History of Art (Bryn Mawr)

Department Website:
https://www.brynmawr.edu/hart

The curriculum in History of Art immerses students in the study of visual and material culture. Students learn to interpret through methodologies dedicated to the historical, the material, the critical, and the theoretical. Majors and minors are encouraged to supplement courses taken in the department with history of art courses offered at Haverford, Swarthmore, and the University of Pennsylvania. Majors are also encouraged to study abroad for a semester of their junior year.

Major Requirements

The major requires ten units, approved by the major advisor. These courses should include one or two 100-level "critical approaches" seminars, which also fulfill the departmental writing intensive requirement; three or four 200-level lecture courses; three 300-level seminars; and senior conference I and II in the fall and spring semesters of the senior year.

In the course of their departmental studies, students are strongly encouraged to take classes across geographical, temporal, and cultural subfields and to explore diverse media. Students must complete coursework in at least three of the following fields of study:

  • Ancient and Medieval
  • Renaissance and Baroque
  • Modern, Contemporary, and Film
  • Global/Non-Western.

With the approval of the major advisor, a limited number of courses in fine arts may be counted toward the fulfillment of the distribution requirements. Likewise, a limited number of courses with significant curricular investment in visual and material culture may be counted toward the major requirements, including courses in ancient art offered by the Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology department, in the study of art institutions through the Museum Studies Program, or in architecture by the Growth and Structure of Cities department. Courses in art history taken abroad or at another institution in the United States may also be counted if approved by the major advisor. Generally, no more than two courses based outside of the department of History of Art may be counted toward the major requirements; the remainder of a student's courses in the major should be completed with members of the core faculty in History of Art.

A senior thesis, based on independent research and using scholarly methods of historical and/or critical interpretation must be submitted at the end of the spring semester. Generally 25-40 pages in length, the senior thesis represents the culmination of the departmental experience.

Requirements for Honors

Seniors whose work is outstanding (with a 3.7 GPA in the major at the beginning of the second semester senior year) will be invited to undertake an honors thesis. At the end of the spring semester, two or three faculty members discuss the completed thesis with the honors candidate in a one-half hour oral examination.

Minor Requirements

A minor in history of art requires six units: one or two 100-level courses and four or five courses at the 200 or 300 level. The student's minor program is decided in consultation with the department undergraduate advisor.

Faculty at Bryn Mawr

David Cast
Professor of History of Art

Matthew Feliz
Lecturer

Sylvia Houghteling
Assistant Professor of History of Art

Homay King
Chair and Professor of History of Art and the Eugenia Chase Guild Chair in the Humanities

Steven Levine
The Leslie Clark Professor in the Humanities Emeritus

Lisa Saltzman
Professor of History of Art and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Chair in the Humanities

Jie Shi
Assistant Professor of History of Art on the Jye Chu Lectureship in Chinese Studies

Alicia Walker
Associate Professor of History of Art on the Marie Neuberger Fund for the Study of Arts

Courses

HART B102  CRITICAL APPROACHES TO VISUAL REPRESENTATION: NATURALISM AND THE SUPERNATURAL IN SOUTH ASIAN ART  (1.0 Credit)

Sylvia Houghteling

This course examines the representations of gods, plants, humans and animals in the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Islamic artistic traditions of India. It traces both the development of naturalistic representations, as well as departures and embellishments on naturalism in the painting, sculpture, architecture, metalwork and textiles of South Asia. The course will consider the spiritual, social, political and aesthetic motivations that led artists to choose naturalistic or supernatural forms of representation.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B104  CRITICAL APPROACHES TO VISUAL REPRESENTATION: THE CLASSICAL TRADITION  (1.0 Credit)

David Cast, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

An investigation of the historical and philosophical ideas of the classical, with particular attention to the Italian Renaissance and the continuance of its formulations throughout the Westernized world.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B110  CRITICAL APPROACHES TO VISUAL REPRESENTATION: IDENTIFICATION IN THE CINEMA  (1.0 Credit)

Matthew Feliz

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

An introduction to the analysis of film through particular attention to the role of the spectator. Why do moving images compel our fascination? How exactly do film spectators relate to the people, objects, and places that appear on the screen? Wherein lies the power of images to move, attract, repel, persuade, or transform its viewers? In this course, students will be introduced to film theory through the rich and complex topic of identification. We will explore how points of view are framed in cinema, and how those viewing positions differ from those of still photography, advertising, video games, and other forms of media. Students will be encouraged to consider the role the cinematic medium plays in influencing our experience of a film: how it is not simply a film’s content, but the very form of representation that creates interactions between the spectator and the images on the screen. Film screenings include Psycho, Being John Malkovich, and others. Course is geared to freshman and those with no prior film instruction. Fulfills History of Art major 100-level course requirement, Film Studies minor Introductory course or Theory course requirement.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B111  LANDSCAPES, ART, AND RACIAL ECOLOGIES  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This course uses art, visual, and material culture to trace the plantation’s centrality to colonial and post-colonial environments in the Atlantic World from the eighteenth century to the present, as a site of environmental destruction as well as parallel ecologies engendered by African-descended peoples’ aesthetic and botanical contestation. Objects to be considered include landscape painting, plantation cartography, scientific imagery, environmental art, and ecologically motivated science fiction.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B112  ART, DEATH, AND THE AFTERLIFE  (1.0 Credit)

