Courses

  • Advanced Art History students are welcome to take seminars at the graduate level (500+ level). Each year, the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor, a leader in his or her field, teaches two special seminars intended for undergraduate and graduate students to take together.

    ARTH 101(F)Introduction to European Art Before 1700

    A team-taught introduction to the art and architecture of Europe from the ancient Mediterranean to Baroque Italy. This course celebrates the glory of works of art as physical objects, to be viewed and contemplated, to be sure, but also often to be worshiped, worn, touched (even licked), held, exhibited, bought and sold, passed through or around, and lived in. To help students begin to appreciate how these works of art might have been understood by those who originally made and used them, the course sets its objects of study within a number of revealing historical contexts, from the social and the political to the philosophical and the art historical. To give students time with works of art, our discussion-centered conferences use the wealth of art resources in Williamstown: the Clark Art Institute, the buildings and sculpture of the Williams College Campus, and the Williams College Museum of Art. [ more ]

    ARTH 102(S)Art and Architecture from the Age of Enlightenment to the Present

    A semester-long, team-taught introduction to European and American art & architecture from approximately 1600 to the present. Students will learn how to analyze art made for the widest variety of purposes, from inspiration and contemplation to commemoration and condemnation. We will look at some of this era's most deeply moving art, including works by Rembrandt and Maya Lin, Bernini and Frank Lloyd Wright, Van Gogh and Kehinde Wiley. To the extent that we are able, we will also spend time with original works and familiarize ourselves with the wealth of resources in Williamstown: the Williams College Museum of Art, the Clark Art Institute, and the Chapin Rare Book Library. [ more ]

    ARTH 103(F)East Asian Art

    This course is an introduction to the history of East Asian art from prehistory to the present with particular emphasis on China, Korea, and Japan. Through four thematic units (memorialization, religion, nature, and identity), we look at artworks in their original contexts and consider how cross-cultural exchanges stimulated new interpretations across time and space. We examine a broad range of objects including ritual bronze vessels, Buddhist temples, landscape paintings, woodblock prints, and installations. We also discuss these artworks in relation to other forms of creative expression such as ritual practice, performance, and literature. How is East Asia defined geographically and culturally? How did the exchange in ideas, trade, and travel impact the formation of East Asian art? How do artworks and artifacts help us understand East Asia's past? These fundamental questions guide our discussion. Through this course, students learn to think critically about shared and diverse human experiences across cultures and historical periods. Students also reflect on historiographical issues surrounding East Asian art and analyze why certain types of artworks were historically underrepresented in museum spaces and academic scholarship. To contribute to public knowledge, students will also develop and edit a Wikipedia page on an artwork or artist of their choice. Visits to the Williams College Museum of Art and Special Collections also form an integral part of the course. [ more ]

    ARTH 104Materials, Meanings, and Messages in the Arts of Africa

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This course introduces students to the wealth, power, and diversity of expressive forms that have characterized the arts of Africa and its Diaspora from prehistory to the present. Pulling extensively from the collections at the Williams College Museum of Art and other campus resources, students will not only experience firsthand the wide array of objects that have been produced within this vast geography, but will also come to recognize how multiple senses including sight, sound, smell, and touch play a key role in understanding how these objects work within their respective contexts. As tools of political control, social protest, divine manifestation, and spiritual intervention, these objects and their associated performances also challenge what we might typically consider art in the Western tradition and as such students will be pushed to think beyond such terms in their examinations of these rich creative traditions. [ more ]

    ARTH 105(S)Arts of South Asia

    South Asia, which includes the modern-day nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives, is often compared to the European continent. Regional societies in the Indian "subcontinent" are as distinct from each other as those of Italy, Germany and France. Similarly, they also differ in their language, dress, diet, rituals and politics. However, parallel to the wealth of diversity, South Asia also demonstrates a rich history of interconnectedness. This complex web of culture, language, religion and politics is best manifested in the arts of the region. How does visual culture reflect regional variations? How does a survey of artistic style and iconography help uncover networks of exchange across South Asia? What role did the arts play in the expression of religious traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Islam? With these questions in mind, this course is designed as a survey of the arts of South Asia starting with the height of the Indus Valley Civilization in 2600 BCE and ending in 1857 CE, a date that marks the cessation of independent rule in South Asia. Using the study of architecture, painting, sculpture and textiles, students will learn how to make stylistic and iconographic analyses, while also improving their art historical writing and analytic skills. [ more ]

    ARTH 106(S)An Invitation to World Architecture

    What is architecture? Built form? Object? Space? How do we think about architecture as we move around, within, and through it? What can architecture tell us not only about material, design, and engineering, but also about the individuals, groups, and communities who make it? These inquiries provide the starting points for thinking about what architecture means as concept, space, and practice, and how it affects the ways in which human beings experience the world. As the primary mode through which we organize our lived reality, architecture not only channels human behavior into specific repertoires of action and reaction but also symbolizes beliefs, value systems, and ideas about the self, gender, nation, race/ethnicity, community, life, death, and the transcendent. Such themes, thus, constitute the critical lenses that students will use over the course of the semester to unpack how structural form has and continues to define the human condition in the broadest sense. Drawing from a variety of texts and examples that emphasize the diversity and complexity of architectonic traditions around the world, this course will analyze how individuals have employed architectural strategies to solve the problems of living within diverse contexts and how such spaces not only provide meaning in everyday life but also actively and dynamically order the world as space, object, environment, text, process, and symbol. [ more ]

    ARTH 203(S)Chicana/o/x Film and Video

    Hollywood cinema has long been fascinated with the border between the United States and Mexico. This course will examine representations of the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican Americans, and Chicanxs in both Hollywood film and independent media. We will consider how positions on nationalism, race, gender, identity, migration, and history are represented and negotiated through film. We will begin by analyzing Hollywood "border" and gang films before approaching Chicana/o/x-produced features, independent narratives, and experimental work. This course will explore issues of film and ideology, genre and representation, nationalist resistance and feminist critiques, queer theory and the performative aspects of identity. Through a focus on Chicana/o/x representation, the course explores a wide spectrum of film history (from the silent era to the present) and considers numerous genres. [ more ]

    ARTH 204(F)Historical Research in Dance and Performance Studies

    This course is an introduction to the historical context of dance forms prevalent in the US and analysis of movement-based performances. While readings and viewings will focus on the socio-historical background of dance genres practiced at Williams and beyond, an important element of the course will be the practice of documenting, interpreting, and writing about performances as historical and cultural mediums. The course will enable students interested in dance, theatrical and visual arts (including advertising and marketing) to hone their skills in the practice of analyzing still and moving images, while also offering students of history and art history the opportunity to develop competency in historical research. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course. Learning objectives: to understand the social and political contexts for various performance genres; to explore interdisciplinary and embodied modes of engaging with movement; to develop the ability to document, analyze, and write about dance as a historical and cultural text. [ more ]

    ARTH 205Patrons, Rituals, and Living Images in Japanese Buddhism

    Last offered NA

    This course introduces students to Japanese Buddhist art and architecture. We begin with the introduction of continental monks, Buddhist images and texts, and ritual paraphernalia to Japan in the mid-sixth century. We focus on the ways different communities---he imperial court, immigrant artists, monks, women, and commoners---employed and venerated Buddhist images for political legitimacy, personal salvation, and worldly benefit. We consult inscriptions, court diaries, and Buddhist sutras translated into English to consider how believers instilled liveliness and power in Buddhist images. This course also examines how Japanese Buddhist imagery became aestheticized in the early twentieth century and appropriated later in modern and contemporary visual culture. Some of the topics to be discussed include the reception of continental styles of Buddhist bronze sculpture, the relationship between mandalas and rituals, the role of women in developing Buddhist embroideries, and the Western reappraisal of Zen arts. Students will develop familiarity with the concepts and ideas underlying the production of Buddhist images and will gain foundational skills for analyzing the visual, material, and iconographic qualities of Japanese Buddhist art. For the final project, students will design a digital exhibition focused around one of the topics of the course. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTH 207 T(F)"Out of Africa": Cinematic Por(Be)trayals of a Continent

    This tutorial provides a focused study of the politics / poetics of visualization and identification associated with film and cinema about Africa from past to present. From colonial-era propaganda newsreels about Africa's 'fighting men' to contemporary white-savior narratives that exploit current socio-political ruptures on the continent for epic effect, films about Africa produced by a primarily Western cinematic regime have proven themselves to be highly effective apparatuses for framing "Africa" as a concept to be summoned time and time again to tell different stories for different audiences, and in doing so privilege particular viewpoints and imaginaries. This tutorial will provide a space for robust discussion and debate about the various representative tropes, conceptualizations, and visualizations that have been used to shape the contours of "Africa" as understood by a primarily Western audience from past to present, and how these same tropes in many ways have come to define the nature of the relationship between film / cinema and the continent over the history of their engagement. In doing so, it will also address how strategic displays and narratives deployed by cinematic productions often support specific power dynamics that locate an idea of "Africa" within paradigms of specific cultural and political understanding. In zeroing in on how such films promote targeted realities for people and places within the continent, this tutorial will address how "Africa" in Western film and cinematic traditions is positioned within a particular framework of understanding that is more often than not irrevocably tethered to a Western imaginary. [ more ]

    ARTH 209(S)The Art and Archeology of Maya Civilization

    The ancient Maya civilization was one of the most sophisticated and complex cultures of prehispanic Central America. Its complex calendrics, astronomy, mathematics, art and hieroglyphic writing system are celebrated worldwide. The course will examine the trajectory and nature of ancient Maya civilization from the combined perspectives of archaeology and art history. The origins and evolution of the Maya states during the Preclassic period (1000 B.C.-A.D. 250) will be explored through the rich archaeological remains and Preclassic art styles. The Classic Maya civilization (A.D. 250-1000) will then be presented through a detailed survey of the archaeology, art and hieroglyphic texts of this period. Finally, the collapse of Classic Maya civilization and its transformation and endurance during the Postclassic period and under early Spanish rule (A.D. 1000-1600) will be critically evaluated through a review of the archaeological, iconographic, and ethnohistorical evidence. [ more ]

    ARTH 210Intro to Latin American and Latina/o Art: Contradictions & Continuities, Postcolonial to the Present

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This course introduces students to the breadth and richness of the visual arts in Latin American and U.S. Latina/o art. The course begins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when artists and writers first began formulating the notion of an art "native" to Latin America, and continues through the ever-expanding cultural expressions developed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Through a contextual approach, we will pay particular attention to Latin American artists' shifting relationships to race, class, and gender issues, their affiliations with political and revolutionary ideals, and their critical stance vis-à-vis the European avant-gardes. Similarly, we will analyze the emergence and development of Latina/o artistic practices in the postwar U.S., tracing these artists' own exploration of race, class, and gender dynamics. This class introduces Latin American and Latina/o artistic practices and scholarship to enable students to develop a critical understanding of the historical specificity of diverse movements, their relation to canonical definitions of modern and contemporary art, and their relevance to issues of colonialism, nationalism, revolutionary politics, and globalization. We will consider a vast array of genres--from painting and sculpture to printmaking, photography, conceptual, installation, and performance art--and will draw from artist statements, manifestos, and secondary interpretive texts to consider both the impetus behind these dynamic artworks and their lasting legacies. [ more ]

    ARTH 211Art and Experience in Ancient Rome

    Last offered Fall 2018

    To see and be seen--it could be argued that this was the very definition of Roman culture. Much like today, spectacle and the dissemination of images lay at the heart of political and social life. The visual arts were crucial both to how the Romans rehearsed their identity and goals as a community, and to how individual Romans communicated their achievements and values. In this course, lectures on the art and architecture of ancient Rome (ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 400) will provide the backdrop for an investigation into the role visual culture played in the lives of all Romans, including slaves and former slaves, women and children. Special topics will include the funeral and funerary portraiture; the military triumph and monuments of victory; the house as a site of memory; the use of images on coins; participation in religious celebrations; displays of war booty and prisoners of war; experience and audience at the racetrack and in the amphitheater; the spectacle of food and dining; and the Roman street as both contested space and a place for art. Readings will include a combination of primary and secondary sources. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

    ARTH 212 TDistant Encounters: East Meets West in the Art of the European Middle Ages

    Last offered Spring 2020

    In this tutorial, students will investigate the rich artistic consequences -- in architecture, manuscript illumination, mosaic, sculpture, panel painting, fresco, metalwork, and other minor arts -- of European contact with the Eastern Mediterranean between approximately 300 and 1450 CE. From the beginnings of Christianity, pilgrims from Europe made the long journey to sacred sites in the Holy Land (extending across parts of present-day Egypt, Israel, Syria, and Turkey). When these sites became less accessible with the spread of Islam in the seventh century, Europeans sought to recreate the sites at home. Later, from 1095 onward, Christian Europeans attempted to reclaim and hold the Holy Land from non-Christians by force, through an ill-fated series of five major and several lesser "crusades." Over the centuries, before, during, and after the Crusades, exposure to the peoples, ideas, and cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean also came through trade and through the travel and settlement of non-Europeans in Europe itself, particularly in Spain, Sicily, and Venice. Together, through open discussion, we will explore artistic production within each of these different cross-cultural contexts of East-West encounter. In the process, we will reflect on how art could function as a conduit for the exchange of ideas in the Middle Ages, and how it could be used both to negotiate and to intensify cultural difference. [ more ]

    ARTH 213The Human Figure in the Ancient Mediterranean

    Last offered Spring 2020

    From the earliest representations in the third millennium BCE until the end of the Roman period in the fifth century CE the human body remained the foremost choice of subject for artists, patrons, critics, and the public in the ancient Mediterranean world. This course will consider cultural ideas about the body in antiquity, and trace their repercussions in the modern era. Over the course of the semester we will concentrate on 12 case studies, each representing a specific concept from an area of the Mediterranean. Topics include the "shining bodies" of bare-chested potentates in Egypt and the ancient Near East, statues that give the dead voice, the perfection and humanity of the bodies of the gods, ancient Greek science and the nude goddess, the pathos of Hellenistic athletes, and the interpretative challenge of the ambiguous and sensuous marble forms of the Barberini Faun or the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, both found in Roman contexts. We'll consider the cross-influences of ideas about gender, class, race and the body coded in public and private art. Reading material will include ancient literature in translation as well as contemporary critical essays. Evaluation will be based on participation in discussion and group presentations, in-class writing assignments, short response papers, and a final 8-page research paper. Engaged library research of original paper topics will be supported throughout the semester. [ more ]

    ARTH 218 T(S)From the Battlefield to the Hermit's Cell: Art and Experience in Norman Europe

    This tutorial provides students with the chance to investigate in-depth three of the most astonishing works of art created during the entire Middle Ages: the Bayeux Tapestry (c.1077-1082), the Cappella Palatina (c.1130s-1166), and the Psalter of Christina of Markyate (1120s-1160s). Created within a hundred years of each other all within territories controlled by the Normans--a warrior dynasty that settled in northern France in the 10th century and then expanded north into England and south into Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries--each of these works is unprecedentedly ambitious in scale, dazzling in its material properties, and survives in its original wholeness, a rarity in the medieval world. Despite these similarities, however, each work is very different from the other two and so sheds light on very different aspects of Norman experience, across Europe. The Bayeux Tapestry, likely made by female embroiderers for a baronial hall, is a giant textile (over 70 meters long) that in gruesome and fascinating detail tells the story of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. The Cappella Palatina in Palermo, in turn, commissioned by King Roger II, is a royal chapel covered in sumptuous mosaics that reveals through its decoration and ritual the dynamic interaction of Islamic, Byzantine, and Latin Christian traditions in the multicultural Norman kingdom of Sicily in the 12th century. And the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, a large prayerbook made for the use of a female recluse in southern England, contains 40 full-page paintings and 215 decorated initials, a vast and inventive program of imagery that through its creative profundity helped reshape private devotional art and culture for centuries to come. Through their variety, then, these three objects--an embroidery, a building, and a book--give students insight into the rich array of concerns and aspirations, from the political to the spiritual and from the public to the private, that gave substance and meaning to 11th- and 12th-century European life, for women as well as men. What is more, these three remarkable works of art have been the focus of much interesting scholarship in recent years, so an exploration of some of that literature provides a compelling introduction to the discipline of art history itself, past and present. [ more ]

    ARTH 220Sacred Spaces of Islam

    Last offered Fall 2017

    A clean place oriented towards Mecca is enough for daily prayer, but the communal practices of Islam are myriad and they often transpire in more formal architectural settings. These structures range from traditional columned halls of brick and timber to modernist ensembles of reinforced concrete and plate glass; monuments may be open to the elements, flat-roofed or domed; surfaces may be enhanced with carved marble, inlaid wood, glazed tile and other beautifying elements. [ more ]

    ARTH 221(F)History of Photography

    This lecture course will examine the history of photography from its beginnings in the 1830s to the present, from the first grainy black and white images to the work of contemporary artists using cutting-edge photographic technologies. We will examine photographs used for documentary, scientific, and aesthetic purposes, and we will trace the medium's emergence and acceptance as a fine art. We will also explore photography's physical and conceptual characteristics as a medium, paying particular attention to its uniquely intimate and frequently contested relationship to "the real." By the end of the course, students will have a broad understanding of photography as a unique medium within the history of art and knowledge of the theoretical frameworks that developed alongside that history. [ more ]

    ARTH 222Photography in/of the Middle East

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Photography has been globally disseminated and locally inflected since its invention. In the Middle East, the powers and pleasures of the medium have been valued by colonial forces, indigenous populations, photojournalists and artists; the resulting images merit aesthetic and art historical appreciation even as they grant visual access to the social and political dynamics operative in diverse cultural contexts. We will explore photographic practices in various zones of the Middle East--e.g., the Holy Land, Turkey, Egypt and the Persian sphere--by attending to individual photographers and case studies. This tightly focused approach will support, in turn, a consideration of the agency and power of images more generally--what work do photographs do? Who resists and who benefits? The goal will be to appreciate diverse styles and perspectives that underlie renderings of the Middle East. [ more ]

    ARTH 223(S)Comic Lives: Graphic Novels & Dangerous Histories of the African Diaspora

    This course explores how the graphic novel has been an effective, provocative and at times controversial medium for representing racialized histories. Drawing on graphic novels such as Jeremy Love's Bayou and Ho Che Anderson's King: A Comic Biography, this course illustrates and critiques multiple ways the graphic novel commingles word and image to create more sensorial access into ethnic traumas, challenges and interventions in critical moments of resistance throughout history. Students will practice analyzing graphic novels and comic strips, with the help of critical essays, reviews and film; the chosen texts will center on Africana cultures, prompting students to consider how the graphic novel may act as a useful alternate history for marginalized peoples. During the course, students will keep a journal with images, themes and reflections and will use Comic Life software and ipads to create their own graphic short stories based on historical and/or autobiographical narratives. [ more ]

    ARTH 228 T(S)Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso

    This course will provide an introduction to three major Spanish painters--Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso--who lived and worked, respectively, in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Though these painters are world famous, they are rarely studied comparatively, and in the context of their Spanish artistic roots. The syllabus will cover the historical and social contexts in which they started working, and how they followed, and departed from, artistic conventions of the time. Through specific paintings, we will consider the historical evolution of the artists' relationship to their patrons and subjects, from the elite status of Velázquez within the royal court, to Goya's dramatic rise with the reigns of Charles III, and Charles IV, and his subsequent exile to France. Picasso was free of royal patronage and also lived in France, yet despite this freedom he remained deeply connected to the themes and concerns of his Spanish artistic predecessors. In addition to key paintings including Velázquez's "Las Meninas" and other royal portraits, Goya's "Maja Desnuda" and his series "The Disasters of War," Picasso's "Guernica," and his own 20th century reinterpretation of "Las Meninas," we will focus on the artists' shared subjects of portraits and war, and consider the following issues: How does the role of the Spanish artist change over the periods covered? How did the artist exercise his freedom whilst under the scrutiny of the court and the Catholic Church? How were these painters' lives and work shaped by key historical events such as the Inquisition, Napoleon's invasion of Spain, or the Spanish Civil War? How does the work of art evolve in its role from private royal commission to public display in museums open to all? We will read short literary pieces from each period, primary materials such as letters and other documents, and historical and critical works. All readings will be in English. Knowledge of Spanish is encouraged, but not required. [ more ]

    ARTH 230From Alexander to Cleopatra: Remodeling the Mediterranean World

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The period between Alexander the Great (323 B.C.) and Cleopatra (30 B.C.), like our own, was characterized by internationalism, migration, wide-ranging cultural values and religious practices, and ethnically diverse urban populations. Large numbers of non-Greeks came under the control of newly established Hellenistic kingdoms, while in the west Rome's emergence as a superpower offered both new opportunity and danger. The Hellenistic world was a place of vibrant change in the spheres of art, architecture, urban planning, and public spectacle. In this course, we will consider the art and archaeology of this period in their political, social, and religious contexts, focusing on the visual language of power and royalty; developments in painting, sculpture, mosaics, and monumental architecture; interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks; and the impact of Greek culture in Rome. [ more ]

