History of Art 200: Graduate Proseminar in the Interpretation of Art Historical Materials

Instructor: Todd Olson

This seminar is intended to introduce graduate students to a range of critical perspectives, theoretical issues, and methodologies that constitute the practice of art history. The seminar is not intended to be a comprehensive survey of the history of the discipline. The selected topics and readings are in no way entirely inclusive of contemporary practitioners and their respective fields. Once we have set aside the disclaimers and apologies, the seminar can pursue an archaeology of the discipline with an eye to the useful and the latent. While good art historical work generously draws on the theory and methodology of other disciplines, the seminar will attempt to understand the discipline’s particular (if not peculiar) history, accretions, inheritances and possibilities. Stress will be placed on close reading of illustrated texts, which entails attention to the visual evidence as well as the rhetorical strategies of the writers.The structure of the course will be shaped by some of the following keywords or issues: sign (persistence, (dis)continuity, misrecognition and afterlife or revival), change (structure and transformation), object, materiality, reception, context, agency (biography and authorship).

  • Elective Requirement: It satisfies the requirement for Critical Approaches and Methodology.