Fall 2020 Courses

Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2020

An Introduction to the History of Art: Meanings in the Visual Arts
Introduction to the histories of art and the practice of art history. You will encounter a range of arts (including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, prints) and artistic practices from diverse historical periods, regions, and cultures. Faculty members of the Department of Art and Archaeology lecture in their fields of expertise; precepts balance discussion of particular works, readings, and student projects. In Fall 2020, coursework is designed to encourage students' work with the methods and questions of art history to explore their local environments. We pay particular attention this year to the various definitions of "art."
Instructors: Beatrice Ellen Kitzinger
Neoclassicism through Impressionism
A broad study of European painting and sculpture from the French revolution to 1900 with special attention to social, political, and cultural shifts. Lectures explore a range of themes including art and revolution, imperial conquest, the rise of landscape painting, the politics of the nude, the birth of "modernism" and the avant-garde. Emphasis on major figures including David, Canova, Goya, Vigée-Lebrun, Turner, Courbet, Manet, Monet, Degas, Rodin, van Gogh and Cézanne.
Instructors: Bridget A. Alsdorf
Contemporary Art: 1950 - 2000
A survey of postwar art from an international perspective, focusing on the major artistic movements in their historical contexts, including the Second World War, the Cold War, decolonization, the civil rights movement, feminism, globalization, and economic boom and recession. Lectures explore several themes including art's relationship to popular culture, the mass media, consumer society, historical memory, and political and social activism. Throughout, we account for the startling formal metamorphoses of art itself, as it is transformed from traditional painting and sculpture into new forms that challenged the very nature and limits of art.
Instructors: AnnMarie Perl
The Arts of Japan
ART 217 surveys the arts of Japan from the pre-historic period through the present day. Painting, sculpture, and architecture form the core of study, though we will also examine the critical role of other mediums, including lacquer and ceramics, and consider the broader cultural and historical contexts in which art was made. Our topics include the ongoing tension in Japanese art between the foreign and the indigenous, the role of ritual in Japan's visual arts, the re-uses of the past, the changing loci of patronage, and the formats and materials of Japanese art. The course takes full advantage of the museum to study original works of art.
Instructors: Andrew Mark Watsky
Introduction to African Art
An introduction to African art and architecture from prehistory to the 20th century. Beginning with Paleolithic rock art of northern and southern Africa, we will cover ancient Nubia and Meroe; Neolithic cultures such as Nok, Djenne and Ife; African kingdoms, including Benin, Asante, Bamun, Kongo, Kuba, Great Zimbabwe, and the Zulu; Christian Ethiopia and the Islamic Swahili coast; and other societies, such as the Sherbro, Igbo, and the Maasai. By combining Africa's cultural history and developments in artistic forms we establish a long historical view of the stunning diversity of the continent's indigenous arts and architecture.
Instructors: Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
Rage against the Machine: Art and Politics in America
From drawings by Europeans of indigenous people in the Americas to the Black Lives Matter Arts+Culture project, art and politics in America go hand in hand. This course considers intersections of art and politics in the United States from the revolutionary era to the present, examining how artists have engaged the political sphere to express critique, accommodation, dissent, resistance, and rage. Particular focus will be on racial politics and art and activism now, in the midst of anti-racist protests and the resurgence of white supremacy, and students will track and analyze the ongoing role of art in politics as the semester unfolds.
Instructors: Rachael Ziady DeLue
Seeing Health: Medicine, Literature, and the Visual Arts
This seminar explores representations of health and illness through the literary and the visual media. From death and dying to epidemics, from disability to care giving, we will examine how these universal conditions are conveyed through literary texts, public health campaign posters, graphic novels, paintings, illustrations, and photography. Most of the meetings will take place at the Princeton University Art Museum to engage in depth with the items in the collection. Students will have the option to submit creative projects for the midterm and the final assignments.
Instructors: Elena Fratto
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.
