Art History

Undergraduate

Art history is the study of paintings, sculptures, architecture, photography, film, furniture, ceramics, installations and many other visual forms.

A student in the art museum gallery

Program Overview

Explore the visual world in the oldest and one of the most prestigious Art History departments in the country.

Our courses span the globe and different historical periods 鈥 from ancient Rome, Islamic cultures, medieval Paris and Renaissance Italy, to Indian cinema, American painting, contemporary photography and modern architecture. In studying art history, you will learn to appreciate works of art and architecture in their historical and cultural settings. We seek to provide the language necessary to analyze and interpret objects, images, as well as built and landscaped environments, so that students may develop a critical voice and a sophisticated vocabulary for examining and evaluating all aspects of the visual world.

We believe in civil discourse and respect for diversity of identity, race, religion, and experience, as well as diversity of thought, orientation, and viewpoint. We remain committed to engaged and lively conversation about the nature of art historical inquiry and the range of understandings it generates about the art of the past and present. We teach you to develop a disciplined, inquiring outlook that demands evidence and reflects thoughtful deliberation about differing perspectives.

A student closely inspecting a set of sculptures at the 精东传媒 Art Museum

Museum Connections: The 精东传媒 Art Museum

The 精东传媒 Art Museum serves as a classroom for many courses and offers internships, employment and a Student Guide program.

The museum contains a searchable collection of 24,000 works of art, decorative art and material culture from around the world. There are also opportunities to intern at the Art Museum or to join the Student Guide program and help develop educational programs using the collection.

Discover the Art Museum
Professor Ajay Sinha teaches a class in the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum.
Professor Ajay Sinha teaching a class in the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum.

Museum Connections: The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum

With over 7,000 objects, the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum has important collections of minerals, fossils, furniture, maritime objects, firearms, glass, ceramics and tools. Art History professors often hold classes in the museum.

A group of student museum guides

精东传媒 Art Museum Student Guide Program

The volunteer student guide program offers an opportunity to work closely with 精东传媒 Art Museum staff, learn about the Art Museum鈥檚 collections, and give tours to campus, community and K-12 audiences. You do not need not be an art history major to be a museum guide. The museum welcomes intellectually curious students with a diverse range of interests and backgrounds into the program.

Community Voices

Spotlight on Art History students and alums

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Emily Isakson 鈥19

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Sommer Byers 鈥21

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Courses and Requirements

We offer courses in all eras of art history, including the arts and architecture of Europe, America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Learning Goals

By participating in coursework and experiences constituting a major in Art History, students will acquire the following knowledge and skills.  They will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of works of art and architecture in their historical and cultural settings.
  • Acquire the vocabulary needed to analyze and interpret objects, images, and built and landscaped environments across the world and through time.
  • Develop visual acuity for critically examining our image-saturated world.
  • Apply innovative theoretical and methodological approaches to engage with the history and politics of visual representation.
  • Learn to develop research questions, and locate and assess primary and secondary sources, both print and digital.
  • Develop the ability to write and speak effectively about material culture with critical sophistication.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

One course at the 200 level in the Ancient and Medieval area4
One course at the 200 level in the Renaissance and Baroque area4
One course at the 200 level in the Modern and American area4
One course at the 200 level in the non-Western area4
Two courses at the 300 level 18
Three additional courses at any level12
One course from another department or program that is chosen in consultation with an art history advisor, after the declaration of major4
Total Credits40
1

not including ARTH-395

Additional Specifications

  • Art history majors may not minor in architectural studies.
  • Majors may enroll in 300-level seminars at the other Five College institutions with permission in advance from their advisor and the department chair. Students who plan to enroll in 300-level courses outside of the Five Colleges, especially yearlong courses to be taken abroad, should first consult with their advisor and the department chair to determine if the courses meet departmental criteria for 300-level credit.
  • No more than four courses from other colleges or universities (including the Five Colleges) may be counted toward the major.
  • Reading knowledge of a foreign language is recommended for those contemplating graduate study in art history.
  • Students should be aware that preference in 300-level courses is normally given to those who have taken a relevant course at the 200 level. Majors are not automatically guaranteed preference in seminars that might be oversubscribed and, therefore, should not wait until the last semester to fulfill a seminar requirement.
  • As a general rule, first-year seminars may not be counted toward the major.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

One 100-level art history course 14
Any four courses in art history at the 200 level or above16
Total Credits20
1

A student may substitute this course with AP credit in art history, but must take an additional 4 credits in art history at any level to meet the 20 credit minimum for the minor.

