History of Art + Visual Culture


  • Fall 2015


    The art and architecture of ancient Mexico as well as that of selected neighboring areas, will be examined against the background of the growth of complex cultural systems. The course will consist of readings and lectures including the presentation of visual materials dealing with ancient Mesoamerica (a culture area), and the archaeological and historical research which sheds light on its development. Museum visits to RISD and Brown will allow us to become familiar with real pre-Columbian art and artifacts for a closer association to ancient cultures that produced them.
    Also offered as HPSS C735. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    This course examines the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, and prints) of the United States from the Civil War to the present in relation to key aesthetic, social, and political contexts. Course topics include: race and reconstruction, portraiture, public art spaces, Realism and the Ashcan school, Modernism and the Armory Show, the Harlem Renaissance, art and the New Deal, abstract art and the Cold War, Minimalism, art and consumer culture, Feminist art, and Postmodernism. We will study these topics against broader themes of art and national identity, issues of race and gender, shifting systems of patronage, cross cultural exchanges, and the role of popular culture. Course includes visits to the RISD Museum.
    Sophomore and above


    This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of non-Western aesthetic expressions in the Americas and the Pacific. The course will explore the indigenous contexts, both contemporary and historical, in which these art forms are or were created and function. We will look at the art and its context in selected communities of the American northwest coast such as the Inuit, Kwakiutl and Haida, the Southwest of the US, such as the Hopi and Navajo, and parts of Australia, Papua-New Guinea and some of the Pacific islands.
    Also offered as HPSS C726. Register in the course for which credit is desired


    What is documentary photography? What does it show, how is it shown, and what does it do? This course will explore the history and efficacy of documentary photography as an aesthetic and political mode of image making. The course will focus on the rise of documentary photography as a fine art in the second half of the twentieth century and its continued influence on the ways that the medium has evolved in contemporary art. Each session will focus on a type of documentary photography and discuss relevant texts on the issues involved. Active participation in class discussion is required.


    This course examines the aesthetic systems, historical development, and cultural meanings of dress and fashion in East Asia. With an emphasis on China, Japan, and Korea during the early modern and modern eras, we will consider the uses of dress within social, cultural, economic, and political systems, and the ways in which the materiality, style and silhouettes of dress have been deployed to express, control and contend gender, class, ethnicity, nationality, and modernity. Using a broad range of sources including paintings, prints and photography, fiction and diaries, songs and movies, we will explore how art historians and cultural historians utilize these different forms of visual, textual, and material representations to reconstruct meaning. Each week we will study individual objects of dress like the qipao, hanbok, kimono, and the ways in which these "traditional" dress forms have been reinterpreted in different social and temporal contexts. We will also examine topics including fashion systems, hair-styles, foot-binding, breast-binding, technologies of dress, and the way in which East Asian dress has been understood and framed by those outside East Asian society: as collectors and connoisseurs of "ethnic dress" or "art", and later on in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as consumers of global fashions. Finally we will examine the position of East Asian fashion designers today and their complex relationships with the hegemony of Western fashion systems.


    The Bronze Age saw the development of several advanced civilizations in the Mediterranean basin. Perhaps the best-known among these is the civilization of Pharaonic Egypt. This course will focus on the art and architecture of Egypt and their neighbors to the north: the Aegean civilizations known as Cycladic, Minoan, and Mycenaean. While art historical study of these cultures will be emphasized, evidence for trade and other cultural interchange between them will also be discussed. The course will cover such topics as the Pyramids of Giza, the Tomb of Tutankhamun, and the Palace of Knossos.


    From Rococo to Neo-Classicism, radical stylistic changes took place in the visual arts (architecture, painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, and the decorative arts) of 18th - century France. This course explores the development of the art academy with its annual salons in Paris, patronage patterns (private collectors, the state, the church), and the emergence of professional art critics and art criticism. Themes range from erotic to moralizing, from history, portraiture, and genre scenes to architectural landscape while dealing with the impact of royal and revolutionary politics on artistic production. Major artists include Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Soufflot, Ledoux, Boullie, Chardin, Greuze, Robert, Canova, David, and Vigie-Lebrun.


