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 2022 Courses
An Introduction to the History of Architecture
Instructors: Basile Baudez, Samuel Holzman
Looking Lab: Experiments in Visual Thinking and Thinking about Visuals
It can be remarkably easy to take the process of looking for granted. Each day, humans contend with an onslaught of visual information. Education primarily focuses on teaching people how to read, write, and deal with numbers. But what about learning how to look closely and critically at images, at the world around us, and at ourselves? In this transdisciplinary course, we will question common assumptions and our own about looking; interrogate the anatomy and physiology of vision; develop our looking muscles; practice visual problem-solving strategies; and together design new tools to help people engage with the visual world.
Instructors: Lucy Partman
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.
Instructors: Nathan Arrington
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, intercultural connection, and local identity. We examine how art can represent and shape notions of sacred and secular power. We consider 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, or individual examples.
Instructors: Charlie Barber, Beatrice Kitzinger
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 Okeke-Agulu
This course explores the visual and archaeological world of ancient Mesoamerica, from the first arrival of humans in the area until the era of Spanish invasion in the early 16th century. Major culture groups to be considered include Olmec, Maya, and Aztec. Preceptorial sections will consist of a mix of theoretically-focused discussions, debate regarding opposing interpretations in scholarship, and hands-on work with objects from the collections of the Princeton University Art Museum.
Instructors: Bryan Just
The Foundations of Civilization: the Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Middle East
While most people are familiar with the modern Middle East, few understand the deep history of the region. This geographically diverse area rich with resources engendered civilization as we conceive it, being home to the earliest domesticated agriculture, oldest monumental art and architecture, first cities, first political and economic systems, and the first examples of writing in human history. In this course we will examine objects, architecture, and archaeological sites from across this region from roughly 8,000-400 BCE, considering the nature of civilization and the enduring influence of these earliest societies.
Instructors: Deborah Vischak
Survey of the transformations in Greek art beginning with the decline of the Classical period (fifth century BCE) and continuing through the period of Alexander the Great's unification of the Mediterranean world, up to and including the Roman conquest of the east. Emphasis on sculpture, painting, and mosaic.
Instructors: Michael Koortbojian
Architecture of Confinement, from the Hospice to the Era of Mass Incarceration
In the Western world and since the 18th century, mental asylums and prisons are linked not only by their architectural features - security, isolation, restriction of movements - but also by their common history and the goals of their builders: reforming minds and bodies through isolation and architectural coercion. In this community-engaged course, conceived in partnership with the New Jersey Prison Watch, students will learn the architectural history of Western mental hospitals and correctional facilities, while applying this knowledge to the critical assessment of contemporary facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Instructors: Basile Baudez
Egypt in the Pyramid Age
Around 3000 BCE, the first state in history was formed in the northeastern part of Africa, from the Delta to the first cataract of the Nile. With it came the invention of writing, new ideologies, and monumental forms of art and architecture. In this course we will consider ancient Egyptian material, visual, and textual culture from this early phase (c. 3500-2150 BCE). With a focus on recent fieldwork done across the country, we will consider how the state was formed, the challenges it faced, the way members of the community variously functioned within it, and how it adapted and eventually disintegrated after a long period of stability.
Instructors: Deborah Vischak
Dunhuang: Buddhist Art and Culture on the Silk Road
Located at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang is one of the richest Buddhist sites in China with nearly 500 cave temples constructed between the fourth and the fourteenth centuries. The sculptures, murals, portable paintings, and manuscripts found in the caves represent every aspect of Buddhism, both doctrinally and artistically. This course will explore this visual material in relation to topics such as expeditions, the role of Dunhuang in the study of Buddhist art and Chinese art in general, Buddhist ritual practices, image-text relationships, politics and patronage, and contemporary attitudes toward Dunhuang.
Instructors: Dora C. Y. Ching
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: Patricia Blessing
Sensory Spaces, Tactile Objects: The Senses in Art And Architecture
This course examines the role of the senses in art and architecture to move beyond conceptions of art history that prioritize vision. While the experience of art is often framed in terms of seeing, the other senses were crucially involved in the creation of buildings and objects. Textiles and ceramic vessels invite touch, gardens involve the smell of flowers, sacred spaces were built to amplify the sound of prayers and chants. The focus will be on the medieval and early modern Mediterranean. Readings will range from medieval poetry and multisensory art histories to contemporary discussions of the senses in design and anthropology.
Instructors: Patricia Blessing
Learning through Looking: Master Drawings
Learning through looking at drawings from the fifteenth to twentieth century. Study directly from works in Princeton and New York (trips to auction house, museums, and dealer).
Instructors: Thomas Kaufmann
The Artist as Idea
Seminar will explore the myth of the artist in Europe and North America 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' statements and writings, and artists in film. Case studies include Leonardo, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Dürer, Manet, Van Gogh, Kahlo, Warhol, and Kara Walker.