Instructors: Kurt Walter Forster
Language to Be Looked At
This seminar focuses on the intersection of language and visual art in the 20th century. We examine modernist and avant-garde experiments in word and image, and investigate the global rise of concrete and visual poetry and text-based art after World War II. We compare and combine methods from literary studies and art history, as well as other disciplines, including history and philosophy. Students explore techniques of close looking and reading in relation to a range of topics--medium, representation, abstraction, networks. Students also engage material practices by, e.g., realizing instruction pieces and assembling magazines.
Instructors: Joshua Isaac Kotin, Irene Violet Small
Masters and Movements of 20th-Century Photography
By focusing on six major figures, this course examines the ways that photography was transformed from a poor stepchild of the fine arts to a staple of museum exhibitions. Students will consider such topics as the impact of abstraction on photography; the interactions between art photography and the new print and cinematic mass media; and development of photographic collections and criticism. The careers of Stieglitz, Moholy-Nagy, Weston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Cindy Sherman will form springboards for broader discussions of photography's critical importance for twentieth-century thinking about the real and the imaginary.
Instructors: Anne McCauley
Battle Lab: The Battle of Princeton
Revolution! Espionage! Alexander Hamilton! George Washington! Cannon fire on Nassau Hall! This fall, think outside of the classroom and explore the past in your own backyard: Revolutionary-era Princeton and the physical remains of the legendary battle between American and British forces on January 3, 1777. What happened on that day? Who died? Where are their bones? Why are lawyers fighting over the land? In this new, interdisciplinary course, you will undertake to answer these questions and help solve the longstanding puzzle of the Battle of Princeton. In the process, you will explore how events of the past persistently shape the present day.
Instructors: Nathan Todd Arrington, Rachael Ziady DeLue
Olmec Art
This course surveys Olmec and related material culture spanning roughly 2000-500 B.C., including architecture and monumental sculpture, ceramic vessels and figurines, and exquisite small-scale sculpture in jade and other precious materials. Of central theoretical importance is the question of how we understand and interpret art from a distant past, especially without the aid of contemporaneous written records. We will focus on original works of art, including works in the Princeton University Art Museum and in regional collections. Issues of authenticity, quality, and provenance related to these works will also be considered.
Instructors: Bryan R. Just
American Museums: History, Theory, and Practice
Museums are places where material artifacts from the manmade and natural world are preserved, shown, studied, classified, and refashioned into narratives about our past, amusements for our leisure hours, and models for our future. Why did these institutions appear and what do they say about our values and selective/collective memories? Through readings, field trips, meetings with museum staff, and practical exercise, students will explore the history of American museums (art, ethnographic, natural history, material culture) and the challenges that they confront in an increasingly multi-cultural and digital age.
Instructors: Anne McCauley
Postblack - Contemporary African American Art
As articulated by Thelma Golden, postblack refers to the work of African American artists who emerged in the 1990s with ambitious, irreverent, and sassy work. Postblack suggests the emergence of a generation of artists removed from the long tradition of black affirmation of the Harlem Renaissance, black empowerment of the Black Arts movement, and identity politics of the 1980s and early 90s. This seminar involves critical and theoretical readings on multiculturalism, race, identity, and contemporary art, and will provide an opportunity for a deep engagement with the work of African American artists of the past decade.
Instructors: Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
Art and Power in China
With a highly developed system of aesthetics, Chinese art is not what meets the eye. In China, artworks have represented and also shaped sociocultural values, religious practices and political authority throughout the ages. With an emphasis on the persuasive, and even subversive, power of art related to imperial and modern Chinese politics, this course reflects upon how art has worked in changing historical contexts and for serving political, religious and social agents in Chinese history. It covers a wide range of artifacts and artworks.
Instructors: Cheng-hua Wang
Artist and Studio
A required seminar for Art and Archaeology Practice of Art majors and Program in Visual Arts certificate students emphasizing contemporary art practices and ideas. The course addresses current issues in painting, drawing, sculpture, film, video, photography, performance and installation. It includes readings and discussions of current contemporary art topics, a visiting artist lecture series, critiques of students' work, and an artist book project.
