Classes Offered

Clarke Library

Current Courses

Fall 2013 Semester

ARTH 500(F) Clark Visiting Professor Seminar: The Intentional and the Unintentional (Same as ARTH 400[F])                                          

This seminar looks at the place of intention—or the absence thereof—in the making and reception of art through both a selection of critical and theoretical texts that grapple with this question and a series of case studies of objects and images. In the first instance the seminar is historiographic, addressing a body of 20th-century writings, from the New Critics to the poststructuralist Death of the Author, that question the place of authorial intent in the evaluation or interpretation of a work, as well as the targets of these critiques and more recent responses to them (in wresting authority away from the producer, have we given over too much to the consumer?). Keeping in mind these theoretical points of reference, the seminar will move to a range of historical case studies in (mainly) Western art, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, evaluating both human intention (artists, patrons, even viewers) and the various forms of its absence. We will consider miraculous (“acheiropoietic”) objects, images “made by nature” and other nonhuman actors (why do cats paint?), the place of the unconscious, artwork made using the operations of chance, collaborations in which any singular intention is difficult to establish, examples in which intention is simply inaccessible to the interpreter, and examples in which it is, or seems, all too apparent. Students may present and write on examples from their particular fields of specialization.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on class participation, brief presentations of readings, a final presentation and a research paper of 15-20 pages.

Enrollment limit: 16, with places for 8 undergraduate [ARTH 400] and 8 graduate students [ARTH 500] assured. Preference given to senior Art History majors and Graduate Program students.

Hour: 1:10-3:50 R

ZORACH

 

ARTH 502(F) From WCMA to Bilbao and Beyond: The Future of Museums in the Global Cultural Landscape 

Over the past century, Europe and the U.S. experienced a steady and pervasive growth of public institutions, private collections, and a museum and gallery-going audience. In the past two decades, however, this growth has leveled off. Since the financial meltdown of 2008 the “crisis in the arts” has become an ongoing article of faith among museum professionals and trustees alike. At the same time, cultural activity in the developing world—as reflected in the creation of new museums, arts institutions, and private collections—seems to be increasing at a substantial rate. China and the Middle East are prime examples whereby governments, corporations, and private individuals are funding the development and construction of new arts institutions at a rate that surpasses anything seen in the west. The central focus of this course will be (1) to examine the implications of cultural globalization as it impacts museums and the art world; (2) to explore the tension between these two prevailing forces or tendencies described above; (3) to analyze the motivations and rationale for large scale cultural investment world-wide as a political and socio-economic phenomenon; and (4) to assess the impact of the globalization of culture on the western notions of art history, the art markets; and the significance of the most sophisticated aspects of contemporary art. We live in turbulent times. What is happening in the field of culture and art museums—like every other aspect of human society—will, by definition, generate new models of the form. The future of art museums, as well as the terms and mechanisms of how culture is used and consumed, is likely to be driven in large part by globalization and history. The objective of this course will be to examine these issues.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on class participation, brief presentations of readings, a final presentation and a research paper of 15-20 pages.

Enrollment limit 14 (9 undergrads [ARTH 315] and 5 graduate [ARTH 502] students) (expected: 10). Preference given to senior Art History majors, majors in
Leadership Studies, seniors across disciplines, and Graduate Program students.

Hour: 1:30-3:50 R

KRENS

 

ARTH 504(F) Methods of Art History

This course on art-historical method is designed to offer students a historiographic overview of the discipline of art history, with emphasis on developments over the past half-century. We will survey the most influential concepts of the discipline, the evolving tasks it has set itself, and the methods it has adopted for executing them. Works of art and other types of images will inevitably enter into our discussions, but the main objects of study will be texts about art, particularly texts explicitly addressing or exemplifying various methods for a historical study of art. Topics include: art history and its objects; looking and describing; “forms in the realm of time”; sign, meaning, affect, interpretation; art history and difference; image and function; art history as representation.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on several oral presentations on specific texts, a mid-term paper, and a longer final paper.

