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Fall 2019

  1. Abstract Expressionism In Art and Global Politics

    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. African American Art

    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. African Studies: Selected Topics

    The course offers an introduction to the arts of several sub-Saharan African communities. We will explore the creative process and the context of specific African traditions as well as the impact of the African diaspora on the arts of other communities, particularly in the Caribbean.

    Also offered as HPSS-C519; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

    HPSS-S101 is a prerequisite if taken for HPSS credit.

  4. Art Of The Islamic World: From The Siege Of Baghdad To The Present

    This course examines the history of art, architecture, and material culture of the Islamic world from the advent of Islam to the Mongol invasion of the city of Baghdad in 1258 CE. It is organized around major geographic regions (Eastern, Central, and Western Islamic lands) as well as themes that link the arts of the Islamic world together including the divine words of the Qur'an, royal patronage, geometric and vegetative motifs, religious and secular identities, cross-cultural exchange, figural representation, aniconism, etc. We will focus primarily on architecture, the art of the object, including ceramics, glass, metalwork, wood, ivory, jewelry, and textiles, and the art of the book, i.e., illuminated and illustrated manuscripts and calligraphy.

  5. Art and Trauma

    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. Castles & Monasteries: Romanesque Art and Architecture

    People in Western Europe changed both the way they lived and the way they conceived and made visual culture during the 11th and 12th centuries. It was the time of castles and pilgrimages, women mystics, and liturgical drama. The rich, diverse, and inventive art produced in Western Europe during this period includes pilgrimage churches with complex sculpted facades, illuminated manuscripts, castles, isolated monasteries, narrative textiles, and Islamic pottery. This course will address the relationship between visual culture and other phenomena of the age and will require the completion of assigned readings, a research paper, and two examinations.

  7. Chinese Archaeology

    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 THAD-C333; Register into the course for which credit is desired.

  8. Collaborative Study

    A Collaborative Study Project (CSP) allows two students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised project of indepedndent 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. Contemporary African Art: The Nigerian Experience

    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. Critical Interpretations Of Art

    How do we interpret art and visual culture? How does the meaning of an individual work of visual art change over historical time? This course will examine a variety of answers to these questions. The class will be run as a colloquium of individual episodes in the interpretation of art from antiquity to the present day. We will look at visual culture through the lenses of: style, form, Iconography, Marxism, Feminism, Queer Theory, Prehistory, Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction, artist's biography, reproductions and facsimiles of art, conservation of objects, Orientalism, museum studies, contemporary art magazines, and more.

    The course material consists of lectures and readings. Students will be graded on the following criteria: attendance, in-class writing assignments, and group discussions. Preparation of readings is essential.

    This course is recommended for THAD concentrators and fulfills the "Historiography/ Methodology" concentration requirement.

    All interested undergraduate and graduate students are welcome.

  11. EHP Art History

    The course entails nine classes and nine on-site lectures. The classes offer a selection of themes and moments in the history of forms and aesthetic ideas during the history of Rome (of Italy and the Western culture). The on-site lectures to archeological sites, churches, museums, monuments and places of the highest artistic interest underline the artworks in their topographic, environmental and historic context. The purpose is to offer a broad range of possible analyses: from the function of the object/monument to its design; from its stylistic idiom to the taste and culture of the art patron to the individual inclination of the artist.

    In short the objectives of the class are the following: observe artworks and architecture in the original context and function; recreate the original context by adding or taking away spurious elements; explain the aesthetics of that specific period; make formal and stylistic analyses of the artwork: its conventions, its innovations; explain the imagery, i. e.,iconography /subject matter; -learn a vocabulary pertinent to the historic context.

    The tools the class uses are: observation, taking notes, asking questions, readings.

    Each class will be detailed by a "class syllabus", a "glossary" and a list of the slides.

    Open only to students studying in Rome in the RISD EHP Program

  12. History Of Drawing

    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.

  13. Humanity or Nah?: Blackness, Gender, Resistance, and Memory In Monuments, Maps, and Archives

    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.

