Art History (ARTH)

ARTH 1000 Art and Perception — 4 credits

Arts-based training is emerging in a variety of fields including health care, education, business, and law. It assumes that close encounters with works of art enhance our observational acuity as well as our skills in cognitive recognition and empathy. Inspired by Amy Herman's “Art of Perception” seminar and her book Visual Intelligence, this hybrid course is designed to help you claim your visual intelligence in your work and life. We will study and discuss artworks in person and in reproduction through a variety of exercises including "slow looking," drawing, and writing. Students will leave this class with an enhanced capacity for communication in a variety of modes, a deeper appreciation for the visual arts and their histories, as well as an ability to analyze the impact of systems of power and privilege that are perpetuated in visual communication. Satisfies the Fine Arts Core requirement. Offered in the College for Adults and the College for Women.

ARTH 1100 Introduction to Art History: Ancient Through Medieval — 4 credits

This course is an introduction to the history of Western art from prehistory through the Middle Ages. Beginning with the cave paintings of prehistoric France and Spain, this course surveys the visual arts and architecture of ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East, the Classical Greek and Roman worlds, and finally medieval Europe. It considers a variety of media (sculpture, pottery, wall painting, mosaics, and manuscripts as well as architecture) as meaningful expressions of their historical contexts. Questions surrounding how art and architecture function in society are explored throughout, and the basic principles of visual analysis are taught and utilized. Offered in alternate years. Offered in the College for Women.

ARTH 1110 Introduction to Art History: Renaissance through Modern — 4 credits

This course is an introduction to the history of Western art from the early Renaissance in Europe to the present in Europe and the U.S. It surveys the artists, architects, and art movements that constitute the canon of Western art since the Renaissance with an eye to examining how society influences artistic production and vice versa. The role of patronage, individual artistic personalities, religion, war and peace, and attitudes about gender are explored throughout. The basic principles of visual analysis are taught and utilized; students are also introduced to fundamental methods of art history such as iconography, formalism, and social art history. This course also includes a visit to, and analysis of an artwork in, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Offered in alternate years. Offered in the College for Women.

ARTH 1150 Ways of Seeing — 4 credits

The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe." John Berger made this claim in 1972, when he published a thin, but hugely influential book called Ways of Seeing. This course intends to bring Berger’s statement – and the insights of his book – to bear on our own experiences of art, history, and visual culture in the early 21st century. An introduction to the history of art and visual culture, this course considers local and global case studies that implicate images, image makers, and viewers. These are explored according to themes that cut across historical and geographical boundaries, themes that include, but are not limited to art and ideology, beauty and art, the female body and the male gaze, iconoclasm, piety and religious spaces, museums, popular and consumer culture, and social change. Offered annually. Offered in the College for Women.

ARTH 2684 Directed Study - Art History — 4 credits

ARTH 2994 Art History Topics — 4 credits

The subject matter of the course is announced in the annual schedule of classes. Content varies from year to year but does not duplicate existing courses. Offered in the College for Women.

ARTH 3500W Art and Power — 4 credits

This course explores the multiple intersections of art and power by considering the histories and meanings of objects on display in the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute or Art (hereafter Mia). It asks the following questions: What is the history of museums? What is the history of this museum? Whom does the museum serve? Why is this object in this collection? Why does it look the way it does? What is the social location of the intended viewer? What is the object's relationship to power? What is the viewer's relationships to power? Students choose an artwork on view at the Museum and work closely with the instructor, as well as with Museum and University Librarians, to excavate the histories of the chosen object. Students compose an annotated bibliography and object biography that takes as its point of departure that "museums are not neutral."* Developed in 2018-2019 with Nam Provost (Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Mia), this course may serve as reference for an emerging cultural competency curriculum for Mia staff. This course satisfies both the University's core fine arts requirement and Writing Intensive requirement. Also offered as CRST. *This phrase was coined by art historians and activists La Tanya Autry, Teressa Raifold, and Mike Murawski. See

ARTH 3630 Gender, Art, and Society — 4 credits

This course considers the artworks, lives, and voices of historically marginalized artists, who identify as cisgender women, transgender women, or non-binary, across history, geography, and society. As an art history course, it is alert to the ways in which these artists have been marginalized by master narratives. It also challenges the single stories that essentialize the study of gender and art (e.g the overlooked woman artist, the forgotten maverick) by emphasizing, as much as possible, the artists’ lived experiences as well as the formal integrity of their work. Organized in three parts – history/literature, theory, practice – this class includes lectures and discussions, individual and group work, films and videos, as well as visits with practicing artists and feminist scholars. The capstone assignment in the course is participation in an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Students will learn how to edit Wikipedia. Each student will select an artist (cis-woman, trans-woman, or non-binary) to research in order to amend that artist’s existing page or create a new one. Also offered as WOST 3630. Offered in the College for Women.

ARTH 4000 Methods and Theories of Art History — 4 credits

This course is both an introduction to the methods of art history and also a thought experiment in speculative fiction. Students in this course will create a toolbox of methodologies and theories that enhance our understanding of art and its history. Potential texts will consider traditional object-based methods of art history such as formalism and iconography as well as newer approaches that stress the various contexts in which artworks are created and understood. These include: social art history (including Postcolonial, Marxist and Feminist approaches), hermeneutics, psychoanalysis and reception theory. The speculative-fiction framework for this course is Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 novel Parable of the Sower, which will help us to envision the future of art and art history beyond survival. We will imagine a lost chapter of the novel that describes the burning of a museum. Faced with the opportunity to salvage artworks from the museum’s galleries, the book's protagonist Lauren Olamina and her band of survivors must quickly determine what to save for the future of humanity. By thinking with Butler, and her Earthseed tenets, we will each select an artwork in the Minneapolis Institute of Art to save and interpret with tools provided by a dying discipline known as art history. How will the central questions of the discipline change in this post-apocalyptic world? How will it change Lauren’s first Earthseed community? How will the artworks they’ve chosen, remnants of lost societies and survivors of modern institutions that could not, at last, be sustained, function in Acorn and beyond?.

ARTH 4684 Directed Study - Art History — 4 credits

Directed study is provided for students whose unusual circumstances prohibit taking a regularly scheduled course but who need the material of that course to satisfy a requirement. Availability of this faculty-directed learning experience depends on faculty time and may be limited in any given term and restricted to certain courses.
Prerequisites: Faculty, department chair and dean approval.

ARTH 4954 Independent Study - Art History — 4 credits

Independent studies presuppose a measure of experience in the area of study and the intent to go beyond the content of scheduled classes.
Prerequisites: Faculty sponsorship and department chair approval.

ARTH 4994 Art History Topics — 4 credits

The subject matter of the course is announced in the annual schedule of classes. Content varies from year to year but does not duplicate existing courses.