Art History Recent Course Offerings

Fall 2024

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Survey of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval

ARTH 101 - Van Loan, Theodore

Chronological survey of Western art from the Paleolithic Age through the Middle Ages in Italy and Northern Europe. Examination of cultural and stylistic influences in the art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Consideration of distinct interests of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Europe. Focus on major monuments and influential images produced up to circa 1400.

Survey of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval

ARTH 101 - Bent, George R.

Chronological survey of Western art from the Paleolithic Age through the Middle Ages in Italy and Northern Europe. Examination of cultural and stylistic influences in the art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Consideration of distinct interests of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Europe. Focus on major monuments and influential images produced up to circa 1400.

Art of the African Diaspora

ARTH 131 - Castenell, Wendy

This course offers a broad survey of the influence of African art on art around the world. Students will learn new modes of thought and variety of ideas pertaining to the dissemination of African people, culture, and art globally. Students will demonstrate historical and cultural understanding of representative visual arts related to the African and African American art; Student will analyze and interpret representative examples of visual arts, using discipline-specific terminology and methods.

Arts of Mesoamerica and the Andes

ARTH 170 - Lepage, Andrea C.

Survey of the art and architecture of Mesoamerica and the Andes before the arrival of the Europeans, with a focus on indigenous civilizations including the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and Inca. Art is contextualized in terms of religious, social, political, and economic developments in each region under discussion. The class includes a trip to the Virginia Museum of fine Arts in Richmond or the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. This course fulfills the Arts and Humanities requirement for the LACS minor.

Islamic Art and Architecture: The First 400 Years

ARTH 212 - Van Loan, Theodore

The 7th Century CE/1st Century AH was a time of great political, cultural, and religious change in Eurasia. Amid a power vacuum created by conflict between warring Byzantium and Sasanian Iran, a polity emerged, drawing authority from a new faith, Islam. For the subsequent 400 years following the initial Islamic conquest, a series of Caliphates sponsored the construction of vast urban spaces, monuments, mosques, palaces, and other structures, some of which have remained in continuous use since. Alongside this, patronage of the visual arts more broadly including manuscripts, ivories, metalwork, and other media also thrived. The course will consider how this artistic and architectural output came to define Islamic Art as a visual tradition and as an academic discipline. It will do so by tracing artistic developments across the early Islamic world, ranging from the Iberian Peninsula in the West to North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. 

Surrealism

ARTH 264 - King, Elliott H.

Surrealism was one of the most multi-faceted and influential intellectual movements of the 20th century with a legacy and practice that continues today. This seminar examines the key writings and ideas that underlie surrealism with a focus on its artistic practice. We will consider works by artists including Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, and Max Ernst; watch surrealist films; discuss the significance of dreams; and play surrealist games of chance.

American Art to 1945

ARTH 266 - Castenell, Wendy

A survey of painting and sculpture in the United States from its earliest settlement to about 1945. Lectures and discussions emphasize the English eastern seaboard development in the 17th and 18th centuries, though other geographical areas are included in the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include art of the early colonies, the Hudson River School, Realism and Regionalism, and the reception of abstract art in the United States.

Art Since 1945

ARTH 267 - King, Elliott H.

This course introduces students to art and art theory from 1945 to the present. The objectives of the course are: (1) to enhance student knowledge of the major works, artists, and movements of art in Europe and the United States since 1945; (2) to integrate these works of art within the broader social and intellectual history of the period; and (3) to help students develop their skills in visual analysis and historical interpretation. Among the issues we examine are the politics of abstract art; the ongoing dialogue between art and mass culture; the differences between modernism and postmodernism; and contemporary critiques of art history's prevailing narratives. This is a lecture course with a heavy emphasis on in-class discussion.

Art and Revolution: Mexican Muralism

ARTH 274 - Lepage, Andrea C.

A survey of public monumental art produced by Mexican artists Diego Rivera, José ? Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros in Mexico and the United States from 1910 to the 1970s. Lectures focus on art that promotes social ideals and the role that art played in building a new national consciousness in Mexico. Students also examine the impact of Mexican muralism throughout Latin America and the United States. This course fulfills the Arts and Humanities requirement for the LACS minor.

