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.
Spring 2021 Courses
An Introduction to the History of Architecture
Instructors: Basile Charles Baudez
Modernist Art: 1900 to 1950
A critical study of the major movements, paradigms, and documents of modernist art from Post-Impressionism to the "Degenerate" art show. Among our topics: primitivism, abstraction, collage, the readymade, machine aesthetics, photographic reproduction, the art of the insane, artists in political revolution, anti-modernism. Two lectures, one preceptorial.
Art and Power in the Middle Ages
The course explores how art worked in politics and religion from ca. 300-1200 CE in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Students encounter the arts of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, Judaism and Islam; great courts and migratory societies; dynamics of word and image, multilingualism, inter-cultural connection, and local identity. We consider how art can represent and shape notions of sacred and secular power, and examine how the work of 'art' in this period is itself powerful and, sometimes, dangerous. Course format combines lecture on various cultural contexts with workshop discussion focused on specific media and materials. Via Zoom in 2020.
Instructors: Beatrice Ellen Kitzinger
Renaissance Art and Architecture
What was the Renaissance? This class explores the major artistic currents that swept northern and southern Europe from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries in an attempt to answer that question. In addition to considering key themes such as the revival of antiquity, imitation and license, religious devotion, artistic style, the art market, and the encounter with foreign cultures, peoples and goods, we will survey significant works by artists and architects including Donatello, Jan van Eyck, Alberti, Raphael, Leonardo, Sofonisba Anguissola and Michelangelo.
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
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
Behind the awe-inspiring monuments, the complex religious cults, and the intimations of wealth and a taste for the good life found in the surviving remnants of ancient Egypt lie real people concerned with spirituality, economics, politics, the arts, and the pleasures and pains of daily life. In this course, we will examine the art and architecture created in the ancient Egyptian landscape over 4 millennia, as well as the work of archaeologists in the field, including up-to-the-minute finds from on-going excavations.
Instructors: Deborah A. Vischak
In this class we will examine the history, function, theory and meaning of the icon. We will also examine the icon's influence upon the discourses of Modernism. A more practical aspect of this class is that participants in the course will work with the Princeton University Art Museum's icon collection and with its collection of icon painter's preparatory drawings. The class will provide participants with a broad grounding in questions pertaining to the icon.
Instructors: Justin Lee Willson
The Birth of a Profession: Architects, Architecture and Engineers in 18th-Century Europe
The 18th century saw the emergence of the first architectural and engineering schools. Architects and engineers started to compete all over Europe in a time when technical knowledge and efficiency were becoming as important as experience and learnedness. This course provides students with a survey of 18th-century European architecture in the light of the rivalry between two trades on the verge of professionalization. The first weeks will be devoted to the actors of the building world before focusing on the fields of contest between architects and engineers and how this battle defined the nature of each profession, between art and science.
Instructors: Basile Charles Baudez
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.
Instructors: Cheng-hua Wang
The Art & Archaeology of Plague
In this course, we will examine archaeological evidence for and art historical depictions of plagues and pandemics, beginning in antiquity and ending with the COVID-19 Pandemic. The course will explore bioarchaeological investigations of the Black Death, the Justinianic Plague, and other examples of infectious diseases with extremely high mortalities, and students will complete six "Pandemic Simulation" exercises throughout the semester. We will also consider the differing impact of plagues during the medieval, early modern, and modern periods: themes in art; the development of hospitals; and the changing ideas of disease and medicine.
Instructors: Janet Elizabeth Kay
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
The Body in Space: Art, Architecture, and Performance
An interdisciplinary investigation of the status of the human body in the modern reinvention of space within the overlapping frames of art, architecture, and the performing arts from the 1890s to the present. Works by artists, architects, theater designers, and filmmakers will be supplemented by readings on architectural theory, intellectual and cultural history, psychoanalysis, anthropology, and aesthetics. This semester, the class will analyze discourses of empathy and animation through practices of distancing and the use of masking in art, architecture, as well as social and theatrical performance.
