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ARTH 290

Topics in The History of Art

An in-depth study of a particular topic in the history of art. It may be an examination of a specific artist, group or movement or an exploration of a particular theme or issue in art.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities Varies according to topic offered 1/4 - 1/2 - 1 course

Fall Semester information

Sarah Cowan

290A: Tps:Performance Art of the Americas

This course explores the captivating history of performance art in the Americas. Since the early twentieth century, artists have turned to performance as an experimental mode of artistic production. They have used bodily movement, music and sound, costumes, and props to reimagine the forms, institutions, and audiences for art. What does it mean to "perform" art rather than to make an art object? We will take a hemispheric approach to this question, investigating how artists working in diverse contexts in Latin America and North America have used performance as an expressive and political form. For instance, we will analyze performance works made under dictatorial regimes in Argentina and Chile, amid the transnational feminist movement of the 1970s, and during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States. Among other topics, we will consider debates around performance documentation, the ethics of audience participation, and the critical use of the body by artists of color and queer and feminist artists. A central goal of the course is to introduce students to key themes of performance art and, more broadly, modern and contemporary art of the Americas. Some class meetings will include in-class performance workshops.


Spring Semester information

Sarah Cowan

290A: Tps:Performance Art of the Americas

This course explores the captivating history of performance art in the Americas. Since the early twentieth century, artists have turned to performance as an experimental mode of artistic production. They have used bodily movement, music and sound, costumes, and props to reimagine the forms, institutions, and audiences for art. What does it mean to "perform" art rather than to make an art object? We will take a hemispheric approach to this question, investigating how artists working in diverse contexts in Latin America and North America have used performance as an expressive and political form. For instance, we will analyze performance works made under dictatorial regimes in Argentina and Chile, amid the transnational feminist movement of the 1970s, and during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States. Among other topics, we will consider debates around performance documentation, the ethics of audience participation, and the critical use of the body by artists of color and queer and feminist artists.


Sarah Cowan

290B: Tps:Art & Liberation

This course will examine the dynamic relationship between art and social liberation movements in the United States from 1960 to the present. We will analyze a broad range of artmaking practices including abstraction, photography, and street interventions, looking at work undertaken in the contexts of the civil rights, feminist, and Chicanx movements, the HIV/AIDS crisis, and current social movements around police brutality, climate justice, and sexual harassment and assault. Rather than focusing solely on activist art, we will consider the varied ways artists have addressed ideas about liberation. Special attention will be paid to artists who have expressed ambivalence about the fraught intersection of aesthetics and politics. A motivating goal of this course is to enable lively analysis of the multiple strategies that artists have used to negotiate systems of exclusion.


Lyle Dechant

290C: Tps:Medieval Love

Surprising as it may sound, LOVE has its own history. Many of our modern notions of love--romantic courtship, love-at-first-sight, star-crossed lovers, stolen kisses, red roses, Valentine's Day--are largely an inheritance from the 12th to the 15th centuries, a period that witnessed a vigorous and often contentious discourse about love: What is love, exactly? What causes and sustains it? What are its effects on the individual, and on society? How does it relate to sex? To marriage? How should a lover behave? And who has the authority to answer these questions--the lovers themselves, or a corporate entity like the church or government? Just as our current ideas about love are transmitted and shaped by visual media like movies, advertisements and greeting cards, so too in the Middle Ages, images of love and lovers saturated both popular and elite culture. These visual expressions of love are the focus of this course. We will examine diverse media, including manuscripts, murals, prints, sculpture, textiles, and much more, in a quest to understand how medieval people approached and imagined the interrelated topics of love, sex, and marriage. Students will be challenged to exercise critical thinking and sharpen their looking skills through close visual engagement with the art and arts of medieval love.