Instructors: Lex Brown, Martha Friedman
Arts of the Islamic World
This course surveys the art and architecture of the Islamic world from the 7th to the 16th centuries. It examines the form and function of architecture and works of art as well as the social, historical and cultural contexts, patterns of use, and evolving meanings attributed to art by the users. Themes include the creation of a distinctive visual culture in the emerging Islamic polity; urban contexts; archaeological sites; key architectural types such as the mosque, madrasa, caravanserai, and mausoleum; portable objects and the arts of the book; self-representation; cultural exchange along trade and pilgrimage routes.
Junior Seminar
The Junior Seminar is an introduction to the myriad subjects, methods, and strategies of art history. The course examines the different kinds of evidence and methodological tools that have been used to identify, explain, and contextualize works of art as well as other kinds of objects, artifacts, and cultural phenomena. In other words, this seminar considers what art historians do, and how and why they do it. In addition, majors will learn how to use resources such as the library and the museum, and how to undertake substantive written research projects. Students begin their Junior Independent Work in this seminar.
Instructors: Nathan Todd Arrington
Inventing Photography
This class combines hands-on experience of nineteenth-century photographic processes with the study of surviving images and readings on cultural and scientific forces driving photographic inventions. The goal is to deconstruct the current black box that is digital photography by introducing students to do-it-yourself practices (chemistry and optics) behind multiple types of imagery that are often lumped together retrospectively as "photography." Students will make their own personal visual statements and may mix hand-made processes with modern intermediaries such as digitally produced negatives.
Instructors: Anne McCauley, Jeffrey Whetstone
Art, Apartheid, and South Africa
Apartheid, the political doctrine of separation of races in South Africa (1948-1990), dominated the (South) African political discourse in the second half of the 20th century. While it lasted, art and visual cultures were marshaled in the defense and contestation of its ideologies. Since the end of Apartheid, artists, filmmakers, dramatists, and scholars continue to reexamine the legacies of Apartheid and the social, philosophical, and political conditions of non-racialized South Africa. Course readings examine issues of race, nationalism and politics, art and visual culture, and social memory in South Africa.
Instructors: Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
Art and Architecture in New Spain (Mexico) 1521-1821
The course will examine the historiography and history of architecture and visual arts of New Spain during the three centuries of Spanish rule. It will not be a survey in a traditional sense, but rather an examination in depth of a series of works/problems in Mexican art and architecture of the colonial (viceregal) period from the 16th to the early 19th centuries.
Master Drawings
An introduction to the study of drawings taught entirely from original works of art. Intensive use will be made of the Princeton University Art Museum, with trips to an auction house, dealer, and museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Of interest to all planning a career in the arts, collecting, or training their powers of visual analysis. For 2020 the focus will be Central European (German, Austrian, etc.) drawings from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century.
Instructors: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
Global Exchange in Art and Architecture
The course will explore globalization in art and architecture c. 1500-1800, when the process of world-wide circulation began. It will investigate interchanges among Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Americans, their impact, and resistance to them.
Instructors: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
Topics in the History of Photography: Inventing Photography
Just as initially there was no one process that was identified as what we call "photography" today, there was no one moment of "invention" or clear idea of what making pictures with light might accomplish. At a time when it is fashionable to speak of the "death of photography," this seminar returns to the earliest experiments with light, silver salts, and cameras between 1789 and 1848 in order to reconsider what photography was, why it embodied the ideals of "modernity," and how it can be located within practices ranging from drawing, printmaking, magic, optical amusements, art, chemistry, and industrial production.
Instructors: Anne McCauley
The Vikings: History and Archaeology
Who were the Vikings, at home or abroad? How did their raiding and settlement change the history of the British Isles and western Europe? This course will study the political, cultural, and economic impact that Norse expansion and raiding had on early medieval Europe. It will also look at the changes in Scandinavia that inspired and resulted from this expansion. Sources will include contemporary texts, sagas and epic poetry, material culture, and archaeological excavations.