Reckoning with History, Responding to the Present: Art in Europe Since 1960
Seminar explores wide-ranging ways in which artists working in Western Europe since the 1960s have confronted questions about how works of art emerge from and shape historical circumstances. Reckoning with history and responding to the present, artworks engage viewers to address ethical and political issues of responsibility and guilt in the wake of fascism, colonialism, and the Holocaust; the dynamics of late capitalism, the Cold War, and political shifts since 1989; existential threats of nuclear warfare and ecological disaster; and transformations effected in culture and everyday life by new media, biopolitics, surveillance.
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.
Instructors: Deborah A. Vischak
Ethics in Archaeology
This seminar will explore ethical dilemmas in past and current study and practice of archaeology, cultural resource management, museum studies, and bioarchaeology. We will consider conflicts between living communities and archaeological research; the ethics involved in bioarchaeological research; the acquisition and display of items in museums or private collections; and the nature of archaeological inquiry itself. Twice-weekly meetings to discuss readings and recent cases in the news will be accompanied by written assignments and an in-class debate, as well as a student-directed final paper.
Instructors: Janet Elizabeth Kay
Reading the Landscapes of Colonial Latin America
The three centuries of Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in the Americas saw some of the most dramatic transformations in global history, from massive population collapse to the first global commodity chains. This course explores the relationships between abstractions like 'colonialism' and 'capitalism' and the concrete places that shaped and were shaped by indigenous rebels, colonial administrators, missionaries, and enslaved laborers. Bringing together insights from history, archaeology, and historical ecology, we will explore these landscapes through a rich combination of archival maps, satellite imagery, and archaeological datasets.
Instructors: Noa Emrys Corcoran-Tadd
Antioch through the Ages - Archaeology and History
Antioch was unique among the great cities of the classical world for its position at the crossroads between the Mediterranean and Asia and for being a foundation of the Greek age that shrunk almost to insignificance in the modern era. Students in this course will get exclusive access to the archives and artifacts from Princeton's mostly unpublished Antioch excavations of the 1930s. The focus of the 2021 course will be life in the ancient villa, investigated through the study of the luxury homes situated in Antioch's suburb of Daphne, specifically the building known as the 'House of the Buffet Supper', in use from about 300 BCE to 650 CE.
Instructors: Alan M. Stahl
Tea and Its Objects in Sixteenth-century Japan
This seminar examines the diverse arts employed in chanoyu, a Japanese practice centered on the drinking of whisked tea, including ceramics, painting and calligraphy, bamboo, and architecture. The focus will be on the sixteenth century, and among the topics considered are the physical and conceptual adaptations of objects (both indigenous and imported) for chanoyu, the practice of bestowing names on things, tea aesthetics, and the creation of multi-medium ensembles. The seminar will be based on discussions of assigned readings and, as well, on the study and use of actual tea objects (a package of which will be sent to each student).
Instructors: Andrew Mark Watsky
The Artist as Idea
Seminar will explore the myth of the artist in Europe and the U.S. from the Renaissance to the present. Topics will include ideas of the artist as a privileged social being, notions of artistic temperament and "genius," the gendering of the artist, modern myths of bohemianism and madness, the importance of race and cultural identity, and the postmodern artist's engagement with mass media. Analysis of self-portraiture, artists' writings, representations of the studio, and artists in film. Case studies include Leonardo, Michelangelo, Artemisia Gentileschi, Manet, van Gogh, O'Keeffe, Pollock, Warhol, Shonibare, and Walker.
Instructors: Bridget A. Alsdorf
Avant-Gardism & (Anti) Capitalism
Modern art is coeval with the modern market. This seminar examines key moments in this complicated relationship. Under what conditions does an artistic avant-garde emerge? In what ways does it advance the interests of capital? In what ways does it challenge them? How do artistic forms change vis-à-vis transformations in economic modes of production and consumption? These and other questions will be probed with test cases drawn from Impressionist painting, modern architecture, mass culture, Dada, Pop, Minimalism, and postmodernist art.
