Fall 2021

  1. This course explores the diversity of form, style, and narrative content of works created by African American artists from the antebellum period to the present. Specific attention will be devoted to several underlining issues including but not limited to identity, race, class, ethnicity, representation, sexuality and aesthetic sensibilities.
  2. This class explores the discourse art and trauma. It beings with a history of trauma studies, with its roots in Holocaust studies, Freudian interpretation, and the discipline of Psychology. It ventures on to explore the ramifications of understanding trauma in the realm of imag(in)ing suffering, whether represented through journalism, popular media, or artistic representation. We will interrogate how the models posited by trauma theory hold up in the age of new media. A recurrent motif in the class will be what it means to study trauma and its representation, both abstractly and personally, ethically and psychosomatically, and establish practices for maintaining sustainable and responsible modes of inquiry.
  3. In recent years, the idea of decolonizing museums, academic institutions of art, and the narrative and curricular spaces of art history has gained increased urgency. But the concept and practice of decolonization have a much longer history than their recent (re)emergence in the art world. As a response to colonial and imperial orders of the world, decolonization set new boundaries for thought, knowledge, and for "being" itself. This seminar asks whether these boundaries have been effectively translated into the recent challenges that are posed against institutional practices of art and art history. It also asks about the ways in which postcolonialism, with a genealogy different from decolonization, is situated vis-à-vis the historical origins of decolonization in the writings of Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon and its resurgence in art history and museology. We will read texts by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, C. L. R. James, Aníbal Quijano, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Audre Lorde, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Edward W. Said, Geeta Kapur, and Walter Mignolo among others.
  4. This course is designed to acquaint students with a variety of non-Western traditional aesthetic expressions from the Americas. The course will explore the indigenous contexts, both historical and contemporary, in which these art forms are or were created and function. We will explore the cultural matrix and aesthetics of selected communities from the Americas, particularly from North America, such as the Inuit, the Kwakwaka, the Plains nations, the Eastern sea board, the Southwest of the US, such as the Hopi and Navajo, and Northern Mexico communities, time permitting. We will frame the presentations and discussions from both an ethnographic and an art historical perspective. Also offered as HPSS-C517; register in the course for which credit is desired. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.
  5. People in Western Europe changed both the way they lived and the way they conceived and made visual culture during the 11th and 12th centuries. It was the time of castles and pilgrimages, women mystics, and liturgical drama. The rich, diverse, and inventive art produced in Western Europe during this period includes pilgrimage churches with complex sculpted facades, illuminated manuscripts, castles, isolated monasteries, narrative textiles, and Islamic pottery. This course will address the relationship between visual culture and other phenomena of the age and will require the completion of assigned readings, a research paper, and two examinations.
  6. How do we study the modern and contemporary art of an area that encompasses a quarter of the world's population? This seminar will set aside cliches about Asian culture or tradition, and instead emphasize the novelty and complexity of the sociopolitical histories that have shaped the region through the study of artists, movements, and institutions. We will discuss the legacies of colonialism and the shock of the Pacific War, the complex politics of art on both sides of the Cold War; the establishment of a unified commercial art world in the neoliberal era; and the emergence of new movements in this age of uncertainty. Specific topics addressed will include the role of technological media in artistic practice, environmental and indigenous movements, diasporic and transnational experiences, the concepts of tradition and national culture, and debates on gender and sexuality. The seminar will emphasize reading and screening-based discussions, with supplementary lectures by the instructor and guest speakers; assignments will emphasize individual and group research, with extensive use of the Asia Art Archive's digital resources, and conclude with a collaborative online publication of case studies based on student research. By the end of the course, we will have provided a set of tentative responses to the questions, "How did we get here?" and "Where do we go next?" Open to sophomores and above. Also offered as GAC-428G for GAC graduate students; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  7. A Collaborative Study Project (CSP) allows two students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised project of independent study. Usually, a CSP is supervised by two faculty members, but with approval it may be supervised by one faculty member. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses, though it is not a substitute for a course if that course is regularly offered.
  8. This course focuses on contemporary art in and out of Africa, with specific reference to Nigeria. Our objective is to situate Contemporary Nigerian Art within the dialectics of modernism and postmodernism beginning first with the colonial implantation of the "modernist" trend in Africa. We examine the impact on the artistic vision and direction of the major artists in Africa, while highlighting the careers of their counterparts operating outside the continent within the postmodernist currents of Paris, New York, London, Berlin, etc.