Instructors: Janet Elizabeth Kay
Proseminar in the History of Art
A proseminar that examines the conceptual foundations of art history as a modern discipline and explores questions and methods vital to the discipline today.
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.
Instructors: Andrew Mark Watsky
Masculinity & Modern Art
In this seminar we examine representations of masculinity in modern European and American art, exploring how the complexity of gender appears in art and its reception. How did masculinity contribute to artists' formal and conceptual concerns, from revolutionary France to postwar New York? Topics include the masculine body, artistic brotherhoods, homoeroticism, historical trauma, the gendered dynamics of the studio, the politics of virility, and psychoanalytic approaches to art history. Readings open onto broader issues of gender, sexuality, and aesthetics, and bring feminist and queer critical approaches to the table.
Instructors: Bridget A. Alsdorf
Seminar in Medieval Art: Viewpoints on Medieval Sculpture
The seminar engages a suite of new books on medieval sculpture that particularly address the relationship of plastic works to their viewers, and the role of sculpture in spaces shaped both by multiple media and by ephemeral performance. We read the latest work in concert with landmark studies in the format of a research workshop: each 4-week unit requires participants to prepare a research agenda, present initial findings, and submit a short paper. Students contribute to the course bibliography. In lieu of a single final paper, participants are encouraged to compile a portfolio of the short critical essays with a general introduction.
Instructors: Beatrice Ellen Kitzinger
Holistic Analysis of Heritage Structures
Heritage structures represent an important cultural legacy. First, this course identifies particularities relative to structural analysis of heritage structures; it correlates the space and time (where and when the structure was built, used, upgraded, damaged, repaired), with construction materials, techniques, and contemporary architectural forms. Second, the course presents the methods of structural analysis that take into account the identified particularities, that are efficient in finding solutions, and that are simple and intuitive in terms of application and interpretation.
Instructors: Branko Glisic
Worlds of Form: Russian Formalism and Constructivism
The seminar explores key texts of the Russian avant-garde, looking specifically at the ways Russian Formalists and Constructivists theorized the importance of form for their art and scholarship. Essays written by Shklovsky, Jakobson, Rodchenko, Vertov, Lissitzky, and Tatlin are contextualized within the field of contemporary critical theory. This is an interdisciplinary seminar, and during the semester, we oscillate between literature and cinema, linguistics and photography, architecture and painting. No Russian language skills are required.
Instructors: Serguei Alex. Oushakine
Histories and Theories of 19th-Century Architecture: How the History of the Earth Impinges on Architecture
The seminar studies selected architectural projects, buildings, and writings from the nineteenth and late-eighteenth centuries in the context of their critical and historical reception, and their active influence on the theory of modern and contemporary design. Each year the seminar focuses on a specific topic, such as the relation between architecture and geology, ecology and material science, or the building projects and theoretical writings of an individual nineteenth-century architect examined in conjunction with the histories of art, culture, and science of the same period.
Instructors: Kurt Walter Forster
Problems in Ancient History: The Monetary Economy from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages
Coin evidence provides a unique view of the transition from the height of the Roman and Sasanian Empires in the first centuries CE through the development of distinctly Latin, Byzantine, and Islamic zones by the end of the eighth century. Attention is given to cases where the numismatic evidence of change and identity varies from that supplied by written, archaeological and visual sources. Each student focuses on a region of western Eurasia, considering questions of minting and circulation and does periodic seminar presentations and a final presentation on the transformation of that region.
Instructors: Alan M. Stahl
The Color of Monochrome Sculpture
This seminar examines the illusionistic effects that Baroque sculptors of marble, bronze and clay employed to rival the deceptiveness of painting. By studying sculptural ensembles by Bernini and his contemporaries in contrast to the works of earlier sculptors like Michelangelo and against paintings in the tradition of Titian, we explore the value and limits of painterly models for making and viewing sculpture. Our investigation also considers the limits of comparisons to painting and studies the strategies sculptors adopted to undermine illusionism and to assert an autonomous sculptural paradigm.