Medieval Art in Italy

ARTH 350 - Bent, George R.

Art and architecture of the Italian peninsula, from circa 1200 to 1400. This seminar addresses issues of patronage, artistic training and methods of production, iconography, and the function of religious and secular imagery. Topics of discussion include the construction of Tuscan cathedrals and civic buildings; sculpture in Siena, Pisa, and Rome; and painting in Assisi, Padua, and Florence.

Women, Art, and Empowerment

ARTH 365 - King, Elliott H.

This seminar explores female artists from the late 18th century through the present, whose depictions of women have directly challenged the value system in art history that has traditionally privileged white heterosexual male artists, audiences, collectors, historians, curators, etc. Lectures, discussions, and research projects address multicultural perspectives and provide a sense of feminism's global import in a current and historical context.

Senior Seminar: Approaches to Art History

ARTH 395 - Kerin, Melissa R.

This capstone seminar studies the origins, applications, strengths, and weaknesses of various methodological approaches that art historians use to study art. Topics include Formalism; Iconography and Iconology; Social History and Marxism; Feminism; Psychoanalysis; Semiotics; Structuralism and Post-Structuralism; Deconstruction; Reception Theory; Post-Colonialism; and Critical Race/Ethnicity Theories.

Directed Individual Study: Teaching Assistance in ARTH 170

ARTH 403E - Lepage, Andrea C.

The student taking this three-credit course will provide teaching assistance for the class. That person will be a contact for students and will answer questions, help students prepare for assignments, set up meeting times outside of class, and will on occasion present course material and current events related to the course. The student will also produce a significant independent research paper focused on the course topic.

Directed Individual Study: Loot, Legitimacy, and Ownership

ARTH 403F - Lepage, Andrea C.

This independent research project will investigate the legal and ethical considerations concerning the possession of items that have been unlawfully taken from Mexico. The research will delve into topics such as rematriation, cultural heritage, ownership, provenance, the market, and other issues related to ownership. The announcement of the social media campaign #MiPatrimonioNoSeVende (“My Heritage is Not For Sale”) by the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018 has led to the repatriation of over 10,000 cultural artifacts to Mexico. This presents an opportune moment for the examination of this subject. The student pursuing this topic will share research findings with students enrolled in Arth170: Arts of Mesoamerica and the Andes.

Senior Thesis

ARTH 473 - Lepage, Andrea C.

An art history thesis. A thesis abstract with a written statement of the objective must be presented in the spring of the junior year. The Art History faculty will evaluate all thesis proposals within three weeks to determine the student's preparedness and the project's validity, designating each as a 'Pass,' 'Provisional Pass' (requiring resubmission of proposal), or 'Re-direction' (to a 300-level seminar or independent study). Student writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony. Application to write a thesis must be made by May 1 of the junior year. Accepted students may begin their research over the summer and should plan to submit an updated proposal on September 20 of fall term. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year.

Senior Thesis

ARTH 473 - Kerin, Melissa R.

An art history thesis. A thesis abstract with a written statement of the objective must be presented in the spring of the junior year. The Art History faculty will evaluate all thesis proposals within three weeks to determine the student's preparedness and the project's validity, designating each as a 'Pass,' 'Provisional Pass' (requiring resubmission of proposal), or 'Re-direction' (to a 300-level seminar or independent study). Student writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony. Application to write a thesis must be made by May 1 of the junior year. Accepted students may begin their research over the summer and should plan to submit an updated proposal on September 20 of fall term. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year.

Senior Thesis

ARTH 473 - King, Elliott H.

An art history thesis. A thesis abstract with a written statement of the objective must be presented in the spring of the junior year. The Art History faculty will evaluate all thesis proposals within three weeks to determine the student's preparedness and the project's validity, designating each as a 'Pass,' 'Provisional Pass' (requiring resubmission of proposal), or 'Re-direction' (to a 300-level seminar or independent study). Student writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony. Application to write a thesis must be made by May 1 of the junior year. Accepted students may begin their research over the summer and should plan to submit an updated proposal on September 20 of fall term. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year.