Instructors: AnnMarie Perl
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
Decolonizing Art History
Art history's disciplinary origins are inextricable from European colonialism and imperialism, and often work to uphold racialized concepts of development, civilization, style. The contemporary practice of art history demands that we acknowledge these origins while imagining a decolonized art history for the present. Drawing from decolonial paradigms, recent scholarship, and foundational texts of critical race studies, we work to analyze and actively reconfigure conventions of field formation, research, and format. In keeping with the political imperative of praxis, students workshop research topics and problems individually and collectively.
Instructors: Beatrice Ellen Kitzinger, Irene Violet Small
Greece and the Near East before the Persian Wars
A study of the nature and impact of Greek contact with the Near East in the Early Iron Age to unpack and critically assess the concept of an "Orientalizing" style and phenomenon. Course examines chronology; trade; technology and innovation; communication and exchange; consumption and display; and the "exotic." Emphasis placed on material culture, analyzed with a view to developments in settlement and society, e.g. migration, colonization, social stratification, and the rise of the polis. Reading knowledge of German and French required.
Instructors: Nathan Todd Arrington
Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory: "Psychoanalytic Turns"
What possibilities have emerged for psychoanalytic studies in the 21st cent.? Seminar addresses recent turns to psychoanalysis in history and criticism of art and literature. In reading psychoanalytic theories and critical writings, paths and detours lead to questions and problems of terminology, translation, representation, and mediation, and to explorations of works of art and literature that might be understood as instances of psychoanalytic criticism and/or critiques of psychoanalysis. Need for critical reflection on the meaningfulness of psychoanalytic theories for current scholarship in the humanities is a guiding concern of seminar.
Mapping the City: Cities and Cinema
This course on cartographic cinema explores the digital film archive as a trove of images that can be re-appropriated, re-mixed, re-assembled into new ways of thinking about and imagining cities. Cutting a horizontal trajectory across cities --- New York, Tokyo, Vienna, Paris, Hong Kong, Lagos, Calcutta --- the cinema has captured the dynamic force of urban mutations and disruptions. It has also imposed a vertical axis of memories, allowing time to pile up and overlap, confounding meaning and points of view, especially in cities of trauma.
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
Histories and Theories of 19th-Century Architecture: Architecture and the History of the Earth
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
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.
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.
Instructors: Jean-Louis Cohen
Seminar in American Art: Natural and Unnatural Histories in the Long Nineteenth Century
This seminar explores how the subjects, concepts, and methods of natural history manifested in image-making within the arts and sciences in Europe and America, ca. 1750-1900. Visualization as a strategy of knowing are a central concern, as are the particular forms that the chief operations of natural history -- description, classification, and the delineation of difference -- took within the domain of images. Topics include early modern images of the Americas and indigenous civilizations, the visual culture of "race science," visualizations of deep time, picturing nature after Darwin, and the human and the animal.
Instructors: Rachael Ziady DeLue
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
Introduction to Critical Theory: The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility
Taking our point of departure from Walter Benjamin's artwork essay, we trace the way in which photographers and artists from the late 1970s to the present have asked us to understand their work as resources for doing political work, as strategies of resistance and activism, as even training manuals on how to engage, rethink, and address some of the most urgent issues of our time. We consider works by, among others, Susan Meiselas, Allan Sekula, Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, Alfredo Jaar, Marcelo Brodsky, Walid Raad, Taryn Simon, Nikos Pilos, Isaac Julien, Claudia Andujar, and Fazal Sheikh.
Instructors: Eduardo Lujan Cadava
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.
Advanced Topics in Modern Architecture: Reconstructing the Settler Colonial History of American Architecture
This course develops a settler colonial history of "American Architecture." Key texts from Settler Colonial Theory, American Studies, Critical Race Theory and Whiteness Studies provide the intellectual basis for reinterpreting architectural case studies and texts across time, from the late 19th to the early 21st century. Students must develop a principled critique of the whiteness of canonical historiographies of American architecture and mine local and digital archives to recover the lost contributions of people of color.