  14. Illuminated Manuscripts: Image & Text Reader

    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.

  15. Introduction To Iranian Cinema

    "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.

    There is a separate evening film screening from 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM each Thursday. Students must plan to attend these as well.

  16. Introduction To Museum Studies

    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.

  17. Markets, Memories, and Radical Imaginings Of Evidence

    The Old Market House building, completed in 1775, was the first public market house in Providence. Designed by the architect of the oldest building on Brown University's campus in collaboration with a signer of the Declaration of Independence; this market housed food vendors, masons, soldiers, and politicians who conducted business across four centuries within its walls, making it arguably the most historic home of commerce in the city. During its past, this same building (now a RISD owned property) was also the hub of a different type of commerce, and operated as a very different type of market; a slave market to be precise. In this course, students will utilize techniques from their degree programs along with digital humanities tools to create community-engaged projects/works that reckon with Market House's past, while acknowledging that its past is not separate from our present. That we indeed exist in what Christina Sharpe calls "the ongoingness of the conditions of capture." Given the myriad of possible acts of participation and/or complicity with enslavement that took place in the Market House Building, and Market Square overall, students will be exposed to scholarly research on the slave pens, slave markets, slave jails, and auction blocks that proliferated the United States, Rhode Island in particular, during both the transatlantic and intra-state slave trades. Students will study how literalist demands for evidence impact the pasts, memories, and historical narratives of slavery that do and do not make it onto the public landscape. Moreover, through different assignments during the semester students will interrogate and unpack their own relationships to evidence as a concept. 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. Please note, this is a year long course, and students are encouraged to commit to both semesters, however they may sign up for the fall or spring independently, space permitting.

  18. Modern and Contemporary Art In The Global South

    This course introduces students to the history of modern, postmodern, and contemporary art in the Global South. Over the past decade, the Global South has emerged as aubiquitous, compelling, and contested term in the humanities, social sciences, and increasingly in public culture and policy. Rather than referring to the literal geographies of the southern hemisphere, this designation more broadly, and more critically, is evoked to signal the subjects and spaces affected by various forms of globalization, usually in negative and complicated ways. The Global South has also become a key rubric for cataloging and comprehending certain arts discourses and practices, as well as their variegated histories across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Despite its relatively recent and ongoing theorization, the Global South encourages a richer, more complex dialogue between people, places, objects, ideas, and experiences. It calls into question the myopic perspective of the nation-state that has traditionally governed the discipline of art history. Cutting across Africa, Central and Latin America, and Asia, as well as their diasporic contexts, this course will investigate modernism as a local, national, and global constellation of intellectual questions and aesthetic responses resulting from modernization, colonial conquest, capitalism, and cultural intermingling. As opposed to most art-historical narratives that are anchored to Euro-American cultural hubs such as Paris and New York, this course will unearth a profusion of origin stories about where, how, and why modern sensibilities and aesthetic trends came into view. As such, our artistic epicenters will consist of places like Istanbul, Beirut, Johannesburg, Lagos, São Paulo, Havana, New Delhi, and Beijing. Due to the multidirectional flows of artworks, capital, people, and concepts across such cosmopolitan cities, new pathways opened up for postulating and producing modern painting, sculpture, print, and photography. Subsequently, we will track how, from roughly the 1960s to the present, understandings of postmodernism and the contemporary were consonant with pioneering aesthetic experimentation and formal explosion across video, performance, installation art, new media, and beyond. In particular, we will chronicle how contemporary artists, curators, and critics in and from the Global South have engaged with lineages of modernism, calling for new interpretive categories and analytical frameworks that can effectively address present-day predicaments and preoccupations. One of our prime assumptions will be that the work of art is an essential battleground on which political, economic, and social struggles were fought. Instead of adopting a strictly geographical, chronological, or comparative approach in the course, we will focus our attention on salient themes that resonate across disparate historical contexts. Lectures will attend to the following topics in relation to the Global South (almost always in conversation with the Global North): modernization, urbanization, industrialization, and colonization; concepts of the avant-garde; anti-imperialism, decolonizing art, and the art of decolonization; renegotiated relationships between art, media, science, and technology; the role of mass culture in generating new aesthetic programs; dawning templates of interpretation and criticism; abstraction; tensions between political repression and artistic freedom and innovation; art academies, museums, galleries, and other institutions as vectors of (and impediments to) the modern; the gargantuan cultural effects of war, especially the Cold War, and other geopolitical Circumstances; the impact of nongovernmental organizations on artistic practice; world exhibitions, biennials, and traveling shows; questions of materiality, process, labor, and reproduction; the politics of identity; shifting notions of artistic subjectivity and forms of collectivity; exile, diaspora, migration, and notions of hybridity and entanglement; the position of art within social movements and as propaganda; neoliberalism; cultural imaginaries of the network; and the omnipresence of the Internet and social media. Other lectures will be devoted to tracing some of the global routes of artistic movements such as Surrealism, Cubism, Primitivism, Expressionism, Pop Art, and Conceptual Art. Throughout these endeavors, we will draw on different methodological approaches, from postcolonial studies to critical Marxism, cultural studies, feminism, and queer theory. A nuanced analysis of power and racialization will be fundamental to our understanding of how art variously operates within, as a powerful agent of, and in sharp condemnation of global capitalism.