Jie Shi, Staff

This course aims to explore how art was used as a symbolic form to overcome death and to assure immortality in a variety of archaeological, philosophical, religious, sociopolitical, and historical contexts.

HART B218  BYZANTINE TEXTILES IN LIFE AND DEATH  (1.0 Credit)

Alicia Walker

This course explores the manifold uses and meanings of textiles in early Byzantine visual and material culture as well as their afterlife as objects of collection and display in the modern era. Students will undertake original research on early Byzantine textiles from the collection of Philadelphia University. Assignments will develop skills in museological writing, including documentation for collection databases and object exhibitions. Prerequisites: Previous coursework in History of Art, Archaeology, Museum Studies, or History is recommended, but not required.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B230  RENAISSANCE ART  (1.0 Credit)

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

A survey of painting in Florence and Rome in the 15th and 16th centuries (Giotto, Masaccio, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael), with particular attention to contemporary intellectual, social, and religious developments.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B233  NINETEENTH-CENTURY ART  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This course takes a transnational approach to the history of art from the Age of Revolution (beginning in the late-eighteenth century) through the industrial globalization of the late-nineteenth century. Lectures, readings and class discussions will engage key artistic and historical developments that shaped art and culture during this period.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B240  THE GLOBAL BAROQUE  (1.0 Credit)

Sylvia Houghteling

Global Baroque” examines the Baroque style both within and beyond Europe, moving from Italy, France, Spain and Flanders to seventeenth-century India, Iran, Japan and China, the New World, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Kongo. We will study the role of Baroque art in early modern politics, religious missions and global trade; the emergence of princely collections of wonders and cartography; the flourishing of new and wondrous art materials; and the changing role of the artist and artisan in this period. We will consider the Baroque as an invitation for emotional engagement, as a style of power that was complicit in the violence of European colonialism, and as a tool of cultural reclamation used by artists across the world. As a class, we will work to construct an art history of “The Global Baroque” that also attends to the complex specificities of time and place.

HART B248  TOPICS IN MUSEUM STUDIES  (1.0 Credit)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

HART B253  SURVEY OF WESTERN ARCHITECTURE  (1.0 Credit)

David Cast, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

The major traditions in Western architecture are illustrated through detailed analysis of selected examples from classical antiquity to the present. The evolution of architectural design and building technology, and the larger intellectual, aesthetic, and social context in which this evolution occurred, are considered.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B260  MODERN ART  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course traces the history of modern art from the mid-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. Lectures, readings and class discussions will engage key artistic and historical developments that shaped art and culture during the modern period.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B266  THE GLOBAL PRESENT  (1.0 Credit)

Lisa Saltzman

Division: Humanities

America, Europe and beyond, from the 1950s to the present, in visual media and visual theory.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B272  SINCE 1960: CONTEMPORARY ART AND THEORY  (1.0 Credit)

Matthew Feliz

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

Lectures and readings will examine major movements in contemporary art, including Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptualism, Performance, Postmodernism, and Installation Art. We will examine the dialogue between visual works and critical texts by Roland Barthes, Claire Bishop, Frederic Jameson, Adrian Piper, and Kobena Mercer, among others.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B274  HISTORY OF CHINESE ART  (1.0 Credit)

Jie Shi

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course is a survey of the arts of China from Neolithic to the contemporary period, focusing on bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese appropriation of Buddhist art, and the evolution of landscape and figure painting traditions.

HART B279  EXHIBITING AFRICA: ART, ARTIFACT AND NEW ARTICULATIONS  (1.0 Credit)

At the turn of the 20th century, the Victorian natural history museum played an important role in constructing and disseminating images of Africa to the Western public. The history of museum representations of Africa and Africans reveals that exhibitions—both museum exhibitions and “living” World’s Fair exhibitions— has long been deeply embedded in politics, including the persistent “othering” of African people as savages or primitives. While paying attention to stereotypical exhibition tropes about Africa, we will also consider how art museums are creating new constructions of Africa and how contemporary curators and conceptual artists are creating complex, challenging new ways of understanding African identities.

