Richmond Home

Special Topics Courses

FALL 2018 Special Topics Courses

Taught by Mia Genoni, Ph.D. Dean of Westhampton College & Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences

Art has served as pivotal and powerful element of politics for centuries, across time, space, ideas and media. Whether we look at the socio-political battles that raged in Renaissance Florence, as families and rival governmental factions fought a propaganda war using the state of the city iteself - its streets, homes, and civic buildings -, or at the socio-cultural and political battles of contemporary America, in which artists and activists create works whose messages are seen on the streets and in institutions of power (governmental, artistic, academic), art has long been politial action - meant to sway, provoke, and mold public opinion, to express, argue, and create indvidual and institutional identities. This course focuses on a series of fascinating examples in art and architecture throughout the centuries, in which art is persuasion, propaganda, narrative, counter-narrative, activist act, protest, counter-protest, revolution, and more, enacted on individual and civic bodies an the body politic alike.

Taught by Asst. Professor of Art History Agnieszka Szymanska

This course examines Islamic art from approximately 700-1700 CE. The geographic scope includes the Mediterranean region, Western Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Through readings, discussions, research projects, and oral presentations, students will grapple with the question of what makes Islamic art, both religious and secular, Islamic.

Previously Offered Special Topics Courses

Taught by Asst Professor of Art History, Agnieszka Szymanska.
This course focuses on Mediterranean visual culture in the medieval period, including its late antique percursors. You will explore the art of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. You will consider how each community deployed visual culture to shape it's identity, and you will also look at ways in which images, aesthetics, and architectural types crossed religious boundaries. This course fulfills the medieval requirement.

Taught by Asst Professor of Art History, Kristopher Kersey.
This course covers the art, architecture, and material cultures of South, Southeast, and East Asia-premodern and modern. In addition to providing an overview of the artifactual record, the course also aims to engender a series of fundamental art-historical skills such as description, side-by-side comparison, the division between object and image, slow looking, and critical reading. A final objective of the course is call into question the Eurocentrism of "art" as a concept, and to trace its modern construction in East Asia. For as we will discover, the material culture of global modernity has been, and will continue to be shaped by the arts of Asia. No prior coursework or experience is necessary.

Taught by NEH Visiting Associate Professor of Art History, Tracy Hamilton.
The transition from the Roman Empire to its Byzantine, Islamic, and Holy Roman successors saw both a thread of continuity and a paradigm shift in the art and culture of Europe and the Mediterranean. Visualized through the exchanges they made, we will also study extraordinary loci such as Celtic England, Visigothic Spain, and the cities of Ravenna and Rome.

Taught by NEH Visiting Assoicate Professor of Art History, Tracy Hamilton.
The course will analyze how women present themselves and a vision of their worlds through artistic commissions. Beginning in late antiquity, and extending to Western Europe and Byzantium in the late middle ages, we will study how religious and laywomen used ritual, manuscripts, sculpture, stained glass, and architecture to express their ideologies and agendas.

Taught by Visual Resources Director, Dr. Jeannine Keefer. 
This course will cover architecture from early 15th Century Italy to 17th Century northern Europe.  We will explore the uses of architecture and urbanism in service of religion, power, commercial endeavors, and life in the city and in the countryside.  We will consider the rise of the individual and his/her influence on the built environment as well as the role of external forces such as trade and local tradition.  In addition to monuments we will also discuss a number of architectural treatises and other texts that shaped the humanist architectural lives of architects, their patrons, and the citizens of Renaissance Europe.  

Taught by Part-Time Instructor of Art History, Dr. Lisa Ashe. 
A slide-lecture survey course, “Art since 1945” will begin with an examination of the formation of Abstract Expressionism in New York in the 1940s and its institutionalization in the 1950s. It will address the rise of pop and minimal art in the 1960s, and the challenge that these movements, and the earthworks, conceptual art, and performances that followed from them, posed to the idea of modernism and the traditions of painting and sculpture. At the center of the course both chronologically and thematically will be the question of postmodernism. The second half of the course will focus on the issues raised by the return to representation in painting, by photography and other technologies of reproduction, by a shifted concern for audience and a public art, and by the work of artists from outside the mainstream.

Taught by Associate Professor of Art History, Dr. Elena Calvillo
This course addresses the development of the artist biography in Early Modern Italy and its relationship to artistic self-fashioning, critical reception and the writing of history. Beginning with models from ancient writers and the first biographies of the 15th century, discussions will focus on the work of Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects in the sixteenth-century and his successors in the seventeenth century, taking into consideration the purpose that such a work served and its effect on the lives and work of later artists. For rhetorical reasons, Vasari often proposed a connection between an artist’s personal life and the success of his (rarely her) career. Some artists sacrificed professional honor, even their life, for the love of a woman or became lazy after receiving a steady income. By the seventeenth-century, the artist Caravaggio’s anti-social behavior clearly informed the way in which his art was theorized and critiqued by contemporary writers. Since this period is associated with the rise in the social status of artists, the course addresses relevant subjects such as the education of artists in workshops, at courts, and later in formal academies. Given the topic, readings focus on the lives of several well-known artists, beginning with Brunelleschi and Michelangelo and ending with Artemisia Gentileschi and Vermeer (including discussions of recent biographical novels and movies).