  19. Myth-making/image Making

    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.

  20. Professional Internship

    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.

  21. Renaissance Florence

    This social history of Renaissance art in Florence includes the study of drawing, painting, sculpture, and architecture from about 1250 to 1500. Our approach will be at once chronological and thematic, examining the visual culture of political power structures. Beginning with the concept of Renaissance as rebirth, the private and public spaces of the city of Florence shall be traced and investigated. In a period of massive transition in the arts, Italo-Byzantine mosaics and the Pisan sculptural tradition will give way to the panorama of public sculpture and performance art in a guild-driven republic. Painting techniques and the practice of disegno will be presented in terms of artistic training and apprenticeship. The expansion of the Medici family's influence and power can be witnessed according to Cosimo's building campaigns and art in the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Mythological and religious subjects will be studied in context according to patronage and intellectual trends.

    Open to undergraduates sophomore and above.

  22. Russian Art and Design

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  23. Sem: Open Seminar In Thad

    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.

  24. Thad I: Global Modernisms

    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 upperclass students: Please register into one of the evening sections set aside for transfer and upperclass students if you have not completed this first-year graduation requirement. Email the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office for assistance if needed. All other H101 sections are for freshmen.

  25. Thad Independent Study

    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.

  26. Thad Museum Fellowship

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

    Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration.

  27. The Early-modern Body: Sex, Medicine, Religion and Death

    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.

  28. The Global Art World and Its Margins

    The promise of globalization to democratize the art world and decrease the gap between canonic centers of art and their peripheries appears today to be no more than an empty pledge. As the art historian Joaquin Barriendos argues, the inclusion of non-Western regions in the Western canons of art and art history has proven incapable of destabilizing the hegemonic positions which Western institutions, as arbitrators of contemporary art, comfortably occupy. This course examines a range of critical responses to globalization in the art world from the mid-1980s to the present offered from a variety of perspectives informed by debates in Marxism, Postcolonialism, Feminism, Anti-colonialism, Nationalism, etc. The goal of this course is, first of all, to think critically about the relation between Western centers of art and art historical knowledge production and contemporary art located at the margins of Western Europe and North America through an attempt to trace the origins and development of the period known as the age of globalization. We will also explore works of art and curatorial practices that perform critiques of the limits of cross-cultural exchange in the global art world.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  29. Ukiyo-e Prints

    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.

  30. Visual Culture In Freud's Vienna

    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).

  31. Yoruba Art & Aesthetics

    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 2020

  1. *Japan: Paper, Temples & Prints

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

    This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for PRINT-4525 and THAD-W525. Students will receive 3 studio credits and 3 liberal arts credits.

