Undergraduate Courses

Spring 2020

An Introduction to the History of Architecture
A survey of architectural history in the west, from ancient Egypt to 20th-century America, that includes comparative material from around the world. This course stresses a critical approach to architecture through the analysis of context, expressive content, function, structure, style, building technology, and theory. Discussion will focus on key monuments and readings that have shaped the history of architecture.
Greek Art and Archaeology
What is Greek art, and why has it captivated the imagination of artists, thinkers, and travelers for centuries? We will survey the major monuments, objects, and archaeological sites in order to critically examine its seminal place in the western tradition. Diverse types of material evidence will inform an intellectual journey leading from the very first Greek cities to the luxurious art of Hellenistic kings. Lectures are organized chronologically and thematically, and precepts offer the unique experience of hands-on interaction with objects in the art museum's collection.
Contemporary Art: 1950 - 2000
A critical study of the major movements, paradigms, and documents of postwar art--abstract-expressionist, pop, minimalist, conceptual, process and performance, site-specific, etc. Special attention to crucial figures (e.g., Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Felix-Gonzalez-Torres) and problems (e.g., "the neo-avant-garde", popular culture, feminist theory, political controversies, "postmodernism").
Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
This course focuses on key issues of 20th and 21st c. Latin American art. A thematic survey and general methodological introduction, we will treat emblematic works and movements, from Mexican muralism and Indigenism to experiments with abstraction, pop, conceptualism, and performance. Questions discussed include: What is Latin American art? What is modernism in Latin America? What is the legacy of colonialism? How do Latin American artists engage transnational networks of solidarity under conditions of repression? How can postcolonial, decolonial, and feminist theory illuminate the art and criticism produced in and about Latin America?
Art and Power in the Middle Ages
In twelve weeks this course will examine major art works from the period ca. 300-1200 CE. Presenting works from Europe and the Middle East, and working with the Princeton collections in precept, the course will introduce students to the art of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam; the great courts of the Eastern- and Holy Roman Empires, and the roving Vikings, Celts and Visigoths. Students will not only be invited to consider how art can represent and shape notions of sacred and secular power, but will also come to understand how the work of 'art' in this period is itself powerful and, sometimes, dangerous.
Structures and the Urban Environment
Known as "Bridges", this course focuses on structural engineering as a new art form begun during the Industrial Revolution and flourishing today in long-span bridges, thin shell concrete vaults, and tall buildings. Through critical analysis of major works, students are introduced to the methods of evaluating engineered structures as an art form. Students study the works and ideas of individual engineers through their basic calculations, their builder's mentality and their aesthetic imagination. Illustrations are taken from various cities and countries thus demonstrating the influence of culture on our built environment.
Architecture and the Visual Arts: Architectures of Transit
Transit structures consist of tunnels and waiting zones, elevators and turnstiles, stairs and highways. Such architecture can perform social organization, exercise the work of the state, or equip subjects with "cultural techniques" (Siegert). We will study the spatial treatment of bodies in architectural literature, art, film, media, and critical theory: How do perspective and motion in art shape architectures of transit? In what way do such spaces function as media apparatuses? When do art and film produce tools of transit theory? What are the political dimensions of the organization of movement? How can transit enforce or undermine control?
German Intellectual History: Philosophy of Contemporary Art
What is contemporary art? What defines its contemporaneity? And in which sense can it be called art when it defies categories of modernist art theory? How to define the plural of art when the old art genres have dissolved into countless hybrid forms? And what follows from the artistic destabilization of the border between art and non-art? What are the aesthetic and political implications of an art that addresses its audience and its institutional frameworks as well as questions of globalization, digitalization, historiography, and nature? The seminar will discuss these problems by looking at philosophy, art criticism, and artist writings.
History of Architectural Theory
This course offers a history of architectural theory, criticism, and historiography from the Renaissance to the present, emphasizing the texts, media and institutions that have supported architecture's claim to modernity since the late 17th Century. Architectural thought is examined in its social and cultural context as it relates both to the Western philosophical tradition and to design method and practice.
How Was It Made and Who Made It?
