Show More


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 1/2 - 1 course

Fall Semester information

Katherine Mintie

290A: Tps:Racial Identity and Photography in the United States

This course will consider the ways in which photography, since its invention in the mid-nineteenth century, has produced (and continues to produce) meanings about racial identity in the United States. While photography has long been characterized as an objective or neutral medium, this course will explore how photographers, photographic subjects, and audiences have crafted and interpreted photographs to both perpetuate and refute popular beliefs about race and racial difference. This course will begin by examining the use of photography by abolitionists and early anthropologists in the mid-nineteenth century, move on to consider the role of the photographic images during the civil rights movements of the 1960s, and conclude with an examination of work by contemporary artists, such as Ken Gonzales-Day, Carrie Mae Weems, and Wendy Red Star, who incorporate and respond to historic photographs in their work.


Michael MacKenzie

290B: Tps:First World War and Modernist Culture

It is often said that the First World War -- the first industrialized war -- changed everything, brought an end to 19th century culture and politics, and ushered in the Modern era. An entire generation experienced the horrors of the trenches, endless artillery bombardments, and poison gas, only to return home to a world they no longer recognized, and that no longer understood them. The painters, poets, novelists, and movie makers among them did their best to convey their experiences of war and combat through their art forms -- and in the process, contributed to the creation of modernist art and literature. This course will examine the experience of the war through art and literature.


Katherine Mintie

290C: Tps:Representing American Identity: Art and Visual Culture in the US, 1776-Present

This course will examine the visual and material culture of the United States from the American Revolution to the present. Drawing upon an inclusive definition of what constitutes American art, this course will consider not only canonical paintings and sculpture but also popular and vernacular art forms, including quilts, Native American beadwork, and protest posters. This course will also be attentive to the role of cross cultural exchange throughout the history of American art and will examine artworks imported to the United States from makers around the globe as well as work created by American artists living abroad. By considering an expansive set of objects produced by artists and artisans from diverse backgrounds, this course will enable in-depth discussion around the themes of American identity, memory, and belonging. Given the many excellent collections of American art in the local area, this course will provide several opportunities for students to examine and discuss course-related artworks in person.


Spring Semester information

Katherine Mintie

290B: Tps:Art & Activism in the U.S.

What is the role of art in social movements and social activism? This course will consider visual strategies of dissent, collaborative art making, and the potential of new media technologies for good and ill in activist art in the US, from the era of Abolition to the present. The course will also cover the artwork of the Great Depression and the Civil Rights movement, and conclude by examining the contemporary visual communication around LGBTQ rights, climate change, and immigration. The course will open up discussions on themes of visibility, censorship, disruption, and collaboration. Students will have the option of producing a final creative project in support of a movement with which they are aligned.


Lyle Dechant

290C: Tps:Medieval Art of Love


Katherine Mintie

290D: Tps:Art on Trial: Obscenity, Forgery, and the Black Market

In the interdisciplinary course Art on Trial: Obscenity, Forgery, and the Black Market, students will learn to analyze artworks and a range of textual sources through the investigation of court cases that have shaken the American art world from the nineteenth century to the present. From cases tried against publishers of obscene texts during the early nineteenth century to recent cases involving appropriation art and the repatriation of Native American art and material culture, these animated courtroom dramas will encourage students to think deeply about the central role of the law in shaping the production and exhibition of art in the United States and the simultaneous influence of popular visual culture on legal opinions. The selected case studies will take up a variety of legal issues, which will introduce students to the workings of the American legal system and to basic "legalese." By the end of the course, students will have developed the skills to critically analyze complex visual and textual materials, to engage in persuasive oral debate, and become familiar with many key social tensions running through the history of American art.