All Courses

Courses at Wellesley College

ARTH 100: Introduction to the Analysis of Art – (*New in Fall 2015*)

Why does art matter? Because paintings, photographs, buildings, fashion, maps, even web pages shape our ways of understanding ourselves and our world. Being able to look closely and analyze what you see, therefore, is fundamental to a liberal arts education. This course provides an introduction to the discipline of art history. We will study different tools and problems of visual, spatial, and material analysis, using works of art and architecture from around the world, as well as key historical and critical texts. The course’s themes include cultural difference; race, gender, and the body; collecting and display; power and politics and more. Students meet twice weekly for small group discussions with their instructor. Twice a month, all discussion groups join together for special lectures, films, and workshops. The course is intended for majors and non-majors. There are no prerequisites. This is a required class for all art history, architecture, and studio majors, who should plan to elect both ARTH 100 and ARTH 101 in their first or second year.

ARTH 224: Modern Art to 1945

A survey of modern art from the 1880s to World War II, examining the major movements of the historical avant-garde (such as cubism, expressionism, dada, and surrealism) as well as alternate practices. Painting, sculpture, photography, cinema, and the functional arts will be discussed, and critical issues, including the art market, and gender, national, and cultural identities, will be examined. Normally taught by Professor Patricia Berman.

ARTH 258: The Global Americas, 1400 to Today – Co-taught with James Oles (*New in Spring 2016*)

This innovative course explores how and why we teach “art” by examining the arts and cultures of North and South America from pre-Hispanic times to the twenty-first century. We will investigate new ways of looking at canonical and non-canonical practices and figures, issues of race and class, and the dynamism of rural life vs. metropolises (like Havana, Miami, São Paolo and Mexico City). Emphasis is on the formative role of international encounter and cross-cultural exchange from Africa, Europe and Asia. Diverse topics include: caste paintings in Mexico, Native Americans in painting and photography, carnival practices in the Caribbean, the Harlem and Mexican Renaissances, Brazil in the 1920s, biennials, film, and contemporary art. Visits to the Davis Museum and field trips to area galleries and museums.

ARTH 262/AFR-ARTH 316:  African American Art 

In this course, we study art made by African Americans from early colonial America to the present. We examine images of African Americans by artists of diverse cultural backgrounds. Throughout the course we analyze construction(s) of subjectivity of African-American identity (black, Negro, colored) as it relates to visual worlds. Although the course is outlined chronologically, the readings and class discussions revolve around specific themes each week. The course is interdisciplinary, incorporating a variety of social and historical issues, and media and disciplines, including music, film, and literary sources.

AFR/ARTH 264: African Art: Powers, Passages, Performances

As an introduction to the arts of Africa, this course explores the meaning and the contexts of production within a variety of religious and political systems found throughout the continent, from Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria, to name a few. We consider important topics such as the ancient art outside the Nile Valley sphere, symbols of the power of royalty, and the aesthetic and spiritual differences in masquerade traditions. We pay special attention to traditional visual representations in relation to contemporary artists and art institutions in Africa.

AFR/ARTH 292: African Art & the Diaspora: From Ancient Concepts to Postcolonial Identities

We investigate the transmission and transformation of African art and culture and their ongoing significant impact on the continent, in Europe and in the Americas. This course explores the arts of primarily western and central Africa, including the communities of the Bakongo, Yoruba, and Mande, among many others. The influences of early European contact, the Middle Passage, colonialism and post-colonialism have affected art production and modes of representation in Africa and the African Diaspora for centuries. Documentary and commercial films will assist in framing these representations. The study of contemporary art and artists throughout the African Diaspora will allow for a particularly intriguing examination of post-modern constructions of African identity. Group discussion will be a critical part of each class session.

ARTH 316: The Body: Race & Gender in Modern and Contemporary Art

This course charts past and present artistic mediations of racial, ethnic and gendered experiences throughout the world, using the rubric of the body. In the struggle to understand the relation between self and other, artists have
critically engaged with the images that define our common sense of belonging, ranging from a rejection of stereotypes to their appropriations, from the discovery of alternative histories to the rewriting of dominant narratives, from the concepts of difference to theories of diversity. The ultimate goal of the course is to find ways of adequately imagining and imaging various identities today. We will discuss sociopolitical discourses, including essentialism, structuralism, postmodernism, and post-colonialism and we will question the validity of such concepts as diaspora, nationalism, transnationalism and identity in an era of global politics that celebrates the hybrid self.

ARTH/AFR 316: The Jazz Aesthetic

This seminar will examine intersections of African American visual arts with the rise of jazz music from African-derived work-songs and spirituals of the 19th century to the later development of rock-n-roll, funk, and hip-hop into the 1990s. We will explore multifaceted themes in art, literature, and film, such as the color theories of Wassily Kandinsky, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the photomontages of Romare Bearden, and Sun Ra’s AfroFuturist film Space is the Place. We will treat the art and artists related to Cubism, the Harlem Renaissance, Social Realism, Abstract Expressionism and the Black Arts Movement, among others, and will consider individuals such as Aaron Douglas, Josephine Baker, Norman Lewis, David Hammons, Miles and Betty Davis, and Betye Saar.

All Courses Taught

The Body: Race and Gender in Modern and Contemporary Art, Spring 2013. Wellesley College.

African Art and the Diaspora: From Ancient Concepts to Postmodern Identities, Fall 2012 & Winter 2013. Wellesley College & Alle School of Fine Arts, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.

African American Art, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Spring 2012 & Spring 2014. Swarthmore College, LaSalle University & Wellesley College.

Introduction to Western Art History II, Spring 2011. Rutgers University-Camden.

History of American Art, Summer 2004, Fall 2009 & Spring 2011. Univ. of Delaware, Rowan University & Rutgers University-Camden.

Race, Identity and Experience in American Art, Spring 2011. Tyler School of Art, Temple University.

Introduction to Art, Fall 2010. LaSalle University.

Modern Art, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2013. Rutgers University-Camden, Moore College of Art & Design & Wellesley College.

African Art: Power, Passage, Postcolonialism, Spring 2009. Swarthmore College.

Monuments & Methods, Spring 2008. University of Delaware

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