Students may complete a major or minor in History of Art.
David J. Cast, Professor
Martha Easton, Lecturer
Christiane Hertel, Professor and Major Adviser (A-L)
Homay King, Associate Professor (on leave semesters I and II)
Dale Kinney, Professor (on leave semester I and II)
Steven Z. Levine, Professor
Gridley McKim-Smith, Professor and Major Adviser (M-Z)
Lisa Saltzman, Professor and Chair
Stephanie Schwartz, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities
Diala Touré, 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.
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 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.
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.
(Burgmayer, Division IIL; cross-listed as CHEM B100) Not offered in 2008-09.
What is an icon? What is an idol? How do they differ or are they the same? And what is the relation between icons, idols, and images? This course treats potent image-objects across cultures and across time, including religious icons (Madonnas), pop icons (Madonna), and comparable image-objects of other traditions, such as African minkisi and Native American totems. Readings range from Plato and the Old Testament to contemporary criticism. (Kinney, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
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)
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)
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)
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)
An introduction to the analysis of film through particular attention to the role of the spectator. (Gorfinkel, Division III)
(Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B115, CITY B115 and CSTS B115) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Hein, Division I or III; cross-listed as ANTH B190 and CITY B190)
(Webb, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B205) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B205) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B206)
(Lin, Division III; cross-listed as EAST B210 and PHIL B250) Not offered in 2008-09.
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)
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B223 and GERM B223) Not offered in 2008-09.
(staff, Division I; cross-listed as CITY B227) Not offered in 2008-09.
A survey of painting in Florence and Rome in the 15th and 16th centuries (Giotto, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael), with particular attention to contemporary intellectual, social, and religious developments. (Cast, Division III)
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)
Introduction to the international history of film as a narrative and aesthetic form, with consideration of cultural, social, political, technological, and economic determinants that allowed film across the world to evolve, thrive, and become the defining artistic medium of the 20th century. (Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B238)
This course will examine the particular challenges that women filmmakers face, as well as the unique and innovative contributions they have made to film aesthetics and narrative form. The class will address central debates within feminism from the 1970s to the present, in particular, feminism’s influence on women’s independent film production and the question of female authorship. (Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B239)
A study of painting and sculpture in Spain from 1492 to the early-19th century, with emphasis on such artists as El Greco, Velázquez, Zurbarán, Goya 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)
(Meyer, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B245) Not offered in 2008-09.
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)
The major traditions in Western architecture are illustrated through detailed analysis of selected examples from classical antiquity to the present. The evolution of architectural design and building technology, and the larger intellectual, aesthetic, and social context in which this evolution occurred, are considered. (Cast, Hein, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B253 and HIST B253) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Hein, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B254)
(Steffensen, Cohen, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B255) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course will involve an inquiry into the history of 20th-century visual culture, European and American, through an exploration of art practice, art history, art criticism and art theory. Against the dominant and paradigmatic theorization of modernism, the course will introduce and mobilize materials aimed at its critique. (Saltzman, Division III)
America, Europe and beyond, from the 1950s to the present, in visual media and visual theory. (Saltzman, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(staff; cross-listed as ARCH B268 and CITY B268) Not offered in 2008-09.
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) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Hein, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B270 and EAST B270) Not offered in 2008-09.
Examines the development of photography, from its invention to contemporary artistic practices. Beginning with an investigation of the scientific origins, traces the complex functions of the photographic image. Familiarizes students with key figures in European and American photography as well as key texts reflecting the unstable status of the photographic object between technology and aesthetics, mass culture and the avant-garde, art and document. (Schwartz, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B271)
(Lin, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B273 and EAST B272)
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 and an immersion in the history and theory of video art. Prerequisite: HART 110, HART/ENGL 205, HART 266, HART 299 or permission of instructor. (Saltzman, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B287) Not offered in 2008-09.
This course examines the significant artistic and architectural traditions of African cultures south of the Sahara in their religious, philosophical, political, and social aspects. (Touré)
An introduction to the historical contexts and representational politics of screen sexuality in American cinema of the 1960’s and will chart the ways in which various genders and sexualities were deployed as commodity, spectacle and formal transgression during a turbulent cinematic decade. (Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B294) Not offered in 2008-09.
(King, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B299) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B303) Not offered in 2008-09.
(King, Division III; cross-listed as COML B306 and ENGL B306) Not offered in 2008-09.
Examining photographic practices between the 1850’s and the 1970’s, this seminar seeks to move beyond the reflective analysis of the city in the image and as the subject of representation to the relationship between photography and urbanization. Taking up various theories and models it explores how making records and reorganization of space developed as related means of modernization. (Schwartz, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B308)
Topics include illuminated manuscripts and the role of gender in medieval art. (Easton, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B312)
(staff, Division III; cross-listed as COML B320, ENGL B320, GERM B320 and HEBR B320) Not offered in 2008-09.
A study of late medieval illuminated manuscripts and Early Netherlandish painting. (Easton) Not offered in 2008-09.
Selected subjects in Italian art from painting, sculpture, and architecture between the years 1400 and 1600. (Cast, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B323) Not offered in 2008-09.
A seminar on the diffusion of Palladian architecture from the 16th century to the present. (Cast; cross-listed as CITY B331)
(Nguyen, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B334)
Considers the provocative films of international auteurs Michael Haneke, Claire Denis, and Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne in the context of discourses of “art cinema” and film authorship, and in terms of historical and aesthetic traditions of realism and modernism in European cinema, past and present. Prerequisite: One course from ENGL/HART B205; HART B110; or HART/ENGL B299: or consent of the instructor. (Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B337) Not offered in 2008-09.
(McKim-Smith, Division III; cross-listed as COML B340)
Serving to theorize and historicize cult film and questions of the aesthetic and cultural value, this class will examine conceptual issues of taste, reception, and mass culture as they have accrued around cult film phenomena such as the midnight movie, the cult horror film, exploitation film, underground, and camp cinema. Prerequisite: One course from: ENGL/HART B205; HART B110; HART/ENGL B299; or consent of instructor. (Gorfinkel, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B341)
(Hertel, Meyer, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B319, COML B321 and GERM B321) Not offered in 2008-09.
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 2008-09.
(Levine, Division III) Not offered in 2008-09.
Individual topics in art-historical methodology, such as art and psychoanalysis, feminism, post-structuralism, or semiotics are treated. (Levine, Division III; cross-listed as COML B354 and HEBR B354)
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) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as ARCH B359 and CSTS B359) Not offered in 2008-09.
(Arbona, Division I or III; cross-listed as ANTH B359 and CITY B360)
This seminar will introduce students to the African art holdings that are part of the Art and Archaeology Collections. (Touré)
(Hein, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B377)
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)
Designed to introduce majors to the canonical texts in the field of art history and to formalize their understanding of art history as a discipline. Beginning with such foundational figures as Plato and Pliny and ending with the leading art historical practioners of the poststructural and the performative, junior majors will read across the history of art history. Required of and limited to History of Art majors. (Levine, Division III)
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. (Cast, Easton, Division III)
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)