Additional Specifications

  • Within these general requirements a student may construct a minor as focused or as comprehensive as desired.
  • No more than two courses from other colleges or universities (including the Five Colleges) may be counted toward the minor.
  • As a general rule, first-year seminars may not be counted toward the minor.

Course Offerings

ARTH-101 The Built Environment

Spring. Credits: 4

Architecture may have originated as a response to basic human needs, but it very quickly took on complex meanings that transcend practicality. This course focuses on architecture from prehistory to the present, including buildings, cities, and urban planning; infrastructure and engineering; the unbuilt (and unbuildable) as well as the built world. Case studies cover design and theory as well as history. Individual projects and sites are explored as windows onto design principles, problems, and solutions; changing techniques, materials, and concerns; and human needs, desires, and ideals as manifested in the built world.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Barber

ARTH-102 Art in the Premodern World

Fall. Credits: 4

If creativity is what makes us human, then art has special power to connect us to people of the distant past. This course traces key instances of creative expression from antiquity through the Middle Ages, when art as such was not yet a distinct concept and museums did not exist. Instructors choose case studies from different cultures and periods that touch on fundamental themes of human experience such as ritual, belief, and death. Students learn to analyze objects, images, and built environments in light of their visual and material properties, social contexts, and place in the larger history of human creativity.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Barber
Advisory: This course replaces ARTH-100PW and may not be taken by students who have completed that course.

ARTH-103 Western Art: 1400-2000

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

Art has the power to drive as well as reflect history. This course explores artists, images, objects, and buildings that have defined identity, sparked revolution, and changed how people think and act over the last seven centuries. Case studies include works that define the western tradition and others that interrogate its complicated legacy. We will see the rise of the very concept of Art along with the heightened status of the artist in society, the origins of the art museum and of the commercial art market. Students gain art-historical skills and learn to analyze the mechanisms by which creative expression shapes history, politics, and beliefs.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
C. Dubinsky
Advisory: This course replaces ARTH-100WA and ARTH-100SE, and may not be taken by students who have completed either one.

ARTH-104 Talking Pictures: An Introduction to Film

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Some of the best feature-length films of the past century have commanded our attention and imagination because of their compelling artistry and the imaginative ways they tell stories visually and verbally. This course closely studies narrative films from around the world, from the silent era to the present, and in the process it introduces students to the basic elements of film form, style, and narration. Some of the films to be considered are: Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane, Contempt, The Bicycle Thief, Ugetsu, Rear Window, Woman in the Dunes, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Days of Heaven, and Moulin Rouge.

Crosslisted as: FMT-103
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
P. Staiti

ARTH-105 Arts of Asia

Fall. Credits: 4

This multicultural course introduces students to the visual arts of Asia from the earliest times to the present. In a writing- and speaking-intensive environment, students will develop skills in visual analysis and art historical interpretation. Illustrated class lectures, group discussions, museum visits, and a variety of writing exercises will allow students to explore architecture, sculpture, painting, and other artifacts in relation to the history and culture of such diverse countries as India, China, Cambodia, Korea, and Japan.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-108
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Sinha

ARTH-106 Arts of Africa and Its Diasporas

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

This course introduces students to art and architecture created by peoples of African descent around the world. Through case studies spanning centuries and continents, students encounter a dazzling array of artforms that reflect changing contexts and cultural entanglements, fuse new and old belief systems, and flourish while transcending borders. Selected topics vary, but themes may include gender; performance; resistance to settler colonialism and enslavement; modernity and modernism; and museums, decolonization, and repatriation.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
K. Newberry

ARTH-230 Italian Renaissance Art

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This survey outlines the arts in Italy from the late thirteenth to sixteenth centuries, a time of major cultural transformation. Our approach will be primarily geographic, focusing on individual cities and courts in order to understand the social networks that linked artists with their patrons and publics. We will also address key themes such as the functions of art; the role of women in the arts; the changing status of artists; portraiture and the fashioning of identity; the rise of print; art and ideas about faith, love, desire, and marriage; and the cross-cultural links between Italian artists and their colleagues far away.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Maier
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-231 Northern Renaissance Art