    Applications open in September. Registration begins in October at a time to be announced. Registration begins in October at a time to be announced.

    All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. A minimum GPA of 2.50 is required. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period.

    Permission of Instructor required.

    Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of Experimental & Foundation Studies

    2020WS Estimated Travel Cost: $4,600.00 - airfare not included.

    ***Off-Campus Study***

  2. *Mexico: Pre-colonial To Contemporary

    This travel course is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between HPSS and THAD; the THAD component addresses colonial, modern, and contemporary arts in several regions of Mexico, including Mexico City, where we will view murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco, Frida Kahlo's house and museum, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the world-renowned Museo de Antropología; Puebla, known for its ceramics production and its ties to early colonial commerce, as well as nearby Cholula with its many colonial churches; Veracruz, a port city distinctive for its ties to the Caribbean and as a site of the importation of enslaved Africans; and Mérida, the most culturally active city in the Yucatán Peninsula, with access to several early and classic Maya archaeological sites, as well as a vibrant contemporary arts scene.

    The THAD portion of the course will cover the colonial, modern, and contemporary periods in terms of artistic, architectural, and visual production, considering how indigenous pre-colonial techniques and traditions (addressed in the HPSS portion of the course) are revived, reinvented, and synthesized with European, African, and Asian styles, materials, and practices.

    Prior to leaving for Mexico, the students will be given a illustrated lecture with an overview of Mexico's past cultural and political history, including the development of major civilizations throughout Mexico, the conquest of the region by the Spanish in the 16th c., the Mexican revolution, and the current political structure of the country. During our travel, each site visit will be accompanied by a brief contextual introduction orienting the students to the site's contributions to Mexico's history and cultural context.
    The course hopes to not only inform students about the culture and history of our neighbors to the South, but also give them knowledge and an appreciation for the many contributions that Mexican past civilizations and contemporary Mexican culture have provided globally, and continue to bring to us. We also hope that our traveling students will learn about group dynamics, develop sensitivity towards a culture that might be foreign to them, be willing to explore a host of new traditions, acquire new knowledge, and discard possible stereotypes and preconceptions about an American region to which so many of our US citizens and immigrants have a connection to.

    For the THAD portion of the course, students will be required to write two short papers (3 pages, double-spaced) that reflect upon the readings and/or the sites visited. They should be focused, organized responses that include a clear thesis (or guiding idea) rather than being a stream-of-conscious response, but may incorporate personal reflections, impressions, and opinions. The course will conclude with a focused, researched response (5-7 pages) that engages with some aspect of Mexican art, architecture, or visual culture, from the pre-colonial period to the present day. It may incorporate personal reflections and impressions, but it should reference and cite specific texts that we have read in the course, as well as artworks and/or sites we have visited during our trip. Papers will be due after our return from Mexico.

    Students' grades will take into account their participation and inquisitiveness in/about the various site visits, as well as their level of inquiry and critical engagement demonstrated in their written responses.

    This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for THAD-W135 and HPSS-W235. Students will receive 6 liberal arts credits.

    Applications open in September. Registration begins in October at a time to be announced.

    All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. A minimum GPA of 2.50 is required. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period.

    This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for THAD-W135 and HPSS-W235. Students will receive 6 liberal arts credits.

    Registration begins in October at a time to be announced.

    All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. A minimum GPA of 2.50 is required. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period.

    Permission of Instructor required.

    Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of Experimental & Foundation Studies.

    2020WS Estimated Travel Cost: $3,500.00 - airfare included.

