Courses Spring 2018

Spring 2018 Course Schedule
Corcoran School of the Arts and Design - Art History Program

Graduate Seminars in Art History, Spring 2018

AH 6255 Orientalism in American Art 1700-1945 (Bjelajac)
AH 6269 Contemporary Art and Theory (Dumbadze)
AH 6225 / AH 4129 Urbanism in Rome: 1450-1690 (Jacks)
AH 6270.80 / CAH 4179.80 Art, Civics, and the Engaged Civilian (Kunkel)
AH 6269 Body and/as Image (Lipinski)
AH 6262 / AH 4182 Modern and Contemporary South Asia (McKnight Sethi)
AH 6214 / AH 3114 Art of the Book in the Medieval Muslim World (Natif)
AH 6245 Courbet + Manet: New Visions (Robinson)
AH 6220 Manuscripts and Narrative Revivals (Von Barghahn)

 

Course Descriptions

ORIENTALISM IN AMERICAN ART
AH 6255 / AMST 6730
Tuesdays 3:30-6:00
Professor David Bjelajac

Four decades ago, Edward Said’s seminal book Orientalism (1978) established a binary analytical paradigm for explaining how academicians and governments in the West constructed cultural “otherness” or subordinating stereotypes of “the Orient.” This ideology of western superiority served to justify European and American imperialism in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia as a whole. More recent, revisionist scholarship, has transformed the dualistic model of western Orientalist constructs to comprise a heterogeneous range of cultural, ideological positions that are dependent upon the contingencies of specific historical traditions, geo-political interests and aesthetic, religious practices. Americans from the colonial period onward have defined

themselves in relation to the ancient Israelites and the biblical history of the Holy Land. The pyramid decorating the Great Seal of the United States and the obelisks of the Bunker Hill and Washington Monuments suggest national rootedness in ancient Egyptian wisdom. On the other hand, the seminar will also explore Orientalism in terms of political resistance to oppression. African-Americans identified with Hebraic opposition to slavery, but they also later celebrated Egyptian art and architecture in conjunction with civil-rights activism and Ethiopia’s victory over Italian colonialism at the Battle of Adowa (1896). The seminar will also consider nineteenth-century feminist sculptors’ sympathetic representations of powerful, yet tragic, orientalist heroines such as Cleopatra and Zenobia, the third-century Queen of Palmyra resisting Roman domination of the Middle East. In commissioning history paintings, landscapes and sculptures for the United States Capitol, Supreme Court and other public buildings, politically dominant white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) fused the traditional imperial trope of civilization’s westward course with Christian and Masonic transnational notions of millennial progress to forge the expansionist ideology of America’s Manifest Destiny, which undergirded “open-door” world trade or “dollar diplomacy.” The seminar will end by exploring the visual culture of Orientalism in relation to U.S. imperial conquest of the Philippines, the post-World- War-I propaganda campaign against communism, and, finally, the the advent of the Cold War marked by the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In response to the atomic bombings and the wartime internment of Japanese-American citizens, many painters, sculptors and Beat Generation artists campaigned against nuclear weapons. African-American civil rights activists linked their use in Japan to American segregationist policies and to the nation’s pervasive domestic racism, which further fueled the Cold War and U.S. imperial ambitions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.


CONTEMPORARY ART AND THEORY
AH 6269
Wednesdays 7:00 – 9:30
Smith Hall of Art, Room 106

This class examines contemporary art from 1989 to the present.  The focus will be both local and global.  Each session is arranged around a specific theme or historical development.  We will discuss such things as the relationship between art and activism, art and climate change, identity politics, the specter or terrorism and its impact on contemporary art, the global art market, the rise of digital technology and its influence on contemporary art, and the tension between alienation and the desire for authentic experiences.  We will look at a wide range of art.  Readings will consist of key primary material, recent theoretical writings, and current art historical scholarship.


URBANISM IN ROME: 1450-1690
AH 6225 / AH 4129
Wednesdays 9:30am-12:00pm
Professor Philip Jacks

This seminar examines the Eternal City both in a linear progression and by spatial logic. We first study how each of the popes from Nicholas V to Alexander VII (1450–1666) left their imprint on the image of Rome through the patronage of churches, chapels, palaces, piazze and the laying of streets. We then dissect the city in its parts: each student takes one of the fourteen neighborhoods, or rioni, and by using guidebooks, period maps (Bufalini to Nolli) examines the synchronic relationships of monuments – ritual processions, family alliances and rivalries, festivals such as the Quarantore and religious confraternities. How does the physical proximity of a medieval chapel next to a Renaissance oratory next to a Baroque shrine inform us about the way daily life conditioned how these characteristic urban forms took shape? Students will focus on key monuments in their respective neighborhoods – whether through the painted and sculpted decoration of chapels or through the design of the built environment. Inevitably students will come to consider how the Renaissance and Baroque city filled in around its ancient ruins. Italian is not necessary; much of the greatest scholarship is in English (Krautheimer, Ackerman, Connors) or translated (Lanciani, Frommel).