  9. This course will trace major developments in contemporary art from the 1960s to the present. Beginning with the shift away from modernist abstraction in the late 1950s and proceeding chronologically, we will examine the diverse array of movements, practices, and events that have come to define the larger field of contemporary art: minimalism, conceptualism, and pop in the 1960s, site specific and performance art in the 1970s, the "culture wars" and postmodernist debates of the 1980s, and the various forms of "abject," project-based, and "relational" art that followed. Foregrounding problems that have remained central for artists throughout this period - the status of the body, the institutional conditions of artistic production and reception, the politics of representation and difference - we will focus on putting the shifting terrain of contemporary art into broad social, historical, and theoretical perspective. In turn, we will attempt to develop a comprehensive critical framework for understanding the aesthetic and political stakes of contemporary art today.
  10. The course offers graduate students a forum in which to explore historical and theoretical foundations of contemporary design and craft-based arts. Lectures, readings, discussions, and writing projects address a range of contexts for the practice of design, from materials and making, to ways that objects are encountered, consumed, and lived with, to design's promises and limitations for dealing with global crises of climate, poverty, conflict, disease, and displacement. Weekly meetings are structured around critical themes. Lectures by the instructor and by visiting designers, curators, and critics present thematically related case studies in modern and contemporary design. Readings offer points of departure for discussion and writing. Culminating with a final written artist statement, work throughout the term will be oriented toward developing historical and critical frameworks in which to situate students' own studio and research practices. Open to graduate level students only. Graduate elective - seminar
  11. 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.
  12. This course will explore the relationship between fashion and interior design. These fields share similar aesthetic concepts of space, shape and form. They are intrinsically linked to the ways in which humans create the environments in which we live, work, and play. Four centuries of design history will be highlighted beginning with an exploration of life at Versailles in seventeenth-century France and ending with discussions of contemporary global lifestyle brands such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Aspects of global trade, production, consumption, and the materiality of objects will be considered. Course lectures will be augmented with object-based study at the RISD museum.
  13. As a stimulus to the imagination, method of investigation, or as a basic means of communication, drawing is a fundamental process of human thought. This class will examine various kinds of drawings from the history of art and visual culture moving chronologically from the medieval to the post-modern. Our studies will have a hands-on approach, meeting behind the scenes in the collections of the RISD Museum. Working from objects directly will be supplemented by readings and writing assignments as well as active classroom discussion. This seminar is recommended for THAD concentrators and students especially interested in drawing.
  14. This course is designed to be a "deep-dive" into the liberatory archaeologies of racialized, gendered, and sexual memory(s) articulated by Xicanx, Latinx, Native American, and Africana scholars, artists, creatives, activists, and cultural workers that resist the epistemic regimes of antiblackness, colonialism, and white supremacy. Students have the opportunity to engage scholarly and artistic works that exemplify how Blackness rejects while simultaneously marking in many ways, the limits and logic of gender and sexuality, exposing the colonial underpinnings of "Man" and modern ideas of "human." This course focuses on monuments, maps, and archives as three distinct sites where antiblackness, colonialism, and white supremacy are both sanctioned and defied in the public sphere. Students will examine research from multiple scholars that troubles the assumption that becoming assimilated and included as "human" and "citizen" in the eyes of the State is progress for Black and Native communities. Using the Black Digital Humanities, students will demonstrate their comprehension and command of the thematic foundations of the course by creating their own narratives of memory and resistance via spatial visualization and/or auditory digital software.
  15. Illumination, illustration, interpretation -- these are all terms that can apply to the images in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. While this course seeks to introduce students generally to the history of manuscript painting from the 6th to the 16th centuries, special emphasis will be placed on how these images relate(d) to the texts they adorn. The course will be evaluated on the basis of in-class discussions, two presentations, one exam, and a final research paper that will include a creative component.
  16. 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.
