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Graduate Seminars for Fall 2017


Hacienda La Esperanza, Manatí, Puerto RicoARH 5806-01 – Caribbean Architecture and Empire
Dr. Paul Niell
Wednesday 12:00–2:45 pm

This seminar examines the history of the early modern (to 19th century) Caribbean using architecture and material culture as primary evidence. In over four hundred years of colonial rule, European empires vied for dominance in a transoceanic system of commerce established soon after Christopher Columbus first landed on the north coast of today’s Haiti in 1492. The seminar takes the notion of “empire” as its organizing theme and the examination of architectural and material remains as its primary methodology. Among the goals of the course are the attempt to understand how imperial visions and ideologies manifested in the region, how empires overlapped, and how individuals and groups constituted and negotiated empire through their bodies, spaces, and material lives.


Washington, D.C.ARH 5806-02 – Memory, Monuments, and Memorials in the United States
Dr. Karen Bearor
Monday 12:00–2:45 pm

Public monuments and memorials often mark flashpoints in public discourses over history and memory. What lies behind the proliferation of memorials in recent years? Who controls representations of historical events? Whose needs do memorials and monuments serve? This seminar will look at recent scholarship on memory and trauma as it applies to monuments and memorials, as well as the role of museums in collecting artifacts in the aftermath of tragedy.




ARH 5806-03 – The Art of Observation in the Early Modern Print
Dr. Stephanie Leitch
Tuesday 12:00–2:45 pm
This class will examine the pictorial construction of vision in the early modern print as a result of physical and social practice. We will consult primary sources on the process of vision and inspect how first-hand observations were visualized in images of several printed genres that claimed to reproduce unmediated experience with the world. Prints in these genres helped cue observation, calibrate sightings, and thus, shaped and sharpened visual acuity. The prescriptions these images delivered for observing human, terrestrial and cosmographic phenomena offered to lay audiences important strategies for challenging knowledge enshrined by the ancients. We will read art historical literature, as well as contributions from the history of science, history of the book, and historical phenomenology. Papers for this class will characterize the visual strategies at work in cosmography, natural history, portrait books, as well as in the works of experimental science like physiognomies and even artists’ manuals. The goal of the seminar will be to show how printed images helped shape testimony about first hand observation, as well as to investigate the period’s skepticism about the reliability of images to deliver acts of vision.


ARH 5806-05 – Envisioning French Colonialism
Dr. Adam Jolles
Thursday 3:00–5:00 pm
This course will assess the transformative impact of France’s imperial aspirations on the visual culture of la Grande France, a category that encompasses both la Métropole (the sovereign nation) and l’Outre-mer (those overseas territories and peoples France colonized). We will focus our attention on the nation’s spectacular expansion at the dawn of the nineteenth century through its precipitous contraction in the decades following World War II, investigating a wide range of media and institutions implicated in the country’s imperialist ambitions. Topics will include depictions of the indigène in France in the nineteenth century, the refashioning of the European artist in relation to non-European ethnicities, and the cultural syncretism to which such refashioning gave rise.


CappadociaARH 5806-06 – The Byzantine Rock-Cut Churches of Cappadocia: Monumental Paintings in Context
Dr. Lynn Jones
Tuesday 3:00–5:45 pm
This course examines the Byzantine rock-cut churches of the Anatolian plateau of Cappadocia (modern Turkey), which date to the Middle Byzantine period (843-1204). Approximately 800 churches preserve partial or complete painted programs. This represents a staggering 78% of all extant Middle Byzantine monumental paintings. Contrasting this wealth of visual material is the lack of contemporary texts describing the function of these structures. Students will familiarize themselves with modern scholarship, focussing on the three major concentrations of rock-cut structures on the Anatolian Plateau: the Ihlara and Soganli valleys and the Goreme Open Air Museum. Using a range of analytic methods, students will formulate questions for further study and present and defend links between perceived function and iconographic meaning. The class projects will combine to analyze the effectiveness of a variety of scholarly approaches to the monuments, and to offer new links between function and painted programs.


ARH 5887 Walt Disney and the American Century
Dr. Robert Neuman
Thursday 9:00–11:45 am
Walt Disney (1901-66) was arguably one of the most influential Americans of the twentieth century. The goal of this course is to consider this historical figure and his company in relation to art, society, and culture during the American Century. Because this is an art-history course, special attention will be paid to Disney’s contributions within the realms of film, architecture, and the theme park. A constant sub-theme will be the relationship between high art and popular art, as exemplified in the work of the Disney Studios. Weekly reading assignments from Steven Watt’s The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life will provide the requisite chronological background concerning Disney’s biography and the historical context. Informal discussion of assigned readings will focus on the contemporary as well as academic critical discourse on Disney. Using in part the methodologies espoused by the various authors, students will research and write an original paper dealing with some aspect of Disney’s visual output in its art-historical context.


Duval-Carríe: Mountain Creeper, 2015ARH 5799-01 – Cultural Heritage Theory and Practice
Dr. Michael Carrasco
Tuesday 3:00–5:45 pm

Cultural heritage is an integral part of ongoing processes of social change. When we make choices about the presentation of cultural objects and practices we construct a particular past, comment upon the present, and shape the future. The investigation, curation, and use of “traditional” practices, narratives, and the fragmentary materiality of the past create and recreate community identity. Accordingly, Cultural Heritage Studies embraces a wide range of related subjects. These comprise among other topics the relationship between people and the representation, interpretation, and valuation of the past and traditional practices; contemporary communities’ use of heritage; and the practices through which both tangible and intangible heritage are intentionally preserved, exhibited, and theorized. This seminar is a graduate-level introduction to these issues. The seminar unfolds around specific cultural heritage problems or “case studies.” This year the course will work in tandem with the development of a collaborative exhibition that is focused on the dialogue among the work of Edouard Duval-Carrié, plantation culture, and issues of production and consumption.