Limited to and required of first-year students in the Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Hour: 1:10-3:50 T

HAXTHAUSEN

 

ARTH 551(F) Orientalism                          d.c. 5

This course explores the rise of the painter-traveler in Europe in the 19th century, and in particular those artists who journeyed to North Africa and the Middle East. In the first weeks of the course we will explore influential critiques of Orientalist representation (Said, Nochlin, Grosrichard); the intersection of Orientalism and post-colonial studies; theories of ideology, travel, and tourist-studies; and related intellectual frameworks that have been brought to bear on the subject in recent decades. But the course will also explore approaches to Orientalist depictions that propose to break from “critique” across a range of methodological perspectives. Artists include Delacroix, Gérôme, Roberts, Regnault, Fromentin, and Sargent—in short, the vast inventory of figures who traveled to North Africa and the Middle East, following on the heels of colonial expansion, in an effort to renew their vocations.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on class participation, presentation of research, and a term paper of 20-25 pages.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to Graduate Program students and then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 10:00-12:40 T

GOTLIEB

 

ARTH 559(F) Photography as Object and Idea         d.c. 5

This course will focus on the first hundred years of photography, from the 1830s to the 1930s, considering the medium as a creative vehicle and theoretical construct. Early photography in Europe and America witnessed a vast array of technologies, functions, and aesthetic motivations. Exploring both primary documents (treatises, artist statements) and the critical, secondary literature, the seminar will investigate the full spectrum of photography from “fine art” to book illustration. A main focus of our reading will be historical texts that question the shifting status of photography. Using the Clark’s photography holdings as our base of inquiry, students will also view Photobooks in the Clark library and visit the Williams College Museum of Art.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on involved class participation, several short presentations, and a term paper of 20 pages.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to Graduate Program students and then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 10:00–12:40 W

CLARKE

 

ARTH 561(F) Writing About Bodies      d.c. 5

The goal of this course is to think about describing bodies from a variety of disciplinary approaches and genres of writing. It expands the art historical focus on represented bodies to include the experience of real bodies in time and space, including performing bodies, such as actors, dancers, and singers, and what makes them unique. We will also consider objects associated with bodies, and the ways they are animated, including how they are animated when the person who had them dies. The course invites students who wish to analyze bodies from different disciplinary formations—art, theatre, literature, anthropology, philosophy—and who have a particular interest in the experiential dimensions of writing. We will read scholarly writing, fiction, New Yorker profiles, as well as memoir/autobiography, and take each as a model through which to write about a person or an object redolent of a person. In the process, we will also explore historiographies of the body starting in the 1970s. Possible readings: Roland Barthes on cultural theory and representation; Zine Magubane and Zadie Smith on “other people;” Tamar Garb on portraiture; Elaine Scarry on the body in pain; Joan Acocella, Hilton Als, Judith Thurman and other writers on the arts; Judith Butler and Peggy Phelan on the performative body; Joseph Roach, Diana Taylor, and Michael Taussig on the body, memory, and ritual; Marvin Carlson and Terry Castle on haunting; and Arjun Appadurai and Bill Brown on things. These will be supplemented by live performances at The ’62 Center for Theater and Dance as well as films.

Format: Tutorial. Evaluation will be based on alternating weekly essays (4-5 pages) and responses (2-4 pages) as well as discussion; a 15-page final paper that distills the writer’s own project from these cumulative exercises.

Enrollment limit: 12

Preference given to Graduate Program students and then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 1:40-4:30 W

OCKMAN

 