  17. From international film festivals to university campuses, from museums of modern art to neighborhood theaters, Iranian cinema has now emerged as the staple of a cultural currency that defies the logic of nativism and challenges the problems of globalization. Hamid Dabashi writes this in the introduction to his landmark study of Iranian cinema, Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present and Future (Verso, 2001). This course introduces you to the history of Iranian cinema, from the Iranian New Wave (1960s) to the present. It examines the ways in it occupies an important place on the scene of global cinema while it "defies the logic of nativism." We will watch some of the most prominent movies by acclaimed Iranian filmmakers Dariush Mehrjui, Ebrahim Golestan, Nasser Taghvai, Amir Naderi, Sohrab Shahid-Saless, Forough Farrokhzad, Jafar Panahi, Masoud Kimiai, Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Bahram Beyzaie, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Marzieh Meshkini, Asghar Farhadi, Tahmineh Milani, Ebrahim Hatamikia, and Kamran Shirdel. We will also look at the works of diasporic artists, including Shirin Neshat, Marjane Satrapi, Ramin Bahrani, Mitra Farahani, Ana Lily Amirpour, and Granaz Moussavi.
  18. The Museum is a significant and changing institution during the 21st century. This class will subject the institution to scholarly critique. We will consider the types of museums, the organization of museums, the curating of exhibitions, the growing role of on-line components in museums and the various support areas in the museum (finance, membership, etc.). Ethics in the museum and sensitivity to audiences will also be part of our study. We will visit the RISD museum and other local Providence museums. Students will write catalogue entries, exhibition reviews and short papers that analyze readings.
  19. The professional Internship provides valuable exposure to a professional setting, enabling students to better establish a career path and define practical aspirations. Internship proposals are carefully vetted to determine legitimacy and must meet the contact hour requirements listed in the RISD Course Announcement.
  20. 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.
  21. This is a required course for all freshmen and transfer students to introduce them to global modern and contemporary art, architecture and design in the period between 1750 and the present. The course addresses modernism as a global project, presenting several case studies from across the world that unfold to show how multiple kinds of modernism developed in different times and distant places. By presenting alternate, sometimes contradictory stories about modern and contemporary art and design, along with a set of critical terms specific to these times and places, the class aims to foster a rich, complex understanding of the many narratives that works of art and design can tell. With this grounding, students will be well positioned to pursue their interests in specialized courses in subsequent semesters. Required for graduation for all undergraduates. There are no waivers for THAD-H101. Attention transfers and upperlevel students: Please register into section 26 or 27; one of the evening sections set aside for transfer and upperclass students. Email the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office for assistance if needed. All other H101 sections are for freshmen.
  22. The Independent Study Project (ISP) allows students to supplement the established curriculum by completing a faculty supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest. Its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses. Permission of Instructor and GPA of 3.0 or higher is required. Register by completing the Independent Study Application available on the Registrar's website; the course is not available via web registration.
  23. Registration by application only. Application is restricted to concentrators in The Theory & History of Art & Design. A call for applications will be sent to all THAD concentrators. Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration.
  24. 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.
  25. 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).
  26. This course provides an art historical survey and thematic exploration of 9 centuries of Yoruba Art and Aesthetics and its intercession with history (including but not limited to colonialism and postcolonial impact, interventions, and discourses), religion, philosophy, and the socio-political beliefs of one of Africa's most ancient civilizations, and a visible presence in the African Diaspora.

Wintersession 2022

  1. The 1960s saw the expansion of the art market in the US when printmaking workshops emerged on the coasts and in the heartland. Artists and master printers worked collaboratively at ULAE, Tamarind, Gemini GEL, Tyler Graphics and others, and such presses also editioned artists' prints for sale via the gallery system. Importantly such workshops also offered an opportunity to artists primarily committed to other media to explore various printmaking methods. Collaboration among artists and printmakers thus became a hallmark of the so-called American Printmaking Renaissance. The course will investigate the nature of collaboration between artists and master printers as we study prints by epoch-making artists including Louise Nevelson, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, Vija Celmins, as well as lesser-known artists who contributed significantly to the popularity of prints. Technical innovation continued in the era of Pop with the use of commercial techniques by Warhol, Rosenquist and Lichtenstein, and continues today with the use of digital media. We will draw upon the collection of the RISD museum to develop an intimate understanding of the role of innovation and collaboration in American printmaking ca. 1960-1990.
  2. The Trojan War is one of the most influential stories in the history of Western culture. After a brief examination of the archaeological evidence for such an event, this course will focus on the art and literature inspired by the Trojan War from Ancient Greece through modern times. Readings will include selections from Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, and take into account return stories such as the Odyssey. Art with Trojan iconography will be explored from ancient vase-paintings and sculptures through Renaissance and Baroque depictions, up to a contemporary graphic novelization and a brief discussion of films on the subject. Major themes include the interaction of art and literature, and the mutability of an established narrative at the hands of subsequent creators.