    This course surveys the rich tradition of art cinema in continental Europe, emphasizing the relations between narrative and visual style. Explores: the major post-WWII movements in Italy (Neorealism), France (Nouvelle vague) and Germany (New German Cinema); their precursors in German Expressionism, the Soviet Montage school and French Poetic Realism; and the diverse range of narrative art filmmakers working in Europe today. Artists include Eisenstein, Vigo, Rossellini, Fellini, Godard, Herzog, Haneke, Akerman and Denis.
    Sophomore and above


    Registration by application only. Application is restricted to concentrators in History of Art and Visual Culture. A call for applications will be sent to all HAVC concentrators.
    Permission of instructor required


    Part I of a two-semester course that will survey major topics in the Histories of Photography. Emphasis will be given to the diverse cultural uses of photography from its invention to the present day. Such uses include: the illustrated press; amateur photography; studio photography; industrial, advertising, and fashion photography; political and social propaganda; educational and documentary photography; and photography as a medium of artistic expression. Much attention will be paid to how photographs construct histories, as well as being constructed by them.
    Major Required Art History credit for Photo majors
    Liberal Arts elective credit for nonmajors on a space available basis.


    This is a required course to introduce students to fundamental works of art and design from diverse cultures and chronological periods. It will use basic art historical methods of formal, stylistic, and iconographical analysis in the study of these works thereby providing students with the tools necessary for critical looking and analysis essential for the education of artists and designers. Emphasis will be placed on the relation between artifacts and culture, with the assumption that the production of works of art and design is a form of cultural knowledge, as well as on the cultural conception of the role of the artist and designer, on various techniques and materials, and on the social context of the works discussed.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates, including transfers. There are no waivers for HAVC-H101.
    Attention transfers and upperclassmen: Please register into HAVC-H101-10 or 25 if you have not yet completed this first-year graduation requirement. All other H101 sections are for freshmen only.


    This course examines the history of photographic portraiture since the "invention" of the medium in the 1830s up to the present day. Particular attention is given to exploring the ways that identity is created, reinforced, or deconstructed through the limits and capacity of photography. How does photography transform the way identity is constructed through imagery in the early years of its history? How has photography shaped the formation of subjectivity in portraiture? In what ways does photography challenge or reinforce cultural and political hegemony by "representing" a person? How have digital photography and social media transformed the ways that an identity is constructed and shared by others? To answer these questions, examples of photo portraiture, from vernacular to artistic modes and spanning the globe, will be assessed. Each class will focus on theoretical debates on identity and subjectivity in relation to the given topic, with an interdisciplinary approach incorporating art history, cultural studies, critical theory, memory studies, postcolonial theory, and area studies. Student research will be presented as a final presentation and paper.


    This course will explore the architectural traditions of the Indigenous cultures of North America, Mesoamerica, and South America in historic perspective. Examinations will focus on the critical cultural and environmental circumstances which led to the development of distinctive architectural styles throughout the Americas. Approached from an anthropological/archaeological perspective, specific topics of discussion will include the following: construction methods and material choices, spatial arrangements and use areas, the relationship between physical and social community structure, and architectural manifestation of cultural belief systems. Emphasis will also be placed on manipulations of the landscape in response to social and climatic needs. Architectural culture discussed in this course will range widely in scale, dispersal and geography - from the igloo of a small Inuit hunting party to the entire Mayan city of Chichen Itza, to the terrace and irrigation systems of the Inca.


    Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints: studying from the originals - curating a temporary exhibition at the Print Room of the RISD Museum This art history course pursues two goals - (1) to familiarize students with ukiyo-e woodblock prints as a distinctive, vibrant and highly influential form of Japanese art, and (2) to introduce students to various academic methods employed in art history in the art museum setting. The outcome of this course will be putting together a temporary exhibition of approximately ten Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints united by a certain theme, studied and presented to the public in correspondence to the standards of today's curatorial practices. Students will decide upon the exhibition topic, formulate the title, choose the works for display, analyze visual and contextual aspects of individual prints, perform the necessary research, uncovering cultural/historical/literary connotations invariably present in this popular yet sophisticated art form, write gallery labels, develop and deliver educational materials. Within the scope of students' work will be also the general design of the display as well as graphic design involved in preparation of labels and of the educational materials for museum visitors.


    This lecture offers students an opportunity to reflect on a variety of approaches to the study of art history and visual culture. Students will be asked to think about how historians of art and visual culture have selected their objects of study, framed their questions, and voiced their arguments. Students will also consider how the discipline of art history has been constituted, its relationship to the field of visual cultural studies, and to other models of interdisciplinary.