    ***Off-Campus Study***

  3. *Mexico: Pre-columbian Architecture and Traditional Crafts In Mexico, An Overview

    This is a travel course offered by the Liberal Arts Division with a cross-disciplinary collaboration between HPSS and THAD; the HPSS component addresses the pre-Columbian history of the architecture and the arts in several regions of Mexico, including Mexico City, where we will visit the Diego Rivera, Siquieros and Orozco murals, Frida Kahlo's house & museum, Bellas Artes museum, the world reknown anthropology museum, and Xochimilco, the canals left from the early settlement of the Valley of Mexico by the Mixteca/Aztec civilization), Puebla (known for its ceramics production and its ties to early colonial commerce), nearby Cholula with its many colonial churches, Veracruz (culturally relevant as a port city where African slaves were bought to, as well as for its ties to other Caribbean regions), and Merida, the most culturally active city in the Yucatan peninsula, giving access to several early and Classic Maya archaeological sites.

    This portion of the course will also address the contemporary cultural traditions that distinguish each region from each other in terms of crafts production, the use of local materials, and the identifying regional dress, language and cuisine modalities.

    Prior to leaving for Mexico, the students will be given a illustrated lecture with an overview of Mexico's past cultural and political history, including the development of major civilizations throughout Mexico, the conquest of the region by the Spanish in the 16th c., the Mexican revolution, and the current political structure of the country. During our travel, each site visit will be accompanied by a brief contextual introduction orienting the students to the site's contributions to Mexico's history and cultural context.

    The course hopes to not only inform students about the culture and history of our neighbors to the South, but also give them knowledge and an appreciation for the many contributions that Mexican past civilizations and contemporary Mexican culture have provided globally, and continue to bring to us. We also hope that our traveling students will learn about group dynamics, develop sensitivity towards a culture that might be foreign to them, be willing to explore a host of new traditions, acquire new knowledge, and discard possible stereotypes and preconceptions about an American region to which so many of our US citizens and immigrants have a connection to.

    The requirements for the HPSS portion of the course includes a series of pre-departure readings (see syllabus) and the keeping of a journal that includes both written descriptions and observations as well as sketches of the many site visits; this requirement is part of exploring the focused discipline of "visual ethnography", i.e. the observation and visual description of environs, people and material culture through simple available tools: paper and pencil (or other portable tools such as water colors, etc.).

    Students' grades will take into account their participation and inquisitiveness in/about the various site visits, a written quiz on the readings, and the interest the Yoruba show through their journals and sketches. We hope to have their work exhibited at our journey's end on the RISD campus.

    This is a co-requisite course. Students must plan and register for THAD-W135 and HPSS-W235. Students will receive 6 liberal arts credits.

    Applications open in September. Registration begins in October at a time to be announced.

    All students are required to remain in good academic standing in order to participate in the WS travel course/studio. A minimum GPA of 2.50 is required. Failure to remain in good academic standing can lead to removal from the course, either before or during the course. Also in cases where WS travel courses and studios do not reach student capacity, the course may be cancelled after the last day of Wintersession travel course registration. As such, all students are advised not to purchase flights for participation in Wintersession travel courses until the course is confirmed to run, which happens within the week after the final Wintersession travel course registration period.

    Permission of Instructor required.

    Open to first year students with approval from the Dean of Experimental & Foundation Studies.

    2020WS Estimated Travel Cost: $3,500.00 - airfare included.

    ***Off-Campus Study***

  4. Body In (As) Art: Object, Subject, Medium, Lens

    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.

  5. Collecting The World

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

  6. Designing Genius: Objects, Interiors, and The Pop Cultural Mecca

    This course will examine the myth and cultural importance placed on spaces and objects occupied and used by the so-called "geniuses" of American history alongside our general romantic interest in "the genius" as a cultural phenomenon. We will examine the designed objects and spaces of famous American artists and heroes - places such as Graceland, Dollywood, and Marfa; objects like Thomas Jefferson's writing desk; and museums created out of the homes of Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain, among others. In an attempt to unpack and understand the importance of objects in both memory- and identity-making, we will consider how visual and material objects both communicate personality and legacy and how they act as mediators between each "genius" and their audiences, allowing visitors to come into contact with the imaginative worlds of their heroes.

  7. Epistemologies Of (Self)care: Theories and Practices Of Caring

    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.

  8. French Surrealism

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

  9. Indigenous Architecture Of The Americas

    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.