Senior Thesis

ARTH 473 - Castenell, Wendy

An art history thesis. A thesis abstract with a written statement of the objective must be presented in the spring of the junior year. The Art History faculty will evaluate all thesis proposals within three weeks to determine the student's preparedness and the project's validity, designating each as a 'Pass,' 'Provisional Pass' (requiring resubmission of proposal), or 'Re-direction' (to a 300-level seminar or independent study). Student writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony. Application to write a thesis must be made by May 1 of the junior year. Accepted students may begin their research over the summer and should plan to submit an updated proposal on September 20 of fall term. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year.

Senior Thesis

ARTH 473 - Bent, George R.

An art history thesis. A thesis abstract with a written statement of the objective must be presented in the spring of the junior year. The Art History faculty will evaluate all thesis proposals within three weeks to determine the student's preparedness and the project's validity, designating each as a 'Pass,' 'Provisional Pass' (requiring resubmission of proposal), or 'Re-direction' (to a 300-level seminar or independent study). Student writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony. Application to write a thesis must be made by May 1 of the junior year. Accepted students may begin their research over the summer and should plan to submit an updated proposal on September 20 of fall term. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year.

Spring 2024

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Nature through Many Lenses: A Cross-Cultural Exploration of the More-than-Human World

ARTH 216 - Steinkraus, Emma / Van Loan, Theodore

In this class we will explore how different artistic traditions have interfaced with the natural world. Team­-taught by an art historian and a painter, the class includes diverse projects drawn from both disciplines. Each week is structured around a different art historical tradition. We will study depictions of the natural world in Arab, Persian, and Mughal painting traditions, Japanese byobu screens, women's contributions to European scientific illustration, and Hudson River School plein-air painting. These units will blend art historical lectures, discussions, readings, and research with related studio art exercises. Studio art activities will include workshops on miniature painting, gold leaf, cyanotypes, botanical illustration, and painting from life outdoors. The class will also include a field trip to the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, VA, to visit their rare books library, artist-in-residence program, and gardens. The term will culminate in a collaborative exhibition for students to present both their art works and art historical contexts for their work. 

Modern Art in Barcelona

ARTH 268 - King, Elliott H.

Spanning the years 1888 to 1939, a period bookended by the Barcelona Universal Exposition and the end of the Spanish Civil War, this course provides a firsthand look at the artists, architects, and designers who defined Catalan modern art in the late-19th and early 20thcentury. Students will study the aesthetic and socio-political circumstances of the 'Renaixança;' 'Noucentisme;' and the young artists who merged to define modern European art - famous names that include Picasso, Miró, and Dalí. We will then turn to the national capital, Madrid, to visit some of these artist's most celebrated artworks. Anticipated site visits during our abroad experience include Gaudí's Palau Güell, Casa Batlló, the Fundació Joan Miró, the Fudació Gala-Salvador Dalí, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina.

Science in Art: Technical Examination of 17th-Century Dutch Paintings

ARTH 356 - Uffelman, Erich S.

A survey of 17th-century Dutch history, art history, politics, religion, economics, etc., which links the scientific analysis of art to the art and culture of the time. The course begins on campus and then history, etc., will occur for a few days in Lexington and then proceed to Center for European Studies, Universiteit Maastricht, The Netherlands. Students visit numerous museums, hear guest lectures from faculty at Universiteit Maastricht, and observe at conservation laboratories at some of the major Dutch art museums. Students are graded by their performance on two research projects involving presentations and journals. Though students are not required to learn a world language to participate in the program, they are expected to learn key phrases in Dutch as a matter of courtesy to citizens of the host country. Spring Term Abroad course.

Digital Florence

ARTH 383 - Bent, George R.

This course invites students to participate in and contribute to the Digital Humanities project Florence As It Was: The Digital Reconstruction of a Medieval City. We consider how the built environment of Florence influenced--and was in turn influenced by--the culture, society, art, and history of the city. Students learn to translate historical, scholarly analysis into visually accessible formats, and collaborate on the "Florence As It Was" project, contributing to the digital mapping, data visualization, and virtual-reality reconstruction of medieval Florence.