  3. Artists' Publications presents a history and theory of the artist-run magazine and small-press publishing house as extensions of creative practice, for students interested in starting new ventures themselves. The course will focus on global twentieth-century examples of artists seizing discursive institutional power, including but not limited to Russian samizdat, a Brazilian sex-worker newspaper, and periodicals of contemporary social and artistic movements in the US. Lectures will approach editorial practice, design, and production through such historical case studies, which will serve as the basis for projects that combine research and practicum.
  4. This course introduces Japanese traditional visual arts from prehistory to the end of the 19th century. Considered will be the earliest works of ceramics, architecture of Shinto and Buddhism, Buddhist paintings and narrative handscrolls, decorative folding screens, Zen ink painting, gardens, tea ceremony wares and ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Through lectures, readings and discussions students will seek a better understanding of how perspectives of priests, courtiers, samurai warriors and townsmen affected shaping of Japan's unified aesthetics that still persists today and resonates globally. Several classes are held at the RISD Museum.
  5. This course explores the body as subject, object, medium, and lens. This class is intended as both a discussion of the shifting role of the human form as represented and implicated in artwork from nineteenth century to the present day, as well as an experiential interrogation of our own somatic experience as scholars, artists, and humans, in order to ask the question: what does the body have to teach us? We will address the discourses of the imaged and imagined body prior to and through European modernism as a carrier of meaning and an object to be consumed, with particular attention to the ramifications of the Cartesian mind-body distinction. From this starting point, we will track shifts and the development of alternate theories of the body from psychology, philosophy, critical theory, and neuroscience, from the nineteenth century into present day. In addition to theory and philosophy, we will address how these shifts are manifest in artwork of the twentieth century from painting, sculpture installation art, video, and augmented reality art. Students will be asked to be mindful of their own somatic (bodily) practices, including movement inside and outside class with the intention of developing a deeper understanding the body as lens for experience and production.
  6. This writing-intensive course helps students consider the relationship between writing and design, examining language and writing as an active component of a dynamic studio practice. We will explore contemporary culture and issues that affect designers through reading, writing, and discussion, and will examine several different types of design writing in the process. Exercises train students in essential tasks such as conducting formal analyses, writing catalogue entries, and making visual presentations, and we will discuss methods for idea generation, research and writing about our work and our selves, as well as engaging with professional design writing practices like reviews and interviews. We will hone strategies for gathering, organizing, and archiving research material, and will discuss the ways in which writing, as well as self reflection, researching texts, reading arts publications and reviews, and studying like-minded artists can contribute to a critical, engaged, and continually evolving body of work.
  7. This course offers students an introduction to Western modern art, covering movements in Europe and Northern America from about 1900 to 1950, such as Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Dada, Futurism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism. Contextualizing the artistic developments of the -isms with social and historical agendas of their respective times will support our understanding not only of change of formal elements, but also change in political landscapes. Special focus will be put on artists and groups such as the bridge, the blue rider, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Malevich, Duchamp, Douglas, Rivera, O'Keefe, Pollock. Participation, in-class presentations, and a final paper are required for this course.
  8. This course is a combination of theoretical inquiry into care and self-care as creative and intellectual methodology and a practical laboratory in which students can reflect on and cultivate the practices that support their work and integrity of well-being. Audre Lorde's famous words - caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare - carry fraught meaning in a moment wherein callousness and a lack of empathy seem to dictate political and social discourse. The theoretical aim of this class is to unpack the notion of caring, often constructed as an individual concern and practice which makes it vulnerable to neoliberal co-option, and its expression on a spectrum from Lorde's radical self-preservation to the empathetic relationship building necessary to maintain (often marginalized) communities. The practical aspects of this course encourage students to consider the different infrastructures that work to encourage self-care and mutual care, and to locate tools that support their artistic and scholarly practices. We will examine the notions of surviving, coping, and thriving, pointing not only to case studies in the literature, but examining how these themes appear in our personal experience. This class has an Academic Enrichment budget to enable an experiential module and as such, no more than 20 students can be accommodated. The waitlist will be strictly followed.