    ARTH 231 TArt, Life, and Death: Locating Women in Italian Renaissance Art

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Renaissance art is the stuff of blockbuster museum exhibitions, mass tourist pilgrimage, and record auction prices. From our modern vantage point, the cultural accomplishment of the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy clearly has the ability to astound. Calling to mind the inimitable imagination of Botticelli, the scientific genius of Leonardo, or the superhuman creativity of Michelangelo brings into focus an inspiring narrative of individual accomplishment, innovation, and progress (ideals we easily understand and may well share). This is an important story we still tell of human achievement. This tutorial explores a critical question: where are the women in this narrative? Women were not typically artists, so how might we bring their roles, force, and power into focus? To do this, we will turn away from the grand historical narrative we so easily recognize and enter a more foreign world: a realm of everyday experience in which art-never created for its own sake-was powerful, and mattered to people. Art shaped realities and mediated the fundamental questions and of life and death, from power, sexuality, love, desire, and self-definition, to mortality and communion with divinity When we approach Renaissance art on its own terms, our picture expands to include women, their lives, and what they themselves wanted to see. In addition to secondary scholarship, we will pay close attention to primary sources (including images themselves), giving students ample change to forge original arguments: one of the central goals of the tutorial. [ more ]

    ARTH 232Renaissance Rome: Renovating the Eternal City

    Last offered Spring 2018

    George Eliot called Rome "the city of visible history," a place with the power to bring "the past of a whole hemisphere" right before our eyes. The magnetic visual power of Rome did not just occur naturally, however; it is a product of a bold urban project first envisioned by Renaissance popes and brought into being by the artists and architects they hired. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Rome was transformed from a shrinking and neglected medieval town into a thriving center of artistic energy and invention. Beginning with the papacy's return to the city in 1417, we will focus on the historical, ideological, and artistic forces behind this period of renovation and restoration that reshaped the urban and artistic fabric of the city. We will study the particularly Roman foundations for the period known as the High Renaissance, then, approaching art historical touchstones by Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante as works grounded in a uniquely Roman sense of time and historical destiny. We will conclude with a selective look at Baroque works by Caravaggio, Bernini and Borromini, examining their their powerful innovations and effects as a continuation of the Renaissance renovation of the eternal city. [ more ]

    ARTH 233(S)Italian Renaissance Art

    A survey of Italian art from Giotto to Michelangelo. This course will follow a chronological framework, giving students a grounding in the development of Italian art over the course of the 14th-16th centuries, but will also take a thematic approach that will allow us to delve into important art historical issues. Some, such as historical consciousness and the relationship to the past, or the reinvention of the idea of the artist and of art itself, will be important as we construct a critical understanding of the idea of "renaissance," or "rebirth," long central to the identity of the period. Others, such as gender, patronage, power, naturalism, and the materiality of objects, will bring us deep into the worlds in which these dazzling and still powerful works of art were originally created and experienced. [ more ]

    ARTH 236(S)Demigods: Nature, social theory, and visual imagination in art and literature, ancient to modern

    Horse-men, cat-women, goat-men, tree-women, man-bulls, fish-girls, snake-people--cross-species compound creatures are everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art, poetry, and culture. The conceptual or cognitive value of those "demigods" has changed over time. In art, demigods have frequently been reduced to the status of decoration, and in literature, they have become generic markers of fantasy. But they are hardly without meaning. Embodied in satyrs, centaurs, nymphs, and other demigods is a vision of an alternative evolutionary and cultural history. In it, humans and animals live together. The distinction between nature and culture is not meaningful. Male and female are equal. The industrial revolution never happens. This course traces the history of demigods from its origins in ancient Greek art and poetry until today. We pay special attention to three points: the relationship between mythology of demigods and ancient political theory about primitive life; evolving conceptions of nature, the origin of species, and the environment; and the capacity of the visual arts to create mythology that has a limited literary counterpart. The first half of the course examines the origins and character of the demigods, in works of ancient art, e.g. the François vase and the Parthenon, as well as ancient texts, including Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses. We examine relevant cultural practices, intellectual history, and conceptions of nature, in texts such as Euripides' Bakchai, Plato's Phaidros, and Lucretius' De rerum natura. We will consider in detail ancient theories of the origins of species as well as the relationship between nature and human culture. The second half of the course investigates the post-classical survival of demigods. We consider the "rediscovery" of demigods in the work of Renaissance artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Dürer, and Titian, and the rediscovery of ancient materialist theories of nature and culture. We consider in detail the important role played by demigods in the formation of Modernism in art and literature. Key texts include Schiller, "Naive and sentimental poetry," Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, Mallarmé, "L'Apres midi d'une faun," Aby Warburg's cultural-historical texts, and Stoppard's Arcadia. Problems include the relationship between nymphs and prostitutes in Manet, and the meaning of fauns and the Minotaur in Picasso. We conclude with demigods in popular culture such as the Narnia chronicles or Hunger Games. [ more ]

    ARTH 237Making Things Visible: Adventures in Documentary Work

    Last offered Spring 2019

    Photography, like ethnography, is an art of looking carefully and taking notice. This course will explore the overlaps between documentary photography and field methods of social science, concentrating particularly on the genre in which the two intersect: the photo essay. The students will learn methods of visual narrative and storytelling, using techniques of interviewing, still photography, and video. Concurrently, we will explore a number of examples of investigative work that blend word and image. We will ask questions about the changing practices and expectations associated with the documentarian's role, and the evolving media in which such work can be presented. Lastly, we will discuss ethical questions that haunt documentary work, including issues of responsibility and politics of representation, as well as the perennial question of whether "objective representation" is even possible or desirable. Experience in photography and/or video is not required, but students will be expected to master basic technical skills in image acquisition and audio editing taught in a separate lab section. Students should also be prepared to interact extensively with people in the community and spend a significant time off campus doing fieldwork. [ more ]

    ARTH 238Greek Art and the Gods

    Last offered Spring 2020

    In the Iliad, when the god Apollo is visualized, it is as a man, angry in his heart, coming down from the peaks of Olympos, bow and quiver on his shoulders, the arrows clanging as the god moves, "like the coming of night," to bring dogs, horses, and men to their deaths. By the end of the Classical period, one statue of the archer god depicted him as a boy teasing a lizard. In this course, we will examine the development of the images the Greek gods and goddesses, from their superhuman engagement in the heroic world of epic, to their sometimes sublime artistic presence, complex religious function, and transformation into metaphors in aesthetic and philosophical thought. The course will cover the basic stylistic, iconographical, narrative, and ritual aspects of the gods and goddesses in ancient Greek culture. The course will address in detail influential artistic monuments, literary forms, and social phenomena, including the sculptures of Olympia and the Parthenon; divine corporeality in poetry; the theology of mortal-immortal relations; the cultural functions of visual representations of gods, and the continued interest in the gods long after the end of antiquity. Readings assignments will include selections from Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aischylos, Euripides, Plato, Walter Burkert, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Nikolaus Himmelmann, Erika Simon, and Friedrich Nietzsche. [ more ]

    ARTH 239 TSocial Media in the Nineteenth Century: Prints and Pictorial Persuasion

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This tutorial surveys the public lives of printed pictures in Europe between 1789 and 1914. Though the history of print extends well beyond these chronological limits, the so-called "long nineteenth century" witnessed the invention of new printmaking technologies. Larger audiences could now stay abreast of the period's revolutions, wars, and breakthroughs both in science and in fashion. Designed for students who have no prior experience studying art history, the course will begin with an overview of printmaking techniques before moving on to focused case studies that include pornographic political engravings made during the French Revolution, etchings created by the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, and the manipulation of self and space made possible by early photography. We will analyze how these works were produced in multiples, circulated by publishers and dealers, and consumed by viewers across Europe. Readings in cultural theory, intellectual history, the history of technology, and art history will help students develop their own interdisciplinary approach to the print. Together we will ask: what makes this medium social? How is cultural critique made visible? What can print cultures teach us about today's practices of engaging with images digitally? [ more ]

    ARTH 240Histories, Communities, and Collections

    Last offered Fall 2018

    What can the College's collections of documents, artifacts, art objects, natural history specimens, and rare books--whether housed in the Special Collections of the Library, Archives, or at the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA)--teach us about our institutional past? How do we put that past into dialogue with our present? Planned specifically to engage with the WCMA's The Field is the World, an exhibition that investigates two invisible histories contained within collections here on campus, this course will approach the questions of histories, communities, and collections in two ways. First, in lectures we will survey the history of collecting in Europe and the United States from the eighteenth century up to critical reinterpretations by contemporary artists and consider how collecting was often tied to other endeavors like establishing national institutions, researching human variety, representing colonial expansion, or documenting missionary efforts. Second, in interactive sessions we will meet with curators, librarians, and guest speakers to look at objects first hand and to discuss the relationship between collecting and scholarship. Over the course of the semester we will examine the historical models of knowledge production and audience engendered by collections and their display. Moreover, we will work together to formulate new models of interpretation that address overlooked histories and engage with the current interests of our campus community. [ more ]

    ARTH 241(F)Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Modernity

    In 1874, an art critic mockingly termed Claude Monet's painting of a sunrise over the sea "impressionist [...] more unfinished than wallpaper in an embryonic state." With this phrase, he gave a name to a new style of painting that profoundly shaped the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century avant-garde movements in Europe and beyond. Beginning with the invention of photography in the early nineteenth century and ending with the advent of cinema, abstraction, and mechanized warfare in the first decades of the twentieth, this course will trace the origins and afterlives of "Impressionism" in art and cultural history. Many of the artists who continue to draw the largest crowds in museums around the world today--among them Manet and Monet, Degas and Seurat, Van Gogh and Rodin, Klimt and Picasso--fall within our period of study and will be subjects of our examination. Designed for students who have no prior experience studying art history, the course will prioritize methods of close looking and formal analysis. (If social distancing protocols allow, the course will include optional study visits to examine first-hand examples of paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and printmaking at the Clark Art Institute and Manton Study Center for Works on Paper and Williams College Museum of Art). At the same time, the questions and methods at the core of our inquiry will be fundamentally interdisciplinary, and will engage students all across the humanities and sciences (major scientific figures such as the inventor Thomas Edison and the evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin will figure prominently in our narrative). Readings will emphasize close engagement with primary sources drawn from multiple disciplines: writings by artists and art critics from the period, as well as scientists, philosophers, psychologists, political theorists, and poets. We will approach "Impressionism" and "Post-Impressionism" as episodes in the cultural history of Europe that are uniquely revealing of a historical experience we still acutely feel today, which was called, for the first time in the nineteenth-century, "modernity." [ more ]

    ARTH 243Chemical Intimacies

    Last offered Fall 2018

    This is a research seminar that understands human-chemical entanglement in relationship to environment, sexuality, geography, ecology, and capacity. It doubles as a research class in which students choose a project of chemical intimacy to investigate as their own through the course of the semester. In the first half, we will together read and discuss forms of human-chemical entanglement, whether a matter of industrial pollution, pharmaceutical use, habitual intoxication, gendered self-care or enhancement, or built environment; the goal is to achieve a broad sensibility for the concept as well as a familiarity with thinking biochemically and biopolitically about living bodies, while consistently registering questions of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and more. In the second half, each participant will choose and research a historically and geopolitically specific scenario of chemical entanglement, while 1) considering the political, legal, cultural, and labor contexts of the case; 2) exploring relationships between "actual" and "represented" (protest slogans or visual productions in the case of environmental justice activism, for example); 3) examining other research questions germane to their site of interest and their chosen discipline of study. We will take one field trip to a local site. [ more ]

    ARTH 244City, Anti-City, and Utopia: Town Planning from 1500 to 1800

    Last offered Spring 2018

    The Italian Renaissance gave us our modern conception of the ideal city, whose geometrically regular form was both symbol and instrument of a perfectly ordered society. This alluring notion has preoccupied artists and theorists from Michelangelo and Thomas More to Albrecht Dürer and Christopher Wren; it achieved tangible form in such new capitals as St. Petersburg and Washington, D.C. But the West has remained characteristically ambivalent about the city, especially in the United States, an ambivalence reflected in persistent attempts to decentralize the city (Frank Lloyd Wright), to beautify it (the City Beautiful Movement), reshape it (Urban Renewal) or abandon it (suburbanization). This course looks at the roots of those movements, and the development of urban and anti-urban thought from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. Topics include Renaissance fortification design, the colonial cities of the New World, the picturesquely landscaped English garden, and the separatist societies that sought to create communal utopias in the wilderness. [ more ]

    ARTH 246(F)Do You See What I See?! Museum Culture

    We are all entangled in global visual culture, an endless stream of images, information, and experiences. However, how we make meaning of it depends on so many variables--who we are, where we are, and what we view and value. It also depends on what tools we bring to bear, especially in such challenging times! A critical question is how "art" figures and what agency it wields among people. By extension, what role do museums play in the education of individuals and the formation of communities? This class is an opportunity to explore these issues with particular reference to our own institution (Williams College Museum of Art or WCMA) and the objects enshrined therein. We will consider how the collection has grown and changed over time, and compare that trajectory with those of other museums to broaden our inquiry. How, for example, are local and/or globalizing agendas manifest in exhibitions and acquisitions? And how does the heritage industry factor in transnational museum culture? Along the way, we will consider diverse materials--from oil painting to wooden sculpture, numismatics to manuscripts, photography to performance---and how different cultures might be presented, distorted and even erased in gallery installations and public spaces. A primary focus will be the role of curators---what do they do and how does their work help to shape the world we occupy? This will be a hands-on class beginning with the following question: What have YOU curated lately? [ more ]

    ARTH 248War, Revolt, and Revolution in Art 1750-1850

    Last offered NA

    This lecture course will focus on the dynamics of art and politics in France, Britain, Spain, and Prussia from the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century. Spanning the global conflict of the Seven Years War, French Revolution of 1789, Haitian Revolution, Napoleonic occupations, and the Revolutions of 1848, this period of dramatic social change gave rise to new conceptions of subjectivity, freedom, and the role of the visual arts. Though it would be tempting to describe these developments in terms of artistic styles (from Rococo to Realism) or as a roll call of artists (Boucher, David, Goya, Friedrich, Turner, and Courbet), an aesthetic narrative offers only a partial glimpse into the period. Over the course of the semester, we will consider the various roles that art played in constructions of race, gender, class, empire, and nation. Additionally, we will discuss the ways in which these histories have been addressed in art-historical writing and in museum practice. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 249Introduction to Visual Cultures of Contact

    Last offered Spring 2019

    This introductory lecture course will survey the visual and material products of European contact with Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas between 1500 and 1900. This period witnessed the establishment and loss of Spanish, English, and French colonies, a proliferation of exploratory voyages, and the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. Some of our objects of study will be European in origin from well-known artists including Rubens, Velasquez, Reynolds, and Gauguin. In many cases we will be asking questions about circulation--whether we are looking at Tupi featherwork from Brazil brought to Europe, Flemish prints adapted by artists in Central and South America, or tattoos on the bodies of people traveling to and from Tahiti. Against the backdrop of these context-specific case studies, students will be asked to consider contact, colonialism, exchange, and appropriation more conceptually. [ more ]

    ARTH 257Architecture 1700-1900

    Last offered Fall 2015

    In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a new conception of architecture arose, based on archaeological discoveries, the development of new building materials, and convulsive social changes. This course looks at the major architectural movements of this period, and the theoretical ideas that shaped them. Topics include Neoclassicism, new building types, Victorian Architecture, the development of the architectural profession, and Art Nouveau. Major architects to be discussed include Piranesi, John Soane, Schinkel, Pugin, and H.H. Richardson. When possible, primary sources will be used. Students will be given experience in reading plans and writing about buildings. [ more ]

    ARTH 259Bilad al-Sudan and Beyond: Arts of the Afro-Islamic World

    Last offered Spring 2020

    From the Swahili stone houses of East Africa to the massive earth and timber mosques of the Sahel, the story of Islam in Africa is one of cultural and spiritual hybridity expressed through material form. In this course, students will explore how artistic forms and traditions in Africa have functioned as vehicles of access and integration for Islam, enabling it to assimilate itself with numerous African contexts towards becoming the dominant religious force on the continent. In addition, students will investigate how the forms, functions, and meanings of Afro-Islamic objects across the continent reflect not just one African Islam, but many different iterations, each shaped by the specific frameworks of its cultural context. The contemporary component of the course will examine how modernity in the form of globalization, technology, and Westernization has affected Afro-Islamic artistic traditions, and how these shifts reflect larger evolutions within understandings of Islam in Africa in the contemporary period. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 262Modern Architecture

    Last offered Spring 2020

    A century ago, the Modern Movement promised the most sweeping cultural transformation since the Renaissance. Architecture was only one lobe of a comprehensive movement that embraced literature and painting, music and theater, all aspiring to the same radical emancipation from traditional form and structures of authority. What happened? How and why did modern architecture abandon its utopian vision. Students will explored the major developments in Western architecture from 1900 to the present, and become familiar with its major figures: Wright, Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Aalto, Kahn, Venturi, Gehry, Koolhaas, and Hadid. Students will learn a variety of skills: design a 1000-square foot vacation house; present to the class an analysis of a building; and organize a small exhibition of architectural treatises in the Chapin Library. [ more ]

    ARTH 264American Art and Architecture, 1600 to Present

    Last offered Fall 2019

    American art is often looked at as a provincial version of the real thing--i.e., European art--and found wanting. This course examines American architecture, painting, and sculpture on its own terms, in the light of the social, ideological and economic forces that shaped it. Special attention will be paid to such themes as the Puritan legacy and attitudes toward art; the making of art in a commercial society; and the tension between the ideal and the real in American works of art. [ more ]

    ARTH 265Pop Art

    Last offered Spring 2020

    The use of commercial and mass media imagery in art became recognized as an international phenomenon in the early 1960s. Items such as comic strips, advertising, movie stills, television programs, soup cans, "superstars," and a variety of other accessible and commonplace objects inspired the subject matter, form, and technique. This course will critically examine the history and legacy of Pop Art by focusing on its social and aesthetic contexts. An important component of the course involves developing skills in analyzing visual images, comparing them with other forms, and relating them to their historical context. [ more ]

    ARTH 272(F)Art of the Noble Path: Buddhist Material Culture Across Asia

    Buddhism has spread throughout Asia and beyond since its emergence in India in the 5th century BCE, providing a shared philosophical and cosmological framework for diverse cultures. Artistic expression, regional politics and cultural landscapes have been shaped by its remarkable influence. With patrons ranging from powerful monarchs and monks to merchants and tradespeople, Buddhist art has historically reflected the religion's social inclusivity. This course will survey the architecture, painting and material culture of Buddhism in Asia, tracing its influence in diverse media, from rock-cut architecture to Zen painting. A close reading of primary texts, such as architectural inscriptions in India, manuscripts from Tibet, and travelogues of Chinese pilgrims, will provide greater context for the artworks. [ more ]

    ARTH 273The Arts of the Book in Asia

    Last offered Spring 2019

    From palm leaf manuscripts to scrolls to Islamic codices, books have long served as vehicles of religious, cultural and artistic exchange in Asia. Owing both to their portability and status as finely crafted art objects, books have transmitted ideas across the continent, spreading courtly styles of painting from China to India, esoteric Buddhist teachings from Kashmir to Tibet and Mongolia, as well as the Quranic arts of calligraphy and illumination from Islamic South Asia to Southeast Asia. This course will survey the interwoven history of book arts as it developed and disseminated across different regions of Asia. The course will also introduce students to the major art forms of the book, such as painting, calligraphy and illumination. The aim of the survey is to understand the book as object while also investigating its content and its larger cultural significance. A number of class meetings will take place in the Williams College Museum of Art where students will have the opportunity to study original artworks from the collection. [ more ]

    ARTH 278The Golden Road to Samarqand

    Last offered Fall 2016

    The region stretching from present day Iran to India figures prominently in contemporary global culture but it also has a rich and complex history--an amalgamation of Persian, Turkish and Islamic influences. Home to Genghis Khan and Timur (Tamerlane), Akbar the Great and Shah Jahan, it has generated some of the most renowned monuments (e.g. the Taj Mahal and the blue tiled mosques of Isfahan) and refined manuscript painting ever known. We will cover a broad swath of time--from the 10th to the 20th century--concentrating on important centers of artistic production such as Timurid Central Asia and Mughal India. Students will have the opportunity to study original works of art in the college museum collections. [ more ]

    ARTH 281The Seeds of Divinity: Exploring Precolumbian Art & Civilization in a Museum Exhibit

    Last offered Spring 2019

    For all ancient civilizations, the gods were a powerful force, affecting all aspects of human lives and dominating ancient art. This course will explore concepts of divinity in five civilizations in Precolumbian Central America: Aztec, Maya, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, and Nayarit. The course examines how the broad concept of divinity is materialized in everyday life. We will query how the human body is used as the prism through which concepts about humanity, the human soul and the supernatural are perceived and depicted in the art of these civilizations. This is a project based course, and each student will study one or more art objects from these five civilizations, and consider how these objects could be presented in a museum exhibit. [ more ]

    ARTH 284The Postwar Avant-Gardes

    Last offered Fall 2018

    Artistic discourse in the Western hemisphere dramatically changed course in the wake of the Second World War. The mass trauma inflicted by the war prompted artists and critics throughout the region to reassess the role and potential of art in society. But the war's displacement of communities also displaced the centers for artistic activity, and avant-garde practices soon expanded vigorously throughout the Americas. Through comparative studies, this course will analyze the artistic avant-gardes that emerged simultaneously in the United States and Latin America after 1945. We will place these myriad practices in dialogue, to elucidate the complexity, richness, and vitality of artistic practices in the postwar era. [ more ]