This class is an extensive introduction to the materials and techniques of art through the ages. It will involve direct study of works of art in the museum introducing each week a different kind of object and problem drawn from Princeton's extensive collections. Museum staff will help teach classes every week. Students will learn not only how works of art are made, but how intense study of objects can lead to knowledge about them and about the past, and how we can tell who made them. Copies, fakes, and replicas will all be considered. Works of art from a wide variety of times and places will be considered.
Towards a Material History of Latin America
This class looks beyond traditional archival approaches to explore the postconquest history of Latin America through an analysis of objects, landscapes, and the human body as "alternative archives". Beginning with the era of European invasions in the 15th and 16th centuries, we will explore the material traces of colonial and postcolonial lives and examine the ways that archaeology, environmental science, forensics, and art history can shed new light on historical actors and narratives that would otherwise remain marginalized or even invisible.
Enter the New Negro: Black Atlantic Aesthetics
Born in the late 1800s, the New Negro movement demanded political equality, desegregation, and an end to lynching, while also launching new forms of international Black cultural expression. The visionary modernity of its artists not only reimagined the history of the black diaspora by developing new artistic languages through travel, music, religion and poetry, but also shaped modernism as a whole in the 20th century. Incorporating field trips and sessions in the Princeton University Art Museum, this course explores Afro-modern forms of artistic expression from the late 19th-century into the mid-20th century.
Landscape and the Visual Arts in China (Tenth Century to the Twentieth Century)
This course focuses on the genre of landscape in Chinese painting, prints, and photography from the tenth century to modern times. Landscape was the most revered genre of painting in pre-modern China; it has shaped most of the discourses on art in later Chinese history and still features prominently in contemporary artistic creation and theory. This course examines the issues associated with landscape art, including the tradition and global relevance of ink landscape painting, the relationship of painting with prints and photography, travel and mapping as landscape themes, and the associations among landscape, place, and territory.
Surrealism: Sex, Dreams, and Revolution
This course sets out to explore the basic ideas, works, and principles of Surrealism as it was developed in France from its inception in the early 1920s into the late 1950s. A very wide array of material will cover diverse literary genres (manifestoes, novels, poems, essays) and media (film, photography, visual art, art exhibition, magazines) to show how the Surrealists wanted to revolutionize both art and life in its political and ethical dimensions. The course is highly interactive, built on a series of students' group activities and projects, both creative and critical, with the use of various media.
Fashion Photography, 1890 to the Present: Sex, Lies, and the Construction of Desire
This historical survey considers why photographs of models wearing the latest clothes replaced drawn illustrations starting in the late nineteenth century and how the styles and content of fashion photographs reflect changing camera, lighting, and printing technologies; the structure of the garments themselves; national ideals of beauty and gender presentation; and the economics of publishing and advertising. Topics also include the studio as theatrical space; fashion photography in the developing and non-Western worlds; and the recent expansion of the ethnicities, ages, body types, and gender identities of models in fashion spreads.
Italian Renaissance and Baroque Art at the Princeton University Art Museum
This course examines paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and decorative arts in Italy, from the early 15th to late 17th centuries. Through different thematic units, such as The Bubonic Plague and the Visual Arts and Studies of Expression and the Invention of Caricature, we will consider contributions of major artists, while also focusing on the function and cultural context of different types of objects. Classes will be held at the PU Art Museum, with behind-the-scenes access to works of art in storage and a close consideration of materials, techniques, and questions of display and interpretation.
Migration, Myth and the Making of Spain: Art & Architecture in Medieval Iberia
The medieval history of the land now called Spain and its Muslim, Christian, and Jewish inhabitants is often oversimplified, whether as a model of cultural tolerance, a precursor to colonialism, or a justification of modern antagonisms. This course examines the history of the Iberian Peninsula through the visual traditions of the medieval peoples whose cultures laid the foundations of modern Spain. Highlighting such key issues as the interplay of foreign and local traditions, the expression of religious and ethnic identity, and the reuse of artistic forms and objects, it pursues a more forthright understanding of the Iberian past.
Modernist Photography and Literature
This seminar explores intersections of the fields of "photography" and "literature" in the 20th century. We will first examine the interpretive demands of the photograph, reading a number of classic theoretical texts (Benjamin, Kracauer, Barthes). Subsequent topics will include: photography and modernism in New York and Mexico City (Stieglitz, Scheeler, Williams, Stein, O'Keefe; Bravo, Modotti, Weston, Lawrence); photography and avantgarde (Dada and Surrealism: Hausmann, Höch, Heartfield, Man Ray, Breton); the New Photography in Weimar Germany (Sander, Renger-Patzsch, Moholy-Nagy); and the modernist photobook (Foto-Auge, Evans, Frank).