Instructors: Bridget Alsdorf, Carolyn Yerkes
Pathologies of Difference: Art, Medicine and Race in the British Empire
This course examines the relationship of art and medicine in the construction and production of race in the British Empire from the early modern period until the beginning of the twentieth century. We will analyze how image-making has been used in the development of medical knowledge and how scientific concepts of vision and natural history have been incorporated into art making. We will then examine how these intersections were deployed to visualize and, sometimes, challenge continually changing meanings about human and geographical difference across Britain and its colonies.
Instructors: Anna Kesson
The Meaning of Armor
Armor meant a great deal to the people whose bodies it protected in combat. But the meaning of armor in medieval and Renaissance Europe extended well beyond the utilitarian. Armor transformed the body of the wearer and shaped his image as a person. Armor's power to forge bonds among people, articulate community, and connect to ideas was reflected across the fine arts. This course, drawing on objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will examine the meaning of armor throughout history, including issues of convention, originality, and quality, as well as the shifting historical circumstances for armor's appreciation, preservation, and study.
Instructors: Pierre Terjanian
Art and Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century
The 19th century in Europe and America saw the rise and fall of empires and unprecedented innovation in industry, technology, science, and the arts. Through a series of topics, including history, science, medicine, perception, and time, this course considers how intellectual revolutions in diverse disciplines, such as biology and philosophy, and the invention of new fields of knowledge, such as ethnography and psychology, shaped art-making. The work of David, Cole, Church, Eakins, Manet, Courbet, Tanner, Inness, Van Gogh, and Cézanne will offer unique perspectives onto the modes of seeing and knowing that defined 19th-century culture.
Instructors: Bridget Alsdorf, Rachael DeLue
Introduction to Historiography
The literature of art, architecture, and archaeology until the institutionalization of art history in universities and museums in Europe c. 1800. Concentration on European historiography, with some attention given to Islamic, Chinese and Japanese traditions. Later interpretations to be considered.
Instructors: Thomas Kaufmann
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 Watsky
Studies in Greek Architecture: Public Spaces
This course examines the architectural framework for public social life in the ancient Aegean. A range of case studies tackles issues from the engineering of some of the Mediterranean world's largest structures to modern uses of ancient theaters.
Instructors: Samuel Holzman
Greek Sculpture and Roman Copies
A seminar devoted to the long-standing problems concerning the tradition of Greek sculpture, most of which survives in later Roman copies. Replication was fundamental to ancient artistic practice and remains central to both its critical evaluation and its broad appreciation. Emphasis is on stylistic comparison of the surviving copies (Kopienkritik); critical engagement with the ancient written sources that attest the most famous works (opera nobilia); and the historiographic tradition in modern scholarship devoted to these works and the problems they pose.
Instructors: Michael Koortbojian
Problems in Late Antique and Byzantine Art and Architecture: Techne: Late Ant./Byzantine Art Making
Henry Staten has recently argued for a re-evaluation of art in relation to the concept of techne. This seminar addresses this argument by considering the evidence for artistic production from ca. 300-1600. Working from objects, written sources, and archaeological evidence, the class seeks to define both the status of the artist and of the arts across this period. Social, economic, and cultural considerations shape this conversation. When possible, each meeting builds upon the close examination of works in the Princeton University collections.
Instructors: Charlie Barber
The Color of Monochrome Sculpture
This seminar examines how early modern sculptors working in monochrome materials like marble, bronze, wood, ivory, and clay, created the impression of life without the aid of color. We study the optical effects that Baroque sculptors employed to rival the mimetic illusionism of painting, and consider these in relation to the coloristic ambiguity - and often the insistent tactility - of works carved by Renaissance sculptors. By considering the value and limits of painterly paradigms for making and viewing sculpture, our investigation seeks to understand the strategies sculptors used to assert the autonomy of their colorless art.
Instructors: Carolina Mangone
Seminar in Modernist Art and Theory: The Bathetic and the Banal
Sometimes, since the late 19th century, artists and writers in Europe and the US have taken up the most outrageous of personae and/or the most ordinary of materials. What forms do these attractions take, and what forces might drive them? Guided by disparate thinkers such as Nietzsche, Sartre, and Arendt, we explore diverse artists such as Alfred Jarry, the Russian Eccentrics, Hugo Ball, Sophie Taeuber, Kurt Schwitters, Asger Jorn, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Carl Andre, Eva Hesse, Isa Genzken, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, and Rachel Harrison.
Instructors: Hal Foster
Seminar in Japanese Art and Archaeology: Japanese Tea and the Visual Arts
The seminar examines the diverse arts employed in pre-modern chanoyu, the Japanese secular ritual of tea, including ceramics, paintings, lacquer, calligraphy, and architecture. Special attention is given to period texts written about tea objects. Among the topics considered are the physical and conceptual adaptations of objects (both indigenous and non-Japanese) for the tea context, the aesthetic terms tea practitioners created for chanoyu objects, the practice of bestowing names on objects, and the ensemble use of objects of different mediums. Seminar members may also, if they wish, study objects outside Japanese tea as comparative examples.
Instructors: Andrew Watsky