    ARTH 586Japanese Popular Visual Culture

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The phrase "Japanese popular culture" often calls to mind comics and animation, but Japan's earliest visual pop culture dates back to the 17th century and the development of arts like kabuki theater and woodblock prints that could be produced for a mass audience. This course traces Japanese popular culture through a range of visual media: kabuki and puppet theater, premodern and postmodern visual art (ukiyoe, Superflat), classic film (Ozu, Mizoguchi, Kurosawa), manga/comics (Tezuka, Otomo, Hagio), and animation (Oshii, Miyazaki, Kon). The class will also study material examples of Japanese popular culture on display in the Repro Japan exhibition at the Williams College Museum of Art. We will develop visual reading skills to come up with original interpretations of these works, and compare different media to make them shed light on one another. [ more ]

    ARTH 301(F)Methods of Art History

    This course on the methods and historiography of art history offers art-history majors an overview of the discipline since the late 18th century. The course surveys influential definitions of the discipline, the evolving tasks it has set itself, and the methods it has developed for implementing and executing them. Works of art will inevitably enter into our discussions, but the main objects of study will be texts about art as well as texts about methods for an historical study of art. Topics include: style and periodization; iconography, narratology, and phenomenology; the social functions of images and the social history of art; the materiality of art; race, gender, and sexuality; the global scope of art and art history. [ more ]

    ARTH 501(S)Museums: History and Practice

    Art museums not only express the political, economic and cultural values of their period of formation, but the evolution of those values that have resulted in the institutions of our time. The seminar will focus on museums past and present internationally as it also considers the future of museums, doing so as it examines governance and management policies and practices, the role of architecture and installation in interpretation and experience, guidelines in the accessioning and deaccessioning works of art, and issues associated with the repatriation and restitution of cultural property. The course will consider current trends in exhibition, public education and other programming in art museums that range in size and type from the "encyclopedic" or "universal" to newly established contemporary arts institutions and alternative spaces. Class discussions will have a special focus on how museums strive to balance their scholarly and artistic roles with their civic and social responsibilities doing so while maintaining financial stability in the increasingly market-driven, metric-conscious, not-for-profit environment of our time. [ more ]

    ARTH 305Queer Art, Queer Archives

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Focusing on a number of recent museum exhibitions dedicated to queer art and artists in the U.S. and abroad, this course critically examines the emergence of queer art histories. How are queer art histories being written and presented? And how is queer art being collected and preserved? We will explore these questions (and others) through the lens of the archive and the research and collecting practices associated with archives. As a class, we will critically examine the role, limits, and possibilities of archives in art historical research, curatorial practice, and museum exhibitions. Course readings will consider various historical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to the archive and curatorial practice. We will also consider artists' archives and what has been described as an "archival impulse" in contemporary art. This course is being developed in conjunction with Williams College Museum of Art's presentation of the traveling exhibition Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A., the first historical exhibition on queer Latinx art. Select assignments and student presentations will encourage first-hand experience with artworks in the exhibition. [ more ]

    ARTH 308 TAfrican Art and the Western Museum

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This tutorial provides a focused study of the issues associated with the exhibition of African objects within Western institutions from the formative period of the practice in the early 19th century to the modern era. Covering topics ranging from early collection and display methodologies to exhibition-based practice in the contemporary digital era, this tutorial will provide an opportunity for robust discussion about the interactions that have occurred between the arts of Africa and the Western museum over the lengthy history of their engagement. Students will investigate the nature of the cross-cultural dialogues taking place and the politics of display at work in regional museum spaces that display African art towards fleshing out how exhibitions function through the strategic organization and display of objects. In other words, students will explore how the dialogues created between objects and individuals often speak to the voices and agendas that collide, collaborate, and even compete with each other within the environment of the museum. [ more ]

    ARTH 310(S)An American Family and "Reality" Television

    An American Family was a popular documentary series that featured the Loud family from Santa Barbara, California, whose everyday lives were broadcast on national television. The series generated an enormous amount of media attention, commentary, and controversy when it premiered on PBS in 1973. Today, it is regarded as the origin of so-called "Reality TV." In addition to challenging standard rules for television programming, the show challenged social conventions and asked viewers to think seriously about family relations, sexuality, domesticity, and the "American dream." Documenting the family's life over the course of eight months, the series chronicled the dissolution of the Louds' marriage and broadcast the "coming out" of eldest son Lance Loud, the first star of reality television. In this class, we will view the An American Family series in its entirety, research the program's historical reception, and analyze its influence on broadcast and film media, particularly on "reality" television. A final 14- to 18-page research paper will be prepared in stages, including a 6- to 8-page midterm essay that will be revised and expanded over the course of the semester. [ more ]

    ARTH 311Women and Art in East Asia

    Last offered NA

    For over a thousand years, women in East Asia profoundly influenced the development of the visual arts, yet their formidable presence remains largely hidden. This seminar explores the critical roles women played as patrons, artists, and collectors of the arts in China, Korea, and Japan and examines the construction and representation of gendered identities. We cover historical periods from as early as the 10th century to the present day and discuss both traditional and nontraditional media including painting, sculpture, photography, embroidery, and even inkstones. Topics include didactic paintings for women in the Song court, calligraphy and painting as gendered modes of expression in Heian Japan, the revival of Buddhist arts in Korea under the patronage of imperial women, woodblock prints of beautiful women and the male gaze in Edo Japan, and visual products by modern and contemporary women artists that contest dominant representations of gender and sexuality. The course does not simply focus on artistic production, but also contextualizes these topics in light of emergent theorizations and readings on femininity, feminism, and the sexual politics of representation. Along with a final research paper, students will generate a substantial Wikipedia entry on a certain aspect of the course to promote the coverage of women and the arts online. No prior knowledge of Asian art history is required or assumed. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 314Emperors of Heaven and Earth: Mughal Power and Art in India, 1525-1707

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The Mughal dynasty ruled over most of northern India from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The Mughal Empire was the grandest and longest to rule the Indian subcontinent--much larger than any European empire in the early modern world--and it continued to have a lasting impact on South Asia. Mughals established a centralized administration with a vast complex of personnel, money and information networks. Styling themselves as 'Emperors of Heaven and Earth', the Mughal kings were also globally viewed as political innovators and unprecedented patrons of art. Their visual practices were as much a part of their imperial ideologies as their administrative and military measures. This co-taught course combines the disciplines of Art History and History to explore the intricate workings of Mughal politics and ideologies. The first of its kind to bring an interdisciplinary approach to teaching South Asia at Williams, the course asks: How did the Mughals sustain their empire for three centuries? How did they use art and politics to rule over diverse and largely non-Muslim populations? How did these Muslim imperial patrons merge Persian and Central Asian cultural values with preexisting Indian forms of administrative and artistic expression? How does Mughal culture continue to shape the South Asian imagination today? Readings will include a variety of visual and literary texts. We will delve deep into the world of biographies, travel accounts, poetry, architecture and a plethora of artworks. Students will take a hands-on approach to Mughal painting through several visits to the WCMA and a dedicated Object Lab. The primary aim of this co-taught course is to introduce students to a multifaceted picture of one of the greatest empires in pre-colonial world history. Another goal is to familiarize them with a wide range of visual and written primary sources and develop a vocabulary for 'reading' these. [ more ]

    ARTH 527Acquiring Art: Selecting and Purchasing Objects For WCMA

    Last offered Fall 2019

    How do museums acquire art? Factors considered in selecting objects include: the museum's existing collection, its mission, the availability of suitable objects, evaluation of the art historical importance of potential purchases, and the available budget. How can objects be identified and obtained at the most reasonable cost? How do auctions work and what strategies are best for purchasing works at auction? Is it more economical to purchase art at auction or to work with dealers or (for contemporary works) directly with artists? Do museums consider value in the same way as private collectors? What role does an object's history and condition play in the evaluation process? In this course students will work as teams to identify and propose objects for addition to the collection of the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA). A significant budget will be made available for the acquisition. We will discuss approaches for identification, acquisition and evaluation of objects. Student teams will be responsible for identifying a set of objects that would make appropriate additions to the WCMA collection, and a strategy for acquiring one or more of those objects. Working with the advice of WCMA curatorial staff, one or more of these objects will be acquired using the agreed strategy, and the object will become part of the WCMA permanent collection. Graduate students will participate in all aspects of the class but may be required to undertake different assignments. [ more ]

    ARTH 330 TMichelangelo: Biography, Mythology, and the History of Art

    Last offered Spring 2017

    One might argue that Michelangelo's enduring fame, and his preeminence in the European art historical canon, is as much a product of his artistic persona as his artistic achievement. Indeed, the classic image of the artist as a brooding, tortured genius of unstoppable creative force finds its roots in the Italian Renaissance, and specifically in the fascinating biography--and mythology--of Michelangelo. With a life and career more fully documented than those of any western artist to precede him, Michelangelo provides the foundations for a triangulation of person-persona-artistic production that has a modern ring. But what are the limits of our knowledge, and what are the boundaries of interpretation? And how might we approach the study of an artistic self when that self is, also, a work of art? In this course, students will become well-acquainted with the life and work of Michelangelo, giving critical attention to the connection between the artist and his work. We will investigate, in particular, the practice of interpreting his work according to his philosophical outlook, political convictions, religious beliefs, sexual desire, and more. While this course will bring us deep into the life and work of a single artist, one of its goals is to generate ideas about the very act of biographically-based art historical interpretation. How can thinking carefully about Michelangelo reshape our own thinking about art historical practice? [ more ]

    ARTH 331 T(S)Michelangelo: Self and Sexuality

    Who are artists? We each have different answers to this question, but our responses would probably share some common assumptions about human individuality and the centrality of the self to artistic creation. In this tutorial, we will take a critical lens to these ideas by studying the life, work, and passions of the Italian artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). Michelangelo is a towering archetype of the autonomous artistic self: the distinctive personality who telegraphs individual beliefs, feelings, and desires through the creative act. His lifelong engagement with the physicality, beauty, and sensuality of the (male) human body has encouraged the connection between the man and his work on the most intimate levels of pleasure and desire. Ironically, Michelangelo would not have understood our modern conceptions of artistic selfhood or sexuality, but his own Renaissance moment was obsessed with questions surrounding the nature of human identity and subjectivity. His artistic practice--from painting to poetry--wrestles with them in countless, fascinating ways. Students' writing and critical conversation will venture into the spaces between man and myth, selfhood and self-fashioning, artist and patron, past and present. [ more ]

    ARTH 332Abstraction in Action: Global Modern and Contemporary Art

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Abstraction, be it gestural or geometrical, was a protagonist in the story of global modernisms and continues to be a powerful visual language in contemporary art. The term "abstraction" may first appear straightforward, but its associations are quite complex: in varying historical contexts, abstraction has signaled formalist rupture, cultural co-optation, revolutionary politics, as well as racial, feminist, and queer critique. This object-oriented course will delve deeply into non-representation in global modern and contemporary art; we will supplement our careful study of artworks with primary documents, as well as with canonical theoretical frameworks and the reassessments that have sought to complicate these. This seminar is organized into two weekly sessions--a lecture and a discussion-to introduce key concepts and issues and to allow for ample group dialogue on these. Ultimately, the course seeks to revise and expand the cartographies and ontologies of abstraction in the 20th and 21st centuries. As such, it welcomes students with an interest in modern and contemporary art, yet does not require previous coursework in either. [ more ]

    ARTH 335Uncovering Williams

    Last offered Spring 2019

    Sparked by current controversies around visual representations at Williams, this course--a joint effort of the Williams College Museum of Art and the American Studies Program--interrogates the history of the college and its relationship to land, people, architecture, and artifacts. Students in this course will examine the visual and material culture of Williams and the land it occupies to uncover how the long and complex history of the college reverberates in the spaces and places students, faculty, and staff traverse daily. We take seriously that objects and environments are not neutral nor are the atmospheres that they reflect and produce. Our interdisciplinary approach draws from the methods and theories of American studies, art history, material culture studies, critical race theory, gender studies, and eco-criticism. Topics of discussion may include: the foundation of the college and displacement of native populations; buildings, objects, and monuments linked to Williams' evangelical history and the role of missionaries in American imperialism; the symbolic meaning of the varied architectural styles at the college; and the visibility/invisibility of the college's relationship to slavery and Abolitionism. [ more ]

    ARTH 337Visual Politics

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Even casual observers know that appearances matter politically and that the saturation of politics by visual technologies, media, and images has reached unprecedented levels. Yet the visual dimensions of political life are at best peripheral topics in contemporary political science and political theory. This seminar explores how our understanding of politics and political theory might change if visuality were made central to our inquiries. Treating the visual as a site of power and struggle, order and change, we will examine not only how political institutions and conflicts shape what images people see and how they make sense of them but also how the political field itself is visually constructed. Through these explorations, which will consider a wide variety of visual artifacts and practices (from 17th century paintings to the optical systems of military drones and contemporary forms of surveillance), we will also take up fundamental theoretical questions about the place of the senses in political life. Readings may include excerpts from ancient and modern theorists, but our primary focus will be contemporary and will bring political theory into conversation with other fields, particularly art history and visual studies but also film and media studies, psychoanalysis, cognitive science, and STS. Possible authors include Arendt, Bal, Belting, Benjamin, Browne, Buck-Morss, Butler, Clark, Connolly, Crary, Deleuze, Fanon, Foucault, Freedberg, Garland-Thompson, Hobbes, Kittler, Machiavelli, Mercer, Mitchell, Mulvey, Plato, Rancière, Sartre, Virilio, Warburg, and Zeki. [ more ]

    ARTH 338The Romantic Revolution: Art and Experience in 19th-Century Europe

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course explores major moments in nineteenth-century European painting and sculpture in relation to sweeping transformations across multiple dimensions of human experience, including aesthetics, philosophy, psychology, politics, and beyond. Key artists include Friedrich, Delacroix Blake, Turner, Courbet, and many others. In each case we will interrogate their work across multiple art historical and intellectual perspectives, at once with a view to unveiling larger developments, but also to make the case for works of art as powerful bearers of meaning, and shapers of experience, in and of themselves. Assignments keyed to introducing students to a range of art historical methods and modes of argument and interpretation. [ more ]

    ARTH 342 TMonuments and Miniatures: Architecture and Painting in India

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This tutorial is designed to provide an in-depth comparative study of two of the most important cultural expressions in the history of the Indian Subcontinent: Architecture and Painting. From sprawling pleasure gardens and palaces to iconic tomb complexes and temples, the built environment has served various cultural, religious and communal functions in India. Intimate in scale, and made primarily for an elite audience, miniature painting has also performed a key role in preserving and transmitting cultural values over time and space. Despite obvious differences in scale and scope, architectural monuments and miniature paintings produced for manuscripts and albums reflect similar creative impulses. They are also often linked through their relationship to text, and can be interpreted through contemporaneous literature. In the tutorial, students will be asked to make careful analyses of the iconography, symbolism and historical frameworks of monumental architecture and miniature painting in India. Original literature in translation and recent scholarly essays will help provide the framework for considering the artworks from the perspective of their patrons, creators and audiences. We will also consider the shifting roles and meanings of these artworks through the ages. For example, what was the original symbolism of the Taj Mahal, and how has it become a highly contested, political space in contemporary India? How did grand picture albums from the seventeenth century, made for some of the most powerful emperors in global history, function as tools for political self-fashioning? And what do their modern reception as part of Western museum collections tell us about the transformation of India during the British colonial period? [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 344Pacific-New England Material Histories

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This course looks at the indigenous, colonial, maritime, and missionary histories that connect New England to island nations in the Pacific in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rather than thinking of Hawai'i and Massachusetts merely as opposite ends of United States colonial expansion, we will focus on the heterogenous cast of historical actors-from queens to whalers-who interacted in these places and generated new forms in architecture, painting, printmaking, the decorative arts, textiles, and publishing. Particular attention will be paid to the politics of Hawaiian visual culture and the histories of Williams alumni in Hawai'i, but the readings, discussions, and student papers will not be limited exclusively to those subjects. Our time together will be split between lecture and class discussion, with some meetings devoted to archival research and object-based case studies in collections on campus. As a group, we will establish a corpus of objects and conceptual frameworks for analyzing what "Pacific-New England" means and how that might challenge our existing assumptions about regional art histories. Finally, we will experiment as a class with the best ways to convey what we've learned through our collective inquiry-whether in different forms of writing or by workshopping more creative approaches. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 348Women, Men and Other Animals

    Last offered Spring 2019

    In this seminar, we will together learn to be "animal critics." We will explore ways in which human groups and interests, particularly in the United States, have both attached and divorced themselves from other animals, considering such axes as gender, race, ability, and sexuality as key definitional foils for human engagements with animality. What are the "uses" of "animals" for "us," and precisely who is this "us"? How and when are some willing to see themselves as animal--indeed, under what political conditions do they embrace it? What is the history of unique, often asymmetric, interdependencies between human animals and nonhuman animals? How do actual lives of humans and non-human animals merge and clash with the rhetorics and visualities of human animality? We will examine both "everyday" animality and the forms of animality that stand out only today in retrospect, in their exceptionality, or upon reflecting on structures of privilege. We will build a critical animal studies vocabulary from a range of readings in science, philosophy, art, feminism, indigenous studies, critical race, geography, fiction, film, rhetoric, history, activist movements, disability studies, postcolonial studies, and examine both visual and narrative cultural production. [ more ]

    ARTH 358Latinx Installation and Site-Specific Art

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course will explore the various forms of installation and site-specific artworks created by Latinx artists for both museums and public space. We will examine the ways in which Latinx artists have used space as a material in the production of artworks and how this impacts the works' meanings and the viewer's experience. Within the context of U.S. Latinx culture and history, we will connect notions of space with ideas about cultural citizenship, civil rights, and social justice. A variety of art forms will be studied, from traditional to experimental, including murals, sculpture, performance, video, and several multimedia, interactive, or participatory projects. While establishing a historical lineage and theoretical frameworks for analyzing this growing genre, we will pay particular attention to how these works engage urban space and often challenge the institutional assumptions of museums and curatorial practice. Likewise, we will examine the important debates associated with various public art and museum installation controversies. [ more ]

    ARTH 363Space into Place: Composing Modernity through Maps and Landscape Paintings, 1500-1900

    Last offered NA

    Colonial expansion and growing trade networks created new needs for picturing the globe in early modern Europe. In other words, globalization required a world broken down into concrete units that could be known and recognized. The artistic and the cartographic were two fundamental modes of representing space. What we might learn by bringing landscape paintings and maps together in dialogue? What are the aesthetic expectations of each genre? How were subject, scale, perspective, and proportion determined and by whom? Moving beyond a binary opposition of science versus art, we will study conventions and changes in mapmaking and landscape painting from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries to analyze shifting conceptions of national identity, modernity, and the relation of humans to nature. Course lectures and an interdisciplinary array of readings will provide historical and conceptual support for object-based discussions in the Williams College Museum of Art, the Chapin Rare Book Library, and at the Clark Art Institute. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 367Documentary Fictions

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The first movies excited viewers not by telling stories, but by reproducing the world: a dancer's billowing skirts, the sight of Niagara Falls, the arrival of a train at the station--such vignettes felt viscerally real. Our fascination with documentaries derives, in large part, from the way seemingly transparent images are woven into narratives full of hidden assumptions. Every viewer of the Zapruder film sees the same thing: President Kennedy, struck by a bullet, lurches forward. But what that might mean--whether it points toward a lone gunman or a conspiracy, toward the Soviet Union or the CIA--still remains uncertain. We'll explore the tensions between image and story, evidence and context, in films ranging from Fred Ott's "Sneeze" (1894) to Josh Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing (2012), concluding with a look at the effects of contemporary image technologies on our sense of personal and national identity. Readings for the course will be drawn from narrative theory, epistemology, and cultural theory, as framed by writers including Trinh Minh-ha, Christian Metz, and Bill Nichols. [ more ]

    ARTH 368HIV + AIDS in Film and Video

    Last offered NA

    Spanning activist works, experimental film, Hollywood dramas and documentary, this course examines the role of moving images in reckoning with the global AIDS crisis, its aftermath, and its ongoing aftershocks. The AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was, in the words of Larry Kramer, a 'plague' of epic proportions, with an entire generation obliterated before it could reach maturity. And yet, the 'plague' years also spawned a remarkable amount of creative and activist image-making aimed at fighting, mourning, and grappling with AIDS. Now, we find ourselves in another pivotal moment: the past decade has yielded a new wave of artworks dedicated to memorializing the crisis, while for many communities, the crisis never ended. Together, we will ask difficult and probing questions about this phenomenon called the 'AIDS epidemic,' examining the role of art in frontline activism, the ethics of AIDS historiography, mainstream visions of the AIDS body, and the need for a diversity of AIDS narratives. This seminar-style course will combine weekly screenings with readings and intensive discussion. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 379Writing Art

    Last offered NA

    This course is conceived primarily as an experiential adventure in creative forms of art writing. We'll read several recent examples of such work (from writers including John Ashbery, Roland Barthes, John Berger, Teju Cole, Jorie Graham, Robin Coste Lewis, and Ali Smith) to get a sense of the range of approaches, from the ekphrastic poem to the essay to the novel, alive today; and we will spend considerable time in local museums, engaging intimately with works of art through various writing prompts, as you create your own creative responses to visual art. Along the way, we will work to historicize and theorize the relation between the verbal and visual arts, and to ask what looking at art brings to creative writing, as well as the ways creative writing might extend or alter the work of art history. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 500Clark Visiting Professor Seminar: writing TO art