    This seminar-co-taught by a member of RISD's Department of History of Art and Visual Culture and the Director of Education at the RISD Museum--offers students opportunities to think historically and critically about the institution we're all part of: art school. We will explore its origins, practices, values, politics, and poetics as well as the relevance of its past for the future.
    Junior and Above


    What is globalism, and should we be celebrating it? Can we disentangle globalism from capitalism, and what is at stake in this effort? And what happens to the specificity of the local - the base of the political - in the internationalist flows of contemporary art? Examining notions of canon, legacy, influence, discourse, history, tradition, place and displacement, this seminar maps the current state of international contemporary art. It focuses on the recent artistic, scholarly, critical and curatorial attempts to reroute the linear trajectories of late modernism. Such initiatives all aim at conceiving an expanded - or even exploded - cartography of contemporary art. What might such a map look like?


    Art and design students interested in learning about how art galleries work will learn from an inside view of their criteria, operations, expectations and outcomes in this seminar. Students will meet with art gallery owners in a variety of disciplines from antiquities to contemporary art and design. Visits to major galleries and auction houses in Providence, Boston and New York will provide a diverse introduction. Artists and art critics will also meet with students to discuss their perspective on the impact of galleries within the art world today. Students will research and report on the economics of taste, the art market, and methodologies of galleries and auctions. The course will help students understand the dynamics of the art world, and how to either work in art/design galleries or to be represented by them.
    Juniors, seniors and graduate students.


    A symbol has its own story to tell and how it finds its way into man-made objects. The beauty of nature becomes a living poem that is inserted into a piece of art; weaved into a textile, or carved into a building. This course focuses on the meaning of symbols through different religions and cultures as well as in geographical locations. Through readings and lectures, students will learn how different types of symbols (geometric, vegetal and figural) can be used in their art & designs. The course relies on a combination of lectures and in-class discussion. Students will be asked to write short papers based on case studies and present them in class. There will be a final exam. No previous experience in symbolism in art and design are necessary or expected.


    Our visual culture has become unthinkable without screened moving images. Writers have imitated film; leaders have used cinema as propaganda; artists have mediated film language; and artists have made avant-garde films. Critics establish rules for film evaluation, even as artists challenge traditional notions of masterpiece. Contemporary film-makers continue to offer visual spectacles, political debates, and intriguing psychological plots. How can we define modern, post-modern, and contemporary masterpieces of cinema as industrial production and capitalist bio-politics? How do we make aesthetic judgments after a century of cinema? Students will study film interpretation and realize how cinema can shape our technological, aesthetic and political environment. Course requirements: two papers, short reports, and weekly class discussions of films and readings.


    This course will examine the visual culture pertinent to Sigmund Freud and his contemporaries in turn-of-the-century Vienna. We shall look at the modernist art of Austrian painters such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, as well as the "minor" arts of illustration, photography, scientific imaging, and film in light of Freud's psychoanalytic ideas. Classes will be devoted to topics such as avant-garde postcard design, ethnographic photography, and scientific images including x-rays and surgical films. The silent erotic "Saturn" films that were screened in Vienna from 1904-1910 will also be considered. Requirements include mid-term and final exams, two essays, and interest in the subject (no past experience needed).


    This history of architecture course, co-taught by an architectural historian and an architect, introduces key ideas, forces, and techniques that have shaped world architecture through the ages prior to the modern period. The course is based on critical categories, ranging from indigenous and vernacular architecture, to technology, culture, and representation. The lectures and discussions present systems of thought, practice and organization, emphasizing both historical and global interconnectedness, and critical architectural differences and anomalies. Each topic will be presented through case studies accompanied by relevant texts. The students will be expected to engage in the discussion groups, prepare material for these discussions, write about, and be examined on the topics.
    Major requirement: ARCH majors only
    Registration by Architecture department, course not available via web registration
    Liberal Arts elective credit for nonmajors on a space available basis.