  10. Living In Color: The Aesthetics Of Synesthesia

    This course examines the aesthetics of synesthesia vis-à-vis the innovation of Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky and Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg between 1908 and the outbreak of World War I. We will compare Kandinsky's treatise On the Spiritual in Art and Schoenberg's Relationship to the Text; Kandinsky's poetry and illustrations and Schoenberg's expressionist paintings; Kandinsky's stage composition, The Yellow Sound, and Schoenberg's, The Lucky Hand. In addition, we will investigate the relationship between the artist and the unconscious in the early German Expressionism of the Blaue Reiter.

  11. Medieval Materials

    This course is structured around materials (ivory, alabaster, limestone, parchment, pigments, wood, silk, wool, gold etc), and attempts to put the actual materials back into the "material turn." I think this could work particularly well at RISD, and would involve trips to see rare books at Brown, to look at stone sculpture in the museum, etc. The focus on material also gives me a change to deal with global trade (particularly with ivory, silk, etc).

  12. Power, Dependence and Social Welfare In Early Modern Visual Culture

    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.

  13. Science Of Art

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

  14. Soviet Art and Film Under Lenin and Stalin

    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.

  15. The Artist's Field Journal: Indigenous American Spinning, Dyeing, and Weaving

    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. The Image Of America In European Film

    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. The Myth Of The City In 19th and 20th Century Western Art

    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 2020

  1. Art & Nature In The Middle Ages

    This course explores the representation of the natural world in the art and architecture of the Middle Ages, including the depiction of humans and animals, foliate decoration in architecture, automata and the falsification of nature, ideas about creation and beauty, the environment (including weather, climate change), representations of agriculture, the way humans attempted to control nature, etc.

    Open to sophomores and above.

  2. Art In Public

    What is the relationship between an artwork and a public? This course looks at modern and contemporary art that moves out of the gallery or the museum into the public realm, addressing a broader audience for political, social, or ecological reasons. Taking a broad definition of both "art" and "public," we will consider a range of case studies that encompass urban interventions such as Mexican muralism, monumental sculpture, and graffiti; geographic and ecological practices in land art and social activism; and ephemeral actions from performance art to flash mobs. This class will include field trips to visit various works in the Providence area that are present in, and shape, our daily lives. What is the purpose of public art? When and why is it effective? And who exactly is considered a public?

  3. Art and History Of Early West African Kingdoms

    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.

  4. Art and Religion: Silk Road

    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. Arts Of The First Nations Of The Americas

    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.

  6. Black Women Artists In The African Diaspora

    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.

  7. Borderlands: Latinx Art and Visual Cultures

    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?

  8. Critical Interpretations Of Art

    How do we interpret art and visual culture? How does the meaning of an individual work of visual art change over historical time? This course will examine a variety of answers to these questions. The class will be run as a colloquium of individual episodes in the interpretation of art from antiquity to the present day. We will look at visual culture through the lenses of: style, form, Iconography, Marxism, Feminism, Queer Theory, Prehistory, Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction, artist's biography, reproductions and facsimiles of art, conservation of objects, Orientalism, museum studies, contemporary art magazines, and more.

    The course material consists of lectures and readings. Students will be graded on the following criteria: attendance, in-class writing assignments, and group discussions. Preparation of readings is essential.

    This course is recommended for THAD concentrators and fulfills the "Historiography/ Methodology" concentration requirement.

    All interested undergraduate and graduate students are welcome.

  9. History Of Drawing

    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.

  10. Inside The Museum

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

    Also offered as GRAD-500G with limited seating for graduate students desiring graduate seminar credit; Register in the course for which credit is desired.

  11. Introduction To Material Culture: Makers, Objects and Social Lives

    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.