    Last offered Fall 2019

    In this seminar, we will think about writing TO art and for it, rather than merely about it; but first, we will think about how we think. I intend that we read essays and stories that confront the ways in which we think. That might sound abstract, but in fact it is rather concrete: we bring to works of art our predilections or tastes, psychologies, politics, habits of mind, in short, our subjectivity. We are not blank slates, art is not, either. Art is layered with its own history, and histories, criticisms, reactions, rejections, movements. Art is not static. How do we writers move with art, confront our reactions, and ask why we have them. To me, one of the most important aspects in writing is judging one's own reactions, for instance, in the choice of words. To that end, that of confronting our thinking, we will read, among other things: Adorno's "Coming to Terms with the Past;" Joan Scott¿s "The Evidence of Experience;" Kafka's "Josephine the Mouse Singer and the Mouse People," and "The Hunger Artist;" Freud's "Notes on War and Death," and Craig Owens', "On Speaking to Others" and "Feminism and Post-Modernism." We will also read some of my anti-art art criticism, or what I call stories written in relatinship to art. Some of these employ fictions, some not. We will read a few of my "Madame Realism" pieces, as well as essays on Warhol and some other contemporary artists. We will do some writing. We will visit with or be visited by critics and/or artists. We will look at art in galleries, and write about what we have seen. [ more ]

    ARTH 503Clark Visiting Professor Seminar: Art and Law

    Last offered Spring 2019

    In the 1960s, artists began to engage conspicuously with legal ideas, rituals, and documents. The law--a primary institution subject to intense moral and political scrutiny--was a widely recognized source of authority to audiences inside the art world and out. Artists frequently engaged with the law in ways that signaled a recuperation of the integrity that they believed had been compromised by the very institutions entrusted with establishing standards of just conduct. These artists sought to convey the social purpose of an artwork without overstating its political impact and without losing sight of how aesthetic decisions compel audiences to see their everyday world differently. Addressing the role that law plays in enabling artworks to function as social and political forces, this course explores the question of an "applied art history," namely, how art history might intervene or inflect extra-artistic institutions such as the law. Topics to be considered include: artists' rights, human-animal relationships, globalism as extraterritoriality, what "agreement" means in concept and practice. [ more ]

    ARTH 404The Enemies of Impressionism, 1870-1900

    Last offered Fall 2018

    This class explores European and international painting and sculpture of the last quarter of the nineteenth-century, particularly the work of artists once famous in their day but whose reputations collapsed with the rise of Impressionism and Modernism. Once dismissed as trivializing, sensationalizing, politically suspect, kitsch, and simply "bad"-- much of this art has attracted new attention and enthusiasm in recent year. Focus on aesthetic theory, narrative, cinema, and -- most of all -- viewer experience. Artists include Gérôme, Bouguereau, Alma-Tadema, and many others. [ more ]

    ARTH 405Seminar in Architectural Criticism

    Last offered Fall 2019

    How does one judge a building? According to its structural efficiency or its aesthetic qualities? Its social responsibility--or just its pizzazz? Depending on the building, and the critic, any of these questions might be pertinent, or impertinent. This seminar explores architectural criticism, that curious genre between literature and architecture, and looks at its history, nature and function. We will read and discuss classic reviews by historical and contemporary critics as John Ruskin, Mariana van Rensselaer, Lewis Mumford, Ada Louise Huxtable and Herbert Muschamp. Insights gained from these discussions will be applied by students to writing their own reviews, which will likewise be discussed in class. Early assignments will concentrate on mechanics: how to describe a building vividly and accurately, how to balance description and interpretation judiciously, how to compare. Subsequent ones will be more synthetic, encouraging students to write bold, lively and critical essays. The ultimate goal is to develop a distinctive and effective voice, and to gain a better understanding of the nature of criticism in general. [ more ]

    ARTH 407(F)Materials and Material Culture along the Eastern Silk Road

    The Silk Road, a network of land and sea trading routes stretching from the Mediterranean to East Asia, served as a conduit for dynamic interactions and cross-cultural exchanges in the era before globalization. As a great cultural highway, the Silk Road stimulated the movement of peoples, the trade of luxury goods, and the transmission of technologies, ideas, and artistic motifs. This seminar examines the materials and material things traveling along the Silk Road from the fall of the Han Dynasty to the rise of the Mongol Empire (ca. 300 too 1400 CE). We focus, in particular, on the movement and use of three key materials: silk, glass, and paper. Topics include the transmission of silk-weaving technologies between China and Central Asia, glass bead production on the Korean peninsula, and the role of Japan's Shosoin Treasury in the construction of kingship. The emphasis will be on the material culture and sites from China, Korea, and Japan, with forays to India, Afghanistan, Turkey, and beyond. Students learn to critically analyze issues related to cultural interactions and gain familiarity with critical approaches to materiality and material culture studies. As a class, we will also develop a collaborative map as a resource to remember historical developments as well as key dates, objects, materials, and individuals in this course. Evaluation will be based on class participation, response papers, the collaborative mapping project, and a final paper. No prior knowledge of Asian art history is required or assumed. [ more ]

    ARTH 408Modernism in Brazil

    Last offered Fall 2018

    "Modernism" in art: when we think about it, we may not readily think of Brazil. But Brazil was in fact a vibrant battleground of ideas around what it was to be innovative, modern, and avant-garde. Between 1920 and 1945, artists, poets, and critics in the metropolises of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro actively debated on the creation, and potential, of a uniquely Brazilian modernist aesthetic that would stand on par with the European avant-gardes. But what did "Brazilianness" mean to these intellectuals? What role did gender and race relations--indigeneity in particular--play in the construction of this aesthetic? How did the necessities and demands of the national context shape these modernist practices? This seminar will take a deep dive in this fascinatingly contradictory moment in Brazil, a chapter that would become a fundamental reference to Brazilian artists in the 1960s and even to this day. In addition to detailed analyses of artworks, we will read manifestos, novels, and criticism from this period, and the most up to date secondary interpretive texts. [ more ]

    ARTH 412The Politics of Aesthetics: Collaboration and Participation in Contemporary Art

    Last offered Spring 2019

    The social turn is a hallmark of contemporary art, as artists since the 1960s turned from the art object toward dynamic exchanges with the public, from sole author to collaborative engagement. This seminar provides a theoretical framework to historicize as well as to critically analyze the promise and pitfalls of collaborative works, of favoring active participants over passive spectators, and of the meteoric rise of what is now commonly known as "social practice" art. A wide range of case studies from around the world will also allow us to delve into the intersections and productive tensions between aesthetics and politics, or between art and life. [ more ]

    ARTH 416Senior Seminar: The Art of Minor Resistance: Advanced Readings in Race, Gender, Performance

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This seminar will study stagings and aesthetic theories of dissent in feminist, queer, anti-colonial, and anti-racist performance. An attunement to performance and to the minor is also a turn toward minoritarian knowledges and lifeworlds. Of interest will be modes of sensing and relating that are not often legible as political--including aesthetics of opacity, quiet, disaffection, aloofness, and inscrutability--but could be understood as critiques of political recognition. Performance is a capacious rubric in this class that will include performance art, social media, photography, music videos, poetry, street protest, and everyday life. Students will learn to describe, interpret, and theorize performance through discussion, writing, and creative form. [ more ]

    ARTH 418Gothic Wonder: Exploring the Medieval Cathedral Then and Now

    Last offered NA

    Through their enormous scale, through the gravity-defying complexity of their construction, and through the sumptuousness of their materials and decoration, Gothic cathedrals were built to amaze visitors--the medieval equivalent of the blockbuster movie, and then some. The goal was to activate and overwhelm all of the senses and thereby both to produce an experience of transcendence for the people entering and using the cathedral, and to capture their hearts. The widespread social media reaction of shock and dismay to the fire at Notre Dame in Paris last year suggests that this power of the medieval cathedral to captivate remains very much alive. But these cathedrals have also, over the centuries, embodied and perpetuated hierarchies of authority and privilege, and have consumed vast economic resources. As a result, they have often been centers of conflict--and this too remains true today, as the heated debate in France over the rebuilding of Notre Dame testifies. This seminar will investigate the multiplicity of realities that make up the Gothic cathedral, from the Middle Ages to the present day. Together, we will look at a number of Europe's most renowned cathedrals, through time--in France (including Notre Dame in Paris), England, Italy, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere--and consider both how each building has changed over the centuries and how it has been differently interpreted. As this collective conversation is unfolding, students will also pursue individual research projects on a cathedral of their own choosing, the aim being similarly to examine one of these remarkable monuments over time and in its shifting contexts. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 419Going to Ground: Considering Earth in the Arts of Africa

    Last offered Fall 2015

    Drawing its inspiration from the landmark exhibition Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa (National Museum of African Art, 2013), this seminar explores how earth has been conceptualized and integrated into African artistic thought as material, metaphor, geography, environment, and intervention, and how this interpretive flexibility has allowed it to become a symbol of power and presence in African art-making from prehistory to the present. The seminar will also focus on the ways in which earth has been used in contemporary art towards addressing the growing problems of pollution, unsustainable development, and the widespread depletion of earth-based natural resources in Africa. Over the course of this seminar, students will develop a knowledge base of earth-related issues that have been addressed in African artistic production, and engage with various cross-disciplinary methodologies to critically analyze the conceptual and aesthetic strategies deployed in these works. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with specialists from diverse disciplines and fields towards fleshing out their knowledge base. [ more ]

    ARTH 420(F)Architecture and Sustainability in a Global World

    What does it mean to create a sustainable built environment? What do such environments look like? Do they look the same for different people across different times and spaces? This course takes these questions as starting points in exploring the concept of architectural sustainability, defined as "minimizing the negative impact of built form on the surrounding landscape," and how this concept can be interpreted not only from an environmental point of view, but from cultural, political, and social perspectives as well. Over the course of the class, students will explore different conceptualizations of sustainability and how these conceptualizations take form in built environments in response to the cultural identities, political agendas, social norms, gender roles, and religious values circulating in society at any given moment. In recognizing the relationship between the way things are constructed (technique of assembly, technology, materials, process) and the deeper meanings behind the structural languages deployed, students will come to understand sustainability as a fundamentally context-specific ideal, and its manifestation within the architectural environment as a mode of producing dialogues about the anticipated futures of both cultural and architectural worlds. [ more ]

    ARTH 421(S)Picturing God in the Middle Ages

    How did medieval Europeans imagine their God and how did they give what they imagined pictorial form? How were these pictures used, both in public and in private life, and why? Paying particular attention to the function and experience of medieval works of art, this seminar will examine the evolution of images of God, in both the Eastern and Western halves of Europe, and the problems these images often generated. Through readings and class discussion, the course will investigate, among other specific topics: the varied attitudes toward the representability of God in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; the impact of the Roman cult of the emperor and of images of the dead on the earliest portraits of Christ; the cult of the icon, concerns over idolatry, and the destruction of images; ideas about spiritual versus physical vision and their influence on the making and viewing of pictures; the relationship of sacred images to relics, the Eucharist, and other aspects of Christian ritual; and the pictorial exploration of both the torture and sexuality of Christ. Students will also pursue an individual research project, in which they will examine in greater depth a specific depiction of divinity of their choosing, in light of what we have considered together in the seminar. [ more ]

    ARTH 422Art, Architecture, and Poetry: Islamic Devotional Culture in South Asia

    Last offered Spring 2019

    How have scholars interpreted and classified terms such as "Islamic art" and "Muslim culture," and how have these classifications affected the interpretation of the arts in South Asia? There are different points of view regarding what constitutes as "Islamic" art and culture. Is an imperial wine cup with "God is Great" inscribed on it an "Islamic" object? How is an erotic epic narrating the romance of a Hindu prince understood as embodying the principles of Muslim devotion? This interdisciplinary seminar, focusing on South Asian Muslim devotional culture as articulated through the material culture, the arts of the book, architecture, and poetry, will navigate these questions from two perspectives. The first is to understand how Muslim devotional cultural expression in South Asia circumscribes and interprets itself. The second viewpoint is that of scholarship and the various interpretive voices that have framed the field over the last century. [ more ]

    ARTH 523Heaven's Gate:The Romanesque Sculpted Portal and the Creation of Sacred Space Through Art

    Last offered Spring 2020

    During the course of the eleventh century, the designers of European churches fashioned a new architectural language that we now label "Romanesque." One of the most innovative and dramatic aspects of this new language was its assimilation of monumental sculpture, absent in Europe since the fifth century. The focus of attention in this regard was the portal, which marked the threshold between the profane realm of the outside world and the sacred space of the church. Often characterized as the "marquee of the Middle Ages," the Romanesque sculpted portal, with its startling juxtaposition of the spiritual and the physical, of ecstatic visions of the heavenly realm and writhing, biting monsters, constitutes one of the true high-points of creativity in medieval art. Through the lens of modern scholarship, this seminar will investigate the antecedents and origins of the Romanesque sculpted portal and examine in detail its most renowned manifestations. Emphasis will be placed on understanding these often complex sculptural schemes within their original functional and material contexts, especially in terms of how they helped to create the sacred space of the church behind. Students will then have the opportunity to develop their own research projects, informed by what we have learned in the seminar, but focused on an example of sacred threshold art of their own choosing. [ more ]

    ARTH 430Aesthetics and Human Variety: European Representations of Oceania

    Last offered Fall 2018

    Using European representations of the inhabitants of Oceania as the primary materials of our investigation, this seminar will explore the connections to be made among theories of beauty, practices of art making, and the construction of race as a scientific concept in the second half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century. In Europe, this was a period that gave rise to aesthetics as a branch of philosophy, to several theories of the origins of human difference, to debates over the abolition of slavery, and to no fewer than fifteen expeditions to the Pacific Ocean. This course will investigate the crucial role that pictures played in all of these developments. Though students will not be required to write their research papers on pictures of Oceania, they should consider the central questions of the course: What purposes do the various conceptions of race serve? What are the aesthetic assumptions made by theorists of race? How do models of making art influence European ideas about foreigners? How do the pictures of foreign peoples impact the construction of race? [ more ]

    ARTH 533Michelangelo: Biography, Mythology, and the History of Art

    Last offered Spring 2016

    One might argue that Michelangelo's enduring fame, and his preeminence in the European art historical canon, is as much a product of his artistic persona as his artistic achievement. Indeed, the classic image of the artist as a brooding, tortured genius of unstoppable creative force finds its roots in the Italian Renaissance, and specifically in the fascinating biography--and mythology--of Michelangelo. With a life and career more fully documented than those of any western artist to precede him, Michelangelo provides the foundations for a triangulation of person-persona-artistic production that has a modern . But what are the limits of our knowledge, or the boundaries of interpretation? How might we approach the study of an artistic self when that self is, also, a work of art? In this course, students will become well-acquainted with the life and work of Michelangelo, giving critical attention to the connection between the man and his work. We will investigate, in particular, the practice of interpreting his work according to his philosophical outlook, political convictions, religious beliefs, sexual desire, and more. While this course will bring us deep into the life and work of a single artist, one of its goals is to generate ideas about the very act of biographically-based art historical interpretation. How can thinking carefully about Michelangelo reshape our own thinking about art historical practice? [ more ]

    ARTH 434Renaissance Time

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Time defines the Renaissance, whether framed as the "rebirth" of the past or the foundation of the present. Either way, past historians molded this period with time as their medium, fixing the Renaissance at the dynamic center of history. Flowing from historiographic foundations, this course will follow diverse art historical streams of Renaissance time to the present. How do Renaissance images play along by pointing to times outside of their frames? What are the implications for the historical worlds-the contexts-we build around objects in order to understand them? How do we navigate the role our own perspectives, interests, and desires play in the form we give to the past? How has time shaped the historic hegemonies of geographic place, and how might we re-deploy temporal strategies to dislodge them? This is a Renaissance course that explores topics fundamental to the broader history of art, and one that ranges widely in focus from the theoretical to the concrete. We will base our discussions both on class readings and on object-based assignments in local museums designed to explore the living relationships we forge with the art of cultures long since gone. Accordingly, students will spend (lots of) time with Renaissance works at the Clark Art Institute, and work with/at WCMA to shape new narratives that bridge past and present while honoring them both. [ more ]

    ARTH 535The Medieval Object

    Last offered Fall 2018

    After years of focusing on theory, scholars of medieval art have returned to an examination of physical objects. Distinctly strange and even monstrous, such small material things as reliquaries, liturgical vessels, game pieces, and textiles transgress the traditional categories of art, some made from precious materials and others of such base substances as bones and dirt. Even books were treated as tangible things, not only to be read as texts, but also to be looked at, paraded, and displayed with the Eucharist. Collected in church treasuries during the Middle Ages, exchanged, and reconfigured, medieval objects served simultaneously as earthly assets and spiritual investments. The seminar will focus on the making, function, and collecting of medieval objects. Each student will participate in weekly discussions stimulated by the instructor's presentations and selected readings. Students will also conduct research on an object available for study, will present an analysis of it for discussion by the class, and submit a 15- to 20-page term paper taking into account any comments and criticisms. [ more ]

    ARTH 438Ambrotypes to Instagram: Photography and the Human Portrait

    Last offered Spring 2018

    "A portrait! What could be more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound?" exclaimed the nineteenth-century poet and critic Charles Baudelaire. With the invention of photography in the first half of the nineteenth century and with the digital revolution of the twentieth, portraiture arguably became more simple and more complex, more obvious and more profound. In this seminar, we will explore this complicated and fascinating history. Photographic portraits are fine art and vernacular culture. They serve private and public functions. They help to fashion the self and construct group identity. They disguise and disclose the truth. In the classroom, galleries, and archives, we will investigate the problems of likeness and semblance, veracity and credibility. We will delve into the conflict between representations of individuals and representations of types, and we will attend to the complicated, sometimes fraught, relationship between photographer and subject, even when they are one and the same. [ more ]

    ARTH 440Contemporary Exhibitions: Los Angeles and Latin America

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This seminar examines connections between Latinx and Latin American art through a series of recent exhibitions organized as part of a Getty initiative entitled Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA that opened in 2017. While the chronological span for the overall project reaches from Pre-Colombian art to present, we will focus on modern and contemporary art after the 1960s and consider key themes of art and activism, borders and diaspora, globalism and modernism, and popular culture and science fiction in the visual arts. Diverse in scope, these shows explored important developments in the arts of the Americas from the late-20th and 21st centuries, including, abstraction, Chicano muralism, Conceptual art, craft, feminist art, Kinetic art, Modernist design and architecture, social practice, and queer activism. Students will pursue individual research projects directly related to the art exhibitions we study, and examine photography, performance, painting, sculpture (including installation and participatory art), and video by artists both canonical and lesser known. Student projects will analyze the critical responses to the exhibitions while also exploring the roles of archives, art criticism, and curatorial practice in contemporary art history. [ more ]

    ARTH 442Richardson, Sullivan, Wright: The Roots of American Modernism

    Last offered Fall 2018

    Should a building express the facts of its program and materials--directly and without sentimentality? Or should a building be a physical manifestation of the personality and ego of its creator? These demands--one of radical objectivity, and one of radical subjectivity--seem to be mutually exclusive, yet together they form the basis for modern architecture at the start of the 20th century. The architectural lineage of Louis Sullivan, H. H. Richardson, and Frank Lloyd Wright is distinguished by the high degree of tension between the competing demands of factuality and selfhood. This seminar explores the theoretical roots of their architecture, its philosophical sources in transcendentalism, Unitarianism, German romanticism; and treating such aspects as decorative arts, architectural education and theory, and architectural autobiography. [ more ]

    ARTH 562(F)Art of California: Pacific Standard Time

    In this course, we will study the visual arts and culture of California after 1960 and consider the region's place in modern art history. We will focus on a series of recent exhibitions organized as part of a Getty initiative entitled Pacific Standard Time. Diverse in scope, these shows explored important developments in postwar art in California, including feminist art, African American assemblage, Chicano collectives, Modernist architecture, craft, and queer activism. In this seminar, we will pursue research projects directly related to the art exhibitions we study, and examine southern California conceptualism, photography, performance, painting, sculpture (including assemblage and installation), and video by artists both canonical and lesser known. Student projects will analyze the critical responses to the exhibitions, while also exploring the roles of archives, art criticism, and curatorial practice in contemporary art history. [ more ]

    ARTH 466(S)Hellenistic Art and the Beginning of Art History

    The Hellenistic Period (323-31 BCE) saw the small city-states of the Greek peninsula replaced by far flung kingdoms as important centers of power and culture. In the wake of Alexander the Great's extension of the borders of the classical world all the way to the banks of the Indus River, increased trade, and the movement of individuals between Greece, Egypt, and the Near and Middle East encouraged innovations in philosophy, medicine, religion, literature and art. In fact, a revolution in artistic ideas and forms centered on the social and ethnic diversity of human experience. Royal patrons, and wealthy private citizens including an increasing number of women, commissioned artworks for cities, sanctuaries, tombs, palaces, and estates on a scale rarely seen before. And with the rise of Rome, plundered artworks of earlier periods soon became the desired objects of wealthy collectors, contributing to a mashup of stylistic influence. In this course we'll look closely at influential works of art in bronze, marble, fresco, and mosaic, where artists push the limits of their media in order to express emotional states ranging from pathos to ecstasy, from the mental exhaustion of a defeated athlete, to the cool restraint of a powerful ruler. We'll attempt to understand the conceptual and cultural forces that encouraged artistic innovations of the fourth century BCE through first century CE. We'll also look for the influences of Hellenistic art on artists and writers from the Renaissance to the present day. Reading material includes ancient literature in translation, recent surveys of Hellenistic art, and recent critical essays. [ more ]