Getting the Picture: Photojournalism in the U.S. and Russia
Just as the Internet does today, the picture press of the last century defined global visual knowledge of the world. The pictures gracing the pages of magazines and newspapers were often heavily edited, presented in carefully devised sequences, and printed alongside text. The picture press was as expansive as it was appealing, as informative as it was propagandistic, regularly delivered to newsstands and doorsteps for the everyday consumer of news, goods, celebrity, and politics. Through firsthand visual analysis of the picture presses of both the U.S. and Russia, this course will consider the ongoing meaning and power of images.
Introduction to Archaeology
An introduction to the history, methodologies, and theories of archaeology. The seminar discusses topics and problems drawn from a wide range of cultures and periods. Issues include trade and exchange; the origins of agriculture; cognitive archaeology (the study of the mind); biblical archaeology (the use of texts); artifacts in their cultural contexts; and the politics of the past. Emphasis on what constitutes archaeological evidence, how it may be used, and how archaeologists think.
Attic Vase-Painting: Style, Subject and Social Context
Painted pottery constitutes the largest surviving body of ancient Greek pictorial imagery and provides an important window on Greek society. This class offers an overview of Greek pottery ca.750-450 BC, with an emphasis on the style and iconography of Athenian black-figure and red-figure vases. Students will handle and learn from actual vases in a context of guided discussions and shared insights, in the process acquiring a knowledge of different fabrics and regional schools, as well as an understanding of production techniques, evolutions in style, and the role of painted pottery in Greek society.
The Prado Museum: Ways of Reading
The Prado Museum is a central institution, not only for the Spanish art and culture, but the nation-building processes and cultural narratives operating in Spanish Modernity. Using different sources (paintings, literature, documentary films, audiovisual resources, essays), this course will offer a multi-perspective to one of the most important art institutions worldwide. Topics such as class wars, nature, gender, colonialism, historical memory and democracy in relation to art, exhibitions and audiences will offer an overview of Spanish cultural history from 1819 to the present day.
Seminar. Medieval Art: Enchanted Landscapes: Nature, the Sacred and the Erotic
This course investigates the intertwining of art and nature in the Eastern Roman Empire. Ecocriticism, art, literature, philosophy, and theology will be called upon. Students will consider the correlation of art and the environment; will learn to work between text and image; will work with a range of visual media and literary genres; and will think through the recurrence of ideas in the history of the Eastern Roman Empire; and will consider the role of art outside of major urban centers. Sacredness, spirituality, artifice, and the erotic will be key themes in this course. A class trip to Sicily is planned for the Spring Recess.
The Crossroads of Invention: Art, Society, and Identity in East Central Europe (1500-1914)
The class will explore the role of art in negotiating cultural difference in the historical Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania. A crossroad of several trade routes, the state fostered religious tolerance legislation with hardly any parallel on the continent. Simultaneously, such social framework was not immune to ongoing tensions long before the advent of 19th-century nationalisms. In order to explore what ideals and challenges the concept of 'commonwealth' entailed before and during the emergence of nation-states, each seminar will focus on a specific cross-cultural encounter, including the Dutch, the Ottoman Empire, the Caribbean, and Russia.
After the Fall: Art and Politics in France Since 1940
Contrary to the notion that the Nazi defeat of 1940 marked the decline of art in France, this course examines how artists in France drew upon the legacies of the avant-garde with a renewed sense of commitment in order to express their wartime experiences, address themselves to the public, contest social norms and engage the political sphere. Through the study of aesthetic experiments across media and readings in existentialist, feminist and Marxist philosophy, artists' writings, art criticism and art history, we investigate how art was politicized by artists and their publics from the Nazi Occupation through the French riots of 2005.
The Graduate Seminar
This course is intended to ensure a continuing breadth of exposure to contemporary art-historical discourse and practices. It requires attendance and participation in the department lecture/seminar series. Students must take the course sequentially in each of their first four semesters and take the appropriate letter version of the course (A,B,C,or D) based on their semester of study. The course is taken in addition to the normal load of three courses per semester and is for first- and second-year graduate students only. Topics discussed cover all fields of Art History and address current questions and practices.
