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Art History Courses

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AH 250 Critical Approaches to Contemporary Art

This class provides a foundation in critical theory and in the skills of critical thinking and writing. We will consider the relationship between the theory and practice of art. Each week we will look at a different critical issue related to making and interpreting art, covering- the sometimes overlapping- issues of form, process, representation, reproduction, originality, distribution, institutions, gender, identity, culture and politics. We will frame these issues in relationship to specific case studies drawn from a range of media, including examples from studio areas at MECA. Students will be encouraged to make links between critical issues covered in class and their own work, and to understand the ways that theory connects to artistic practice.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. (Required for all students who entered MECA in 2006 and after) Prerequisite: AH 101-102 or equivalent.

AH 101 Art History Survey I

This two-semester art history course is a chronological overview of art works from the prehistoric period up to the twenty-first century.  This course introduces the student to the major historical monuments of world art with an emphasis on the works’ form, style, expression and cultural meaning.  Friday lectures and weekly section meetings, based on student involvement and participation, introduce the student to a variety of art forms from different cultures and periods. The course also introduces the student to art historical vocabulary and various methods of art historical research.  The course integrates a visit to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Required: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. No prerequisite. This course may not be dropped without department head approval.

AH 102 Art History Survey II

The second semester of the art history survey course combines a chronological overview of art works from the seventeenth century through the twenty-first century with a rigorous investigation of the contexts in which what we call art has been made.  The course covers major art historical developments in the western and non-western worlds with an evaluation of their form, content, style, and cultural meaning and import. Together the Friday lectures and the subsequent weekly section meetings, which are based upon student involvement and participation, introduce students to the varieties of art forms and artistic practices from different cultures and periods. The course also introduces students to the various methods of art historical research.  Required: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. No prerequisite. This course may not be dropped without department head approval.

AH 202 (NW) Japanese Art History

This course surveys the art of Japan from the prehistoric period to the 20th century. The diverse influences on Japanese art are studied in historical context. Active participation in the form of discussion and student presentations is emphasized. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH 101-102 or equivalent.

AH 204 [NW] Shaping an Islamic Vision: Architecture and Arts in a Muslim World

This course will explore the roots and the development of Islam and Islamic art within the context of its geographical, social and cultural milieu. From 7th century Iraq to12th century Spain , from 13th century India to 21st century Saudi Arabia , the Muslim world has expanded to incorporate a vibrant and dynamic civilization in which the arts have flourished. Architectural forms will be a major focus of the course, looking at the specific typologies and forms common to the Islamic idiom. The other arts, especially painting and calligraphy, will also be examined as media particularly revealing of the Islamic aesthetic vision. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH 101-102 or equivalent.

AH 301 20th Century American Art 1900-1960

This course is an examination of the art of America from 1900-1960. In the course of our study of American art in the twentieth century, we will explore the ways in which American art became "American". This investigation will cover the struggles of modernism and of the avant-garde in early 20th century America, the role of Regionalism in developing America's artistic identity during the thirties, and the impact of the Depression, WWII, and the culture of consumerism on post WWII American art. Weekly readings focus on artists and their work as well as issues of class, gender and race that helped shape American art.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours / week. Prerequisite: AH 101-102 or equivalent. (Formerly known as Modern American Art 1900-1960)

AH 315 Installation Art

This course explores installation art during the 20th century from Duchamp to Holzer and other contemporary artists. Situating itself in the nexus of contemporary global culture, installation art plays an important role in developments in modern and post-modern culture. Together with Conceptual Art, Installation Art staged the search for new meaning reconstructing the interaction of political, environmental and personal issues into a new format. In addition to readings, discussion and lectures, students will design their own installation project.  Elective:  3-credits/ semester; 3-hours/ week.  Prerequisites: AH 101-102 or equivalent.

AH 316 Contemporary Art & Curatorial Studies

This course is designed to provide the student with an overview of the multi-dimensional aspects of the curatorial and museum fields within the context of contemporary art practice.  The course will explore museum history & philosophy; research & documentation of objects; writing educational & publicity materials and catalog entries; conservation & preservation; collections management & arts administration; exhibition planning, design & installation; education and audience outreach; museum ethics & critical issues.  The course will include direct experience visiting with artists and art professionals, field trips and guest speakers, and will culminate in the production of an exhibition as the final project. Course requirements include readings, written assignments, class discussion, and attendance in lectures and visits.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH101-102 or equivalent.