    ARTH 468Practicum in Curating: Visual Art for a Garden

    Last offered Spring 2019

    This course aims to develop the wide range of skills needed to realize an art exhibition in a botanical garden (specifically Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota where the instructor is Curator at Large. The course responds to her charge to exhibit artists with 100% name recognition for the first five years of Selby's new "Living Museum" initiative which puts works of art in dialogue with botanicals. In the wake of shows devoted to Marc Chagall (2017), Andy Warhol (2018) and Paul Gauguin (forthcoming, 2019), each student will research and choose a non-male and/or non-white artist of some renown and construct an exhibition of works that might be possible to borrow. Course work includes 1) research on the artist and the concept, the focal works of art, auxiliary objects that do not require climate control (e.g. photographs and other works on paper), social history and other methodological frameworks 2) writing requests e.g., loans, rights; and 3) preparations for several of the following: press release, wall texts, wall labels, audio guide, and programming for the exhibition. The final project includes a 10-page synthetic research paper, written for a general audience, about the artist and their use of flowers as well as the projected installation of the climate-controlled gallery. Students may have the opportunity to participate in a WSP in situ in which they will experience all sectors of the museum, glass house, and gardens. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

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    ARTH 470Image-making, Orientalism and Visual Culture

    Last offered Spring 2017

    Images enjoy extraordinary power in the spaces between self and other, human and divine. They play myriad roles--witness, surrogate, instigator, supplicant--and travel freely across political, religious and cultural boundaries. This course is about three regions--United States, France and the Persian sphere--and the images that mediate and document their interactions. Along the way, we will address important issues like iconoclasm and aniconism, common types like veiled women and pious men, and asymmetrical relationships like Orientalism. The peculiar nature of portraiture will be a prominent theme. [ more ]

    ARTH 472Timelines

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Art is really time-consuming--to make, to view, to use, to understand. We enshrine it, excavate it, curate it, deploy it and sometimes we deliberately destroy it. We are always telling stories about the stuff. We seem to think that we control these many fabled things, though they meddle endlessly in the spaces between self and other, human and divine. Great art can be inspiring, enabling people to transcend time, or it can be traumatizing, making time stop altogether. Or both! To explore such powers, we will begin in the 19th century, when commonplace notions of past and present wobbled seriously with the invention of photography and the avid pursuit of archaeology. Thereafter, we will operate across time and space, with particular reference to the Middle East, where art has figured in many religions and also many conflicts. There will be no single story-line, but rather a series of case studies and hands-on projects; we will consider materials ranging from iconic paintings and sacred spaces to calendar art and photojournalism.Along the way, creativity and iconoclasm will be recurring themes. Choose this class if you are curious about the agency and power that art wields in our lives. [ more ]

    ARTH 474Brazilian Art in the 20th Century: Aesthetics, Internationalism, Utopia

    Last offered Spring 2018

    In 1924 the modernist poet Oswald de Andrade radically called for Brazilians to engage in cultural "anthropophagy"--to cannibalize from European modernist ideas and synthesize these with local aesthetic and cultural values. Toward the mid-20th century, the narrative of Brazilian art was marked by the desire on part of artists and intellectuals to problematize its place in Latin America, and vis-à-vis the European avant-gardes. They did so with a strong utopian perspective, developing aesthetic strategies to confront and transcend Brazil's underdevelopment. Yet ideas around nationalism, internationalism, and utopia shifted dramatically when a military dictatorship came to power between 1964 and 1985. How did artists and intellectuals rethink the role of aesthetics in such critical sociopolitical conditions? How did these terms shift again after Brazil returned to democracy, and soon aggressively entered an increasingly globalized economic system? Our seminar will delve into these complex relationships for a comprehensive understanding of the development of modern and contemporary Brazilian art. This is a Writing Intensive course, and there are no prerequisites to enroll. [ more ]

    ARTH 494(S)Thesis Seminar

    To graduate with honors in art history, students are to enroll in the Senior Honors Seminar during the Spring semester of their senior year, where they will develop an original research paper based on prior research. Under the guidance of the instructor, students will present and defend their own work in both written and oral form, as well as respond to, and critique, the work of their peers. As students work toward transforming their existing paper into an honors' thesis, they will also be trained in skills necessary to analyze an argument effectively, and strategies of constructive critique. [ more ]

    ARTH 502History, Theory, and Techniques of Printmaking

    Last offered Spring 2016

    This course will consider the history of prints in Europe and America from the fifteenth century through the 1920s. Focusing primarily on the holdings of the Clark, classes will be held in the new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper where students will view original works of art. Equal emphasis will be placed on primary literature, theoretical texts, and a careful understanding of printmaking processes. Media to be investigated include, among others, 15th-century woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer, drypoints by Rembrandt van Rijn, engravings by Philibert-Louis Debucourt, aquatints by Francesco Goya, lithographs by Édouard Manet, etchings by James McNeill Whistler, photo-mechanical processes like photogravure by artist Alfred Stieglitz, and color woodcuts by the German Expressionists. The rise and fall of various processes and practitioners will be explored from a socio-historical perspective, considering market, taste, and changing exhibition strategies. Additionally, consideration will be given to the status of the printmaker over the centuries as their roles shifted from professional to amateur and back again. [ more ]

    ARTH 504(F)Proseminar in Research and Method

    In this graduate Proseminar on Research and Method, we will read a number of texts that form the foundation of art history as a discipline, including the writings of Plato, Panofsky, Lessing, Heidegger, Wölfflin, and Barthes (among others). We will study these works against the grain, considering how art history is currently transforming under the fields of ecology, disability studies, queer theory, and radical black feminism. Students will work closely with the collections of the Clark to theorize how absences are integral to institutional histories, and we will think about how we can, as historians, responsibly address voices that have been removed from the canons of art history. This course considers not only central writings of art historical methodology but also the limits for decolonizing art history and the museum, as we will examine how the formation of the discipline depended upon absenting critical perspectives and voices. [ more ]

    ARTH 506(S)Expository Writing Workshop

    This writing seminar for graduate students in Art History will afford intensive full group discussions of writing skills and substantial one-on-one writing consultations (to be held on Google Meet). Group discussions will center on three kinds of texts: Writing about writing, published writing in the discipline of Art History, and student writing in progress. In six such discussions we will improve our vocabulary and method for discussing writing; we will learn to build better and more sophisticated sentences, paragraphs, and arguments; and we will practice anticipatory reading and writing in order to strengthen our control of both voice and structure. Each discussion will be supported with both exempla and exercises, and our watchword in all cases will be "revision." In one-on-one consultations (3-4 per person), I will offer tailored critique of each student's work, setting aside time as needed to troubleshoot sentences, paragraphs, or arguments together. [ more ]

    ARTH 507Object Workshop

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Meeting for six sessions over the semester, this workshop is designed to introduce first-year graduate students to technical, material, and connoisseurial perspectives relevant to the study and analysis of art objects. We will draw on local collections and expertise for our case studies. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTH 508Art and Conservation: An Inquiry into History, Methods, and Materials

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course is designed to acquaint students with observation and examination techniques for works of art, artifacts, and decorative arts objects; give them an understanding of the history of artist materials and methods; and familiarize them with the ethics and procedures of conservation. This is not a conservation training course but is structured to provide a broader awareness for those who are planning careers involving work with cultural objects. Sessions will be held at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, Williams College, the Clark Art Institute, and the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection in Albany. Examination questions may be formulated from exhibitions at these locations. Six exams will be given. Exam scores will be weighed in proportion to the number of sessions covered by the exam (e.g., the paintings exam, derived from six sessions of the course, will count as 25% of the final grade). [ more ]

    ARTH 509Graduate Symposium

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course is designed to assist qualified fourth-semester graduate students in preparing a scholarly paper to be presented at the annual Graduate Symposium. Working closely with a student and faculty ad hoc advisory committee, each student will prepare a twenty-minute presentation based on the Qualifying Paper. Special emphasis is placed on the development of effective oral presentation skills. [ more ]

    ARTH 510Approaches to Drawing from Connoisseurship to Conceptualism

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This course will consider the art of drawing as a pedagogical tool and cultural practice from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Creative and commercial forces over four centuries have fostered different types of and reasons for production: presentation drawings in sixteenth century Italy, an increased market for drawings in seventeenth century Holland, a fashion for powdery pastels in eighteenth century France, and the critical promotion of drawing as a form of autographic thinking in the nineteenth century. Drawing has enjoyed a resurgence in the last fifty years as Minimalism and Conceptualism have the pushed the medium's boundaries. Equal consideration will be given to the history of collecting and to materials from the invention of the Conté crayon to the deteriorating effects of acidic paper. The seminar will coincide with a major loan exhibition at the Clark of over one hundred drawings from the Renaissance through contemporary: Drawing in Depth: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection. The class will be held in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper and the Clark galleries with visits to the Williams College Museum of Art. [ more ]

    ARTH 512Why Look at Animals? Some Contemporary Positions

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This seminar, named for a 1977 essay by the art critic John Berger, considers a recent tendency in contemporary art to see nonhuman animals less as objects for human delectation-to be owned, eaten, or symbolized with-than as subjects, endowed with specific forms of intelligence, agency, and/or cross-species kinship. We will take as case studies the work of artists such as Francis Alÿs, Xu Bing, Sue Coe, Coco Fusco, Pierre Huyghe, Jochen Lempert, Chris Marker, and Lin May Saeed, among others. Readings will come in part from the rapidly growing, multidisciplinary field of animal studies. In the process, we will consider concepts such as animacy; animal ethics; animalization; the anthropocene; biopolitics; and posthumanism. This seminar anticipates two exhibitions concerning animals at the Clark in Summer 2020. [ more ]

    ARTH 515Creating Whiteness: Racial Taxonomies in 'American' Art, 1650-1900

    Last offered Fall 2018

    "What is race?" "How is a race created?" "What are the racial histories and subsequent political implications of 'American' art?" These are the central questions of our exploration. Drawing on two centuries of making in the Americas--from 17th century casta paintings of New Spain to the pictorialist photographs of Fred Holland Day--this object-based seminar for graduate students (and undergraduates with instructor's approval) draws upon area collections (including WCMA and The Clark Art Institute) to make the argument that racial ideologies have always been sutured to definitions of an American canon. Our approach is the case study: devoting one or two class meetings to the exploration of eight specific moments/artists in order to engage with the intersectional ideologies of personal and collective identity, e.g., self and the Divine; portraiture and the nation, armed conflict, and the constructed mutabilities of gender and sexuality. Additional artists and topics include: the Stuart family's images of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; advances in photographic technology vis-a-vis the amputated bodies of Civil War veterans; gender fluidity in John Singer Sargent; and the equation of homoeroticism and black bodies in pictorialism. Designed to provide breadth and specific moments of depth, we will be covering processes of making across multiple mediums and time periods. An elementary reading knowledge of French, Latin, Portuguese, and/or Spanish will not go amiss. [ more ]

    ARTH 519Architectural Theory and Modernity, 1750-1968

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Why do buildings need words, or do they? For most of the world and most of history, buildings are made without the benefit of formal architectural thought. But at various times, ideas about the aesthetics of buildings, their cultural and philosophical meaning, and their underlying principles, have been matters of great public interest. And architectural theory--in the form of treatises, manifestos, and critical reviews--has exercised an enormous effect on building. This theory can be prescriptive, presenting categorical rules for making good buildings; it can be descriptive, looking at how buildings perform in the real world; and it can be radical, seeking to change the essence and definition of architecture. Theory seemed very important to architects twenty years ago, but no longer. Why is that? We will investigate. Students will give short presentations on key theorists, such as Vitruvius, Alberti, Palladio, Laugier, Boullée, A. W. N. Pugin, Viollet-le-Duc, Gottfried Semper, Le Corbusier, and Robert Venturi. The semester will conclude with a 15- to 20-page seminar paper, based on comments and discussion following a classroom presentation. [ more ]

    ARTH 521Islam and the Image in Indian Painting, c.1450-c.1750

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This seminar will explore Indian painting made for Muslim patrons from the medieval period to the early modern era. The course considers how paintings produced for an elite Indo-Muslim audience can be situated within the frameworks of "Islamic art," a loaded historiographical term that has been questioned in recent times. The seminar will also address some of the major problems that continue to haunt Indian art scholarship. For most of its history, the academic study of Indian painting has seldom considered contemporaneous literary voices that shed light on the motivations behind artworks. Furthermore, the historiography, deeply entrenched in its colonial and orientalist roots, has largely isolated images from their supporting texts-a curious oversight in light of the fact that miniature painting is primarily an art of the book. These biases have affected the way museums have collected, displayed and interpreted miniature paintings. Western museums continue to place paintings made for books and albums in their "South Asian" collections while textual manuscripts and calligraphic specimens made for the same Muslim audiences-even at times bound in the same albums-are categorized as "Islamic art." What does this isolation of text from image imply about prevailing views of Islamic art? In order to understand the various intended functions of miniature painting and its possible role as an "Islamic" art, the seminar will explore ways to conceptually reintegrate images and texts belonging to key manuscripts and albums that were dispersed during the colonial and post-colonial periods. To better understand the cultural, historical and religious context surrounding artworks students will read primary literature ranging from autobiography to devotional poetry, often written by the very patrons and subjects of the paintings to be discussed. [ more ]

    ARTH 524The Watchful Object

    Last offered Fall 2018

    What is implied by an object that "watches"? Is it sentient? Animate? Through what apparatus does it gain the power to perceive and in turn generate some type of action? Watchful objects--sometimes known problematically as 'fetishes,' 'idols,' and 'totems'--have existed in numerous material cultures in Africa over time and have often been saddled with titles and labels that largely reflect colonial-era notions of primitivism linked with non-Western objects, spaces, and peoples. Even today, many of these objects are still inappropriately connected to systems of the occult rather than being recognized as crucial cogs in the socio-political, cultural, and spiritual mechanics of lived experience on the continent both past and in some cases present. The purpose of this seminar, thus, is to unpack the multiple identities that these objects have experienced as a way of understanding 1.) the circumstances and situations that catalyzed their production; and 2.) how their various material and metaphorical components function as power-producing elements that enable these forms to become 'watchful' presences in society that operate in accordance with their 'observations' of the human condition. This course will also address how the psychological agency of many of these material traditions has prompted their inclusion and absorption within contemporary artistic practices as well, often in the form of productions and performances that provoke unsettling and often transformative experiences in viewers. [ more ]

    ARTH 526Shadows of Plato's Cave: Image, Screen, and Spectacle

    Last offered Fall 2015

    In Book VII of the Republic, Socrates famously asks his interlocutors to picture people living in a cave, bound in chains and able to see only shadows on the wall. Thus begins the presentation of perhaps the most influential metaphor in the history of philosophy. One might even claim that when Plato deployed the metaphor in an extended allegory, he constituted the fields of both philosophy and political theory. In repeatedly examining the allegory over the centuries, later thinkers have elaborated their approaches not only to Plato but also to the nature of politics and the tasks of thinking. This class begins with the Republic's cave and other key Platonic discussions of appearances, visual representation, and (literal and metaphoric) seeing, asking how Plato's approaches to image, politics, and theory/philosophy shape each other. Building on those inquiries, we next take up important twentieth and twenty-first century returns to the cave, engaging such figures as Heidegger, Strauss, Arendt, Derrida, Irigaray, Rancière, and Badiou. Finally, we examine recent theories of screen and spectacle--read both for their resonances with and departures from debates over the Platonic legacy--and case studies in the politics of both military and racial spectacles in the U.S. The question of what is an image and what images do will run from the beginning of course to the end. Beyond the authors mentioned, readings may include such authors as Allen, Bruno, Clark, Debord, Friedberg, Goldsby, Joselit, Mitchell, Nightingale, Rodowick, Rogin, Silverman, and Virilio. Insofar as it fits student interest, we will also explore the cave's considerable presence in visual culture, ranging from Renaissance painting through such recent and contemporary artists as Kelley, Demand, Hirschhorn, Kapoor, Sugimoto, and Walker, to films such as The Matrix. [ more ]

    ARTH 530Demigods: Nature, Social Theory, and Visual Imagination in Art and Literature, Ancient to Modern

    Last offered Spring 2019

    Embodied in satyrs, centaurs, nymphs, and other demigods is a vision of an alternative evolutionary and cultural history. In it, humans and animals live together. The distinction between nature and culture is not meaningful. Male and female are equal. The industrial revolution never happens. This course traces the history of demigods from its origins in ancient Greek art and poetry until today. We pay special attention to three points: the relationship between mythology of demigods and ancient political theory about primitive life; evolving conceptions of the environment, and the capacity of the visual arts to create mythology that has a limited literary counterpart. The first half of the course examines the origins and character of the demigods, in works of ancient art, e.g. the François vase and the Parthenon, as well as ancient texts, including Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses. We examine relevant cultural practices, intellectual history, and conceptions of nature, in texts such as Euripides and Lucretius. The second half of the course investigates the post-classical survival of demigods. We consider the "rediscovery" of demigods in the work of Renaissance artists such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Dürer, and Titian. We consider in detail the important role played by demigods in the formation of Modernism in art and literature. Key texts include Schiller, "Naive and sentimental poetry," Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, Mallermé, "L'Apres midi d'une faun,"Aby Warburg, and Stoppard's Arcadia. Problems include the relationship between nymphs and prostitutes in Manet, and the meaning of fauns and the Minotaur in Picasso. We conclude with demigods in popular culture such as the Narnia chronicles or Hunger Games. [ more ]

    ARTH 536Charles and Maurice Prendergrast in WCMA Collections

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This seminar will investigate the careers of Maurice and Charles Prendergast, who occupy curious positions in American art. Students will work closely with the art and archival collections of the Prendergasts at WCMA, which is the largest repository of their work in the world. Maurice's Post-Impressionism placed him at the forefront of American modernism in the first decades of the twentieth century, culminating with his inclusion in the infamous Armory Show of 1913. Charles, a leading frame maker before adapting techniques of his craft to create incised panels, intersects with the Arts & Crafts Movement, Symbolism, and vernacular material culture. While the brothers are firmly canonical, they are often regarded as isolated from major formal and iconographic concerns of their peers. Scholarship, much of it produced at WCMA, has often focused on their subject matter. Participants in this class will consider new material and theoretical approaches to the brothers' work that may (or may not) prove productive in resituating their place in American art. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTH 537(F)HIV + AIDS in Film and Video

    Spanning activist works, experimental film, Hollywood dramas and documentary, this course examines the role of moving images in the global AIDS crisis, its aftermath, and its ongoing aftershocks. The AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s was, in the words of Larry Kramer, a 'plague' of epic proportions, with an entire generation obliterated before it could reach maturity. And yet, the plague years also spawned a remarkable amount of creative and activist image-making aimed at fighting, mourning, and grappling with AIDS. Now, we find ourselves in another pivotal moment: while the past decade has provoked a new wave of AIDS historiography, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused AIDS to reverberate with even greater force. Together, we will ask difficult and probing questions about this phenomenon called the 'AIDS epidemic,' examining the role of art in frontline activism, the ethics of AIDS historiography, mainstream visions of the AIDS body, and the need for a diversity of AIDS narratives. This seminar-style course will combine weekly screenings with readings, short writing assignments, student-led discussion, and a final research project of the student's design. In order to facilitate robust discussions and maximize student and faculty safety, the majority of this course will occur online. It will contain some in-person experiences when possible. [ more ]

    ARTH 538(F)Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting, ca. 600-1857

    On the basis of technique, Indian painting forms a continuum from the beginning of the first millennium down to the mid-nineteenth century: an outline in ink filled with flat, opaque colors which are burnished between each layer to give them opacity. In its media, its subject matter, regional variation, range of patronage, and artistic virtuosity, it displays startling diversity. From the northern Himalayan hills to Mysore in the south, artists, often working in family workshops for royalty, priests and wealthy merchants, have adorned caves and temples, illustrated books, and created lavish albums with themes ranging from the sacred to the secular. The study of Indian painting itself is a vast, evolving body of literature that continues to oscillate between discussions of artistic style and a concentration on content and context. The aim of this seminar is twofold: to outline the development of Indian painting historically; and to understand the political, social and religious circumstances that produced some of the greatest masterworks in Indian art. How was Indian painting used? Who were the patrons? How does the art form reflect the particular cultural values of its time? As an analytic framework, the seminar will consider Indian miniature painting both in light of primary literary sources as well as through current scholarship. [ more ]

    ARTH 540In Vinculus Invictus: Portraits in Prison

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Among all the portraits produced during the modern period, some have been painted or, more recently, photographed in prison. Portraits in prison exist at a crossroad of politics, law, and identity; they offer a great opportunity to think about art and society. Artists themselves have made self-portraits during their own imprisonments, or sometimes a portrait of one of their fellow prisoners. More often it was the prisoners or their relatives who commissioned an artistic record of their detention. The idea of commemorating such a moment, or to evoke it as a claim to fame, seems surprising at best, outrageous and provocative at worst. But there has been, since the 16th century, an enduring tradition of portraiture in prison with its masterpieces and its pantheon, a tradition that fits into the wider pictorial attention to the prison itself. With the French Revolution, the nature of prison changed. It became a tragic symbol of political "debates." Within a few years, a terrifying series of portraits appeared that would nurture Western political thought and visual culture until now. Since the 18th century, these portraits have become more concerned with ideas that stretch beyond the individual and into the realm of social justice, mass incarceration, and the prison-industrialization complex. [ more ]