Seminar in Roman Art: Historical Reliefs
The seminar focuses on Roman historical representations - an innovation of the Romans - and addresses not only the problem of their historical reference but, in many cases, their reconstruction from the fragmentary remains.
Color and Technology in the Arts
Course addresses relationship between color and technology in the arts. It questions the proprieties of color materiality, nature of pigments and their usage. Quest for natural and synthetic colors emerging from laboratory research by alchemists and chemists. Hazardous scientific discoveries impacting the artistic field. Economic implications of color discovery and patenting. Color trends indicating social changes. Links between light and vision theory and applications in the arts. Recreation of artistic technology as a community self identification. Global exchange of color technology. Problems in conservation and display of colored objects.
Seminar in Renaissance Art
During the Renaissance, printmaking emerged as a powerful and pervasive mode of artistic expression that redefined originality and transformed visual communication. Variously experimental, documentary, propagandistic, proto-scientific, and illustrational objects, prints were market-sensitive as well as aesthetically adventurous and often elitist in their content. Centered as much as possible on prints from the collection, this course considers material and technical issues as well as broader historical and interpretive topics. Artists include Schongauer, Dürer, Lucas van Leyden, Bruegel, Mantegna, and Raphael.
History and Theories of Architecture: 20th Century
An overview of the major themes running through the various strands of modern architecture in the twentieth century. While overarching in scope, the seminar is based on a close reading of selected buildings and texts by prominent figures of the modern movement and its aftermath. Special emphasis is given to the historiography and history of reception of modern architecture, as well as the cultural, aesthetic and scientific theories that have informed contemporary architectural debates, including organicism, vitalism, functionalism, historicism and their opposites.
Seminar in Modernist Art and Theory: The Avant-Garde in a State of Emergency
In this seminar we investigate the interpenetration of aesthetics and politics in the interwar period, structuring our conversation around particular debates, such as the question of violence in Sorel and Marinetti, the problem of sovereignty in Schmitt and Benjamin, the polemics about modernism and realism around Lukacs, the base materialism of the Collège de Sociologie, the rise of factography in the USSR, and the return to dis/order in France and Italy.
Seminar in History of Photography: The Naked and the Nude in Photography
The undressed human form has been a major subject in Western art since the classical period, but presented particular challenges to photographers, who depicted "real" rather than idealized bodies. This course explores the practices of fine arts, pornographic, medical, and ethnographic representations of the body, with particular emphasis on artists' responses to nude photographs; photography's contribution to new "scientific" typologies of race, criminality, and health; and ongoing debates over censorship, pornographic, and privacy.
Research in Architecture (Proseminar)
This advanced pro-seminar investigates research methodologies in architectural discourse and practice. Each year the pro-seminar focuses on a specific theme addressing the history of the discipline from an interdisciplinary perspective. Students engage as a group in an in-depth reading of theoretical and historiographic sources on architecture and related fields.
Antiquarianism in Chinese Art
Scholars have long recognized the importance of the theme of antiquarianism in Chinese art. However, recent scholarly interest in the issues associated with copying, replication and multiple temporalities in art provides new perspectives on and approaches to this old theme and greatly enriches related discussions on it. This seminar takes a new look at the recurring tendency of antiquarianism in Chinese art by engaging with four important mediums (painting, calligraphy, bronzes and ceramics) and their frequent incidents of transmediality.
Advanced Topics in Modern Architecture: Collaborations: The Secret Lives of Architecture
Architecture has always been deeply collaborative, like moviemaking or opera where the credits are long and layered. But in architecture there is a huge effort to credit a single figure. Why this pathological need to keep collaboration secret? What is so threatening about the collaborators? What are we afraid of? What is at stake? This seminar explores questions of authorship, the signature, copyright, the anonymous, networks, labor, etc. It also thinks through the ideological implications of this narrative and the implications of its undoing. What would a post-author discourse look like?
Independent Work on Archaeology and Museology
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Topics in Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art
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Medieval Art Topics
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Historiography and Theory of Photography
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Readings in Medieval Iberian Art History
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Junior Independent Work
Senior Departmental Exam