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Academics . Liberal Arts . Courses

Liberal Arts Courses

Issues in 20th & 21st Century Art and Design

Course No. AC 380  Credits: 3.0

This special topics course explores global trends in 20th and 21st century art, craft, and design. It focuses on critical issues and artistic practices that are central to contemporary art and allied fields. Each section will have a distinct emphasis, such as art, design, and environmental perspectives, performance art, socially-engaged practices, interactive media, digital photography and video, conceptual approaches to craft, and theories and practices that are emerging in the field. Course activities will include readings and discussion, presentations, and research assignments. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

Conceptual Art

Course No. AC 383  Credits: 3.0

This theme-based art history course is designed to give students an in-depth, semester-long investigation into the art movements and ideas that informed Conceptual Art’s development in the 1960s and 1970s as well as its impact on contemporary art making in the decades that followed. This course will cover, but not be limited to, the so-called heyday of Conceptual Art in the 1960s and 1970s, a focus on which would otherwise reinforce the traditional modernist art historical framework that defined styles in part by limiting them to a specific time period. Significant time in the class will be devoted to investigating examples of conceptually-informed art created in the 1980s, 1990s and the early 21st century, underscoring the impact of Conceptual Art’s legacy for art, craft and design today. The course will investigate the philosophies that informed conceptual art that allowed artists to problematize the conditions and encounters with art; the conventions of its visuality, and the circumstances of its production. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

Japanese Visual Culture

Course No. AC 386  Credits: 3.0

This course will explore all aspects of Japan’s visual culture, island by island, theme by theme. Special attention will be devoted to Japan’s major cities, and the most important cultural sites, including temples, shrines, gardens, and parks. We will discuss the history of Japan, traditional Japanese culture, and current Japanese pop culture. Student assignments will focus on the history of Japanese illustration, including ukiyo-e, manga, and anime. The course lectures will introduce these topics, as well as present an examination of all traditional Japanese art forms, from temple architecture to the tea ceremony. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

Media Arts & Visual Culture: Installation

Course No. AC 387  Credits: 3.0

This course investigates the emergence, prominence and impact of the installation as a new medium in contemporary art. “Media arts” or “new media” include but are not limited to video and experimental film, performance, interactive art, digital media, and especially the installation, which itself embraces a wide range of media. We will focus on the growth of the installation from “environments” in the 1960s into a distinct artistic medium used widely since the 1980s. We will discuss the work of many recognized artists and some less familiar artists from around the world as well as corresponding theories of media within the broader field of visual culture. Using a wide range of installations as examples, particular attention will be given to the implications that new media, especially digital media, have for the creative process and the critical social issues that they raise. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

Media Arts & Visual Culture: Interactive Zones

Course No. AC 388  Credits: 3.0

What is “interactivity”? A recent publication is titled Total Interaction, but what does that mean? In this course we will look closely at the history, theory, and practice of the interactive as a facet of contemporary art, design, and media culture. We will explore thematic zones or territories of the interactive both real and imagined, including: cybernetic systems, sci-fi and popular culture, visionary design, interactive animations and massive multi-player games, convergent technology, responsive environments, and “A.I.” (i.e., artificial intelligence). A previous course in modern and contemporary art or visual culture is assumed for all participants. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

History of Photography Survey

Course No. AH 323  Credits: 3.0

This is a photo historical survey course. Lectures are presented on leading photographers throughout the history of photography from its earliest beginnings to the present within a context of cultural, art historical, social and political trends. Students develop skills in critical thinking, writing and research through lectures, group discussions, reading and writing assignments along with the production of a comprehensive research paper. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

An Introduction to African Art

Course No. AH 324  Credits: 3.0

This art history course provides an introduction to the visual art traditions of sub-Saharan Africa from ancient cultures to the present. Lectures and readings are drawn from art historical scholarship as well as from other disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, visual culture studies) that provide a sense of the social, political and religious contexts within which the art was created and used. The study of African art from a Western perspective presents questions that are covered in class: When and under what circumstances did “Africa” as a concept emerge? Did Africans consider their works “art” in the same sense that Westerners use that term? How did Western museums acquire African art and how does that inform the way we understand African works? In what ways did colonialism, the spread of Islam and Christianity, pan-Africanism and post-colonial movements affect artistic production? How do we understand modernism in an African context?. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits


Course No. AH 342  Credits: 3.0

This course will explore neo-expressionism, neo-geo and postmodern art (painting, sculpture, performance, photography) of Germany, Italy, England, and the United States from 1971 to the present. We will survey two major developments in art making and cultural theory taking place in Europe and America. The first is art as anti-modern (neo-expressionism) - a return to history, to representation, to narrative, to the figure, and of the artist/self. The second is art after "the death of the author" (postmodernism) - or the end of the individual "author"/artist (as the unique source of meaning of art) and the birth of the reader/viewer. In analyzing these developments, the course will survey the work of a number of artists. Prerequisites: AC 150 and AC 250 or Corequisite: AC 250. 3 credits.

Meet Your Faculty view all

Gemma Sharpe

Assistant Professor

Gemma Sharpe is an art historian specializing in modern and contemporary art from South Asia, Cold War histori...more

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