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course covers the arts in Northern Europe during a time of upheaval. We will look at developments in panel painting, manuscript illumination, printmaking, and sculpture from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries--examining shifting patterns of patronage and production along with shifting styles, techniques, and media. We will consider major artists like Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Durer, and Pieter Bruegel, as well as seismic cultural shifts such as the print revolution, the emergence of the woman artist, the Reformation, and the origins of the art market.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Maier
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-232 Renaissance Cities

ARTH-232RM Renaissance Cities: 'Rome'

Fall. Credits: 4

Renaissance Rome was a bundle of contradictions: a place of earthly corruption and sacred pageantry, crumbling ruins and glittering palaces, decay and renewal. While still impressive, the city had fallen far from its ancient glory days as capital of an empire. This course begins in the early 1400s, when the papacy returned after an absence of more than a century to reclaim a rundown, depopulated, lawless place. We trace the remarkable series of artistic, architectural, intellectual, and urbanistic transformations that, by 1600, had prepared Rome for a renewed role on the world stage.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Maier
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-233 Italian Renaissance Architecture

Fall. Credits: 4

Renaissance Italy gave rise to an extraordinarily influential version of classical architecture. Figures like Brunelleschi and Palladio took their cues from antiquity while moving beyond it to pioneer new techniques and designs. In this class, students explore developments in building types such as churches, palaces, and villas, as well as urban planning and landscape design. Recurrent themes include the rise of the professional architect, the development of the written treatise, the balance of theory and practice, and the role of patronage. In Renaissance culture, architecture was more than functional: it was a public statement that could project power, taste, and status.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Maier
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Advisory: First-year students may seek permission if they have 4 credits in Art History.

ARTH-236 The Global Renaissance

Spring. Credits: 4

This class turns away from the conventional Eurocentric narrative of the Renaissance, reframing it as a time when exploration and cross-cultural encounters inspired a rich and varied array of art, architecture, and sculpture. The objects we will examine include world maps from Europe and China, West African ivories, Benin bronzes, Indian miniatures, Islamic metalwork, Mexican feather paintings, Aztec cartography, colonial Latin American buildings and murals, as well as European paintings and illustrated books. All of these items speak to expanding networks of trade and conquest. Collectively, they show just how global and connected the Renaissance world really was.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
J. Maier
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-241 Nineteenth-Century European Art: Neoclassicism to Impressionism

Fall. Credits: 4

This course will survey art in Europe from the French Revolutionary era to the last quarter of the nineteenth century -- or, in the language of art history, from the neo-classical painters (David and his atelier) to the great painters of modern life in Paris (Manet and his followers). This chronology represents one of the most important transformations in the history of art: the origins and early development of what we today call "modern art." We will spend considerable time tracing this difficult passage, pausing here and there to readjust ourselves to the shifting language of art and to orient art's relationship to the modern public.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-242 History of Photography: The First Hundred Years

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course surveys the first century of photography, beginning with its putative birth in 1839 and following its shifts and turns until the eve of World War II. We will look at a variety of photographic types: the daguerreotype, calotype, tintype, albumen and gelatin silver prints, and more. We will assess a range of practices: studio portraiture, commercial pictures, vernacular photography, journalism, and the fine arts. And we will follow camerawork in a variety of settings: China, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, and the U.S.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-244 Global Modernism

Fall. Credits: 4

This course examines the great ruptures in late 19th and early 20th century art that today we call modernist. It relates aspects of that art to the equally great transformations outside the studio: political revolution, the rise and consolidation of industrial capitalism, colonization and its discontents, and world war. It compares different kinds of modernisms, including those in Austria, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain and Russia.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-245 Hot Art During the Cold War

Spring. Credits: 4

This course traces the different paths of painting, sculpture, and mixed media in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Western and Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1989. It begins with both the "climax" and "crisis" of modernism in midcentury and the movements and works that the crisis spawned. In the second half of the course, it follows art's relationship with a variety of postmodern subjects and debates. Throughout, it measures the effects of geopolitical tensions on the visual arts. Readings include a wide range of primary and secondary sources, with essays by art historians, critics, and artists.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-246 Photography As Art