    Interdisciplinary by their very nature, textile traditions share a global history. Around the world textiles have found place in cultures as signifiers of social identity, from the utilitarian to the sacred, as objects of ritual meaning and as objects of great tangible wealth. The evolution of textile motifs, designs, materials and technology across Asia, Africa and the Americas will be explored utilizing the RISD Museum of Art with frequent visits to the textile and costume collections. We will examine such topics as: the function of textiles in the survival of traditional cultures, the impact of historic trade routes and ensuing colonialism, industrialization and its subsequent effect on traditional techniques of textile manufacture. Students will also have opportunities to examine various methods of textile display, analysis and storage appropriate to items of cultural heritage via case studies of specific objects in the RISD Museum.
    Textiles majors can be preregistered by the department

    Wintersession 2016


    This trip is a six credit, in depth exploration of the Tokyo and historic Kansai region to see and draw the most important Shinto, Buddhist and secular sites in Japan, and to couple that visual exploration with 9 days of papermaking in rural Tokushima on Shikoku Island. Returning to Providence, students will spend an intensive week creating a final project using the paper they have made that reflects on their experiences in Japan, as well as write 2 art history papers. Through historical site visits students will gain a in-depth understanding of the background of Japanese visual culture. Through an intensive workshop at the Awagami Paper Factory students will work side by side with the finest Japanese paper makers as they learn paper making skills and gain an understanding of the continuing vitality of traditional Japanese crafts. Accommodations will vary depending upon to availability, with the goal of experiencing a variety of traditional and contemporary hotels, ryokan, dormitories, and so on.

    All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period.

    This is a co-requisite course. Students must also take PRINT-4525. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits.
    Registration begins in October at a time to be announced.
    Permission of instructor required; Open to first year students.
    Estimated Travel cost: $4,100.00
    ***Off-Campus Study***


    Alexander the Great is one of the most significant figures in ancient history, and the culturally diverse empire he created gave birth to new trends in art characterized by hybrid styles and innovative new kinds of artistic propaganda. The study of the place of art in such a multicultural society has implications for the interpretation of art's role in the modern world. This course will discuss the way Alexander and his successors controlled their image in art and the styles of sculpture, painting, architecture, and urban planning that were precipitated by the socio-political changes brought about by his conquests.


    This course addresses medieval through late nineteenth century approaches to precious and informative objects in private, museum and library collections. Examining primarily early modern material and intellectual culture in and around Providence, the course explores the means by which local academic practices engaged with global developments in the arts and sciences.


    In European and American art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, women were often presented in extreme ways: either as blood-thirsty creatures from Greek mythology, as Salome obsessed with the decapitation of a lover, as poison flowers and vamps; or as personifications of love and virtue, household angels, noble virgins dying out of self-sacrifice. The literature and, later, cinema supported this dichotomy that can be still traced in contemporary culture. In this course we will analyze the images of blessed and cursed women in Western art of the last two centuries.


    Islamic rulers dominated the Indian subcontinent between 1192 and 1858. Some of the most spectacular and exquisite works of art and architecture in South Asia were produced under Islamic patronage. This course will look at the architecture, manuscript paintings, and decorative arts of the period. The age-old question arises: Should Islamic art be considered a geographical, religious, historical, or cultural phenomenon? The class will examine works of art as instruments in the process of establishing an empire as well as expressions of political and religious power.


    How are works of art reproduced (or re-presented) in photography and film? From the first photographs of the Sistine Chapel to the "mysteries" of Picasso drawing in film, this course will investigate the photography of art and artists in terms of the production of knowledge and meaning. We shall see that even the most "objective" documentary photographs of art are critical interventions that address the avid eye of the beholder. For example, Clarence Kennedy's photographs of the works of Renaissance sculptor Desiderio da Settignano has shaped our notion of Desiderio to this day, and Constantin Brancusi deliberately reworked his sculpture in the medium of photography in his own studio, forming a seamless modernist synthesis of authorship and form. Films about art and artists have attempted to show us the mind's eye of painterly painters such as Vincent Van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Brassaï's photographs of Matisse with his models have (for decades now) appeared as regular features on the pages of Vogue. In our RISD studios, as elsewhere in the world, photography now serves as the visual record (sometimes the only record) of installations, performance art, and postmodern sculptural interventions. We shall discuss images and writings on a daily basis. Students will craft essays on pertinent themes.


    This course will examine scientific and technical applications developed by Western artists and visual theorists from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Concentrating on pictorial traditions, the course will address what artists, authors and artist/engineers have referred to as scientific, technical, mechanical, and purely mental solutions to optical, proportional and quantitative visual problems. General themes will be perspective, form, color, and mechanical devices, and will include discussions on intellectual training, notebooks, treatises, and collecting. The course will examine artists such as Masaccio, Leonardo, Piero della Francesca, D|rer, Serlio, Carlo Urbino, Cigoli, Rubens, Vel`zquez, Saenredam, Vermeer, Poussin, Andrea Pozzo, Canaletto, Phillip Otto Runge,Turner, Delacroix, Monet, and Seurat.