ARTH 568(F) Julie Ault                             d.c. 5

Julie Ault (b. 1957) is an artist best known for her work with Group Material, a New York-based collaborative active in politically engaged exhibition making in the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to her work with Group Material, her own individual practice, and collaborative projects with Martin Beck, Ault’s practice also consists of her functioning as a writer, curator, and editor. She has written extensively on—and often in collaboration with—a number of artists and filmmakers including, among others, Sister Corita Kent, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Cerith Wyn Evans, James Benning, and Danh Vo. As opposed to the monographic seminar or exhibition that examines, contextualizes, and theorizes the oeuvre of a single artist, this class will study the constellation of practices in the galaxy of Ault’s artistic and intellectual project. While this seminar’s moves from singularity to plurality and from production to framing are familiar—and still necessary, as we will explore—poststructuralist and postmodern gestures, we will not abandon Ault to the position of mere cipher. Though we will not attempt to unify the disparate projects under any Aultian umbrella, our analyses necessarily will force us to ask how the artist—or the art historian, the critic, the writer, you, I—chooses the subjects of study that partially reveal how she conceives of herself as a subject. Though our primary task will be to read critically about—and look closely at the work of—the artists and collaborative practices mentioned above, we also will pay attention to topics including: feminism, countercultures, the function of translation, the role of biography in writing art history, the history of collaborative practice, the critique of the artist, and the critique of the institutions of art. Thinking by way of Julie Ault, we both will consider the personal nature of all critical endeavors and the heterogeneity of practices, theories, and concerns that can be organized under any unstable proper name. Finally, and pertaining to the changing contexts of contemporary art and theoretical production after 1968, we will take seriously Walt Whitman’s famous lines: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Format: seminar. Evaluation based on class participation and three essays (2,000 words each) to be conceived in consultation with the instructor.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to Graduate Program students and then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 10:00-12:40 R

BRESLIN

 

ARTH 595(F) Private Tutorial
Students may petition to take a private tutorial by arrangement with the instructor and with permission of the Graduate Program Director.

 

ARTH 597(F) Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit

 

Language Courses

511(F) Reading German for Beginners (Same as German 111[F])

This course is for students who have had no previous study of German.

Hour: 9:00-9:50 MWF

TBD

 

GERM 513(F) Readings in German Art History and Criticism

This is an advanced course in German reading, focused on the literature of art history. Texts are selected from fundamental works of art history and criticism and from the writings related to concurrent seminars in the Graduate Program. The course includes a grammar review.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on written homework, quizzes, tests, and class participation.

Prerequisites: German 511-512 or equivalent preparation (a score of 500 or higher on SAT II German Reading Test).

Enrollment open to Graduate Program students; others by permission of the instructor.

Hour: 9:00-9:50 MWF

E. KIEFFER

 

RLFR 511(F) Intensive French Grammar and Translation

Emphasis will be on a thorough and systematic review of French sentence structures and grammar. Through this intensive study, students will learn to decipher the subtleties of the written language, and as they become more confident they will start translating a variety of short excerpts. Students are also expected to learn and develop a wide lexical range centered on art history and criticism, but not limited to it. Format: Classes are conducted in English.  Evaluation will be based on class participation, papers, a midterm, and a final examination.

Prerequisites: none beyond a resolute interest in learning how to read French.

Enrollment is open for Graduate Program students; others by permission of the instructor.

Hour: 8:30-9:45 TR

DESROSIERS

 

Spring 2014 Semester

ARTH 500(S) Clark Visiting Professor Seminar: Art and Nature in Early Modern Italy (Same as ARTH 400[S])        d.c. 4

This seminar examines the myriad relationships of art and nature in Italy from ca. 1450 to ca. 1650. Using contemporary texts and visual examples, we will address a series of connections and tensions: the relationship of art and science (what does the scientific knowledge of nature have to do with the techne of visual art?); nature as an artist and its paragone (comparison and competition) with human artifice; arts that use nature as their medium (alchemy, medicine, engineering, and the visual arts—including, most prominently, now-marginalized arts such as ceramics and horticulture); nature as an object of visual representation (meaning the depiction of the nature of things primarily, and only secondarily referring to landscape); and nature as a unique set of qualities inherent in the artist and driving art production (a constant point of reference, for example, in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists).

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on class participation, brief presentations of readings, a final presentation and a research paper of 15-20 pages. Reading knowledge of Latin or Italian strongly suggested but not required; most readings will be done in English and alternatives will be offered where no English translation exists. Before the first meeting, students should have read Aristotle’s Physics in any modern edition.

Enrollment limit: 16, with places for 8 undergraduate [ARTH 400] and 8 graduate students [ARTH 500] assured. Preference given to senior Art History majors and Graduate Program students.