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

In case studies beginning in the 1930s and continuing to the present, this course explores the many uses of photographs as art. It regards pictures made as individual art works as well as those objects using photographs and photographic materials as parts of an ensemble. We will trace a chronological but also winding path through different regions of the world, including experiments in Africa, Asia, and Europe, in addition to a more prominent concern with those in North America. Some of the case studies may include works by Ansel Adams, Eleanor Antin, Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Anselm Kiefer, An-My Le, Dinh Q. Le, Robert Mapplethorpe, Martin Parr, and Fazal Sheikh.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-250 American Art

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

A survey of painting and sculpture, this course introduces students to the work of individual artists. Classes also develop ways of looking at and thinking about art as the material expression of American social, political, and cultural ideas, including the depictions of nature, race, revolution, and country life. The course focuses on 'American Masters': Copley, Stuart, Cole, Church, Eakins, Homer, Sargent, Whistler, and Cassatt are some of the key artists.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
P. Staiti
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-262 Arts of Japan

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course explores the special characteristics of Japanese art and architecture, from the early asymmetry of Jomon pottery and the abstraction of Haniwa figures to the later elite arts of the aristocratic, military, and merchant classes: narrative scroll painting, gold-ground screens, and the 'floating world' of the color woodblock print. A historical survey of the arts of Japan, highlighting the interplay of art with religious and political issues.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Sinha
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-290 Issues in Art History

ARTH-290AW Issues in Art History: 'African and African American Women Artists'

Spring. Credits: 4

Taking cues from Linda Nochlin's classic feminist essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?," this course is a global "studio visit" with artists from Constance Afiong Ekong to Howardena Pindell. We explore the intersections of nationalism, race, identity, gender, politics, cross-cultural influences, local and colonial histories, and artistic passion which all contribute to giving these artists space in the male-dominated, Eurocentric art world. We track the bold resistance of African and African American women artists to that ecosystem, as they refuse to relinquish their love for their art and their rightful places in the art world, defiantly declaring that they'll stay out... until they get in.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
K. Newberry
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-290BC Issues in Art History: 'Bollywood: A Cinema of Interruptions'

Spring. Credits: 4

Indian popular cinema, known commonly as Bollywood, is usually understood to have weak storylines, interrupted by overblown spectacles and distracting dance numbers. The course explores the narrative structure of Bollywood as what scholar Lalitha Gopalan calls a "constellation of interruptions". We will learn to see Bollywood historically, as a cultural form that brings India's visual and performative traditions into a unique cinematic configuration. We will analyze a selection of feature films, read scholarly articles, participate in debates, write guided assignments, and pursue independent research papers in order to understand Bollywood's uniqueness in relation to world cinema.

Crosslisted as: FMT-230BC
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
A. Sinha
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-290RA Issues in Art History: 'Roman Art and Archaeology'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course provides an introduction to the art, architecture, and archaeology of the ancient Romans. At its height, the Roman Empire controlled much of the ancient Mediterranean. As Roman power spread, so too did Rome's art and architecture. This course examines the major developments in Roman archaeology from the foundation of Rome through the growing Republic of Pompey and Caesar, the Rome of the emperors, and the rise of Christianity. We will explore how material culture, from tombs and temples in Rome to the urban planning of provincial cities, can help us to better understand the connections between material culture and history, politics, religion, and daily life in the Roman world.

Crosslisted as: CLASS-239RA
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
C. Baker

ARTH-290RC Issues in Art History: 'Medieval Architecture in Motion'

Fall. Credits: 4

We usually encounter medieval art in the museum. There, encased in glass and opportunely illuminated, they are objects of quiet contemplation. Yet the art and architecture of the Middle Ages were seldom still or silent, and its audiences were rarely disinterested observers. In this course we will explore medieval architecture's multifaceted meanings for those who experienced its sights and sounds. We will also consider the interrelationships between objects in other media -- such as sculpture, mosaic, and textile -- and the architectural spaces in which they were situated. Course topics will proceed both chronologically and thematically, taking in sites from across Europe and the Mediterranean.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Barber
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-290SP Issues in Art History: 'Medieval Iberia: Art, Society, and Culture'

Spring. Credits: 4

During the Middle Ages, the Iberian Peninsula was unique in its diversity: social and political, ethnic and religious, linguistic and cultural. This lecture course examines the art and architecture of Spain and Portugal from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages from the perspective of the interconnections between its various communities. We will explore instances of coexistence and acculturation, periods of persecution and violence, and where these relations found visual expression. Course topics will proceed both chronologically and thematically, taking in subjects such as: religious architectures; court culture; identity, assimilation, and exclusion; and Iberia's connection with the wider European and Mediterranean worlds.