  9. An Icon has been described as an image or work that has achieved such exceptional levels of widespread recognizability among people across time & cultures as to transgress or transcend the parameters of its initial making, function, context and meaning (Martin Kemp, 2012). Iconoclasm has been recently defined as a principled attack on specific objects, aimed primarily at the objects' referents or at their connection to the power or values they represent. (Anne McLanan, 2019) Iconoclastic acts, therefore, engage with both the materiality of the object and the power structures embedded within or attached to the object - the thing that is often most out of reach. In this seminar, we cast a wide net, historically and geographically, to ask: What and who defines an Icon? How has the destruction or defacement of Icons - Iconoclasm - come to be understood as something much more than a simple act of vandalism? What are the principles and politics of Iconoclasm? How is Iconoclasm very much in play today as a catalyst for social justice, political action and collective agency?
  10. 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 readings for every class and write a final paper about a chosen artist. Active participation in class discussions is required.
  11. In 1400-1800 Europe, processions were ubiquitous and frequent. A whole city or single parties would take to the streets, marching in unison for multiple reasons. Such collective actions were often part of rites of passage for royals (birth, marriage, coronation, or death) but also marked commoners' lives with funerals or carnival. They could commemorate a saint's feast day, stage relic transfers, or celebrate the visit of a ruler or a dignitary to a city (the so-called triumphant entries). This course explores the performative aspects of such events, from their logistics (preparations, space, timing) to the part played by art and design. How were bodies disciplined and groups kept together? What was carried along and to what physical or emotional effects? Questions of group identity emerge; the distinction of actors/spectators blurs; religion and politics interweave; and the senses dominate. We will decode images of such ephemeral spectacles in, notably, paintings, individual prints, and festive books; and analyze processional objects, whether extant or not, highlighting the importance of their materiality and symbolism. Embodied experience is planned through a series of theatre exercises.
  12. This course examines 20th century American popular culture - both visual and material - in relation to American history in order to understand how it reinforces socio-political ideologies in everyday life. We will look at and learn to decode advertisements as key to the cultural meanings of objects and as propaganda in reinforcing and disseminating cultural values. Using pop culture objects/concepts such as Disney, Tupperware, Barbie dolls, cars, TV, and the "American Dream," we will explore democracy, capitalism, and questions of "high" and "low" cultural artifacts.
  13. 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.
  14. The course presents aspects of South Asian art and architecture over a period of 2000 years. Divided into four main sections, the course addresses the art of Buddhism, the Hindu temple, Islamic art, and the art of colonial and post-colonial India, focusing on architectural sites, sculpture, painting, manuscripts, and photography. In addition to studies of regional developments in the Indian subcontinent, the course addresses the exchange of sculptural, pictorial, architectural and cultural influences between these regions and the rest of the world.
  15. 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.
  16. We are so familiar with these three hot drinks but they became commodities and part of our everyday only recently. This course explores what values were attached to these plants before the era of industrialized production, i.e. before ca. 1800. We will survey how Westerners adopted these beverages by looking at medical theories, the issue of morality, and the expansion of sugar production. We will also study how the craving for these products reinforced or even spurred slavery in French, Dutch, and English colonies. Special attention is dedicated to how ritual behavior affects design in terms of the sociability around these beverages, required manners, and the tableware crafted for them. The methodology is based on the analysis of images, discussions of assigned readings, written responses, visits to museums (RISD and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston), and touring the facility of a chocolate artisan.
  17. This course has two primary goals: cultivating an in-depth, hands-on knowledge of a topic in indigenous art history and developing a diverse set of writing tools for documenting lived experience. First, this course will explore the history, anthropology, and overall context of the development of traditional indigenous American textile production methods. Our examination of these textiles will involve critical readings of key texts, lectures and discussions. However, above all, we will be employing a hands-on approach to reproduce the process involved in making these textiles. Focusing on the specific example of Navajo blanket and rug weaving, together we will create our own woven tapestries, replicating traditional methods from cleaning wool straight off the sheep, to dyeing with natural dyes, to building and weaving on our own traditional-style Navajo tapestry looms. The second goal of this course is to explore a variety of approaches toward documenting through writing students' own experiences in the field - ranging from more creative and artistic approaches to more formal or technical descriptions. The intention is to expose students to a variety of writing methods that may come in handy in their professional careers, be they artists' statements or grant applications. To this end, students will be keeping a semester-long field journal detailing their hands-on experiences in this course, culminating in the production of a final presentation of their work.
  18. 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.
