Fall 2020

  1. This course will survey the emergence of an avant-garde in the United States during and after World War II. The focus will be on the personal struggles, artistic innovation, and overarching achievement of a handful of artists including Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, David Smith, Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman, whose work catapulted American art and artists onto the world stage. Concurrently we will examine the role of public and private criticism, especially the writings of Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg. Additionally we will construct a view of contemporary society and the political leanings of artists and critics of the movement, as well as the concerted effort of the American State Department to showcase Abstract Expressionist work as visible proof of American freedoms during the Cold War.
    Open to sophomore and above.
  2. 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.
  3. This course will focus on the cultural and artistic activities which came into being as a result of contacts between the civilizations of Europe and Asia (China in particular). Among the topics explored will be: the ancient world, the Silk Route and Buddhism, the nomads of Eurasia as agents of cultural exchange, early European travelers to China (Marco Polo), the Jesuits at the court of the Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and finally the Western colonial experience.
  4. 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.
  5. Cathedrals and Cities will consider the art and architecture of Western Europe between 1200-1500. Two significant elements of this period are the architecture of the Gothic Cathedral, one of the most audacious types of building ever created, and the growth and development of cities where diverse groups of people mingled together in new urban environments. At the same time several monarchies in Europe, including France and England, were increasing in power and commissioning significant works of art and architecture. There was an in important expansion of trade both within Europe and into sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. This long-distance trade provided new access to materials such as ivory and silks that were used in luxury art objects desired by the growing aristocracy. New currents of personal religious devotion and new religious orders such as the Franciscans and Dominicans fostered new types of manuscripts, such as Books of Hours, and new architectural forms such as private chapels. New possibilities for gender roles occurred in devotion to the Virgin Mary, Christ's mother, and in new vernacular illuminated literature recounting courtly tales of love and adventure.
    Open to sophomores and above.
  6. This course is designed to introduce students to the major historical and intellectual developments in the field of Chinese archaeology, from its inception in the 10th century as antiquarianism, to the latest scientific achievements. The course will provide a general overview of key discoveries relating to the period of time spanning from the Paleolithic to the Han period, concentrating on crucial research issues on such topics as (among others), the origin of man in Asia (an alternative to the Out of Africa theory), the earliest settled societies and the beginning of rice and millet agriculture, the origins and impact of Chinese writing, the Chinese urban revolution of the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age, the political use of bronze and jade in the dynastic period, and the burial customs and religious beliefs of the early imperial period.
    Also offered as HPSS-C333; Register in the for course for which credit is desired.
    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.
  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. 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.
  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. This class examines different methods of interpretation employed by art historians and art critics to "read" works of art. Each week we will focus on a particular methodological approach central to the production of art historical knowledge such as Formalism, Iconography, Psychoanalysis, Semiotics, Post-Structuralism, Museum Studies, Critical Theory, Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, Affect Theory, and Postcolonial Theory. The course also looks into the history of the discipline itself by way of reading primary texts written by art historians and thinkers whose thoughts and writings, in one way or another, have shaped the discipline of art history. We will also consider responses from non-Western scholars to the predominantly Western narratives that are at the center of the field.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. This course will explore the approaches and contexts of Leonardo da Vinci's draftsmanship. Studying some of his surviving 6000 drawings and notes, we shall locate his aesthetic and analytical processes in the context of a broad range of projects, such as paintings, sculpture, treatises, machines, weapons, maps, festivals, built environments, and philosophical propositions. Nature and the natural sciences will be considered as presented in the drawings of Leonardo. Leonardo's adherence to artisanal traditions, to members of princely courts and republics, to a Classical ideal, and more generally to investigative and inventive strategies will be considered.
    Open to sophomores and above.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Embodiment is a universal. How we construct our understandings of it is not. In this class we will investigate conceptions and depictions of the early-modern body (1400-1700) mainly in Europe with excursions to Africa, Brazil, China, Japan. Among our topics will be: understanding correspondences and the macrocosm, the classical body and its aesthetics of beauty; the grotesque; naked or nude?; criminal and saintly bodies, including the divine/mortal body of Christ; death, ritual and the macabre; physiognomy and the face; the science of sexuality and art of erotics; constructing genders; medicine, knowledge, and the culture of dissection; fragmentation and the resonance of body parts. We'll analyze historical materials with an eye for current practices in bodily identities, such as gender fluidity, body enhancement and performance, body as machine. And, we'll make frequent use of RISD's art collection.
    Open to undergraduates sophomore and above.
  26. 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.
  27. 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).
  28. 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 2021