Seminar in Central European Art
The Prague Court of Rudolf II (1576-1612) has gained recognition as one of the most important sites in the history of European cultural history. This seminar considers the voluminous literature and related exhibitions on Rudolfine Prague since c. 1970. Topics include the relationship of art and collecting to politics, religion, science, the occult and the wider world.
Instructors: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
Seminar in 19th-Century Art: Manet and the Methods of Art History
Seminar focuses on the art of Édouard Manet, often hailed as the originator of modernist painting, and on the range of methodological perspectives brought to bear on his work, from Marxist to psychoanalytic, formalist to feminist, and beyond. We investigate those different approaches and their relationship to each other, as well as their adequacy and inadequacy to the art they try to understand. Repeated and close looking at Manet's paintings are at the heart of the seminar. Course includes guest speakers and class trips to museums.
Instructors: Bridget A. Alsdorf
Seminar in Modernist Art and Theory: Modernism and Socialism
This seminar explores various connections between modernist art and socialist politics from the 1848 revolutions to the present. How were these links forged, and why were they broken? What (if anything) can we deduce about the relationship between vanguard aesthetics and politics then and now?
Criticism and Theory: Spatial Theory: Towards a Dialectic of Space
Space is the place. What does it mean to talk about space? What's to the idea of "belonging" to a place or "feeling" out of place? Why does an event "take place"? This course develops a dialectical materialism of the built environment from several disciplines, reworking the older temporal logics of the dialectic into spatial ones, and performing a thought experiment whereby we exclude the usual terms like time, diachrony, language, history, subjectivity, and desire, in favor of ones that help us think space, place, and matter together--generating new contradictions, even new insolubilia and paradoxes, to reorient our perception of the world.
Instructors: Andrew Cole
State of the Field: Historiography of Chinese Painting
The course focuses on the intellectual stock of the field of Chinese painting. It offers an opportunity to rethink the topics and issues that important studies in the field have addressed. The goal of the seminar is to guide the Ph.D. students on how to tackle these topics and issues raised by previous scholarship.
Instructors: Cheng-hua Wang
Research in Architecture: Architecture in the Age of Pandemics
Architecture and medicine have always been tightly interlinked. Every age has its signature afflictions and each affliction has its architecture. The age of bacterial diseases gave birth to modern architecture. The twenty-first century is the age of neurological disorders: depression, ADHD, borderline personality disorders, burnout syndrome and allergies-the 'environmentally hypersensitive' unable to live in the modern world. With COVID-19, a virus is completely reshaping architecture and urbanism and once again disease exposes the structural inequities of race, class and gender. Will architectural discourse likewise reshape itself?
Instructors: Beatriz Colomina
Seminar in Japanese Art and Archaeology: Appropriation and the Arts in Pre-Meiji Japan
Appropriation - of style, iconography, and actual objects - contributed substantially to shaping the arts of Japan. Japanese artists borrowed from China and Korea, from the West, and from within Japan itself. Whether the thing borrowed was a mode of depiction or an object, the appropriation was an active engagement with the source and a response to it that involved conceptual transformation. A range of examples are studied, including ink painting, chanoyu (tea ceremony), and Floating World prints, exploring appropriation as impediment or stimulus to innovation, assertion of cultural dominance, and mediation of the past.
Instructors: Andrew Mark Watsky
Topics in Architecture: Building Life: Pre-Architecture - A Primer
Part of a series of seminars examining the parallel development of biological research and architectural theory, this course focuses on the historical emergence of a "pre-architectonic condition" - a hypothetical state of life without architecture envisioned by evolutionary and architectural theorists alike following periods of global devastation and major epistemological upheavals. Topics include the creation of vertebrates and their transition from marine to terrestrial environments; human and animal use of caverns; animal habitations; the development of human tools, weapons, ornaments, and buildings as techniques of territorial expansion.
Introduction to Islamic Art History
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Senior Departmental Exam
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Senior Thesis
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