    This course will focus on the history of self-portraiture and modes of self-identity from the vantage point of feminism, queer theory, and of post-modernist critiques of the so-called author function. We will look closely at self-portraits by artists ranging from Rembrandt van Rijn to Cindy Sherman, and from Albrecht Durer to David Wojnarowicz. Students will be asked to write about artists' self-portraits and also construct their own written and visual autobiographies. We will read memoirs by artists, as well as essays by Barthes, Foucault, and Krauss.


    This course will investigate the visual arts and culture of India over a period of 4000 years. Students will participate in a study of the various kinds of works to be considered in terms of form, function and "cognitive style" of the beholder. We shall also look behind the scenes at displays and visual documentation as signs of current thinking about what Indian art, past and present, may be. The class will visit the RISD Museum to view the current display of South Asian objects as well as meet curators engaged in studying and displaying the material and visual culture of India.


    This course will examine art in Russia and the USSR from the October Revolution in 1917 to the death of Stalin in 1953 in the context of historical events and changing ideological climate.
    After the October Revolution, art and film in Russia and later the USSR became a field of unprecedented experimentation that gave birth to many groundbreaking works by artists and filmmakers such as Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexandr Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanowa, the Stenberg Brothers, Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and others. The introduction of Socialist Realism by Stalin in the 1930s terminated the Avant-Garde in the country and forced artists to become basically producers of propaganda. Despite this, a number of significant works, especially films, subverted ideological limitations.


    During this seminar we will discuss how America is seen by contemporary European artists and intellectuals. Jean Baudrillard's famous book "America" as well as films by Antonioni ("Zabriskie Point"), Makaveyev ("WR: Mysteries of the Organism") and Herzog ("Stroszek") will number among the works analyzed in the class.


    This course will examine the role played by urban mythology in 19th and 20th - century European and American art. We will study the late - 19th - century idea of the flaneur, which influenced both visual arts and literature. We will discuss the Futurists' fascination with machines and the Surrealists' concept of a city perceived as a human body. We will analyse the Impressionists' views of Parisian streets, Frans Masereel's woodcuts The City, de Giorgio Chirico's metaphysical paintings and Edward Hopper's nostalgic images of the American metropolis. We will study how the interest in urban reality has influenced the development of new art movements of the last two centuries.

    Spring 2016


    Did aliens build the pyramids? What happened to the lost city of Atlantis? Does a Mayan carving depict a space shuttle? Who were the real first settlers of the Americas? Humans have always struggled to make sense of the remains left by past cultures. Through careful, measured study by archaeologists and historians we have been able to create a scientific and historically informed understanding of the traits and accomplishments of ancient peoples. At the same time, alternative, flashier, fantastic theories about the past - even occasionally archaeological hoaxes - are regularly presented in popular culture on television, in the movies and on the internet. These theories, referred to as pseudoscience, are not based on the rigorous logic and evidence used by archaeologists, but rather represent a range of biases and flawed interpretations. This course will critically examine popular and fantastic views of archaeological sites and discoveries. We will begin by establishing how archaeologists conduct analyses and form their theories. We will then explore a series of pseudoscientific case studies, in which we will critically evaluate the evidence and logic behind these theories, as well as their impact on our understanding of the past.


    Literary and philosophical essays have each had an illustrious history. In the cinema, essay films constitute a controversial genre similar but different from documentary, experimental, avant-garde or political film. Essay filmmakers create non-fictional works as aesthetic and political weapon "at the intersection of subjective rumination and social history." They exhibit the presence of an author and call for critical interpretations, even as they remix and explore archives of moving images. Present in installations and on the web, these artists are globally popular as political and aesthetic provocateurs. They offer intellectual pleasures other than those of conventional narratives by reinventing the "arts and crafts" of "screen culture." We will study essay films from diverse times and places, and review notions and theoretical categories: avant-garde, self-reflexivity, auteur. Requirements: two papers, short reports, and weekly class discussions of films and readings.