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. This course is designed to explore the relationship between sacred "texts" (including those that have been transmitted verbally for generations) and the images that are associated with them and/or inspired artists in their traditional contexts. We will look at the cultural context of sacred narratives in such communities as the Kwakwaka, the Hopi, the Maya and other Mexican communities, the Dogon, Australian traditional aboriginal groups, and other Pacific communities, time permitting. Topics will include sacred texts and landscape, sacred narratives and the notion of a person, sacred texts and contemporary arts, and other related topics. The course will require a final research project.
    Also offered as HPSS-C504; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.
  7. This seminar is designed as a forum for second year MFA students in Fine Arts to develop a line of research or explore in depth a topic of interest that they believe might advance their visual practice. The seminar takes the structure of a series of independent study projects, where students with different, but related interests, pursue specific questions in contemporary art practice and theory. Students develop a line of thought or research independently, but also meet as a group to collaboratively explore topics, and press their assumptions, and line of questioning further.

    Priority will be given to graduate students who have taken "Conversations in Contemporary Art" in their first year. All students who wish to take the course are invited to submit a letter of intent to the instructor, outlining the topic/s that they wish to pursue. Prior to the beginning of Wintersession, students will meet individually with the instructor to refine their topic of study and map out a course of readings, before regular group meetings over WS begin.
    Permission of Instructor required.
    Also offered as THAD-W213; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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 2021

  1. This course explores the artistic traditions of early West African kingdoms and cultures, notably Nok, Igbo Ikwu, Ife, Owo, Esie, Tsoede, Sokoto, Benin, Akan, Djenne, Mande, Nabdam and the Bamileke. We examine images in stone, bronze, terracotta and iron, and also explore the built environment. Based on archaeological, art historical and ethnographic data, we critically analyze the style elements, iconography, purposes and significance of the objects, both as viable tools and as expressions of the history, philosophy, and religious and cultural ethos of the peoples who created them.