Winter 2024

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Survey of Western Art: Renaissance to the Present

ARTH 102 - King, Elliott H.

Chronological survey of Western art from the Renaissance through the present. Topics include the Renaissance, from its cultural and stylistic origins through the Mannerist movement; the Baroque and Rococo; the Neoclassical reaction; Romanticism and Naturalism; the Barbizon School and Realism; Impressionism and its aftermath; Fauvism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, and the Postmodern reaction to Modernism.

African American Art

ARTH 130 - Castenell, Wendy

This course focuses on the creative production, contemporary reception, and critical interpretation of African American art from the colonial period to the present. While visual representations of and by African Americans provide the content for this course, the broader issues they raise are applicable to images, objects, and structures from a variety of cultures and civilizations. Indeed, this course will engage at least three general themes central to art historical and visual cultural studies generally: 1. Cultural encounters within colonial contexts; 2. Constructions of "race" and "blackness" within African American art; and 3. Conceptualizations of "blackness" as it underpins "Modernism" in 20th-21st century. 

Arts of Mesoamerica and the Andes

ARTH 170 - Lepage, Andrea C.

Survey of the art and architecture of Mesoamerica and the Andes before the arrival of the Europeans, with a focus on indigenous civilizations including the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and Inca. Art is contextualized in terms of religious, social, political, and economic developments in each region under discussion. The class includes a trip to the Virginia Museum of fine Arts in Richmond or the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. This course fulfills the Arts and Humanities requirement for the LACS minor.

Special Topics in Art History: Building Jerusalem: The Making and Remaking of a Holy City

ARTH 195A - Van Loan, Theodore

Since its foundation, the city of Jerusalem has been claimed materially and spiritually by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This survey course will trace the complex and conflicted history of Jerusalem from c. 516 BCE to today’s divided city. Classes contextualize art and architecture in terms of religious, social, political, and economic developments in the region. Students will learn about the Second Jewish Temple, the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock, the Ottoman walls, and the West Bank barrier.

ARTH200-02/CLAS200-02 Greek Art & Archaeology

ARTH 200 - Laughy, Michael H.

An introduction to ancient Greek art and archaeology. We encounter some of the greatest works of art in human history, as we survey the development of painting, sculpture, architecture, and town planning of the ancient Greeks. We encounter the history of the people behind the objects that they left behind, from the material remains of the Bronze Age palaces and Classical Athenian Acropolis to the world created in the wake of Alexander the Great's conquests. We also consider how we experience the ancient Greek world today through archaeological practice, cultural heritage, and the antiquities trade.

Islamic Art and Architecture: The First 400 Years

ARTH 212 -

The 7th Century CE/1st Century AH was a time of great political, cultural, and religious change in Eurasia. Amid a power vacuum created by conflict between warring Byzantium and Sasanian Iran, a polity emerged, drawing authority from a new faith, Islam. For the subsequent 400 years following the initial Islamic conquest, a series of Caliphates sponsored the construction of vast urban spaces, monuments, mosques, palaces, and other structures, some of which have remained in continuous use since. Alongside this, patronage of the visual arts more broadly including manuscripts, ivories, metalwork, and other media also thrived. The course will consider how this artistic and architectural output came to define Islamic Art as a visual tradition and as an academic discipline. It will do so by tracing artistic developments across the early Islamic world, ranging from the Iberian Peninsula in the West to North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. 

