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History of Art

Students may complete a major or minor in History of Art.


David J. Cast, Professor
Martha Easton, Lecturer
Christiane Hertel, Professor (on leave semester II)
Homay King, Assistant Professor
Dale Kinney, Professor
Steven Z. Levine, Professor
Gridley McKim-Smith, Professor and Major Advisor
Lisa Saltzman, Associate Professor and Acting Chair
Suzanne Spain, Lecturer

The curriculum in History of Art immerses students in the study of visual culture. Structured by a set of evolving disciplinary concerns, students learn to interpret the visual through methodologies dedicated to the historical, the material, the critical and the theoretical. Majors are encouraged to supplement courses taken in the department with history of art courses offered at Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania . Majors are also encouraged to study abroad for a semester. Should they choose to do so, they should plan to undertake that work during the spring semester of their junior year.

Major Requirements

The major requires eleven units, approved by the major adviser. A usual sequence of courses would include at least one 100-level "critical approaches" seminar, four 200-level lecture courses, four 300-level seminars, and two semesters of senior conference. Beginning with the class of 2008, majors will be required to take junior seminar in the fall semester of the junior year and senior conference in the spring semester of senior year. In the course of their departmental studies, students are strongly encouraged to take courses across media and areas, and in at least three of the following fields of study: Ancient and Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, Modern and Contemporary, Film, and non-Western.

With the approval of the major adviser, courses in fine arts or with significant curricular investment in visual studies may be counted toward the fulfillment of the distribution requirements. Similarly, courses in art history taken abroad or at another institution in the United States may be counted. Generally, no more than two such courses may be counted toward the major requirements.

A senior paper, based on independent research and using scholarly methods of historical and/or critical interpretation must be submitted at the end of the spring semester. Generally 25-40 pages in length, the senior paper represents the culmination of the departmental experience.


Seniors whose major average at the beginning of the spring semester is 3.7 or higher will be invited to write an honors thesis instead of the senior paper.

Minor Requirements

A minor in history of art requires six units: one or two 100-level courses and four or five others selected in consultation with the major adviser.

HART B100 The Stuff of Art

(Burgmayer, Division IIL; cross-listed as CHEM B100) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B104 Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: The Classical Tradition

An investigation of the historical and philosophical ideas of the classical, with particular attention to the Italian Renaissance and the continuance of its formulations throughout the Westernized world. (Cast, Division III)

HART B105 Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: Poetry and Politics in Landscape Art

An introduction to the representation and perception of nature in different visual media, with attention to such issues as nature and utopia; nature and violence; natural freedom; and the femininity of nature. (Hertel, Division III)

HART B107 Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: Self and Other in the Arts of France

A study of artists' self-representations in the context of the philosophy and psychology of their time, with particular attention to issues of political patronage, gender and class, power and desire. (Levine, Division III)

HART B108 Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: Women, Feminism and History of Art

An investigation of the history of art since the Renaissance organized around the practice of women artists, the representation of women in art and the visual economy of the gaze. (Easton , Division III)

HART B110 Critical Approaches to Visual Representation: Identification in the Cinema

An introduction to the analysis of film through particular attention to the role of the spectator. (King, Division III)

HART B190 The Form of the City

(Hein, Division I or III; cross-listed as ANTH B190 and CITY B190)

HART B204 Greek Sculpture

(Webb, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B205)

HART B205 Introduction to Film

(Horne, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B205)

HART B206 Hellenistic and Roman Sculpture

(Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B206) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B210 Medieval Art

An overview of artistic production in Europe antiquity to the 14th century. Special attention will be paid to problems of interpretation and recent developments in art-historical scholarship. (Easton , Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B212 Medieval Architecture

A survey of medieval building types, including churches, mosques, synagogues, palaces, castles and government structures, from the fourth through the 14th centuries in Europe, the British Isles and the Near East. Special attention to regional differences and interrelations, the relation of design to use, the respective roles of builders and patrons. (Kinney, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B212) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B223 Topics in German Cultural Series: Global Masculinity: Male Body in Contemporary Cinema

(staff, Division I or III; cross-listed as COML B223 and GERM B223)