  19. 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 2022

  1. This course considers the rise of abstraction in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean during the twentieth century. We will study the history of abstraction's arrival from Europe in the first decades of the century, as well as the independent development of movements and tendencies that question, deform, or reconceptualize the stakes of the abstract. What does it mean to be abstract in the Americas? Is there anything particularly "American" about abstraction in the region? And can these terms-"American," "abstract"-remain stable in the face of a geographic, chronological, and stylistic heterogeneity? In this seminar, our readings will draw from artist's writings, contemporary and secondary approaches to abstraction, and more historically or theoretically minded texts that address such issues as urbanization, identity, and ecology. Participation, in-class presentations, and a final paper are required for this course.
  2. This course examines the artistic images of black women artists in the African Diaspora. We will investigate how race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity have shaped and continues to shape black female identity and artistic productions particularly in the USA, Europe, Britain, Brazil and the Caribbean.
  3. The spring Open Seminar extends the Conversations in Contemporary Design course offered in the fall, providing a further opportunity for graduate students to reflect on critical issues facing designers today. The seminar will be structured around independent research. Students will develop individually tailored projects aimed at deepening and contextualizing their studio practices. The first part of the course will be spent framing the research and building a bibliography around topics in contemporary design relevant to each student's practice. The second part of the course will involve individual meetings with the instructor, regular writing assignments, and group critiques, culminating in a final paper and presentation. A series of guest lectures by critics, curators, historians, and designers will complement our discussions and offer chances to engage directly with leading contemporary figures in the field. Graduate students who participated in the fall Conversations course, as well as other students with interests in the theory and history of modern and contemporary design, are invited to join. Open to graduate level students only. Graduate elective - seminar
  4. Continuing from critical frameworks established in H101: Global Modernisms, the second semester of the introduction to art history turns to designed, built, and crafted objects and environments. The course does not present a conventional "history of the modern movement," but rather engages with a broad range of materials, makers, traditions, sites, and periods in the history of architecture and design. Global in scope, spanning from the ancient world to the present, and organized thematically, the lectures explicitly challenge Western-modernist hierarchies and question myths of race, gender, labor, technology, capitalism, and colonialism. The course is intended to provide students with critical tools for interrogating the past as well as imagining possible futures for architecture and design. Required for graduation for all undergraduates. This course is scheduled to be taken by first-year students during the Spring semester of freshmen year. Liberal Arts will place freshmen into sections of H102 after spring studio schedules are completed by EFS. There are no waivers for students entering as freshmen. However, freshmen students who completed H101 prior to fall 2018 may opt to waive out of H102. Email the Academic Programs Coordinator for assistance. Transfer students may petition the THAD department head to substitute an equivalent college course that was completed prior to enrollment at RISD. Attention transfers and upperlevel students: Please register into section 25. Email the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office for assistance if needed. All other H102 sections are for freshmen.
  5. Our goal in this course is to engage students in all aspects of curating modern art in Africa using select examples of works in the collection of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown. Beginning with the selection of objects, historical and archival research, planning of the layout and the development and preparation of wall texts and labels, students will experience every facet of the development of the exhibition from conception to installation. Our focus is on the modernist art in Africa. We will examine post-independence art created in the last 60 years from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and the Cameroons. In this manner, we will explore the connection between the old and the new, the ephemeral and the concrete and those discernible patterns of change and continuity in the broad range of the plastic arts and their inextricable connection with precolonial African art.
  6. This course studies the diversity of ways that humans have conceived of nature and wilderness. It seeks to understand the deep historicity and variety of such conceptions by following a few theoretical threads that span over vast reaches of time and space as well as across the multiple disciplines constituting the environmental humanities. We begin with modern debates over the significance of nature and wilderness. Through related explorations of the landscape in postwar art, we travel back in time to study the garden as a microcosm that both resists and mediates wilderness. We then return gradually to the present to understand how modern architects and engineers mobilized conceptions of nature for colonial and economic ends. The course concludes by introducing debates on the Anthropocene and the "end" of nature that draw on postcolonial theory, literary criticism, and ethnography. Through readings, discussions and presentations, students will learn to critically identify and distinguish the range of human expressions of nature with appreciation for historical, cultural, and ideological differences. They will also develop their ability to make connections between texts and cultural products including visual arts, architecture, and landscape architecture.
  7. This course discusses developments in architecture, painting, and sculpture in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Western Asia, in the Hellenic sphere of influence between 900 BCE and CE 400. Topics include Greek and Hellenistic Art, Etruscan and Roman Art, and the archaeological methods used to investigate these civilizations. Emphases will include the importance of cultural exchange in the development of what would become Greek culture and the immense plurality seen in those regions during that period.