Harlem Renaissance Art

ARTH 230 - Castenell, Wendy

The Harlem Renaissance, also referred to as the New Negro Movement, stands as a towering and defining cultural moment in 20th-century American history. It was in some respects the period in which African American artists, writers, poets and others tabled bold new agendas for the ways in which they, as individuals, and as a nation-within-a-nation, might advance in what was to become the American century. This class will consider the multiple factors that gave rise to this astonishing and compelling cultural moment. The mixed results of the reconstruction era; the Great Migration, which saw very large numbers of African Americans move from the South to other parts of the country, namely the West coast and the great northern industrial centers; the defining contribution of Howard Professor Alain Locke, and so on. The class will also look at the variety of cultural expressions and artistic practices emerging out of the new epicenter of Black American life, Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance is of course something of a misnomer. It was not limited to Harlem, but in effect took place in many different parts of the US, from San Francisco to Chicago. Furthermore, it was perhaps a cultural birth, as much as it was a cultural rebirth, hence the important differentiation between the New Negro and the Old predecessor. Setting the Harlem Renaissance into a multiplicity of contexts, from African American art practices of the 19th century, to the reception African Americans received in European cities such as Paris, the class will be hugely informative, not just on what African American artists were doing in the early 20th century, but also the ways in which so many of today's debates and questions on race matters in the US can be traced back to what was happening in the country a century ago. 

Medieval Art in Southern Europe

ARTH 253 - Bent, George R.

Examination of the art and culture of Italy and Greece from the rise of Christianity to the first appearance of bubonic plague in 1348. Topics include early Christian art and architecture; Byzantine imagery in Ravenna and Constantinople during the Age of Justinian; iconoclasm; mosaics in Greece, Venice and Sicily; sculpture in Pisa; and the development of panel and fresco painting in Rome, Florence, Siena and Assisi.

Northern Renaissance Art

ARTH 255 - Bent, George R.

A survey of Northern painting from 1300 to 1600, examined as symbols of political, religious, and social concerns of painters, patrons, and viewers. Among the artists covered are Campin, van Eyck, van der Weyden, Durer, Holbein, and Brueghel. Emphasis placed on interpretation of meaning and visual analysis.

Dutch Arts, Patrons, and Markets

ARTH 257 - Lepage, Andrea C.

During the 17th century, the practices of making and buying art boomed as never before in the Dutch Republic. With the creation of the first large-scale open art market, prosperous Dutch merchants, artisans, and civil servants bought paintings and prints in unprecedented numbers. Dutch 17th-century art saw the rise of new subjects, and landscapes, still lifes, and scenes of daily life replaced religious images and scenes from classical mythology. Portraiture also flourished in this prosperous atmosphere.

20th-Century European Art

ARTH 263 - King, Elliott H.

This course covers major European art movements and criticism from the late 19th century through the 20th century. Lectures and discussions explore the implications of what it means for art to be/appear modern," the social and aesthetic goals of the early avant-garde, the "rise and fall" of abstraction, and artistic responses to post-war mass culture. Movements discussed include Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, and New Realism."

Colonialism, Postcolonialism, Neocolonialism and the Study of Art in the Middle East

ARTH 311 - Van Loan, Theodore

How does the study of art and architectural history interface with colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial structures of power? This is a pressing question for those who study the visual cultures of the Middle East, a region in which these power structures have had considerable impact historically as well as in the contemporary moment. This class will consider from theoretical and practical vantage points how colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial systems and institutions have governed or influenced the methods of study, scope, and modes of display of historical art from the Middle East. Topics will include colonial-era collection and museum practices, Orientalism and its critics, post-colonial nationalist discourses and art history, cultural heritage in and during the 'wars on terror', and visual discourses of contemporary Islamophobia. 

Senior Thesis

ARTH 483 - King, Elliott H.

Continuation of ARTH 473. Students continue to research, write, and revise the senior thesis project. All students will present their work to faculty, students, and other members of the community in March. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year. Students writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony.

Senior Thesis

ARTH 483 - Lepage, Andrea C.

Continuation of ARTH 473. Students continue to research, write, and revise the senior thesis project. All students will present their work to faculty, students, and other members of the community in March. Honors will be determined based on the quality of writing and inquiry in March of the senior year. Students writing a thesis will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony.

Honors Thesis

ARTH 493 - Lepage, Andrea C.

An art history thesis. The culmination is an oral defense of the thesis project. Students achieving honors will be recognized at the baccalaureate department awards ceremony and in the university graduation program. Students should enroll in ARTH 493 only after honors candidacy has been determined by the Art History faculty. Art History major and senior class standing.