HART B281  MUSEUM STUDIES: HISTORY, THEORY, PRACTICE  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts); B: Analysis of the Social World

Using the museums of Philadelphia as field sites, this course provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical aspects of museum studies and the important synergies between theory and practice. Students will learn: the history of museums as institutions of recreation, education and leisure; how the museum itself became a symbol of power, prestige and sometimes alienation; debates around the ethics and politics of collecting objects of art, culture and nature; and the qualities that make an exhibition effective (or not). By visiting exhibitions and meeting with a range of museum professionals in art, anthropology and science museums, this course offers a critical perspective on the inner workings of the museum as well as insights into the “new museology.”

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B300  THE CURATOR IN THE MUSEUM  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This course provides an introduction to theoretical and practical aspects of museums and to the links between practice and theory that are the defining characteristic of the museum curator’s work today. The challenges and opportunities confronting curators and their colleagues, peers, audiences, and constituents will be addressed through readings, discussions, guest presentations, writings, and individual and group projects.

HART B301  TOPICS IN EXHIBITION STRATEGIES  (1.0 Credit)

Alicia Walker, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

HART B316  MUSEUM STUDIES FIELDWORK SEMINAR  (1.0 Credit)

Sylvia Houghteling, Staff

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course provides students a forum in which to ground, frame and discuss their hands-on work in museums, galleries, archives or collections. Whether students have arranged an internship at a local institution or want to pursue one in the Bryn Mawr College Collections, this course will provide a framework for these endeavors, coupling praxis with theory supported by readings from the discipline of Museum Studies. The course will culminate in a final poster presentation, an opportunity to reflect critically on the internship experience. Prior to taking the course, students will develop a Praxis Learning Plan through the LILAC office. All students will share a set syllabus, common learning objectives and readings, but will also be able to tailor those objectives to the specific museum setting or Special Collections project in which they are involved.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B318  CULTURAL PROPERTY AND MUSEUMS  (1.0 Credit)

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This course examines cultural heritage and the concept of cultural property in relation to museums and collections. We will consider the development of national and international laws in the 20th and 21st centuries to protect cultural heritage, museum responsibilities, and case studies on topics including the looting of archaeological sites, the fate of art during war, nationalism and politics, restitution of art, and fakes and forgeries.

HART B323  TOPICS IN RENAISSANCE AND BAROQUE ART  (1.0 Credit)

David Cast

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B326  SPECIAL TOPICS IN ART OF THE BLACK ATLANTIC  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B334  TOPICS IN FILM STUDIES  (1.0 Credit)

Matthew Feliz

Division: Humanities

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Fall 2020, Spring 2021)

HART B345  TOPICS IN MATERIAL CULTURE  (1.0 Credit)

Sylvia Houghteling

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B350  TOPICS IN MODERN ART  (1.0 Credit)

Matthew Feliz

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B355  TOPICS IN THE HISTORY OF LONDON  (1.0 Credit)

David Cast

Division: Social Science

Selected topics of social, literary, and architectural concern in the history of London, emphasizing London since the 18th century.

HART B370  TOPICS IN CHINESE ART  (1.0 Credit)

Jie Shi

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

HART B374  TOPICS: EXHIBITION SEMINAR  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

This is a topics course. Course content varies. Students will gain practical experience in the production of an exhibition: conceiving a curatorial approach, articulating themes, writing didactics, researching a checklist, designing gallery layout, producing print and web materials, developing programs, and marketing the exhibit. Prerequisite: At least one previous HART course at Bryn Mawr College.

HART B380  TOPICS IN CONTEMPORARY ART  (1.0 Credit)

Lisa Saltzman

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B398  SENIOR CONFERENCE I  (1.0 Credit)

Lisa Saltzman, Staff

Division: Humanities

A critical review of the discipline of art history in preparation for the senior thesis. Required of all senior majors.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

HART B399  SENIOR CONFERENCE II  (1.0 Credit)

David Cast, Staff

Division: Humanities

A seminar for the discussion of senior thesis research and such theoretical and historical concerns as may be appropriate. Interim oral reports. Required of all majors; culminates in the senior thesis.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

HART B403  SUPERVISED WORK  (1.0 Credit)

Alicia Walker, David Cast, Lisa Saltzman, Sylvia Houghteling, Staff

Division: Humanities

Advanced students may do independent research under the supervision of a faculty member whose special competence coincides with the area of the proposed research. Consent of the supervising faculty member and of the major adviser is required.

(Offered: Fall 2020, Spring 2021)

HART B425  PRAXIS III  (1.0 Credit)

Staff

Students are encouraged to develop internship projects in the college’s collections and other art institutions in the region.