    This seminar addresses the intersection of contemporary photographic practices and critical theory. Readings by Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, Rosalind Krauss, Martha Rosler, Fred Richtin and others will provide a theoretical framework through which to examine a range of topics including: conceptual art and photography, performance art, the documentary tradition, landscape and the body, postmodern 'anti-aesthetics' and appropriation, digital and archival practices, large-scale and tableau photography as well as the institutionalization of the medium in museums, higher education, and the art market. The class is structured around group discussions and is driven by student contributions.
    Sophomore and above


    This class provides an introduction to contemporary art theory and its philosophical underpinnings. Through critical readings in philosophy, literary theory, psychoanalysis, and art history, this course aims to familiarize students with the occasionally obscure, and sometimes blustery language of contemporary art. Each class we approach a single term: such as "fetish," "neo-avant-garde" or "relational aesthetics;" or analyze dialogic pairings like "author/authority" or "origin/originality." We examine the historical trajectories and philosophical underpinnings of these terms, charting their shifting and at times contradictory meanings. We also discuss some of the key texts of contemporary art in which these critical terms appear, and finally we consider what is at stake in the use of this critical vocabulary.


    French Surrealism played an important role in the development of 20th-century European and American art. The arrival of French Surrealists to New York during the Second World War influenced American artists and exposed more than a European audience to the movement. In this course will study French surrealist painting, literature, and cinema in the context of intellectual and philosophical currents (such as psychoanalysis). We will discuss Odilon Redon, Gustave Moreau, and Giorgio de Chirico, the precursors of the movement, Andre Breton, the author of the "Surrealist Manifesto of 1924," Dora Maar and Meret Oppenheim - unfairly considered only as "muses" at the beginning of their careers. Special focus will be put on the work by Max Ernst, Man Ray, Luis Bunuel, and Leonora Carrington.


    Registration by application only. Application is restricted to concentrators in History of Art and Visual Culture. A call for applications will be sent to all HAVC concentrators.
    Permission of instructor required


    Students will select one course from introductory level offerings. The choice of topics is intended to give each first-year student a chance to work with a broad but culturally and chronologically bounded field of art and design, under the teaching of an expert in that field. Students will have the opportunity to become familiar with art historical texts particular to the selected topic and will develop skills of critical reading and writing about the works of art.
    Required for graduation for all undergraduates. There are no waivers for HAVC-H102 for students entering as freshmen. Students entering as transfers may petition the HAVC department head to substitute an equivalent college course that was completed prior to enrollment at RISD.
    Course scheduled to be taken by first year students in Spring semester of freshman year. Seats for other students, such as transfers and upperclass, are available, but limited.
    Freshmen registration instructions can be found on the Registrar website: www.risd.edu/registrar

    Click here for a complete list of H102 Course Descriptions.


    An overview of modern design, tracing major developments in interiors, furniture, and product design, from the turn of the 20th century to the present, in Europe and the United States. Artifacts range from chairs to computers to cars, from singular, hand-crafted objects to mass-produced consumer goods, from avant-garde to popular. Course discussions will deal with the formal and material character of objects, as well as cultural issues such as the ethics of labor, ideologies of gender, the relationship between nature and technology, and the mediating role of institutions and publications. Emphasis will be given to utilizing original sources, including primary texts, rare books in the Fleet Library special collections, and objects at the RISD Museum.


    This lecture course uses the 2013-14 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800 as a starting point to examine the role of Asian textiles and dress in the globalized markets of the early modern era. Using paradigms of global history and methodologies of material culture, we will explore how channels of trade, migration, and diplomacy enabled cottons and silks from India, China, and Japan to travel around the world and capture the imaginations of distant markets. What role did textiles like Indian chintzes or Chinese trade silks play in changing the consumption patterns and behaviors of Western European and North American society? How was the production and design of objects like the Kashmir shawl or the Manila shawl themselves transformed by transfer to new locales and societies through import and imitation? In order to understand the processes by which traditional designs and constructions were adapted for far-off markets and consumers, students will engage in close study of artifacts from the RISD museum collection of trade textiles. Assignments will allow students to develop skills in writing museum exhibition labels, longer catalogue entries, and also a research paper that more fully explores the design and development of these fascinating textiles.