  12. Markets, Memories, and Radical Imaginings Of Evidence

    The Old Market House building, completed in 1775, was the first public market house in Providence. Designed by the architect of the oldest building on Brown University's campus in collaboration with a signer of the Declaration of Independence; this market housed food vendors, masons, soldiers, and politicians who conducted business across four centuries within its walls, making it arguably the most historic home of commerce in the city. During its past, this same building (now a RISD owned property) was also the hub of a different type of commerce, and operated as a very different type of market; a slave market to be precise. In this course, students will utilize techniques from their degree programs along with digital humanities tools to create community-engaged projects/works that reckon with Market House's past, while acknowledging that its past is not separate from our present. That we indeed exist in what Christina Sharpe calls "the ongoingness of the conditions of capture." Given the myriad of possible acts of participation and/or complicity with enslavement that took place in the Market House Building, and Market Square overall, students will be exposed to scholarly research on the slave pens, slave markets, slave jails, and auction blocks that proliferated the United States, Rhode Island in particular, during both the transatlantic and intra-state slave trades. Students will study how literalist demands for evidence impact the pasts, memories, and historical narratives of slavery that do and do not make it onto the public landscape. Moreover, through different assignments during the semester students will interrogate and unpack their own relationships to evidence as a concept. 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. Please note, this is a year long course, and students are encouraged to commit to both semesters, however they may sign up for the fall or spring independently, space permitting.

  13. Photography and Militarism

    Photography became especially popular as a vernacular and political medium around the time of the Crimean War in the nineteenth century. Since then, photography has been a critical medium that represents, commemorates, propagates, opposes, and complicates war and militarism across the globe. Histories of photography in the twentieth and twenty-first century have also unfolded through colonization, genocide, war, liberation, globalization, and war on terror. Militarism has thus been crucial to the medium's history: photography does not merely re-present the militarized life-in-the-making; it is an integral part of it. This course examines the ways in which the subject of photography has emerged through not only war but also what we will call "everyday militarism." Organized thematically according to photographic subjects, this course will closely investigate selected bodies of photographic work with readings on war, atrocities, subjectivity, ethics, and iconicity. Student research will be presented as a final presentation and paper.

  14. Renaissance Florence

    This social history of Renaissance art in Florence includes the study of drawing, painting, sculpture, and architecture from about 1250 to 1500. Our approach will be at once chronological and thematic, examining the visual culture of political power structures. Beginning with the concept of Renaissance as rebirth, the private and public spaces of the city of Florence shall be traced and investigated. In a period of massive transition in the arts, Italo-Byzantine mosaics and the Pisan sculptural tradition will give way to the panorama of public sculpture and performance art in a guild-driven republic. Painting techniques and the practice of disegno will be presented in terms of artistic training and apprenticeship. The expansion of the Medici family's influence and power can be witnessed according to Cosimo's building campaigns and art in the age of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Mythological and religious subjects will be studied in context according to patronage and intellectual trends.

    Open to undergraduates sophomore and above.

  15. Sem: Critical Discourse On The Black Female Body

    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. Sem: The Gothic Cathedral

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

  17. Tea, Coffee or Chocolate? The Visual and Material Culture Of Exotic Drinks In Pre-industrial Europe

    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.

    Open to sophomore and above.

  18. Thad II: Premodern Worlds

    Premodern Worlds: Theory & History of Art & Design 102 builds on H101 by providing an introduction to global art, design, and visual culture before the Industrial Revolution. The course emphasizes themes of contact, conquest, collaboration, and crossroads as they played out across the fluid borders that preceded the modern nation-state. By following the movement of people and goods, art and ideas, materials and processes through the centuries, the course provides a historical context for the development of modernism.

    Required for graduation for all undergraduates. Course is scheduled to be taken by first-year students during the Spring semester of freshmen year. The Liberal Arts office will place freshmen into sections of H102 after spring studio schedules are completed by the EFS office. There are no waivers for students entering as freshmen. However, 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. Seats for transfers and upperclass students are available but limited. Email the Academic Programs Coordinator in the Liberal Arts Division office for help with registration.

  19. Thad Museum Fellowship

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

    Permission of Instructor required. Course not available via web registration.

  20. The Stuff Of America: Postwar Material Modernisms

    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.