Crosslisted as: RELIG-225SP
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Barber
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-290SW Issues in Art History: 'Here +54: From the Smithsonian to Soweto, Arts of the African Americas and Africa'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course serves to articulate the cultural nuances, critical theory, and artistic practices shaping the visual art production of African American and African Diasporic artists and makers. Here +54 provides immersive encounters with both historical and contemporary expressive material culture of both African America and the 54 countries on the African continent. The course will confront the fragility of African American cultural representation and challenge "Western-centric" views of the artistic practices of the African continent. Additionally, our considerations will analyze themes of cultural, economic, epidemic, political and social realities and their impact on African American and African Diasporic culture through time as vividly manifested in visual forms.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
K. Newberry
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ARTH-290TK Issues in Art History: 'Art History Toolkit: Research, Writing, Methods, Careers'

Spring. Credits: 4

Geared toward new and prospective majors, this course covers art historical research, writing, critical methods, and career options. Students gain research proficiency in digital and analog library resources. They practice a wide range of scholarly and professional writing types. Readings and discussions highlight theories, methods, and urgent questions facing the field today, while invited speakers give an overview of the professional possibilities. Assignments include oral presentations and exhibition designs as well as frequent written work. The overarching goal is a strong foundation in art history as a discipline and a skill set that can lead to a rewarding future.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
J. Maier
Restrictions: This course is limited to sophomores and juniors.
Prereq: 8 credits in the department.

ARTH-290VA Issues in Art History: 'Ancient Greek Vases and Vase Painting'

Spring. Credits: 4

Greek painted vases are some of the most recognizable artifacts from the ancient Mediterranean. In this course, we will situate Greek vases and the scenes painted on them within Greek culture and its artistic production. We explore these vases, produced from the Minoan period through the Hellenistic age, from a variety of perspectives. Themes will include the artisans and workshops who produced these vases, the consumers -- from ancient buyers to modern museums -- who purchased them, the traders who moved them, the variety of styles and scenes, from mythological to daily life scenes, which decorated them, and the approaches to these vessels employed by current and past scholars

Crosslisted as: CLASS-239VA
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
C. Baker

ARTH-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

ARTH-300 Seminar

ARTH-300AF Seminar: 'Curating African and African American Art: Up from the Basement and into the Collection'

Fall. Credits: 4

This seminar explores the social, cultural, racial and political elements that refract in the process of curating modern and contemporary African and African American art. Prescribed methodologies have applied a one-size-fits-all approach, flattening the intentions of makers and depriving us all of cultural enrichment. Only informed, respectful curatorial strategies can break down institutional boundaries and historically slanted perceptions of African and African American art. We will examine instances of sensitive stewarding, considerate contextualization, and accessioning and placement of contemporary African and African American works, with occasional comparative forays into curatorial approaches to Euro-American art.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
K. Newberry
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 4 credits in Art History, Africana Studies, History, or the Museums, Archives, and Public History Nexus.

ARTH-300AM Seminar: 'Architecture in Miniature in Asia'

Spring. Credits: 4

The course explores small objects that allude to large spaces in different periods and regions of Asia. Portable objects represent real and imaginary buildings in Buddhist Central Asia, Islamic West Asia, and Chinese tombs. Persian miniature paintings are sectioned into architectural enclosures. Chinese landscape paintings and Japanese "dry" gardens compress the natural environment itself. In an active learning environment, we will experience the pleasure of scale-shift in small things. We will examine scholarly articles, write persuasive essays, visit Mount Holyoke's Art and Skinner museums, and make "archimorphic" objects in the Fimbel Maker and Innovation Lab.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
A. Sinha
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors

ARTH-300MM Seminar: 'The Medieval Mediterranean'

Fall. Credits: 4

Throughout its history, the Mediterranean-the "Middle Sea" -- has been a space of cultural contact, confluence, and exchange: a conduit rather than a barrier. In this seminar we will explore the interaction of various religious and political communities of the Mediterranean Basin from the rise of Islam in the seventh century CE to the central Middle Ages, and consider how these connections were manifested in art. Considering themes such as religion, identity, appropriation, and trade, our case studies will trace the formation of the distinctive visual cultures of the Mediterranean across diverse media, from portable objects to architecture.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Barber
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits in Art History and/or History.