HART B227 Topics in Modern Planning

(Hurley, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B227)

HART B230 Renaissance Art

A survey of painting in Florence and Rome in the 15th and 16th centuries (Botticelli, Giotto, Leonardo, Masaccio, Michelangelo, Raphael), with particular attention to contemporary intellectual, social and religious developments. (Cast, Division III)

HART B237 Northern Renaissance Art

An introduction to painting, graphic arts and sculpture in Germany in the first half of the 16th century, with emphasis on the influence of the Protestant Reformation on the visual arts. Artists studied include Altdorfer, Cranach, Dürer, Grünewald, Holbein and Riemenschneider. (Hertel, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B238 Silent Film: International Film to 1930

(Horne, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B238)

HART B239 Women and Cinema

(Horne, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B239) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B241 Art of the Spanish-Speaking World

A study of painting and sculpture in Spain from 1492 to the early 19th century, with emphasis on such artists as El Greco, Goya, Velázquez, Zurbarán and the polychrome sculptors. As relevant, commentary is made on Latin America and the Spanish world's complex heritage, with its contacts with Islam, Northern Europe and pre-Columbian cultures. Continuities and disjunctions within these diverse traditions as they evolve both in Spain and the Americas are noted, and issues of canon formation and national identity are raised. (McKim-Smith, Division III)

HART B245 Dutch Art of the 17th Century

A survey of painting in the Northern Netherlands with emphasis on such issues as Calvinism, civic organization, colonialism, the scientific revolution, popular culture and nationalism. Attention is given to various approaches to the study of Dutch painting; to its inherited classification into portrait, still life, history, scenes of social life, landscape and architectural paintings; and to the oeuvres of some individual artists, notably Vermeer and Rembrandt. (Hertel, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B246 Interdisciplinary Approaches to German Literature and Culture

(Meyer, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B245) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B250 Nineteenth-Century Art in France

Close attention is selectively given to the work of Cézanne, Courbet, David, Degas, Delacroix, Géricault, Ingres, Manet and Monet. Extensive readings in art criticism are required. (Levine, Division III)

HART B253 Survey of Western Architecture

(Hein, Division III; cross-listed as ANTH B254, CITY B253 and HIST B253) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B254 History of Modern Architecture

(staff, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B254)

HART B255 Survey of American Architecture

(Cohen, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B255)

HART B266 Contemporary Art and Theory

America , Europe and beyond, from the 1950s to the present, in visual media and visual theory. (Saltzman, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B269 Japanese Art

A study of visual culture of Japan from prehistory to the present, through the lens of Japanese history, literature and religion. Topics will include: the interaction of Buddhism and Japanese art and architecture; the illustration of the "Tale of Genji" and Heian court culture; scrolls, screens and the mechanics of painting format; nature as literary and symbolic motif; class, gender and ukiyo-e ; and trends in contemporary Japanese art. Discusses the idea of cultural interaction and appropriation between Japan , China and the West. ( Easton , Division III)

HART B270 Japanese Architecture and Planning

(Hein, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B270 and EAST B270 )

HART B272 Topics on Early and Medieval China: Chinese Cities and City Culture

(Lin; cross-listed as CITY B273 and EAST B272 )

HART B276 Video Art

If the "origins" of video art date to 1965, when Sony introduced its Portapac to the United States and Nam Jun Paik shot his first piece in New York; its theorization dates to 1976, when Rosalind Krauss published her field defining essay. This course functions as both an introduction to and an immersion in the history and theory of video art. (Saltzman, Division III)

HART B298 Cultural Diversity and Its Representations

(Werlen, Division I or III; cross-listed as COML B299 and GERM B299) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B299 History of Narrative Cinema

(King, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B299)

HART B301 Greek Architecture

(Webb, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B302 and CITY B302) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B303 Art and Technology

A consideration of the technological examination of paintings. While studying the appropriate aspects of technology - such as the infrared vidicon, the radiograph and autoradiograph, analysis of pigment samples and pigment cross-sections - students are also encouraged to approach the laboratory in a spirit of creative scrutiny. Raw data neither ask nor answer questions, and it remains the province of the students to shape meaningful questions and answers. Students become acquainted with the technology involved in examining paintings and are encouraged to find fresh applications for available technology in answering art-historical questions. (McKim-Smith, Division III) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B305 Classical Bodies

(Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B303)

HART B311 Topics in Medieval Art

Topics include illuminated manuscripts and the role of gender in medieval art. (Easton , Division III; cross-listed as CITY B312) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B320 Topics in German Literature and Culture: No Place Like Home: Nostalgia

(staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B320, GERM B320 and HEBR B320)

HART B321 Late Gothic Painting in Northern Europe

A study of late medieval illuminated manuscripts and Early Netherlandish painting. (Easton )

HART B327 Feminist Film Theory and Practice

An intensive introduction to feminist film theory and films by feminist directors. (King, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B327) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B329 Screen Melodrama

(Horne, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B329)

HART B334 Topics in Film Studies: Orientalism and Cinema

Explores cinematic representations of East Asia from the 1920s to the present. Examines how Hollywood films have replicated stereotypes that depict East Asia not only as other and primitive, but also as enigmatic, duplicitous and untranslatable in Western knowledge and representation systems. Looks at films from Europe and Asia that complicate the stereotype. Students will gain tools for understanding Orientalism and for thinking broadly about cross-cultural exchange and the relation between the self and other. Prerequisite: HART/ENGL 205, HART/ENGL 299 or equivalent. (King, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B334)

HART B348 Topics in German Art: Vienna 1900

(Meyer, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B319, COML B321 and GERM B321)

HART B349 Theories of Authorship in the Cinema

The study of the author-director remains one of the primary categories through which film is to be understood; various directors and critical approaches to this topic will be studied. (King; cross-listed as ENGL B349) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B350 Topics in Modern Art: Art and Psychoanalysis

(Levine, Division III)

HART B354 Topics in Art Criticism

Individual topics in art-historical methodology, such as art and psychoanalysis, feminism, post-structuralism or semiotics are treated. (Levine; cross-listed as COML B354) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B355 Topics in the History of London

Selected topics of social, literary and architectural concern in the history of London , emphasizing London since the 18th century. (Cast, Division I or III; cross-listed as CITY B355 and HIST B355)

HART B359 Topics in Urban Culture and Society: Theories of the City

(Arbona, Division I or III; cross-listed as ANTH B359 and CITY B360)

HART B380 Topics in Contemporary Art

Poems and novels, films and photographs, paintings and performances, monuments and memorials, even comics - in the aftermath of Art Spiegelman's Maus - have been the cultural forms that engage us with the catastrophic and traumatic history of the Holocaust. Through these cultural forms we have come to know events considered by some to defy the very possibility of historical, let alone aesthetic, representation. Our task will be to examine such cultural objects, aided by the extensive body of the critical, historical, theoretical and ethical writings through which such work has been variously critiqued and commended. (Saltzman, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B380 and HEBR B380) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B381 Topics in Japanese Art

A study of the visual culture of Japan from prehistory to the present, seen through the lens of history, literature and religion. Trends in contemporary Japanese art in the late 20th and early 21st centuries will also be considered, as will the cultural interaction of Japan , China and the West. (Easton , Division III; cross-listed as EAST B381 ) Not offered in 2006-07.

HART B397 Junior Seminar

The junior seminar, required of all majors beginning with the class of 2008 and held in the fall of the junior year, provides entering majors with an opportunity to delve intensively into the methods and materials of their chosen discipline. The junior seminar expands and refines the modes of disciplinary inquiry first encountered in the 100-level introductory seminars and equips students with the tools necessary for a productive intellectual experience in the major. (Saltzman, Division III)

HART B398 Senior Conference

A critical review of the discipline of art history in preparation for the senior paper. Required of all majors. (Easton )

HART B399 Senior Conference

A seminar for the discussion of senior research papers and such theoretical and historical concerns as may be appropriate to them. Interim oral reports. Required of all majors; culminates in the senior paper. (King)

HART B403 Supervised Work

Advanced students may do independent research under the supervision of a faculty member whose special competence coincides with the area of the proposed research. Consent of the supervising faculty member and of the major adviser is required. (staff)

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