium accessible to anyone with access to television, radio, urban space, and the internet.

Course Description

ARTH 274: Architecture and Empire

Offers a critical assessment of the relationship between imperialism and architecture with a focus on the European empires in Asia, Africa, and Latin America from the 15th to 20th centuries. Using case studies organized chronologically and by empire, this course will look at the architecture of European colonies not just from the viewpoint of the colonizer but also from that of the colonized. It will consider how architecture functions as an image of power and nostalgia for the colonizers but how strategies used by colonized people preserved their own architectural traditions and iconography in the architecture and subverted imperial goals.

Course Description

ARTH 346: Sculpture, Gender, and the Body in the Italian Renaissance

Strong occasionally violent women, blushing men, monstrous demons, and genderless angels – sculpted bodies inhabited Renaissance cities. Read treatises on how to be a good wife and bawdy stories and learn about how people behaved and misbehaved with these living statues!

Course Description

ARTH 373: Early Netherlandish Painting in the 15th Century: From Hubert and Jan van Eyck to Gerard David

Why is it that Jan van Eyck’s astonishingly realistic paintings still stun us today? And what are the qualities of Rogier van der Weyden’s paintings that still move many museum visitors to tears today? This course surveys painting in the Low Countries between c. 1400 and c. 1500. This period is characterized by major changes in the patronage, production, marketing, and function of art works, triggered by the rapid growth of cities such as Bruges and Ghent. The religious, political, and socio-economical contexts for these changes will be discussed, and new scholarly approaches such as technical examinations will be introduced. 

Course Description (1.2MB)

ARTH 377: Modern Design and Materiality

This course explores new materials, new processes, and new meanings in craft and design in the early twentieth century with a focus on issues in ecology, colonialism, race, and gender.  



Course Description

ARTH 395: Internship

Education in practice: Art History and Fine Art students can apply for a practical internship at a museum or gallery, taking on research or curatorial activities. Applications must be approved in advance by the Undergraduate Chair. 


Course Description
ARTH 425: House—Studies in the History of an Idea: Haunted House, the Spectral Spaces of Modernity

ARTH 425: House—Studies in the History of an Idea: Haunted House, the Spectral Spaces of Modernity

From the Gothic novel of the eighteenth century to Scooby Doo in the twentieth century and Cabin in the Woods in the twenty first, the haunted house is a central construction of modern architecture and of modernity itself. Architecture was variously “haunted” by ghosts (as in the film The Ghost Goes West—see image) or by repressed trauma (as in Hitchcock’s Psycho), thus creating double lives for many of our most famous buildings. This course explores the haunted house in architecture, literature and cinema and of course considers aspects of modern psychology and the paranormal. 

ARTH 472: Art and Global Encounters in Asia, The Americas and Africa, 1492-1954

Explores the art and architecture that resulted from the interaction between European and non-European civilizations from the 15th-20th centuries. This period involved an age of global encounter between the widest spectrum of peoples, representing different ethnicities and religions, as well as political, social, economic, and cultural systems. We will explore the reception of European art and architecture in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with focuses on Mughal India, Goa, Ming & Qing China, Momoyama Japan, the Nahua (Aztecs), the Quechua (Incas), Paraguay, Ghana, Senegal, Haiti, and Madagascar, among others.

Course Description

ARTH 402/807: Materials and Techniques in Early Netherlandish Painting, with a focus on Jheronimus Bosch

Most paintings are complex layered structures that were produced with a broad range of materials in distinct stages. This seminar will teach you how to use X-rays, UV, and infrared to study the genesis of these works. It will focus on the materials and techniques of Early Netherlandish painters such as Jheronimus Bosch (d. 1516), but these techniques can also be applied to examine paintings from other regions and time periods. 

Course Description (644KB)

ARTH 800: Methods for an Expanded Art History

How do art historians put method and theory into practice? In this exploratory class, we read widely in iconography, formalism, biography, semiotics, post-structuralism, Marxism, social history of art, psychoanalysis, theories of gender and race, postcolonial and decolonial theory, seeking to experiment with the methods and theories most suited to the research questions that fuel our academic and creative interests

Course Description (1.1 MB)

Recently Offered Art History Courses