  8. As a field of study, material culture explores how we make things and how things, in turn, make us. This class examines the material culture of late consumer capitalism, focusing on how objects organize experience in everyday life. We will investigate the practices through which things-from food and clothing to smart phones-become meaningful, as we tackle political and ethical questions related to the design, manufacture, use and disposal of material goods. The class will introduce students to a range of scholarship on material culture from several disciplinary perspectives including anthropology, history, sociology, art and architectural history, and cultural studies.
  9. This course serves as an introduction to modern and contemporary art of Latin America from c. 1900 to the present day. Beginning with the international formulation of modernismos and the institutionalization of muralism in Mexico, we will trace the development of various, contested "modernisms" throughout the Americas. Rather than adhering to a strictly linear chronology, we will approach this vast region and its histories through a constellation of themes that, together, will illuminate the uneven development of modernism across the hemisphere. We will address questions relating to the nature of national and international identity, as well considering the porous relation between Latin American modernisms and their European and U.S. counterparts. Just what is "Latin American" art? Is it defined by geography, by nationality, or in some other way? And does it fit into the received canon of "Western" art history?
  10. This seminar will consider the role of the entrance and exit in medieval architecture, urban planning, art and literature. The entrance to the church, often decorated with sculpture, marked the significant liminal zone between the secular and the sacred. The entrance to the castle was one of both its most impressive and vulnerable zones often denoted by drawbridges and towers. The town gate market the division between the urban environment with its streets and markets and the surrounding countryside. Processions and royal entrances enlivened these physical spaces in ephemeral ceremonies that enacted entering and leaving. In addition, we will consider the representation of portals and doors in art works such as manuscripts and entrances in medieval literature such as the Storming of the Castle in the Roman de la Rose and the entrance to Hell in Dante's Inferno.
  11. This course offers a chronologically arranged broad overview of Russian artistic tradition. We will study architecture, painting and design, starting from the pre-Slavic archaeological material and moving on to the Orthodox churches and icons and then to Russian creative response to European styles of Rococo, Baroque, Neoclassicism, Historicism and Art Nouveau. Later in the course, we will focus on Russian Avant-garde, exploring the multiplicity of radically new artistic currents of Cubo-Futurism, Neo-Primitivism, Suprematism, Constructivism and more. During our lectures, museum visits, film screenings, and classroom discussions, we will look at art closely, get acquainted with artists' own words in their notes and manifestoes, and become introduced to academic discourse on the relevant topics. Students will write one research paper and present it at the student conference that concludes the course.
  12. Sacred Architecture has always been distinct from secular and vernacular architecture and is associated with a variety of belief systems, sacred texts and iconography. From forest groves, caves, and other natural habitats barely transformed by the human hand, to monumental constructions, such as pyramids, cathedrals and mosques, human beings have devoted their creativity and immense resources to spaces where spiritual forces can be revered, housed, appealed to and placated. This course will focus on sacred indigenous architecture in the Americas, with a few comparative examples drawn from other parts of the world, particularly in the introduction segment of the class. Whether it be a pilgrimage site in Mexico, a Hopi "kiva" or a Plains ceremonial "lodge", various cultural expressions of the sacred in its architectural manifestations will be presented and contextualized. Open to sophomores and above. Also offered as HPSS-C250; Register in the course for which credit is desired. HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.
  13. This seminar focuses on the history, discourses and transformations of the black female body as contested site of sexuality, resistance, representation, agency and identity in American visual culture. Organized thematically, with examples drawn from painting, sculpture, photography, film, popular culture and mixed media installations, we examine how the deployment, manipulations and construction of the signification of the asexualized mammy complex is juxtaposed against the jezebel vixen in a shifting terrain from the antebellum era through the post-racial decade of the 21st century.
  14. This course will show how the ideas of the historical French avant-garde movement founded in Paris in 1924 have spread across borders and influenced artists of central Europe. It will also focus on the relationship between surrealist European artists of the 20th century and Mexican art. Our goal will be to see how certain ways of thinking and seeing the world can be shared by artists living in different places and under different political regimes.
  15. Registration by application only. Application is restricted to concentrators in The Theory & History of Art & Design. A call for applications will be sent to all THAD concentrators. Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration.