Fall 2022

  1. This course registers an outgoing exchange student into a pre-approved LAS course which is taken at the exchange school. Successful completion of the course will result in a "T" grade once receipt of the official transcript from the partner school has arrived at Registrar's Office.
  2. Color is never static. This seminar takes a critical look at color and its applications across categories of time and place. Through historical and contemporary case studies in art and design, we explore the origins and evolution of color pigments and dyes in their material dimensions, chemical processes, and cultural significance. Our work intersects with the topics of environmental sustainability, political/economic/scientific technologies of production and consumption, and emotional/spiritual systems of aesthetics and symbolism. Readings will range from first-hand historical accounts to theoretical writings. Every week students will choose a small research topic and will report their findings, culminating in a final project that is meaningful to their own creative practice.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The course offers graduate students a forum for exploring historical and theoretical foundations of contemporary design and craft arts. Readings, discussions, lectures, 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 selected through student input. Readings and case studies offer points of departure for discussion and writing. Guest lectures by designers, curators, and critics provide viewpoints on contemporary practice. Culminating with a final artist statement and presentation, the work undertaken 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
  12. 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.
  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. 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?
  16. Mail Art was a phenomenon between the 1960s and 1990s after which it largely migrated online. The course will map Mail Art networks across countries and continents, between artists and audiences. Discussions will interrogate the potential meanings and effects of the uncensored exchanges during these politically turbulent decades. The art resided inside and outside envelopes, included postcards and artists stamps, and used mostly paper based media, collage, photomontage, printing and photocopying. The organization was spontaneous and nodal, and connected The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The movement is embedded within conceptualist practices and antecedents can be recognized in Italian Futurism, the many activities of Marcel Duchamp, Fluxus, and neo-Dada. The Mail Art movement was also called Post Art, Correspondence Art, and Postal Art. The course will incorporate primary materials housed in RISD's collections.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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).
  25. 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 2023

  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. 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.
  4. Chocolate started as a spicy, red-colored, Mesoamerican beverage and morphed into the sweet version created by Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries until mechanization and industrialization launched it in the form of edible bars in the 19th century. This course examines this history through the lens of the visual and material culture of chocolate from the 16th to the 21st centuries. We will discuss the elite's taste for exotic goods in pre-industrial times, the impact of colonialism and global trading networks, Europeans' craving for sugar, drinking rituals, and issues of race. We will work on critically assessing images and objects, deconstructing, for example, the "image of chocolate" in past or current commercials or reflecting on the erasure of labor in artistic representations. We will trace associations of pleasure, eroticism, the female gender, and racialization while looking at the space and the equipment designed for the performance of chocolate consumption in different cultures. This course also has a strong sensory and ethical dimension. Students will make, from scratch and by hand, the kind of chocolate found in pre-industrial times, processing beans into a cacao paste to be whisked into hot water or milk. To this embodied experience of harsh labor, a tasting session will teach students how to distinguish low- from high-quality chocolate bars. Finally, students will communicate with professional companies to learn about responsible development in the chocolate world today.
  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. 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.
  10. The course will explore the approaches and contexts of Leonardo da Vinci's draftsmanship. Studying primarily some of his surviving 6000 drawings and notes, the course will locate his aesthetic and analytical processes and contexts for a broad range of projects, such as paintings, sculptures, treatise literature, machines, weapons, maps, festivals, built environments, and studies of natural philosophy. We will also examine theoretical pursuits in the liberal and technical arts by Leonardo and his contemporaries, and their assessments of visual art as a science, and studies of natural science as a systematic art. Particularly informative will be Leonardo's responses to contemporary trends, to artisanal traditions, to the antique, to members of princely courts and republics, and more generally to investigative and inventive strategies.
  11. 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.
  12. Have you ever thought about maps beyond just using them? Who makes maps? Who makes the maps you use? Is mapping a purely human behavior? Maps are one of the most commonly practiced navigational tools that have been in use since time immemorial. Mapping is the method of charting and assigning meaning to the reality we live in which allows us to experience belonging and some measure of predictability. Maps are the materialization of this method which can take on a 2-dimensional form and/or be a story-oral tradition passed down through the generations. Mapping and maps are foundational in the making and shaping of our personal and collective realities. But humans are not the only beings who map! North American Indigenous Tribes have been mapping alongside their non-human relatives for a long time and it has often been said that it is the animals and spirits who taught humans how to map so efficiently. These kinds of mapping practices are rooted in kinship systems where maps chart the topographical and genealogical bonds between all beings. This course takes a deep dive into what mapping is, who maps and who are maps made for through a Northern American Indigenous and non-human lens. By engaging non-other-than-human mapping practices this course will support students with building a method of reality making that is rooted in kinships through creating maps for non-more-than-human relatives.
  13. 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.
  14. 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. Also offered as HPSS-W250; Register in the course for which credit is desired.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  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 2023

  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 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.
  4. 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?
  5. Buddhism is a world religion that has the fourth-largest number of followers. It has inspired some of the greatest works of art in human history. Having originated in India in the 6th c. BCE, it gradually spread across East, South, and Southeast Asia. While moving through vast territories, Buddhism absorbed elements of local cultures, beliefs, customs, traditional arts, and crafts. This course offers an introduction to Buddhist art of various schools, epochs, and regions represented in the collections of the RISD Museum. The course consists of lectures on Buddhist art and in-depth investigations of selected works in the RISD Museum ranging from sculptures and paintings to ceramics and textiles. Students will engage in close looking and intensive research, using common art historical methods and approaches. Through careful examination, students will study how these objects relate to Buddhist concepts and practices and gain insight on issues of patronage. Working in small study groups, students will report their findings on a weekly basis, completing comprehensive essays by the end of the semester. As a final class project, the explored pieces will be arranged into a meaningful visual sequence akin to a virtual exhibition. Consistent with this approach, each study group will write an educational label for its object while the essays will be combined into an exhibition catalog. The course will end with student presentations.
  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. 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.
  8. During the first half of the twentieth-century, German art intersected with the ingenuity and chaos of the modern world, not least of which included the first and second world wars. In this course, we will examine the birth of artistic movements out of radical social change, ranging from the Expressionism of Die Brücke in Dresden and Der Blaue Reiter in Munich to the social criticism of German Dada and New Objectivity. We will consider the convergence of art and media in film, radio, photography, and jazz, and enhance our understanding of visual culture and modernity by reading texts by Nietzsche, Simmel, and Brecht. Finally, we will discuss a selection of Max Nordau's Degeneration and investigate the role of art in the ideology of anti-Semitism, Nazism, and the Entartete Kunst exhibition of 1937.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. This course will introduce students to the major historical and intellectual developments in the field of later Chinese art, from the early empire to the contemporary period. Topics to be explored include: Buddhist painting, sculpture and architecture; the Taoist visual arts, landscape painting, calligraphy, court painting, Western influences and contemporary globalization.
  14. 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.
  15. This course explores the origin of early primary writing systems (Sumerian, Egyptian, Chinese, Mayan etc.) and their later developments into syllabaries and alphabets. It will also follow the development of calligraphy in contexts where it played a relevant role in the visual arts (Chinese, Arabic and Persian, Indian, European Middle Ages). The course will privilege the visual aspect of writing (rather than the linguistic) and will begin with a theoretical discussion of what is writing. Given the particular expertise of the instructor the course will pay most attention to Chinese writing following its origins in the Neolithic and Bronze Age and its development in later ages. Knowledge of Chinese is not required. This is not a hands on course.
  16. This course examines the visual culture of social welfare and justice during the early modern era (1500-1900). A powerful guild of silk manufacturers sponsored the construction of the first large-scale orphanage for abandoned children in Renaissance Florence, employing architects, painters, woodworkers and sculptors. "Talking statues" in Rome advocated for the end of oppressive taxation by over-zealous popes. Printmakers across Europe turned out satirical woodcuts and engravings that graphically argued for better living conditions and labor laws in the age of industrialization. Josiah Wedgewood issued a plaque that poignantly pleaded for the abolishment of slavery. Here, we study a broad range of imagery, objects and architecture that forged a language of social justice that still exists today. Drawing on the rich collections of the RISD Museum, Fleet Library Special Collections and the John Hay Library at Brown, among others, we examine the role of patrons, artists and designers in advocating for, and advancing, social welfare in an increasingly urban and educated society.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. This seminar examines the postwar production of modernity in the Americas vis--vis the raw and synthetic materials that provided its physical makeup. In a period of rapid, but irregular, industrialization throughout the hemisphere, many artists and architects made use of unconventional materials to visualize, interrogate, or otherwise manifest the tensions endemic to modernization. Some turned to technological innovations such as concrete and Plexiglas to signal the dawn of a new, utopian era; still others incorporated natural materials like gold, sugar, and oil to call attention to a colonialist history of resource extraction and commodification. Proceeding thematically rather than regionally or chronologically, we will consider a series of case studies that foreground the materials of American modernity-not only as they materialize in discrete works of art or architecture, but also as they proliferate across larger, more diffuse networks. Open to sophomore and above.
  23. Sustainability is an important consideration for artists on many levels. We shall explore the many ways sustainability affects us as artists including choosing and sourcing art materials to work with and their physical or conceptual longevity. Sustainability is also a growing concern for art conservators and museums in general. What are both domestic and international museums discussing regarding sustainability? This course will delve into the materiality of art, and its component source materials. We will discuss how art and art materials break down and why. We will also discuss the sustainability of art materials used by art conservators in the preservation of art displayed in the museum context. This course will hopefully empower you, the art student, to make more informed decisions while creating and preserving their artwork. Restricted to THAD concentrators or MA candidates in Museum Education. Open to sophomore and above.
  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.