  2. This course will focus on the cultural and artistic activities which came into being as a result of contacts between the civilizations of Europe and Asia (China in particular). Among the topics explored will be: the ancient world, the Silk Route and Buddhism, the nomads of Eurasia as agents of cultural exchange, early European travelers to China (Marco Polo), the Jesuits at the court of the Chinese emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and finally the Western colonial experience.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. This course focuses on representations by, of, and for Latinx peoples in the United States, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, which ended the Mexican-American War and ceded one-third of Mexican territory to the United States, until the present day. Drawing from Gloría Anzaldúa's theory of the "borderland" as a both physical and psychological "in-between space," we will address questions of identity and belonging, assimilation and resistance, and visibility and erasure as they are encountered and debated by (and about) diasporic communities in the United States. Topics of discussion will include nineteenth-century debates of Pan-Americanism, the popularization and critique of Hollywood stereotypes during the Good Neighbor era, and Chicanx activism of the 1960s and 1970s. Issues of racial and ethnic identity will be considered alongside and in dialogue with those of gender, sexuality, class, and immigration status, and our discussions will encompass not only visual art but also music, cinema, literature, and activism. We will ask ourselves, what is the relationship of Latinx art and visual culture to that of the U.S.? What is its relationship to "Latin American" history and identity? And how might we begin to expand our definitions of U.S. art history?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. This course is an historical and critical study of the work of selected masters of animated film. A spectrum of animated film techniques, styles, national schools, etc., will be presented. The course will cover the period from the pre-Lumiere epoch to the end of the 1970's. The relationships between animated film and other visual art forms will also be studied.
  11. The neo-avant-garde, neo-vanguardias, the expanded field, la escena de avanzada: the 1950s-70s saw the explosion of new theories and practices that challenged the boundaries of art and the relationship between art and society. This course takes a hemispheric approach to the major trends of this volatile period, in which artists across the Americas reckoned with the fallout of the Second World War by seeking to rebuild, reinvent, or reject the legacy of the pre-war or historical avant-gardes. Key movements that will be considered include various strains of geometric, gestural, and kinetic abstraction; assemblage, bricolage, and the legacy of the readymade; the ascendance of Pop; Minimalism and Post-Minimalist sculpture; and the turn to happenings, performance, and conceptual art. How did such a divergent array of tendencies erupt seemingly at once, and how did they seek to intervene in everyday life? We will consider the contested definition of the avant-garde, its legitimacy and limits in the postwar Americas, and whether there can still be an avant-garde today. Weekly readings will include artist writings and manifestos, contemporary criticism, and theories of the avant-garde. Students will be expected to engage in active and informed discussion, deliver weekly presentations, and write a final paper.
    Open to sophomores and above.
  12. This course will introduce the arts of China through the lens of native and imported religious and philosophical traditions, exploring different approaches to representation and belief. After an introduction to the anthropological study of religion, we will cover four main periods: the pre-historic (Paleolithic - Neolithic), the early dynastic (ca. 2000 - 221 BCE), the imperial (221 BCE - 1911), and the modern-contemporary (post 1911). We will focus on elite and folk approaches to representation and belief with an emphasis on mythology and symbolism. Topics to be explored include: the dragon and the phoenix as symbols, the Han search for immortality, Buddhist cave temples, Taoist landscape painting, the Confucian scholar tradition, ritual garments, the influence of European culture and Christianity, and Communist personality cult.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. This experimental seminar is a space for students to explore issues in the history of art and visual culture. You may work, independent-study style, on any topic that specially interests you. Research will be done in dialogue with fellow students and a faculty facilitator. On the first day of class we will discuss topics of common interest, and develop a provisional semester plan and a list of readings. As the conversation develops over subsequent weeks, our plan may be adjusted or even completely revised. Coursework will be tailored to the needs of individual participants.
    This class is recommended for THAD Concentrators.
    Open to juniors and above.
    Any graduate students interested in the Theory & History of Art & Design are invited to join this seminar.
  17. 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.
  18. What is proof of antiblackness in a world that is built upon it? What is evidence of conquest when empire is everywhere? Some of the questions these realities raise were posed profoundly by Alexis Pauline Gumbs when she asked, "What if l can never find evidence of what the people did to break the silence? Am I looking to the past in vain? Am I depending on evidence to confirm what my soul has evidence enough for?"[1] In this course, students will utilize techniques from their degree programs to create projects/works that reckon with archives. monuments, and maps as a way of unsettling dominant and unearthing radical imaginings of evidence. If we take Christina Sharpe's proposition seriously, that we do indeed exist in "the ongoingness of the conditions of capture", how may a rearticulation of evidence allow for more expansive expressions of Black life that are not required to provide proof for their existence. Though focused primarily on blackness through a Black Studies framework, we will unpack the question of evidence as it is taken up by decolonial Xicanx, Latinx, Native American, and Asian scholars, writers, artists, creatives, activists, and cultural workers. This course is an invitation to undertake a series of speculative arguments within, against, and beyond multiple archives; to use radical research methodologies to accept Saidiya Hartman's task to "tell an impossible story and amplify the impossibility of its telling" no matter the evidence, or supposed lack thereof. During this semester, not only will we be taking apart monuments, maps, archives, but by the end of it, we may be taking apart ourselves.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. This course examines the influence of Richard Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk (Total Work of Art) on Viennese Modernism from roughly 1900 until the annexation of Austria by Hitler in 1938. After reading Wagner's "Art and Revolution," "The Artwork of the Future," and Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, we will examine works from the Viennese Jugendstil and the Secession, thinking about the synthesis of interdisciplinary elements to create an aesthetic whole. We will investigate works by architect and urban planner Otto Wagner, including the first Vienna Metropolitan Railway and the Pukersdorf Sanatorium in Lower Austria, and Josef Hoffmann's Stoclet Palace in Brussels. Finally, we will study post-WWI art and design during the period known as "Red Vienna," paying special attention to works as diverse as Richard Teschner's glorious puppet theater and municipal housing complexes such as the Karl-Marx Hof, one of the longest single residential buildings in the world. Open to sophomores and above.
    Open to sophomores and above.