    The course will examine how female painters, photographers, performance artists and film directors use their bodies and elements of their biographies to build their art upon. We will read interviews with them and analyses of their work, watch documentary films, study self-portraits in painting and photography. We will try to define the special attraction and therapeutic role autobiographic art has for women. Among the artists discussed will be: Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, Ana Mendieta, Faith Ringgold, Marina Abramovic, Shirin Neshat, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Maya Deren, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Agnes Varda, and Francesca Woodman. Students will do weekly readings; write weekly papers, as well as a final paper about a chosen artist. Active participation in class discussions is required.


    Introduction to nineteenth-century Western art, with the emphasis on Europe. Course situates art in its social context, addressing phenomena such as political revolution, urbanization, industrialization, mass culture, and empire. Artists covered include: David, Giricault, Turner, Courbet, Manet, Frith, Eakins, Monet, Morisot, Seurat, Rodin and Gauguin. Format consists of lectures and class discussions.


    The 15th and 16th centuries in Northern Europe were a period of innovation and change. In this course we will examine altarpieces by artists such as Van Eyck and Van Der Weyden which showed a new religious vision expressed in oil paint. We will consider prints by Durer, which widely distributed the ideas of the Italian Renaissance, and portraits by Hoblein and paintings by Bruegel which suggest a new post-Reformation world view. We will also study sculpture and architecture of the period.


    Art's relationship with politics is a long and vexed one. This course traces their entanglement since the late nineteenth century, analyzing the work of key political artists and reading core texts by the likes of Gustave Courbet, Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, T.J. Clark, Anne Wagner, Benjamin Buchloh and Carrie Lambert-Beatty. After several classes that ground these issues historically, the focus of the seminar will be on the contemporary, examining the work of artists as Hans Haacke, Allan Sekula, Alfredo Jaar, Zoe Leonard, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Thomas Hirschhorn, David Goldblatt, Santaigo Sierra, Ai Weiwi, DJ Martinez, Trevor Paglen, Allora and Calzadilla and Kudzanai Chiurai.
    Sophomore and above


    How are we made by things that we make? How do things precede their creation and make the creator, before the brush touches the canvas, the pencil the paper, the pen the "mayline," the fingertips the keyboard, the eye the camera, the metal the mold, the glass the fire? This course will look at the emergence of specific instruments of art and design making from medieval parchment folios, to graphite pencil, to architectural parallel straightedge, to mechanical and then electronic scanners, CAD software and 3D printers. It would follow the conceit that the process of creation we set for production of things also organizes our sense of self and the world, even before we have produced those things, just by virtue of the goals we have set for them, the processes we have organized for their production, the tools we have gathered or invented to transform them. We will explore the argument that physical things are always already "epistemic" things as well: organizers of knowledge and meaning; knowledge that bubbles in the cauldron of meaning under which we are continuously trying to set the flame of experiment and process in to produce our historical, social, political, cultural and personal identities. Reading will cover a wide range of topics and disciplinary areas: from historians of science looking at production of immortal cell-lines, GMO seeds and combative viruses, to artists and designers discussing production of stone carving tools and images produced by spitting blood on rocks, to art-historians talking about breeding horses to produce that ultimate paintbrush. Only serious thinkers hopelessly invested in their making (and vice versa) invited. Class attendance and participation is mandatory along with a final presentation and research paper.
    Sophomore and Above


    This course will introduce students to the various activities that take place in the Museum, both the public functions and the behind-the-scenes operations. It will also focus on the range of issues that museums in general are currently addressing such as ethics, provenance, audience, and architecture. There will be visits to storage areas with curators to understand the scope of the collection, as well as sessions on topics such as conservation, education, installation, and exhibition development. Written assignments will include preparing catalogue entries for recent acquisitions, developing gallery guides, analyzing current exhibitions and/or devising proposals for reinstallation of the permanent collection. The course is designed particularly for those students who have had little behind-the-scenes experience in museums.
    Also offered as GRAD 500G 01 with limited seating for graduate students desiring graduate seminar credit. Register in the course for which credit is desired.


    This seminar explores the place of exhibitions in modern culture (c. 1750-1950). We will consider a broad range of exhibition types, including the art museum, the wax museum, the morgue, the panorama, the department store, and the world's fair. As we move from venue to venue, we will compare rhetorics of display and we will ask how the viewing of objects in space might contribute to the formation of class, national, racial, and gender identities


    This course will study the architecture, sculpture, stained glass, and treasury objects (metalwork and manuscripts) which were the Gothic cathedral. Our study will begin with an examination of the reasons such work was created and explore the stylistic origins of the cathedral in northern France in the early 12th century. We will then look at the cathedral's subsequent development and modification in England, southern France, Italy, and Germany during the 12th through 15th centuries.


    Designers and theorists have defined the domestic environment in many ways: as individual refuge, symbol of collective identity, tool for social engineering, or fashion object, as masculine or feminine, aesthetic or functional, revolutionary or oppressive. Through close study of houses, interiors, furnishings, and a range of texts, this seminar will explore multiple concepts of domesticity and ways these have informed design practice. Classes will be conducted as collaborative workshops focusing on discussion of assigned texts and analysis of images. Student research projects will investigate a contemporary work of design.
    Sophomore and above


    In this seminar, students will investigate the role of the artist on The Grand Tour, a cultural pilgrimage through Europe made by budding aristocrats during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Grand Tour came to represent a rite of passage for Tourists, and opened up new markets and opportunities for artists in their native cities and abroad. Though often of a different social class than 'tourists' proper, artists increasingly traveled with them and supplemented their earnings by serving as drawing masters and guides. They set up workshops and studios in key cities where Grand Tourists purchased pictures, prints, sculpture and decorative objects that would be exhibited in libraries, gardens and galleries built for their display back home. In this course, we examine a variety of works and objects, both in class and at the RISD Museum, that represent the dynamic relationships between tourists and the artists whose works they commissioned and collected.


    This course will focus on the ways in which Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Transgender people have help shape American modernism and post-modernism. Each class will focus on a key artistic community such as Stein's salon, the Kirstein circle, Warhol's factory, and the Woman's Building. Artists discussed will include Brooks, Cadmus, Corinne, Duchamp, Hammond, Kass, Ligon, Mapplethorpe, Martin, and Opie. We will read writings by Butler, Foucault, Sedgwick, and Sontag, with particular focus on concepts of the closet, camp, and gender performativity.


    Romantic concepts about the omnipotence of nature encouraged the ideals of human equality and democracy. The Romantic search for truth, authenticity, and identity permeated empirical experience, feelings, and emotion. In this course we examine the visual expressions of Romantic ideals with particular focus on art of the 19th century. We explore how images conceptualized morality, religious thought, nationalism, and human rights, as well as the new role of the artist as public intellectual, prophet and seer. Readings from Romantic literature and a variety of contemporary texts will provide the social, intellectual and political context. The enduring influence of Romantic thought on American art and life will provide our subtext.
    Sophomore and above


    In the 238 years of the Shaker experience in America the artisans and designers of this utopian communal religious group created a world of artisanry and design distinguished by simple practicality and lasting aesthetic appeal. This course examines the visual culture -- the architecture, furniture, woodenware, textiles, drawings, metalwork, and other material evidence of the Shaker experience -- in the context of the Shaker belief that the work of Shaker hands is consecrated by spirituality. Requirements for this course include two Saturday field trips to Shaker villages in Massachusetts and Maine.


    This course provides an introduction to the study of visual arts in Chinese history. It will introduce the major developments and themes of Chinese visual culture, interpreted broadly to include bronzes, jades, painting, calligraphy, sculpture, textiles, printing, ceramics, and architecture. The lectures will follow a chronological and thematic course through the development of visual culture in China. We will consider how to position these objects within a historical and cultural context, with particular attention to the interactions between visual arts and gender, religion, politics, and ethnic identity. Using formal analysis, and reconstructing production processes and consumption contexts, we will learn how to describe, research, and discuss objects of Chinese visual arts. We will also explore the recirculation of these objects, both in China and abroad, and how far theories and methodologies of Western art history can be productively applied to Chinese visual culture.


    This seminar course examines the experience of East Asian women through their visual and material representation in painting, prints, sculpture, murals, and photographs. From the earliest classical period through to the twentieth century, we will explore how Chinese, Korean and Japanese images of women reveal women's changing positions and roles in family and society. Through themes that include gender, patriarchy, virtue, sexuality, beauty, life cycles, and body practices, we will consider how notions of femininity and womanhood were constructed, re-invented and re-interpreted in different socio-cultural contexts of nation-building, modernity, colonialism, consumerism, and globalization, and how visual culture allows us to question and expand established historical narratives. Class sessions will combine short lectures with in-depth reading discussions, close analysis of images, film viewings, and visits to the RISD museum.