    ARTH 541Aesthetics After Evolutionary Biology: Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This interdisciplinary seminar examines the rise of evolutionary biology, a new explanatory paradigm that solidified in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth century, and its ramifications in art and aesthetic theory in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will consider how natural histories of creation, and corresponding reclassifications of the human as a species category, went hand in hand with a reconceptualization of the aesthetic faculties, and the processes of art's production and reception. A core component of this seminar will be the close study of key texts by Charles Darwin, and two thinkers who were among the most radical in extending his key insights into the domain of aesthetic theory--the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. These primary texts will provide points of departure for studying the work of a number of innovative practitioners working across a range of media, among them the composer Richard Wagner, the Neo-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat, the architect Adolf Loos, the choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, and the art historian Aby Warburg. Methodologically a major aim of this seminar is to think together critically about the nature of art's relations to other domains of cultural production such as science or philosophy, and to interrogate what it means, both practically and epistemologically, to pursue "interdisciplinarity" as a strategy for art history. [ more ]

    ARTH 542Insubordinate Bodies: The Body in Conceptual Art in Latin America, 1960-1980

    Last offered Fall 2017

    The use of the body-be it the artist's or those of willing and unwilling participants-is among art's most significant developments internationally since the 1960s. In Latin America between the 1960s and 1980s, activating the body not only was a strong conceptual strategy to escape object-based practices; it was also a potent way for artists to disobey and confront forms of violence and control exerted by repressive regimes. But the body too was a forceful medium by which artists could subvert heteronormative frameworks, through the visualization and performance of feminist critiques and queer identities. This seminar will explore the role of the body in Latin American conceptual art through localized case studies, elucidating the body's particular strength as a vehicle for political and institutional critique, as well as its potential to unlock alternate narratives of conceptual practices in the region. [ more ]

    ARTH 543Color, High and Low

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Why should color in prints be controversial? For most of the nineteenth century-even as technical advances encouraged a flowering of color in woodcut, intaglio, and especially lithographic production-entrenched voices in the art establishment continued to insist on printmaking as an art of black and white. Drawing upon a wide variety of examples from the Clark's collection, this course will explore the range of associations that attached to color prints, along a broad spectrum from highbrow preciousness and subtlety to lowbrow commercialism and bad taste. Color lithography was a particular lightning rod for controversy: although chromatic experiments in this medium enabled striking aesthetic innovations, the extreme complexity of the process also meant that the designer of a print became farther and farther removed from its actual production. This was just as true for the delicate and exquisite suites produced in limited editions by Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, and Maurice Denis as it was for the large-scale, brightly-colored lithographic posters of Jules Chéret and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, used to advertise popular urban entertainments. Alongside the close examination of original works of art, a set of critical and theoretical readings will help us navigate the paradoxes of printed color. Apart from the standard requirements, including a research paper and class presentation, students will have an option to participate in a summer 2020 exhibition based on the course findings. This course will take place in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper at the Clark. [ more ]

    ARTH 544Women Artists in Paris, 1850-1900

    Last offered Spring 2018

    In this seminar, we will examine the historically undervalued contributions of women in the art of the later nineteenth century. During this period, leading artists from around the world, including many women, were drawn to the academies, museums, salons, and studios of Paris.While women were largely excluded from formal training, many nonetheless navigated the complex systems of artistic production. We will focus on this multinational group of talented women (including Marie Bashkirtseff, Rosa Bonheur, Anna Ancher, Mary Cassatt), and we will assess their work against contemporary sociopolitical thought and aesthetic theories. Readings will draw upon early critical reviews of public exhibitions, biographical materials, studies of pedagogical and institutional practices, and social histories of art. In and through these materials, we will explore the marginalizing narrative that was created for women artists in Paris, and, most importantly, we will reconstruct an alternative history through our discussions and class presentations. [ more ]

    ARTH 545Architectural Theory in Crisis

    Last offered NA

    Why do buildings need words, or do they? For most of the world and most of history, buildings are made without the benefit of formal architectural thought. But at various times, ideas about the aesthetics of buildings, their cultural and philosophical meaning, and their underlying principles, have been matters of great public interest. And architectural theory--in the form of treatises, manifestos, and critical reviews--has exercised an enormous effect on building. This theory can be prescriptive, presenting categorical rules for making good buildings; it can be descriptive, looking at how buildings perform in the real world; and it can be radical, seeking to change the essence and definition of architecture. Theory seemed very important to architects twenty years ago, but that is not the case today. Why? We will investigate. Students will give short presentations on key theorists, such as Vitruvius, Alberti, Palladio, Laugier, Boullée, A. W. N. Pugin, Viollet-le-Duc, Gottfried Semper, Le Corbusier, and Robert Venturi. The semester will conclude with a 20-page seminar paper, based on comments and discussion following a classroom presentation. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTH 546Texere: The Material Philosophy of Print and Textile, ca. 1500-1900

    Last offered Fall 2019

    It is a commonplace in the literature on textiles that the words for both text and textile derive from the Latin texere: to weave. As this etymological root indicates, the action of making cloth provides the metaphoric structure by which we conceive of language from the threading of thought to the weaving of prose and poetry. In the recent theoretical writings of Tim Ingold, among others, the processes of weaving-textility-offer a model against which to conceive of the dominant hylomorphic conception of matter and form as a process of imprint. Instead, textiles illustrate a world that is created through forces in motion, never imprinting, but moving against and within one another. This seminar will use these questions as the starting point to examine the interaction between printed matter (embodying a hylomorphic process) and textile (a material challenge to hylomorphism). The Clark Art Library contains a preeminent collection of textile material, and this seminar will dive into the Mary Ann Beinecke collection to examine histories of gender and labor, figuration and ornament, mobility and place, and finally, form and matter. The case studies will range from sixteenth-century needlepoint model books to twentieth-century kimono design. [ more ]

    ARTH 547(F)The Studio, The Bedroom, & the Tomb: Artists and Artistic Biographies in the 19th Century&Beyond

    How was the vocation of the artist thematized in the European cultural imagination in the Romantic age and its aftermath? Even more, how did artists themselves articulate, experience, and reproduce that sense of vocation?--What were its mythologies and poetics, at once as they were circulated in visual culture, but also as they were lived, experienced, and reproduced by artists themselves? We will explore such question across three historically, psychologically, and tropologically configured "sites": the artist's studio, the artist's desire, and the artist's death. Readings by Freud, Balzac, Kris and Kurtz, along with scholarship largely centered on the visual arts of the 18th and 19th centuries. With instructor permission, students may undertake research projects in any field of the history of art. [ more ]

    ARTH 548Landscape, Theory, Ideology

    Last offered Spring 2020

    To use the term "landscape" is to imply and assume a subject position. Unlike the categories of "nature," "wilderness," "vista," or "ecology," a landscape is something invented and experienced (or observed, or represented, or cultivated) solely by human agents. The term "landscape" is variously deployed in the service of a range of political and philosophical positions. This seminar explores "landscape" as a fruitful agitation in critical theory and aesthetic discourse over the past thirty years. The course will interact with the artists and photographic works on view in the exhibition, Landmarks, a 150-year survey of landscape photography in WCMA's collection. We will examine i) how landscape as medium and as genre moves from literature to painting to photography; ii) how to read and employ contemporary theory in the service of artwork from bygone eras; and iii) we will ask who exercises the agency and privilege to name, to invent, to denote a space or a view as worthy of sight. [ more ]

    ARTH 549Art, Biology, Beauty

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This interdisciplinary seminar is offered in conjunction with the upcoming RAP Colloquium scheduled for March 2020, "Beauty, Sexuality, Selection: Darwinian Revolutions in Aesthetics." (Seminar participants will be expected to attend.) Our theme will be Charles Darwin's controversial theory of "sexual selection" as both a historical idea of aesthetic response and beauty, and as a theoretical concept that is back in play in current evolutionary thinking. Readings will be drawn from ancient philosophy, current science, art history, the history of science, and other fields, to engage the following questions: how did the existence of difference in the organic world--gender difference broadly but also more specifically racial difference in the human species--motivate Darwin's theory of an "aesthetic evolution" driven by animal and human perception of visual beauty? How did philosophical aesthetics contribute to Darwin's biological theory of beauty, and how did Darwin's biological theory of beauty unsettle the discipline of philosophical aesthetics? In which ways did the arts and visual cultures of Europe and elsewhere shape Darwin's aesthetic assumptions? How did, and how does, the concept of sexual selection destabilize the concept of "art" as a human cultural activity? How might "sexual selection" complicate historical and current delineations drawn between nature and culture, between the innate and the arbitrary? [ more ]

    ARTH 550The History, Theory, and Problem of Connoisseurship

    Last offered Spring 2020

    The museum and market have long relied upon the "talent" of a chosen few "connoisseurs," whose abilities (i.e. "the expert eye")-shrouded in mythology and vaguery-have profoundly influenced the interpretation of objects. This seminar will interrogate the problematic construct of connoisseurship in the market (Duveen), in the museum (Pope-Hennessy), and in the academy (Berenson). Through readings about the history and theory of the practice from the sixteenth century to the modern day, we will reassess the meaning, and validity, of connoisseurship in visual culture. And, through conversations about authorship, working methods, and artistic intent, we will question what we learn from close looking. This seminar will include case studies using objects in the Clark's permanent collection, focusing on in-depth discussions of materials, techniques, attribution, quality, and the burgeoning field of conservation science. Students will be asked to conduct their own rigorous object-based research. [ more ]

    ARTH 551Winslow Homer

    Last offered Spring 2016

    In this seminar we will explore the life and art of Winslow Homer (1836-1910). Paintings, prints, watercolors, and photographs in the collection of the Clark and the Williams College Museum of Art will focus our discussions and provide the basis for understanding Homer's art-making and his place within the art-culture of his day. A consideration of his subjects will necessarily intersect with many of the nation's most pressing issues during his era: the Civil War and Reconstruction; the rise of middleclass leisure; the relation of man to the environment. [ more ]

    ARTH 554The Matrix and the Market: Printmaking and Photography in the Nineteenth Century

    Last offered Spring 2017

    During the last half of the 19th century, technical, commercial, and aesthetic approaches to printmaking and photography experienced dramatic paradigm shifts. Etching, for example, simultaneously functioned as a reproductive medium and one that carried experimental, vanguard associations. Practitioners of lithography strove to distance themselves from denigrating commercialism and raise the medium's status to a respected art form. Photography, in turn, negotiated the boundaries between "documentary" and "artistic." This seminar will address the complex issues that swirled around printmaking and photographic matrices, critical responses to the various processes, artist-driven initiatives, and the formative role of the art market and book trade in shaping popular opinion. We will consider these topics across political and geographic borders from Europe to the United States, reading both primary and secondary sources. The class will be held in the new Manton Study Center for Works on paper with visits to Chapin library and the Williams College Museum of Art likely. [ more ]

    ARTH 563(F, S)Contemporary Curatorial Workshop

    Bi-weekly workshop for graduate students working on contemporary art and curatorial projects. Under the direction of the chair, students will present on-going curatorial projects, undertake studio and site visits, host local and visiting curators for presentations, and explore key topics in modern and contemporary art and curatorial practice. [ more ]

    ARTH 567What is Art Criticism? Current Debates, Past Precedents

    Last offered Fall 2016

    Taking as its point of departure recent debates concerning a purported "crisis" of art-criticism, this seminar considers traditions of writing about the work of living artists in modernity. We will begin with current literature and then pivot back to the eighteenth century, tracing a sequence of episodes in art criticism's evolution as a genre by looking at key works of art as mediated by their first critics. Emphasis will be placed on close readings of primary historical texts as prompts for thinking through the following broad questions, among others: What is critique, and what is art criticism? Is the art critic a judge, a historian, a partisan, a participant, or an artist in her own right? How do forms of distribution impact the content of art criticism, and how does art criticism impact the form and content of art? What is the relationship, if any, between taste, assessment of value, and interpretation of meaning? Artists considered include, among others, Boucher, Friedrich, Whistler, Seurat, Pollock, Piper. [ more ]

    ARTH 570(S)Image-making, Orientalism and Visual Culture

    Images enjoy extraordinary power in the spaces between self and other, easily and endlessly reproduced in the modern era. They play myriad roles--document, surrogate, instigator, supplicant--and travel freely across political, religious and cultural boundaries. They are also subject to interpretation and destruction. There are many quandaries here: How do images work between here and there, now and then, you and me? Answering such questions will entail de-naturalizing our own attitudes to images and exploring those of image-makers elsewhere; to do this, we will operate both synchronically and diachronically, looking at the interstices between people, cultures and traditions with particular reference to the United States, France, the Ottoman Empire and the Perso-Islamic sphere in the period between 1850 and the present. An ambiguous place called the "Orient" will be a foil for our thinking along the way. We will begin with some definitions and methods and then move from place to place to articulate differences within/among visual cultures. This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative in its emphasis on comparative cultures and its effort to promote understanding of contextualized meanings in diverse settings. [ more ]

    ARTH 573Modern and Contemporary Art from the Middle East and North Africa

    Last offered Spring 2017

    This is an exciting time for art from the Middle East and North Africa. Contemporary artists are exhibiting in international shows and biennales, and the global art market has responded to collector interest and crowned its favorites. The visibility and celebration of these artists, however, does not take into account the larger historical arena of cultural production and artistic practice from which they emerge. In terms of the discipline of art history, the field of modern painting and contemporary visual practice in the region is in its first generation of formation and definition. Drawing on very recent scholarship in art history and visual anthropology, we will explore the "history" of modern and contemporary art in the Middle East and North Africa (from the 1920s-the present). We will pay particular attention to how key terms and categories such as: modern, contemporary, Islamic, and Arab, have been constructed, deployed and debated by artists, institutions and scholars in the field. We will explore the role of museums, art schools, archives and biennales in the region, the creation of art publics and communities, and how the international market has responded to contemporary production. And perhaps most importantly, we will study work by artists that identify with the region and engage and complicate constructions of race, gender, religion, environment, autonomy and community. [ more ]

    ARTH 575Regression as Modern Fantasy: Archaism, Primitivism, Prehistory

    Last offered Fall 2018

    This course analyzes the implications of European modernity's engagement with cultural artifacts it wanted to classify beneath the prefix "pre." We take as our object an aesthetic strategy employed with increasing frequency by modern artists in Europe after 1800: the self-conscious mobilization of visual forms thought to telegraph priority to later advancements, whether historically or developmentally. Our inquiry, beginning with the German Nazarenes and extending into the early twentieth century around the moment of WW1, foregrounds such strategies as key to grasping new notions of temporality and geography that emerged in European modernity. We will inquire into the historical and intellectual contexts that sustained chronological and cultural primitivisms, including the history of colonialism, discoveries of Paleolithic cave art, and the emergence of the modern disciplines of archeology, anthropology, ethnography, child psychology, and psychoanalysis. Alongside close visual scrutiny of some of modernism's most canonical and problematic objects, including key works by Picasso and Gauguin, we will examine the literature that proliferated in this period devoted to the art of peoples deemed "primitive," including the Greeks in the pre-classical period, non-Western peoples, and children. [ more ]

    ARTH 576(S)Paper, Process, Practice

    Works on paper, particularly multiples, confound many of the received ideas around artistic invention and originality. This course will address the varied functions of printmaking in Europe over four centuries (1500-1900), giving special attention to the following questions: What is the relationship between prints and other artistic media? How do the material constraints involved in printmaking lead to a particular set of practices, and how in turn do those marry with technological advances to produce new aesthetic possibilities? To what extent did Old Masters such as Dürer and Rembrandt define the terms for later printmakers, and how did their example enable and/or discourage innovation in printed subject matter and style? What was the role of prints in creating both new forums for public discourse and new collecting publics? Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, this course will cover a wide array of printmakers and types of printed media. [ more ]

    Taught by: Anne Leonard

    Catalog details

    ARTH 577Questions for Global Art History: A Workshop

    Last offered NA

    Art history's so-called "global turn" has been underway for over twenty years, but it would be difficult to say that it has yielded a consistent set of methodological approaches. When we consider a project global in scope does that mean simply thinking beyond national or regional designations? Are we are looking for expansive networks of materials and makers? Evidence of intercultural exchange? In this seminar, we will begin by looking at several recent approaches to defining global art history and consider terms like contact, exchange, appropriation, transculturation, and cosmopolitanism. We will discuss the spatial vocabulary of oceans and borderlands and the dynamics of power engendered by colonialism, imperialism, and racialization. Thereafter, our weekly case studies will come from the students' research projects. Though students are not expected to begin the seminar with an argument for their final paper, they should arrive with a topic in mind that pertains to a "global" art history subject in the period between 1500 and 1900 CE. In consultation with the professor, each student will then select readings to discuss with the group so we can work together to come up with questions and approaches that are commensurate to the topic. Our course may end in affirming the heterogeneity of global methods, deciding that this is a benefit rather than deficit. The collective aim is to understand, problematize, and reformulate the approaches available to us so that we can better address the topics that interest us as a group. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTH 582On Race, Art, and Property

    Last offered NA

    In her seminal article "Whiteness as Property," critical race theorist and professor Cheryl Harris contends that the legal system in the United States "has come to embody and legitimize benefits that accrue to citizens who are white." The legacy of our legal system, which has dehumanized people by rendering them as property and legalized the theft of land by colonizers from Native Americans, is not confined to the past, but has shaped our world and thrives within our present moment. How has this legacy and Harris' theory been explored in contemporary art? How might it allow us to revisit artworks and practices by canonical artists from alternative perspectives? This course aims to study aspects of this complicated history through a broad range of texts from legal and literary theory to art history to Black and Native American studies to more immediately authored texts published on social media platforms. Students are encouraged to think dexterously as we study works by Gordon Matta-Clark, Michael Heizer, Sondra Perry, Cameron Rowland, and Cauleen Smith--among others. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTH 583(F)Graphic Content: Typography and the Book between Art and Design

    This seminar considers the entangled histories of fine art and graphic design by focusing on creative practices surrounding the letterform and the book form from 1900 to the present. We will study historical avant-garde movements active in publishing and making-public; the development of the graphic design discipline, in print and on screen; and logocentric artistic tendencies from concrete poetry and pop art to conceptualism and artists' books. We will also consider diverse literary practices, graphic visualization, and political agitation. The seminar will make use of the Clark library's outstanding collection of artists' books and the holdings of the Chapin library at Williams. We will welcome several guests, including art historians, artist-designers, designer-artists, editors, publishers, and bookmakers. [ more ]

    ARTH 587Crash! The Car Accident as Myth and Metaphor in American Art and Visual Culture

    Last offered Spring 2019

    A year after MoMA elevated machinery to high art in 1934, Grant Wood painted Death on The Ridge Road (Williams College Museum of Art), a depiction of the deadly side of the streamlined modern machines that Alfred Barr might have presented at MoMA. A generation later, Andy Warhol's Death and Disasters series multiplied gruesome images of crushed cars and bodies to numbing effect. During the ensuing years, both Jackson Pollock and David Smith (among others) became traffic fatalities. Roughly bookended by the Great Depression and the 1960s, but also considering works of art and visual materials before and after those parameters, this seminar will explore the stakes of car crash imagery for American artists and culture. Readings may include topics in trauma studies, automotive technology, physics, posthumanism, law, and object oriented ontology as well as grounding participants in American art and history of the middle third of the twentieth century. Participants in the course will also have the opportunity to help shape the content, themes, and narrative of an exhibition on car accidents in American art being organized by WCMA. [ more ]

    ARTH 594(S)Traveling Seminar: Slavery and the Dutch Golden Age

    This course takes as its starting point the exhibition at the Rijksmuseum opening in September 2019: Slavery, an exhibition. With this installation, the curators of the Rijksmuseum seek to correct dominant narratives of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Dutch history, which have absented the role of slavery in determining the economic, social, and visual history of the Netherlands. With a Travel Grant awarded by the College Art Association, the students in this seminar will travel to the Netherlands to visit this exhibition and other relevant cultural institutions in order to examine the possibilities and limits for 'decolonizing' the museum. This course will study how slavery is imbricated within the mythic construction of a 'Dutch Golden Age' while also examining what happens when the history of enslaved peoples becomes translated into the space of a museum and exhibition. We will consider a revisionist history of Dutch artistic production, accounting for slavery in determining the Dutch economy and visual production while also asking what happens when slavery becomes narrated in the space of one of the nation's history museums. We will read contemporary black feminist theory such as Sylvia Wynter, Saidiya Hartman, Hortense Spillers, and Christina Sharpe as a means to struggle with how the space of the exhibition chooses to activate and write those missing histories, and we will examine if it is even possible to responsibly tell the story of slavery over two centuries when the majority of the subjects have been completely defaced, removed, and excised from the historical record, and their voices are often the ones still absent. In the words of Saidiya Hartman, we will ask: "Is it possible to construct a story from the 'locus of impossible speech' or resurrect lives from the ruins?" [ more ]

    ARTH 595Private Tutorial

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Students may petition to take a private tutorial by arrangement with the instructor and with permission of the Graduate Program Director. [ more ]

    ARTH 596Private Tutorial

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Students may petition to take a private tutorial by arrangement with the instructor and with permission of the Graduate Program Director. [ more ]

    ARTH 597Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit

    Last offered Fall 2019

    Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit [ more ]

    ARTH 598Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit [ more ]

  • ARTS 100(F, S)Drawing I

    The goal of the course is to provide training in basic two dimensional design concepts like composition, value, space, proportion and line as well as a critical perspective on drawing in the 21st C. Observational drawing skills will be taught asynchronously in short daily lessons within six, week-long segments. Assignments with roots in 20th C Avant-garde and 21st C global practice will be interspersed within these skill-building lessons to provide students with a critical contrast to traditional approaches to drawing and opportunities for individual expression. Since this class will be taught remotely, we will meet online as a class for slide talks and discussion, as well as in small groups of 3 or 4 for critique. So that students may work in a domestic setting, the size of the assignments are modest and the materials like pencil, brush pen, and colored paper are clean. In order to submit assignments, students will need access to a digital camera, such as a cell phone. [ more ]

    ARTS 100(F, S)Drawing I

    This course is designed to introduce students to the basic elements of drawing. The first half of the course will expose students to formal and fundamental aspects of the visual language through observational drawing exercises. Working from the still life, landscape, and human form, concepts and skills related to line, space, form, and perspective will be introduced. Students will work with a wide variety of materials and will gain facility in media such as charcoal, graphite, collage, watercolor and ink. As the term progresses, assignments and exercises will become more complex and students will explore more conceptual ideas in drawing related to material specificity, research, experimentation, and working from the imagination. The class will conclude with a publication of a zine. The theme or topic of the publication will be determined by the dynamic of the class and the students' curiosities and concerns. Through lectures, assigned readings, screenings, and visits to the WCMA, this course hopes to expand what it means to draw and to become aware of how drawing appears in the practices of other artists as well the world outside of art contexts. [ more ]

    ARTS 100(S)Drawing I

    This course is designed to introduce students to perceptual, experiential and analytical moments associated with the language of drawing, and to do so in ways that offer the opportunity to see the world with greater clarity, and with a broader understanding of art and the visual language. This course provides technical skills associated with observational drawing, experiential moments with a variety of materials, and the opportunity for self expression and the communication of ideas. Each studio class blends drawing practices and exercises designed to further one's understanding of the language of drawing, and more broadly, offers a foundation for further study in the visual arts. [ more ]

    ARTS 100Drawing I

    Last offered Spring 2020

    Drawing can provide a vehicle for encountering and interpreting your experiences. This course will heighten your awareness of the visual world, teach basic drawing skills, and demonstrate how drawing operates as a form of visual exchange. A variety of materials will be covered as you explore the 2-dimensional concepts of line, form, proportion, gesture, spatial depth, and value. Towards the latter part of the semester, more emphasis will be placed on the use of drawing as idea, and you will have the opportunity to express yourself through the visual language of drawing. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTS 100Drawing I

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course is designed to introduce the fundamentals of drawing. A significant portion of class time will be devoted to learning some of the basics of drawing, such as line, gesture, composition, and value. Acquiring technical skill is an important goal of this class, and intensive weekly assignments are a significant part of that process. [ more ]

    ARTS 102In the Room Together: An Introduction to Dance, Theatre, and Live Performance

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This course offers an introduction to the time-based art of performance, focusing on the embodied and social act of collaboration. Students will explore through a rotating studio and seminar-based format methods for creating and approaching art across a range of time-based media (dance, theatre, performance art, social media, spoken-word poetry), providing a foundation for the expression of ideas through performance. Over the term, students will develop, workshop and perform site-specific pieces, culminating in a final public presentation to the community. Through independent research projects, writing and class discussion, students will study makers whose work unsettles the boundaries of dance, theatre, and performance, such as: Anne Bogart, Bill T. Jones, Pina Bausch, Meredith Monk, Lin Manuel-Miranda, E. Patrick Johnson, Young Jean Lee, and Beyoncé. Evaluation will be based on an assessment of the student's work, participation, commitment, practice, curiosity, creativity, and collaboration with peers. Students will be required to attend '62 Center Series programming as may be required to attend other performance events as well. This course is open to students at all levels of experience and is a gateway and requirement to the major in Theatre. [ more ]

    ARTS 105(S)Video Essay

    This introductory studio course engages the genre of video essay. Situated at the intersection of video art and documentary film practices, video essay explores the interval between politics and aesthetics, fiction and non-fiction, in an attempt to create a personal language with which to describe the tension between social, political, and personal realities. Students gain hands-on video production experience with editing, cinematography, and sound design grounded in the editorial and rhetorical strategies of video essay which articulate a language of relationships: between sound and image, artist and subject, fact and feeling, memory and language. Self-referential and reflexive, video essay operates in a space of inquiry between poetry, philosophy, autobiography, politics, and cultural studies. The course examines how video essay moves across disciplines, reflecting ethical and aesthetic strategies developed within documentary film, journalism, auto-ethnography, auto-fiction, media theory, performance, and the history of video art itself, in pursuit of a renewed relationship to processes of observation, memory, and recognition. Assignments emphasize the creation and presentation of an original body of video work for critique, alongside research, writing, and discussion of theoretical texts and artworks, including the work of Chris Marker, Hito Steyerl, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Harun Farocki, Agnès Varda, among others. [ more ]

    ARTS 107Creating Games

    Last offered Spring 2017

    The game is unique as the only broadly-successful interactive art form. Games communicate the experience of embodying a role by manipulating the player's own decisions, abstraction, and discrete planning. Those three elements are the essence of computation, which makes computer science theory integral to game design. Video games also co-opt programming and computer graphics as new tools for the modern artist. As a result, games are collaborative interdisciplinary constructs that use computation as a medium for creative expression. Students analyze and extend contemporary video and board games using the methodology of science and the language of the arts. They explore how computational concepts like recursion, state, and complexity apply to interactive experiences. They then synthesize new game elements using mathematics, programming and both digital and traditional art tools. Emphasis is on the theory of design in modern European board games. Topics covered include experiment design, gameplay balance, minimax, color theory, pathfinding, game theory, composition, and computability. [ more ]

    ARTS 110(S)Photography in the Darkroom: Identity and Place

    This introductory level course offers an in-depth exploration of analog photography, 35 mm film development, processing and printing in the wet darkroom. Emphasis is placed on the camera's relationship to the body and constructions of identity. Students will develop a fundamental control of photographic processes through various exercises, experimentation, field and studio experience. Students will learn how to use analog 35 mm cameras, in darkroom editing and printing techniques to create a personal body of work that examines the medium's role in representing various identities. Additionally, lecture presentations and thorough critique will foster theoretical and visual literacy for the analysis of works. How is photography implicated in the construction and performance of identity? How does it complicate national, cultural, gender, race and sexual identity. [ more ]

    ARTS 111(F)Introduction to Video Art

    This introductory-level course offers an expansive definition of video art, exploring the complex interrelations between video and other disciplines within contemporary art. Video art's inherent heterogeneity is examined as a vital part of the medium's identity and as a radical mechanism for cultural discourse. Coursework includes lectures, readings, discussions, hands-on tutorials, production assignments, and active participation in dialog/critique. Camera, sound, lighting, and editing techniques are taught alongside key theoretical, historical, and aesthetic approaches to video art. Experimentation and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged in considering how video art hybridizes with other media, ingests emerging technologies, and develops new distribution models. [ more ]

    ARTS 112(S)Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking

    In a 2010 article, New York Times film critic A. O. Scott described the field of contemporary documentary film as 'heterogeneous to the point of anarchy.' This course takes this heterogeneity to heart, acquainting students with a wide array of creative approaches and key debates in documentary film. In addition to a historical, ethical and critical foundation in the field of documentary, students will acquire a basic grounding in the fundamentals of video production, including cinematography, sound and editing. Course requirements include class attendance and regular critiques, weekly film screenings and readings outside class, 2-3 minor filmmaking exercises, and major assignments in the form of 3-4 short nonfiction video projects. [ more ]

    ARTS 114Art into Activism

    Last offered Fall 2017

    This introductory studio art class will examine how art has been and can be engaged with activist and political causes. Can art be created from social or political ideas? Is all political art merely propaganda? What makes a work "political"? What does artistic work that is topical, informed, and critical look like? In addition to looking at various works by contemporary artists and used in political movements, we will be working on weekly assignments that will introduce students to 2-D image making, video, and performance. This class is a hands-on studio class which will require hours outside the class working on projects. [ more ]

    ARTS 115 T(F)Sculpture: Poetry with Objects

    Sculpture employs the body and has the power to communicate via the physical world in powerful ways. ARTS 115 will offer instruction in how form and meaning can be created through the use of objects. Similar to poetry, where a particular word carries a specific history, meaning, and power, objects also contain complex associations. Through the process of alteration, transformation, and manipulation, sculpture reveals the narrative power of form and materials. This course will provide a historical framework for how sculpture- particularly contemporary works- have expressed ideas, while also providing instruction on techniques and methods used to build, dismantle, rearrange, combine and create art with objects as the inspiration. The ultimate goal will be to develop your individual voice and imagination, become familiar with processes and techniques, and to become fluent in generating meaning that is important to you. We will be integrating the study of a variety of artists whose work utilizes objects in their sculpture such as the work of: Jean Shin, Marcel Broodthaers, Dario Robletto, Doris Salcedo, Robert Gober, among others. This class is designed to be hybrid, with a combination of in-person and remote components. Approximately two thirds of the term will consist of weekly meetings between myself and a pair of students, however, periodically throughout the term, we will meet with the entire class for PowerPoint presentations, demonstrations, visiting artist talks and group critiques. [ more ]

    ARTS 116Monotypes

    Last offered Fall 2018

    Spontaneous and delightfully unpredictable, the monotype is a style of printmaking that creates exactly one image by applying ink onto a flat surface, and transferring it to paper using pressure - by hand or a through a printing press. It is neither drawing nor painting, it is both! In this class students will use the monotype to heighten their sensitivity to line, colour, tone, texture, transparency, pressure, ink viscosity, and overall composition. They will also explore techniques like tracing, stencilling, chine-collé, reductive + additive mark making, and hand rubbing, while acquainting themselves with the history of the medium -- its practitioners, and its scope. No prior experience in drawing or painting required, though it is quite welcome. [ more ]

    ARTS 119(S)Miniature Stories

    What is the American experience? What does an American look like? This course uses miniature set and puppet building techniques, using easily manipulated materials in order to tell stories about the American experience. Greer Lankton's queer puppets and Charles Ledray's intricate thrift store men's suits use miniaturized scale as a vehicle to expand our understanding of the American experience through highly focused visuals. Students will explore how scale and point of view can be used to explore power dynamics, identity, and mythology. Students develop their own research methods based on short writing assignments, image and object collection, and material exploration. [ more ]

    Taught by: Stephanie J Williams

    Catalog details

    ARTS 122(F)Photography, Identity and the Absence of Representation

    This remote introductory level course offers an in-depth exploration of the DSLR camera and image by utilizing photographic digital technology. Emphasis is placed on the camera's relationship to the body, domestic space and constructions of identity. Students will develop a fundamental control of photographic processes through technical exercises and at-home/on-campus and online experimentations. Students will learn how to use DSLR cameras, editing techniques and photographic curation to create an online portfolio and exhibition reflecting on a personal body of work that examines the medium's role in representing (or not representing) identities. Additionally, three photographers will be visiting our zoom classes to give virtual presentations on their individual processes and artistic works. There will be short weekly readings and in-depth critiques to foster theoretical and visual literacy for the analysis of works. How is photography implicated in the construction and performance of identity? How does it complicate national, cultural, gender, race and sexual identity? [ more ]

    ARTS 123(F)Drawing Dreaming

    Sometimes a drawing is a recreation of what is right in front of us, accepted and understood by us both. And sometimes a drawing is what we have never seen before/what doesn't yet exist, but want very much to be real: a house, a garden, a truth, accountability for an injustice, a declaration, a dream, a scream, a monument (or its absence), a sculpture, an institution, a circumstance, a love, futures. In this class, we will use mark making as a tool for making such imaginings a little more solid, and clear. Each week we will look at artworks (or what could be perceived as that) that embody dreaming, envisioning, manifestation, and transformation, including but not limited to the spectacular public drawings now part of Richmond's confederate monuments, Shaker gift drawings, house and garden plans, protest signs, commemorative murals and memorials, flags, emblems, dream entries and tarot decks. Every other week, our class will host visitors whose art+work+life has inspired this course, including artists, educators, and organisers. Though this isn't a traditional drawing class, it will include introductions to various foundational techniques and tools, along with intensive drawing exercises before delving into self driven assignments. [ more ]

    ARTS 128Introductory Video

    Last offered Spring 2020

    In this course we explore how the proliferation of video has transformed the way we relate our own image, and that of others. Video has become a platform for hypervisibility. In an era of selfies, live-streaming, state sanctioned violence (and its digital record), how might we use video as a tool of empathy and accountability? We will pursue answers to these questions through the act of making. In this introductory level course students will gain facility in Adobe Premiere and other post-production tools in the Adobe Creative Suite. Students will explore camera technique, lighting, and how to work with appropriated footage. We will look at early and contemporary video works in order to situate the work being made in class. Video Art will also be contextualized within vernacular applications of video. Through regular technical exercises, readings, and group critiques, students will learn how to use video as critical tool in their practice. [ more ]

    ARTS 129Institutional Critique

    Last offered Spring 2019

    This introductory course will investigate the performance potential of the radical art making methodology known as Institutional Critique. Influenced by Situationalism, and the Fluxus movement, Institutional Critique emerged as a way for artists to respond to the art worlds elitism, monopoly on culture, and dependency on Capitalism. Through collaborative performance based projects and readings students will explore the possibility of art to critically intervene in the hegemonic order and insight change within power relationships. We will also explore related movements such as Socially Engaged Practice, a term that describes art that is participatory and focuses as people as the medium. Artists covered will include: Thomas Hirshhorn, Tim Rollins, and Andrea Fraser. You do not need any prior experience just a willingness to use the power of voice and body. [ more ]

    ARTS 130Material Issues

    Last offered Spring 2019

    What kind of maker should one be, after reading the latest climate report? The tendency to build, design, love, and collect objects - in our shelves and in our museums and in our landfills - is central to the human story. We have (serious) material issues! This class looks at individuals that hold ecology and what the environment asks of us close to their heart and their making, moving beyond 'green' as metaphor. We will study creative practices that work in partnership with land, with forests, agriculture, radically sustainable materials, food and food cultures. Through the semester, we will alter how we consume and what we consume, we will learn to repair, learn to divest, and learn how to make our own: Food! Clothes! Quilts! Containers! Pigments! _________! Our projects will be cross cultural, interdisciplinary, slow, working at the pace of seasons, working with what is already present in our homes, in our neighbourhoods. Through guided assignments and discussions, students will draft a personal and collective manifesto detailing their relationship to material and climate change, and develop a final project, in any format, that engages with it. We will work with our hands often, and well. [ more ]

    ARTS 132Sculpture: The Human Form in Contemporary Art

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The figure has an intrinsic relationship to us and our lives and has provided artists with creative challenges throughout time. This course uses the human form as the subject to introduce students to the three-dimensional world of sculpture. It combines the traditional study of figure modeling in clay, with a more contemporary approach to how the figure is used in art today. The first part of the semester has you working from observation while learning how to realistically construct the human figure in the third dimension. You will work in clay, gaining skills in modeling, anatomy, the study of proportion, gesture, texture, negative and positive space and balance and gravity. We begin aiming for realism and move towards abstraction. The second part of the term will provide the opportunity to explore a more open and contemporary approach to how sculpture utilizes the figure to express meaning, explore materials and employ form. You will be introduced to a variety of skills, materials and concepts as you learn to work in the round making a form interesting from all views. Ultimately you will begin to explore and develop the ability to communicate your ideas in a visual manner as well as comment on the human condition. [ more ]

    ARTS 200Project: Costume-Design, Performance, and Beyond

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This course is an intensive study of costume design. Costume designers are always aware of the world around them. They look, listen, reflect, and record. They use inspiration, research, imagination, and innovation for their creations. They simultaneously observe the smallest detail while also picturing the larger world surrounding the pieces they develop. The course focuses on the designer's process, which entails in part: script analysis, collaboration, research, color theory, basic design principles, rendering techniques, fabric research, organizational skills, and presentation of designs. [ more ]

    ARTS 201(S)Worldbuilding: Design for the Theater

    This course examines designers' creative processes as they work to imagine the fictional worlds of theatrical productions. Over a series of practical projects in multiple design disciplines, we will develop techniques for eliciting an initial creative response to a text; developing that response into a point-of-view; communicating that point-of-view with collaborators; and solving the practical needs of the production. Particular emphasis is placed on how design elements synthesize with each other (and with the imagined work of the actors and director) to form the larger intellectual, emotional, and physical context of the production as a whole. Students will adopt various creative roles over a series of projects, giving exposure to the working processes of designers specifically, and that of all collaborators in a theatrical production more generally. Methodologies for critical feedback, as well as presentation skills and techniques, will be taught as crucial elements of the artistic and collaborative process. [ more ]

    ARTS 215(F)Sustainabuilding (verb)

    Sustainability considerations figure prominently (and always have) in good building design. This architectural design studio will include instruction, research, and reading about current design and energy strategies. These lessons will be applied in two or more design problems. Drawings and models will be critiqued in class reviews with outside critics. [ more ]

    ARTS 220(S)Architectural Design I

    Instruction in design with an introduction to architectural theory. Five simple design problems will explore form and meaning in architecture. Each problem will require drawings/model and will be critiqued in a class review with outside critics. [ more ]

    ARTS 221 TScenic Design and Experimental Performance

    Last offered Spring 2015

    The artistic, intellectual, and practical roles of a set designer vary widely, from the spectacle of Broadway to the do-it-yourself ingenuity of downtown theater. In contemporary experimental theater designers are essential parts of the ensemble, contributing equally to devised work alongside directors, writers, performers and dramaturgs. Design is not viewed as a response to the script, but rather an initial condition: a world whose creation describes the limits of the play while also providing the necessary components for that play to exist. In this way the act of designing and the act of devising can be seen as inextricably entwined--even interchangeable. This course explores a range of techniques and methodologies utilized to create stage environments in traditional and experimental modes. Grounded in textual analysis and research, and emphasizing process, critique, and revision, we will create theoretical stage designs in response to a variety of performance texts. These may include plays, musicals, operas, physical- and dance-theater, and other work that is deeply grounded in the physicality of performer, spectator and performance environment. Emphasis will be on sketching and model-making as the primary means for developing and communicating design ideas Drafting and digital tools will also be factors in course work, which will include training and mentorship in all materials and craft. [ more ]

    ARTS 225(S)Video Ecologies

    This studio course in video art investigates human connection with fraught landscapes and multi-species worlds, developing strategies by which our environment is witnessed, created, and negotiated through videographic acts. Video ecologies consider our environment as relational and invested with notions of identity. What can passionate immersion in our environment as apprehended through the senses (including and beyond vision) reveal about historical and lived experience, and the embodied effects of global capitalism? How might video serve to open up new understandings, relationships, entanglements, accountabilities? This course will critically examine socio-political and personal dimensions of ecology through readings and discussion engaging with environmentalism, intersectional feminism, queer theory, and postcolonialism. With in-depth instruction on technical and conceptual strategies used in video art, the emphasis of the course will be on the creation of an original body of work that includes several short video assignments and a substantial final video grounded in research on a specific ecological subject chosen by the student. In-class tutorials provide hands-on experience with lens-based production strategies in the context of historical and contemporary examples of video art that explore the land as a site for multiple temporalities, inter-species relationships, contamination, precarity, survival, and ruin. [ more ]

    ARTS 226(S)Hyperobjects and the Mundane

    Through the photographic medium and the latest Do-It-Yourself trends, this intermediate photography class will explore object-oriented ontology and the notion of "Hyperobjects," or objects that transcend the local by massively spanning time and space. This class will use DIY techniques and mundane objects and materials as a tool to build models, sculptures and installations that will later on be photographed in the studio and outdoors. The creation of these 3D spaces, virtual or public, propose replications and low-budget prototypes resembling miniature versions of Hyperobjects in transient spaces. Using science-fiction references and mythology we will attempt to document and/or create a space that is invisible or has not yet been experienced by the world. What does ecological philosophy/eco-feminism currently look like, and (how) will it translate after the end of the world through the remaining photographic image and media? This class will search for, invent, and document Hyperobjects - entities of vast temporal/spatial dimensions that defeat traditional ideas of what a thing, object or photograph is. [ more ]

    ARTS 228 TThe Art of Almost Nothing

    Last offered Fall 2017

    In this studio tutorial class, students will create studio art projects by using materials that are mainly not bought but found, repurposed, and/or overlooked and ubiquitous. In this time of extreme material production and consumption, with a great deal being thrown out and unrecoverable, how can we make intentional, creative meaning from what is around us? This class is concerned with impacts on the environment but also with how consumer culture has wielded profound influence in the current production of studio art. How can we engage with our major concerns--aesthetic, topical, critical--and use what is around us mindfully and creatively with desired impact? Some of the artists we will look at: William Pope L., Ana Mendieta, David Hammons, Tania Bruguera,and the Yes Men. This class is a hands-on studio class with weekly assignments. [ more ]

    ARTS 230Drawing II

    Last offered Spring 2019

    This intermediate drawing course focuses on technique, style and content. Class sessions will focus on representing the human figure in representational and abstract styles, including cubism and abstract expressionism. Homework projects will focus on developing individual concepts and personal expression. Exercises will include traditional materials on paper as well as non-traditional methods and exercises. The course culminates with an independent project of work in series. [ more ]

    ARTS 236(F, S)LINOCUT!