Hour: 1:10-3:50 R

ZORACH

 

ARTH 503(S) Studies in Decorative Arts, Material Culture, Design History, 1700-2000

The course will explore the methods, goals, and theoretical framework in which three-dimensional, functional objects have been and are interpreted. Class discussion will include distinction between “fine arts,” “decorative arts,” and “design”; role and limitation of connoisseurship; the current relationship of object study to aesthetics, social history, history of technology, anthropology, sociology, gender and ethnic studies; the effect of the market on history and scholarship; and current theories on the role of objects in human life.

Format: seminar. Evaluation will be based on leading class discussions of selected readings, one 20-page paper, two 3-page papers, and an oral presentation on the main research topic.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to Graduate Program students and then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 2:10-4:50 T

CONFORTI

 

ARTH 506(S) An Expository Writing Workshop

A common and depressing consequence of too much education is how our writing tends to devolve, as the task of saying what we mean is complicated by new anxieties: trying to impress our potential employers, intimidate our competition, and claim our place in an intellectual community. In many professions, bad prose tends to proliferate as scholars, trying above all to avoid mistakes, become tentative, obscurantist, and addicted to jargon. In this course we will try to relearn the basic skills of effective communication and adapt them to new and complicated purposes. In class we will go over weekly or bi-weekly writing assignments, but we will also look at the essays you are writing for your other courses, to give them an outward form that will best display their inner braininess. Among other things, I am a fiction writer, and part of my intention is to borrow the techniques of storytelling to dramatize your ideas successfully.

Limited to and required of first-year students in the Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Hour: 1:10-3:50 M

PARK

 

ARTH 507(S) An Object Workshop

Meeting for six sessions over the semester (to be scheduled for the gaps in the Clark Fellows Lecture schedule), this workshop will acquaint first-year students with a variety of questions concerning how we, as art historians, can most effectively integrate the close study of objects into our discipline, and why we should. We will draw on local collections and expertise for our case studies.

Limited to and required of first-year students in the Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Hour: bi-weekly meetings 4:00-6:00 T

GOTLIEB

 

ARTH 508(S) Art and Conservation: An Inquiry into History, Methods, and Materials

This course is designed to acquaint students with observation and examination techniques for works of art, artifacts, and decorative arts objects; give them an understanding of the history of artist materials and methods; and familiarize them with the ethics and procedures of conservation. This is not a conservation-training course but is structured to provide a broader awareness for those who are planning careers involving work with cultural objects.

Classes are held at the WACC in the Stone Hill Center on the Clark campus. Field trips this semester will include the Governor A. Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection in Albany, New York, and two others to be announced. Students receive a syllabus with session outlines and required reading lists.  Required reading is mainly from books on reserve at the Clark Library. No book purchases are required.

Format: slide presentations, lectures, gallery talks, hands-on opportunities, technical examinations, and group discussions.

Attendance is required at all sessions. The course grade is based on exams given throughout the semester; there is no final exam.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to Graduate Program students and then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 6:30-8:30 MR

BRANCHICK and WACC staff

 

ARTH 509(S) Graduate Symposium

This course is designed to assist qualified fourth-semester graduate students in preparing a scholarly paper to be presented at the annual Graduate Symposium. Working closely with a student and faculty ad hoc advisory committee, each student will prepare a twenty-minute presentation based on the Qualifying Paper. Special emphasis is placed on the development of effective oral presentation skills.

Requirements: each student will present three practice runs and a final oral presentation at the symposium.

Prerequisites: successful completion and acceptance of the Qualifying Paper.

Limited to and required of second-year students in the Graduate Program in the History of Art.

Hour: bi-weekly meetings TBD, in addition to dry runs.

GOTLIEB

 

ARTH 556(S) From Furness to Wright: the Roots of Architectural Modernism, 1865-1914           d.c. 5

A building should express the facts of its program and materials—directly and without sentimentality. A building should be a physical manifestation of the personality and ego of its creator. These demands are mutually exclusive—on the one hand, radical objectivity, on the other, radical subjectivity—yet together they form the basis for modern architecture at the turn of the twentieth century. The architectural lineage of Frank Furness, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright is marked especially by the high degree of tension between the competing demands of objectivity and personal expression. This seminar will explore the theoretical roots of their architecture, its philosophical sources in transcendentalism, Unitarianism, German romanticism; and treating such aspects as decorative arts, architectural education and theory, and architectural autobiography.