ART, CIVICS, AND THE ENGAGED CIVILIAN
AH 6270.80 / CAH 4179.80
Thursdays 1-3:30 PM
Professor Joseph Kunkel

There is power in the expression of narrative. There is power in engaging our communities. There is power in the active civilian. This course will investigate how we can positively use the arts and design to raise awareness around cultural indifference, social inequities, poverty, and access to bring about social change in our built environment. During the semester, readings, precedent studies, and small studio projects will explore the potential the engaged artist, creator, doer and maker can have on our rural and urban environments.


BODY AND / AS IMAGE
Tuesdays 12:30-3:00pm
AH 6269
Professor Lisa Lipinski

In this seminar we will examine representations and theories related to the body in modern and contemporary art. We will examine the work of artists who use their own bodies and artists whose work involves the body in some form. We will explore images of the body in painting, photography, video, performance, and visual culture. Critical writings by philosophers, art historians, and cultural theorists, such as Luce Irigaray, Donna Haraway, Susan Bordo, Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler, George Bataille, Antonin Artaud, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Gilles Deleuze, and others will inform our study of the body and/as image.


ART OF THE BOOK IN THE MEDIEVAL MUSLIM WORLD
AH 6214 / 3114
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 12:25-2:00pm
Professor Mika Natif

This course will serve as an introduction to the history of painting and book illumination  in the Muslim world, beginning with the rise of Islam in the seventh century and ending with the seventeenth century. We will rely both on written sources (historical, philosophical, poetic, and religious) and works of art and material culture (painting, book illustrations, and calligraphy) to better understand the unity and diversity of the Islamic world and its complex attitude toward images.

Islam nurtured a unique artistic and aesthetic visual language that was fashioned, in part, by Muslims’ exposure to and dialogue with other peoples and civilizations, including Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and others. The Muslims’ encounter with the flow of Turkic nomads, the growing influence of the Persian language, the contested Arab hegemony, exchanges and relations between nomad and sedentary, and the ongoing conflicts with non-believers (Byzantines, Hindus, Shamanists) brought about an endless process of creativity that is constantly reflected in Islamic art.

The format of the course is a combination of lectures and class discussions. Throughout the course we will analyze specific case studies that will offer us a more complete grasp of the history of Islamic painting and book culture. The course is designed to serve non-specialists. All reading materials, including original sources, will be in English.


MODERN + CONTEMPORARY SOUTH ASIA
AH 6262 / AH 4182
Tuesdays: 9:30am-12pm
Professor Cristin McKnight Sethi

This course considers the development of artistic practice in South Asia from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, focusing in particular on the regions of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. We will begin by looking at artistic practice during the period of British rule on the subcontinent, and explore artistic response to colonial institutions and imperial formation (including professional art schools, museums, and international exhibitions).  We will see how artists engage with anti-colonial nationalist movements, and draw inspiration from the idea of a precolonial past, indigenous craft, and idealized rural spaces. We will also look at contemporary artistic production in South Asia and explore its exhibition and reception outside of South Asia. Throughout the course we will think historiographically, to consider evolving definitions of modern and contemporary art of South Asia and to engage with recent scholarly interventions that expand our understanding of this rich and complex period. Open to graduate students, all undergraduate juniors and seniors, and to others with permission by instructor. No previous knowledge of South Asian art or South Asia required.


COURBET AND MANET: NEW VISIONS
AH 6245
MONDAYS   9:30- 12:00
Professor L.F. Robinson

THIS COURSE CONSIDERS THE ROLE, CONTRIBUTIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE OF GUSTAVE COURBET AND ḖDOUARD MANET TO THE EMERGENCE OF MODERNISM IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. THROUGH READINGS, LECTURES AND CLASS DISCUSSIONS THEY AND THEIR WORKS ARE EXAMINED IN THE CONTEXT OF TRADITION AND INNOVATION DURING A PERIOD OF PROFOUND AND MULTIFACETED TRANSFORMATION.


MANUSCRIPTS AND NARRATIVE REVIVALS
AH 6220
Thursdays: 1-3:30pm
Professor Barbara Von Barghahn

This seminar addresses fifteenth-century Northern Renaissance manuscript illumination, specifically royal patronage in the Netherlands, as well as European satellite courts influenced by Flemish art. Presentation topics will concern: the symbolic representation of the “book” in paintings; master illuminators of the Late Gothic and Renaissance; sacred and profane texts; palatine collectors, commissions and famed authors (i.e. Christine de Pizan); manuscript techniques, conservation and exhibition; courtly libraries and prestigious display; print multiples, public audience and social concerns; chivalric ideals, notable paladins and narrative texts; book illustration and Gothic revival (Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelites), etc.