ARTH-300MY Seminar: 'Building After Rome: Early Medieval Architecture'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Even in ruins, the buildings of ancient Rome still amaze us: luxurious villas and palaces, monumental theaters and bathhouses, even a strikingly modern-looking public infrastructure. But how did architecture change after the Western Roman Empire's collapse in the fifth century CE? This seminar delves into the architecture of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (ca. 300-ca. 800 CE). We will range across geographic and religious boundaries to consider themes such as: the effects of the so-called "Fall of the Roman Empire" on architectural practice; religious architecture; patronage, labor, and materials; and cross-cultural connections in the Mediterranean world.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
S. Barber
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 4 credits in Art History.

ARTH-301 Topics in Art History

ARTH-301MH Topics in Art History: 'Making History'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Description: This research seminar looks at the relationship between historical painting and the history it depicts. How much is fact; how much is fiction; and how do we explain the differences? To what ends was it painted? The focus will be on contemporary history painting in the period 1770-1875. The first half of the semester will examine these questions using critical theory and real examples. Students will then develop a major American, British, or French history painting for sustained research and analysis. Possible pictures include Turner's Slave Ship, Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, Copley's Watson and the Shark, David's Marat, and others. Numerous papers and class presentations.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
P. Staiti
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits in Art History.
Advisory: A course in American or modern art is recommended.
Notes: Four class presentations, four short papers, and one term paper.

ARTH-302 Great Cities

ARTH-302RM Great Cities: 'Rome, the Eternal City'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This seminar will survey the past, present, and future of the Eternal City through its remarkable art, architecture, and urbanism. We will examine the material traces of Rome's journey from ancient capital to center of Christianity, seat of the caesars to that of the popes and prime ministers, beacon to pilgrims and tourists, then finally modern capital and -- perhaps -- sustainable city. Despite its problems, this "mother of all cities" continues to be a model of urban relevance and staying power.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Maier
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits in Art History, Classics, or History.

ARTH-340 Seminar in Modern Art

ARTH-340AM Seminar in Modern Art: 'After Impressionism'

Spring. Credits: 4

This seminar will focus on the works of four painters, and we will choose from among the following: Bonnard, Cezanne, Gauguin, Pissarro, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, and van Gogh. We will study their works in relation to the feverish debates about painting in the 1880s and 1890s that the previous generation's Impressionism brought about. As we will discover, the four artists were hardly a unified group, took distinct paths away from Impressionism, and pursued projects that had limited allegiance to its main tenets or, indeed, to the ideas and practices of each other. In all, they will represent the extraordinary vitality of art suddenly loosened from the academic world.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits in art history.

ARTH-342 Seminar in Twentieth-Century Art

ARTH-342WH Seminar in Twentieth-Century Art: 'Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This seminar explores the careers of two towering figures in the history of photography. Although they were contemporaries, Evans and Cartier-Bresson developed ideas about camerawork that couldn't have been more different. Among other topics, we will explore the tensions between art, documentary, and photojournalism; street photography; the vernacular; the 'decisive moment,' and more.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Lee
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: Four credits in art history.

ARTH-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Contact us

The Department of Art History and Architectural Studies oversees programs for the study of paintings, sculptures, architecture, photography, film, furniture, ceramics, installations and many other visual forms.

Melissa Burke
  • Academic Department Coordinator

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Mount Holyoke seeks intellectually curious applicants who understand the value of a liberal arts education and are driven by a love of learning. As a women's college that is gender diverse, we welcome applications from female, trans and non-binary students.

Financing your education

Everyone鈥檚 financial situation is unique, and we鈥檙e here to make sure cost does not get in the way of an exceptional education.