    A subset of relief printmaking, linocuts are images made by carving the surface of soft linoleum blocks. Relying almost completely on our hands, we will learn to work with a variety of cutting tools, controlling their speed and pressure to create bold, clear imagery. The course will include introductions to various methods in lino printing including stencilling, collaging, reduction printing, while also familiarising students with the fundamentals of printmaking inks and papers--how to use them, choose them, modify them. The first 2-3 weeks of class will be held in person, outdoors, where students will practice tool handling and carving techniques (also available via video to remote students). Thereafter we will be entirely remote, exploring ways of making improvisational prints at home, using rubbings/frottage, DIY presses, and making connections with local print shops to print the completed blocks. We will also experiment with homemade inks. If deemed safe, private printing sessions can be arranged for on campus students a few times in the semester. Lectures will consider the history of the block print, its present day interdisciplinary potential, and virtual visits with contemporary practitioners. Students will work towards creating a diverse portfolio that demonstrates fluency across various techniques, using them individually or in combination. [ more ]

    ARTS 241Introduction to Oil Painting

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course is designed to introduce the fundamentals of oil painting. A significant portion of class time will be devoted to learning some of the basics of painting, such as the manipulation of color, value, surface, and texture. We will learn how to prepare paper and canvas supports as well as exploring the properties of several mediums (what the paint is mixed with to allow for application and drying). This course is focused on giving students access to a range of introductory techniques that they can explore during the semester. We will also spend time looking at each other's work and giving feedback and suggestions as well as studying the work of established artists. Evaluation will be based on evidence of each student's progress, as shown by the weekly assignments; attendance and participation in class discussions. [ more ]

    ARTS 241(F, S)Introduction to Acrylic Painting: Five Modern Painters

    To learn the fundamentals of 2D design, as well as some of the concepts that inform modern painting, this class will engage the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Henri Matisse, Amy Sherald, Alma Thomas, and Stanley Whitney. All distinctly modern, the styles of these artists range from figurative to fully abstract. The class will spend two weeks on each artist, analyzing and copying a work in the first week and producing a visual response in the second. Students will meet twice a week online, once as a class for technical demonstration and slide presentations and again in small groups of 3 or 4 for reading discussion and critique. Some demonstrations and supporting materials will be available asynchronously. The goals of the class are to introduce students to basic painting skills like color mixing, brushwork, composition, and palette management, as well as concepts like color theory, modernism and self-expression in a cultural context. So that students may work in a domestic setting, the size of the assignments are modest and the materials like water-based acrylics, crayons, and paper are manageable. In order to post homework, students will need access to a digital camera. [ more ]

    ARTS 250Devised Performance: The Art of Embodied Inquiry

    Last offered Spring 2018

    This studio course offers students hands-on experience in devising new performance work as an ensemble. Looking to the work of practitioners and collectives like Jerzy Grotowski, El Teatro Campesino, Tectonic Theater Project, Pina Bausch, Belarus Free Theatre, Nrityagram, and SITI Company, we will challenge ourselves to really probe what live performance is capable of. How might we think of performance as a research methodology? As a lifestyle? As a form of political action? This class will function as a laboratory, forming its own unique structure for developing and realizing a live performance. The course provides an opportunity to navigate the complex dynamics present in collaborative creation. Guest classes with practitioners will offer a fuller range of skills for the student ensemble to utilize during the devising process. Work-in-progress presentations spaced regularly throughout the semester will allow the ensemble to receive feedback from small, invited audiences, as well as the opportunity to apply that critique to an ongoing creative process. At the end of the semester the accumulated work will have a public presentation in a workshop format. [ more ]

    ARTS 251(F)The Personal Documentary

    In this course, we will survey the terrain of personal documentary in all its complexity--its marginal roots, and its current mainstream appeal. Examining a wide array of formal approaches from diary films, to archival excavations, to first-person odysseys, we will ask: what does it mean to tell a story that is personal, vulnerable, ethical? How is the current watershed moment of COVID provoking us to re-imagine our ideas of self and community, private and public? How to avoid predictability and narcissism, and instead use self-reflection productively? How do race, sexuality, class and gender inflect personal filmmaking? Major assignments will include 3-4 short videos; supplementary assignments include a daily diary, weekly film screenings, and 1-2 readings per week. In order to comply with social distancing mandates, the majority of this course will occur online and production assignments will be designed to ensure maximum student safety. While students will have access to campus equipment and lab space, assignments will embrace the possibilities of at-home, DIY approaches to filmmaking. [ more ]

    ARTS 252The Human Image: Photographing People and Their Stories

    Last offered Spring 2015

    The single most photographed subject is the human form. The motivations and strategies for imaging faces and bodies, both individual and aggregate, are as varied as the subjects themselves. In this course, we will examine some of the many approaches used to photograph people. We'll start by exploring self-portraiture, and progress to photographing others--both familiars and strangers, in the studio and in less controlled environments. We'll end with a consideration of "documentary" photography and other visual narratives. In each case, we'll examine our reasons for making an image, and the methods available for achieving these goals. Thus, the class will have a significant technical component, dealing with the creative use of camera controls, the properties and uses of light, and digital capture and processing. We will also examine the conceptual and scientific bases for how we perceive and evaluate images. Students will initially use school-supplied digital cameras, and later have the option of using film. [ more ]

    ARTS 260Objects in Video, Video as Object

    Last offered Spring 2020

    In a world where the screen is often taken for granted, how might we begin to dissect the ways video has transformed visual perception? This course will focus on video installation and how video is transformed by its physical context. We will examine how videos shift our relationship to objects in space. Students will experiment with lighting and set building, paying particular attention to how surfaces are transformed by the lens. We will also explore projection mapping, built installation, and the peculiarities of the screen. We will look at works by artists who have emphasized the physicality or immateriality of video through installation and web-based art. We will read a variety of texts, charting the shifting role video has played in contemporary society. Through weekly assignments and regular critiques, we will begin to unpack how the videos we make contact with daily can shift our relationship with our own bodies and our surrounding environment. [ more ]

    ARTS 271Sonic Art

    Last offered Fall 2019

    The course explores sound art through research and hands-on creative projects. Students will create original sound works, working collaboratively with partners from complementary disciplines. Precedents for sound installation, sonic pavilions, sound performance and artist-made instruments will be reviewed. Example works include texts on an ancient Greek Chythonic cult, instruments created by contemporary Brazilian transdisciplinary artists, the collaborative group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) as well as works by artists showing at Mass MoCa and Documenta 14. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTS 273Sound Art, Public Music

    Last offered Fall 2017

    Western music performance traditionally occurs within contained spaces in which performer and audience adhere to designated locations and follow tacit scripts: seats/stage; applause/bows, etc. In recent years, traditional boundaries and expectations of performance and reception have loosened, often moving into public spaces: from sound art installations to ambient music, from interactive sound sculpture to radio art to social media driven flash mobs. This course examines the work of pioneers in public music and sound art including Alvin Lucier, Bill Fontana, John Cage, Hildegard Westerkamp, Brian Eno and John Luther Adams, among others. The course will alternate between study and analysis of particular artistic strategies and the creation of sound art works inspired by ideas and creators we are studying. [ more ]

    ARTS 275Sculpture

    Last offered Spring 2020

    This course is an exploration of the media and processes of sculpture, with the ultimate goal being visual fluency and the successful expression of your ideas. The focus will be on the development of technical and analytical skills as they relate to the interplay of form, content, and materials. You will be introduced to a variety of techniques and processes associated with the making of sculpture, including, but not limited to, woodworking, welding and building forms out of cardboard. The field of sculpture has expanded to encompass wide-ranging approaches towards manipulating form and space, thus a wide variety of media exploration is encouraged. [ more ]

    ARTS 287Design for Film & Television

    Last offered NA

    The production designer is responsible for creating, controlling, and managing 'the look' of films and narrative television from page to screen. This hands-on course explores the processes of production design, art direction, and lighting direction processes as related to design for film and television. From initial Production Design sketches and 'Feel-Boards' to accommodating desired cinematographic angles when designing a studio set, design for film requires a designer to shape an entire visual world while keeping in mind the story as a whole. The goal of this course is to provide an initial understanding of the Production Design process in practice through studio work and instruction. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTS 303(F)Public Address System: Art, Language, Action

    This interdisciplinary tutorial engages the role of language in art, as students examine the role of text, speech, and gesture within their own work. The course engages the material and transformative effects of language in and alongside artworks, exploring the link between words and actions, the convergence of personal and political through speech and writing, and the role of the reader/viewer/receiver. Students articulate tactical strategies for deploying language within and alongside creative studio practices, through coursework that combines intensive studio work, writing, reading, and discussion. The tutorial format allows for a wide variety of media and approaches. Students will meet weekly with a peer and the professor to review work, as well as several sessions where the entire class will meet for presentation, critique, and discussion. The course demands significant outside studio time as well as maintaining a regular writing practice for the duration of the course. Emphasis is on the creation of an original body of artwork. Assignments include three independent studio projects that engage language (text, speech, gesture) and weekly writing meditations (1-3 pages in length). Weekly writing meditations engage the text score, hybrid essay, film essay, memoir, and auto-fiction, paying close attention to repetition, difference, codes, and systems of signification. All coursework must be completed by the final tutorial meeting. [ more ]

    ARTS 307 T(S)The Body Reorganized

    This tutorial course asks students to abstract and re-contextualize the body as a topic of conversation in order to expand our discussions about identity. We will discuss the work of artists in which the body remains conceptually central; such as Nick Cave, Saya Woolfalk, Sarah Lucas, Annette Messager. Students will look to their own lived experiences and supporting communities, research historical precedence for contemporary perspectives on identity, and find, through written and collected research, additional cultural work centered within multi-layered and non-normative experiences. Students will react to readings, Christian Enzensberger's "Smut: An Anatomy of Dirt", Mary Douglas' "Purity and Danger", etc. Students will design their own methods of making with foundational introductions to flexible plane paired with movement-based workshops including stop motion animation shot with cell phones. Students will construct a structural and/or wearable work that references the body, it's topographies, and potential for performance/pose. Research will culminate in an online exhibition documenting student projects through photographic stills and video. [ more ]

    Taught by: Stephanie J Williams

    Catalog details

    ARTS 315 T(F)Humor

    In this tutorial, students will explore how humor has been used by artists to communicate ideas powerfully, while working to develop their own voice, ideas, and strengths, visually. Students will explore the nuances of humor as a way to effectively communicate ideas through a visual format. Humor will be used as a way to unpack themes around intimacy and estrangement, history and memory, activism and protest, storytelling, play and silliness. Students will explore how one's vulnerability in their work can become empowering. Being funny is not a prerequisite, nor the goal for this course, though it is absolutely welcome! The class will require good communication and will start with establishing a safe and trusting group dynamic that can encourage experimentation and risk taking. Through assigned readings, screenings, and visits to the WCMA students will explore themes of humor in painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, design, film, comedy performance and literature. This course is interdisciplinary and open to all media. Assignments in this course will be conceptually driven with formal restrictions depending on the students chosen medium. Students are expected to have a working knowledge of their medium prior to taking this course. [ more ]

    ARTS 319(F)Junior Seminar

    This remote Junior Seminar is an intensive online class designed to provide art majors the opportunity to strengthen their ability to communicate clearly through the visual language by offering an overview of current themes and issues within the art world and beyond. The class is structured around everyday tangible spaces, including the home, backyard, and street, as well as imaginative and virtual experiments that are designed to help further each student's skillset, broaden their knowledge of contemporary art, and to offer critical and analytic experiences that deepen the student's understanding of the role of art in society. What is at stake and how does one create deeply personal/political work? Your voices are now more important than ever and this class is an integral stepping stone in accessing these voices through visual, written, and spoken language. Through various texts, screenings, in-depth critique, and visiting artist lectures, the Junior Seminar finds a balance between self-exploration and group dynamics, between solo and collaborative art practices, between reflection and expression, and between resistance and care. [ more ]

    ARTS 322 TThe Empowered Object

    Last offered Fall 2015

    The development of "found object" in the language of art has played a significant role in constructing meaning in the consciousness of the twenty-first century. This tutorial will have students explore that tradition further through their own creative endeavors. They will be asked to add to the lineage of art that uses "found objects" in a creative and meaningful way. They will have the freedom to choose which medium will convey their ideas most effectively. They include, but are not limited to: sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and video. For example, within the investigation of the "found object", projects could include: still life painting with a focus on the objects, 2-dimensional work depicting or incorporating real objects, collage, assemblage, etc. The "found object" in art will be examined through: art practice, readings and presentations. As a tutorial, the course is designed to meet individual needs and to stress student participation and responsibility for learning. Students will meet weekly with a peer and the professor to review work. [ more ]

    ARTS 323 TColour Function

    Last offered Fall 2019

    This tutorial places colour as a central consideration in our object making. Experiments and discussions will include development of dyes and inks, foraging for colours, understanding palettes and their relationship to 'the tasteful' and 'the garish', 'beautiful' and 'the unpleasant', colour blocking, monochromes, culture and colour, and the relationship between a variety of pigments, their medium of suspension, and the material they stain or sit directly on top of, unstable. In this way, we will work with a large selection of media and the assignments will be both foundational and highly experimental; you are creating a hundred new colours within a strict grid--you are mixing two new colours through light and projection alone, with no guides. The course is open to anyone who has taken advanced classes in printmaking + drawing, sculpture, and photography. [ more ]

    ARTS 329Architectural Design II

    Last offered Fall 2019

    A continuation and expansion of ideas and skills learned in Architectural Design I. There will be four to six design projects requiring drawings and models, each of which will emphasize particular aspects of architectural theory and design. One project will be built full-scale by the students in the class. [ more ]

    ARTS 333 TNarrative Strategies

    Last offered Spring 2016

    In this tutorial, we will examine the use of narrative in a range of fine art practices, which could include painting, drawing, video, sculpture, installation, public art, and sound art. Students who are interested in telling or referencing stories in their work in some way will be given the opportunity to develop their ideas and skills in a challenging studio class. In addition to intensive projects, we will look at and discuss the work of artists such as Huma Bhabha, Lorna Simpson, Joe Sacco, Lydia Davis, Raymond Pettibon, Todd Solondz, Sophie Calle, Jenny Holzer, and Omer Fast among others. One of the aims of this course is to challenge traditional notions and expectations of narrative. For instance, what could minimally constitute a narrative piece? How do different mediums allow for time to unfold in unexpected ways? How does omission play a powerful role in a narrative? How might the role of the narrator (often so powerful and present in novels and short stories) change in a visual arts context? This is a studio tutorial with an emphasis on demanding, weekly projects. Students will work both in mediums of their choice and be asked to experiment with new, unfamiliar formats. Readings and screenings will be required in addition to tutorial hours. [ more ]

    ARTS 337This Is An Experiment!

    Last offered Spring 2019

    Keeping printmaking as our source and primary method, this class will use the possibilities within the discipline to create layered, expansive, and highly experimental surfaces. Students will work with a variety of printmaking techniques, and build on their existing knowledge of etching, relief, lithography, and screen printing. They will take risks with inks and their viscosity, the scale of their printing blocks, the temperamental nature of their material, the variety of methods on a single print, and consider outcomes that go beyond images on paper. Prior printmaking experience is strongly recommended. Students will be evaluated on their progress towards building a print based body of work. [ more ]

    ARTS 344(S)Taswirkhana: Technique and Practice of Indian Drawing and Painting

    Small in scale but vast in its representation, the world of Indian painting is famous for its stylized naturalism and mastery of line. It is an artistic practice whose legacy stretches back to at least the first century CE. This studio course will introduce students to the technique and practice of traditional Indian drawing and painting. The course is designed as a workshop in which students will learn to use materials and techniques of this art form. By engaging with a non-western traditional practice, the aim of the course is to expose students to a pluralistic engagement with art making. Students will learn paper and pigment preparation, as well as the basics of traditional drawing and painting techniques. The class will learn from studying a selection of original masterworks of Indian art from the Williams College Museum of Art that will be displayed in the Object Lab. Working with original artworks will help students situate the hands-on study of Indian painting practice alongside exemplary historical examples. [ more ]

    ARTS 345(S)Art in Times of Crisis

    In an era of ever-increasing emergency, what is the role of art? Can poems save us? What media and forms of exhibition are best suited to respond to urgent crises? What creative methodologies might we develop in collaboration with one another, in the interest of building community as well as making great art? This course is an interdisciplinary, experimental intervention into our present era. In addition to producing multiple original artworks, will do deep dives into 3 art activist case studies: Puerto Rico's current societal collapse, the HIV + AIDS movement, and global climate justice. Readings and artists will include Octavia Butler, Adrienne Marie-Brown, Rebecca Solnit, Raquel Salas-Rivera, Yarimar Bonilla, David Wojnarowicz, Douglas Crimp, and many others. [ more ]

    ARTS 369(S)QUILTY!

    A quilt is a glorious formation to be asleep under, and in this class we will spend the entire semester making a single wonderful one. A dynamic composition for the home! Students will learn how to collect and choose fabrics, cut them into bold lively shapes, and practice efficient ways of using a needle and thread to sew them together. By looking at quilting traditions internationally, both improvisational and hyper precise methods of construction will be adopted - the quilt is for everyone! Students will also learn basic embroidery and applique techniques to embellish the quilt top, and draw with thread as they bind and stuff the layers of their quilt with (local) wool. [ more ]

    ARTS 376Sculpture Expanded

    Last offered Spring 2016

    This course is designed to expand the definitions of sculpture by adding interdisciplinary solutions to the artistic ideas at hand. The class will be using a wide array of artistic practices towards developing three-dimensional spaces and emphasizing environmental or performative outcomes. Media such as video, drawing, painting, photography, architecture, as well as other artistic practices may be incorporated to create visual solutions to the projects. This is an upper level course focusing on developing one's artistic voice while simultaneously strengthening technical and analytical skills. A substantial amount of time outside of class is expected to complete these projects. [ more ]

    ARTS 385The Sculptural Costume and It's Performance Potential

    Last offered Spring 2019

    A team-taught studio art / theatre course designed to explore the rich territory of the wearable sculpture and its generative role in art and performance. From ritual costumes, to Carnival, to Dada performance, to Bauhaus dance, to Helio Oiticica's Parangole, and Nick Cave's sound-suits, there has been a rich tradition where sculpture and costumes merge. Students will study artists who have bridged distinctions between the theatrical costume and the sculptural object as well as produce hybrid objects that explore the range of possibilities within this collaborative practice. The students will produce object-costumes involving a wide variety of media, from recycled materials to new technologies, while striving to develop their individual artistic voices. [ more ]

    ARTS 396WONDERFUL THINGS!

    Last offered NA

    A spinning top! A clock! A toy! A sundial, a deck of cards, a lantern, pompoms, building blocks that rise and topple, puppets, paper kites, paper planes, toy boats that float --play objects are born into the world over and over, transforming in colour and shape, yet holding onto an essential structure that give them their name and purpose. In this class, students will construct their own versions of (some of) these classic objects using humble and lovely materials: paper, glue, bamboo, cloth, light, wood, perhaps wind, string. Our guides will be existing histories of making, the wonderful image of disparate objects on a well made shelf, all the handmade objects we have loved, childhood toys, a desire to play still, and delight. [ more ]

    Taught by: TBA

    Catalog details

    ARTS 418(S)Senior Seminar

    In this capstone class for studio art majors, students define, research, create and present an original body of work which will be exhibited. The emphasis will be on producing a strong and coherent body of artwork for their senior exhibition at the Williams College Museum of Art, (in person or virtual). Students will focus on strengthening ideas, developing formal skills and practicing critical analysis. They may work in any medium in which they have developed a high degree of proficiency. To prepare to partake in an exhibition on this level, students must learn to schedule and pace themselves, communicate, deal with spatial considerations beyond their studio, document their work effectively and work within firm deadlines. The nature of this course will have you working closely as a team, as well as individually, towards creating a strong and exciting student show this May at the Williams College Museum of Art (or via a virtual platform).The class will meet in large and small groups throughout the semester for critique and discussion and also have assigned readings,films, and/or lectures. [ more ]

    ARTS 497(F)Independent Study: Art Studio

    With current staffing limitations, it is difficult for studio faculty to supervise more than a very few independent studies projects. We feel our curriculum includes rich and varied offerings and believe that the need for most independent work can be met through those regular offerings. [ more ]

    ARTS 498(S)Independent Study: Art Studio

    With current staffing limitations, it is difficult for studio faculty to supervise more than a very few independent studies projects. We feel our curriculum includes rich and varied offerings and believe that the need for most independent work can be met through those regular offerings. [ more ]

Studio ArtThe history of art is different from other historical disciplines in that it is founded on direct visual confrontation with objects that are both concretely present and yet documents of the past. Department faculty emphasize analysis of images, objects, and built environments as the basis for critical thought and visual literacy. In addition to formal and iconographic analysis, faculty members use the work of other disciplines to understand visual images, such as social history, perceptual psychology, engineering, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and archaeology. Because of its concentration on visual experience, the art history major increases one’s ability to observe and to use those observations as analytical tools for understanding history and culture.

The studio division of the art major has been structured to foster the development of a critical understanding of making art to support creative interests, and to develop students’ perceptions and imaginations as they investigate a variety of visual media.

Art History