Format: seminar. Evaluation based on a 25-page research paper and seminar presentation; regular participation in seminar discussions. Consent of instructor.

Enrollment limit: 14, with places for 7 undergraduate [ARTH 456] and 7 graduate students [ARTH 556] assured. Preference given to senior Art History majors and Graduate Program students.

Hour: 1:10-3:50 W

LEWIS

 

ARTH 567(S) Modern/Postmodern

This course explores cleavages and links between modernism and postmodernism, specifically as visual art discourse deploys these terms. Treating its subjects as variable phenomena, it prioritizes the close reading of art practices; curatorial and archival models; theories of art; and salient attitudes towards the production of knowledge about art’s past, some of which do not take the form of art history.

Format: seminar. Evaluation based on class participation, presentation of research, and a term paper of 20-25 pages.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to Graduate Program students, then to senior Art History majors.

Hour: 10:00-12:40 W

ENGLISH

 

ARTH 569(S): Film as Art: Cinema in the Weimar Republic                                d.c. 5

This seminar will explore the attempt, in Weimar writing on film and film production itself, to raise the status of cinema from a low-brow mass entertainment medium to a visual art form worthy to stand alongside traditional painting. As the critic Rudolf Arnheim argued in Film as Art (1931), “in film one continues to work with the means and devices of traditional art, [and] one can speak just as seriously about Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, editing, and panning as one does about Titian, Cézanne, Baroque, and pleinairism.” Among directors, F. W. Murnau studied art history at university, Fritz Lang began as a painter and sculptor in Vienna; they and other film makers availed themselves of the services of painters and established architects for the creation of film sets. The seminar will focus precisely on this constitution of film as a primarily visual medium, in which, to paraphrase Arnheim, the most profound content was conveyed by light, framing, physiognomy, and editing, against which the word and the often kitschy or hackneyed story line remained secondary. While the primary focus of the film will be German directors, we shall also examine the work of filmmakers of other nationalities who were passionately committed to raising film to the level of high art: for example, the Russian Sergei Eisenstein, whose Battleship Potemkin was a major cinema event in Germany, and the Dane Carl Theodor Dreyer, who directed three films there. 

Format: seminar. Students will be responsible for oral shot analyses on segments of two films, an oral report, to be presented in revised, written form at semester’s end, and a 10-minute critical commentary on another student’s oral report.

Enrollment limit: 14. Preference given to seniors and Graduate Program students.

Hour: seminars 1:10-3:50 F; screenings, 6:30-9:00 W

HAXTHAUSEN

 

ARTH 596(S) Private Tutorial
Students may petition to take a private tutorial by arrangement with the instructor and with permission of the Graduate Program Director.

 

ARTH 598(S) Undergraduate Lecture Course Taken for Graduate Credit

 

Language Courses

GERM 512(S) Reading German for Beginners (Same as German 112[S])

Continuation of GERM 511.

Hour: 9:00-9:50 MWF

TBD

 

RLFR 512(S) Readings in French Art History and Criticism

This course will provide Graduate Program students and interested others with knowledge of French acquired through translation and interpretation. The core of this course is based on the reading and translating of a variety of critical works covering different periods and genres in the field of art history. The material read (excerpts from museum catalogues; the Gazette des Beaux-Arts; Salons by Diderot, Baudelaire, or Thoré; and such authors as Francastel, Valéry, Focillon, Derrida—to name a few) will be analyzed in form and content, translated or summarized, in order to develop the skills and understand the techniques necessary for reading French accurately. Grammar will be reviewed in context.

Format: seminar. Evaluation is based on class participation, papers, a midterm, and a final examination.

Prerequisite: RLFR 511 or permission of the instructor.

Hour: 8:30-9:45 TR

DESROSIERS