AH 317 Women and Art

This course will investigate women as makers of art, as subjects of art, and as critics, theorists, and historians of art.  Rather than attempting a comprehensive chronological survey, the course will focus on a series of topics or themes exploring art production in Western Europe and America from the late eighteenth century to the present day.  Among the topics to be considered are:  the impact of feminism and feminist art theory on the rewriting of art history; the nude; orientalism and women as other; female subjects as the object of the gaze; feminist art of the 1970s and essentialism; psychoanalytic theory; woman and craft and art history's privileging of painting and sculpture; women and Impressionism; Victorian women artists; 19th-century American women sculptors; the careers of specific women artists, i.e., Cassatt, O'Keefe, Kahlo, Krasner, and the concept of "greatness"; race and women of color as makers/subjects; body, performance, conceptual art; the status and concerns of contemporary women artists.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH101-102 or equivalent.


AH 319 Revolutionaries to Radicals: Art of the 19th Century

This course will examine the remarkable developments in European art of the 19th century, including Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism, in the context of the political, social, and economic transformations of the century. We will focus on French painting, with forays into Spain, England, and Germany. Readings and class discussions will consider the impact of industrialization; political instability and democratic revolutions; academic art and the opposing avant-garde styles; the growth of popular culture; gender and the roles of women; the artists’ choices between social engagement and artistic independence, individuality, and innovation; and the concept of modernity. The course will encourage close readings of images by artists such as David, Delacroix, Goya, Turner, Courbet, Manet, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Cézanne. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH 101-102 or equivalent.

AH 338 The Art of Collectivism

This course will explore collective and collaborative group work as a model of artistic practice and identity from the second half of the 20th century to the present. Collectivism involves a deliberately constructed form of artistic identity in which the identity of the individual is subsumed within a composite, group subjectivity. By designing interpersonal relationships which give meaning to artistic production, 20th century art collectives introduced new models of authorship, alternative examples of social and political organization, and new ideas about form, content and hierarchies of artistic expression.

Beginning with the Cold War period from 1945 to 1989 and continuing to the present era of globalization, the course will examine such collectives as Guatai Group (Japan) Art & Language (UK), Collective Action (former USSR), Tucuman Arde (Argentina), N.E.Thing Company (Canada), Gorgona (former Yugoslavia), Group Material (USA), Critical Art Ensemble (USA), Subreal (Romania), General Idea (Canada), and others.Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH101-102 or equivalent.

AH 350/HU 350 Maine-scapes: Art in Maine Here and Now

Landscape and solitude have always attracted artists and writers to Maine, both the beauty and the poverty of the state being a source of inspiration for poets and novelists, environmentalists and reformers, and visual artists of all kinds. Maine-scapes is a team-taught, interdisciplinary course that will investigate the lively and longstanding relationship between Maine, art, and literature. Through faculty lectures and class discussions, field trips and lectures by visiting artists and writers, and assignments that engage students with local artists and writers, we will explore the interaction of place and creativity in both urban and rural environments, including what’s happening in the arts in Maine, right here and right now.

Possible artists and writers to be included: Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, Louise Nevelson, Natasha Staller, Will Barnett, and Scowhegan artists; E.B. White, Rachel Carson, May Sarton, Helen and Scott Nearing, Stephen King, Richard Russo, Carolyn Chute, Ron Currie,  Susann Pelletier.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH101-102 and EN 100/110 –105/112.  This cross-listed course can be used for either an Art History or Liberal Arts-Humanities elective.

AH 383 [NW] Contemporary Chinese Art

This course chronologically surveys and thematically examines the developments and changes in Chinese contemporary art. The survey focuses on the relationship between changes in Chinese contemporary art and the changing politics, economics and society of China. At the same time, it pays close attention to the relevance of western contemporary art. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH 101-102 or equivalent

AH 439/HU 439 (NW) From Modernist Utopia to Global Empire – Honors

After the collapse of the modernist utopian experiment represented by Communism in Eastern Europe, “utopian thinking” became largely obsolete.  Today, contemporary humanist thinkers, cultural producers and art activists are more involved in searching for ways to resist “ global Empire” than they are with shaping an ideal (utopian) society of the future.

This course will examine the transition from the modernist to the “global” world through an interdisciplinary examination of key historic and contemporary texts, artworks and films among them: Thomas More’s Utopia, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, historic avantgarde and neo-avantgarde art movements (futurism, constructivism, dadaism, conceptualism, systems aesthetics, relational aesthetics); and more contemporary accounts such as Hardt & Negri’s book Empire and Wachowski’s film Matrix.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisite: AH 101 and 102. This cross-listed course can be used for either an Art History or Liberal Arts-Humanities elective.

(Note: HONORS LEVEL - to earn the "honors" designation on your transcript, requires an additional 20% more reading and writing, and assumes a higher level of interaction in discussions. Honors classes cover material at a faster rate and expect you to learn more on your own, so most people find them more difficult. They look great on your CV if you're applying to a graduate or professional program and are more easily transferred.)

AH 440 Art History Minor Thesis

Students pursuing the minor may enroll in this course either semester. Students work with a thesis advisor. Independent Study: 3 credits/semester; 3 hours/week. Prerequisites: AH 101-102 and permission of Minor Program Coordinator.