University of Wisconsin–Madison


  • Fall 2017

    Art History/African American Studies 241: Introduction to African Art & Architecture
    Henry Drewal

    This course examines the rich heritage of African arts and architecture as they shape and have been shaped by the histories and cultural values (social, political, religious, philosophical, and aesthetic) of African peoples, both past and present, on the continent where humanity — and art — began. Topics include: artists and creative process; an historical overview of five major traditions (26,000 BCE to 1900 CE); textiles, decorative, and body arts; architecture; and contemporary expressions. Museum visits, artists’ demonstrations, and films supplement the course. Requirements: 1 short paper (analysis of an African art object); mid-term exam; 2 Africa-related event reviews; and final exam. Extra-credit arts-related projects encouraged – African arts festival concludes semester.

    Art History 506: Curatorial Studies Exhibition Practice
    Henry Drewal
    Monday 4:30-6:30
    Elvehjem L166

    Learn to be an exhibition curator and help create “Whirling Return of the Ancestors: Egungun Masquerade Arts of the Yoruba.” This multi-sensorial exhibit, which opens January 2018 until April in the Design Gallery-SOHE, consists of several textile masquerade ensembles of the Yoruba people of West Africa, photographs, sculptures, multi-media works, and a film. This project is part of the African Studies Program spring Symposium on “Honoring Ancestors in Africa: Arts & Actions” and includes performances by masqueraders from Oyotunji African Village, South Carolina. Students will prepare all aspects of this exhibit: Conceptualize and plan the layout; research objects; prepare object & wall texts; organize publicity and public programming. Requirements: Several short writing assignments (exhibition reviews, object research papers, etc.); presentations of research results; and journals evaluating curatorial learning experiences. Community engagement projects (African American and Afro-Latino communities) encouraged.

  • Spring 2017

    Art History 354: Cross-Cultural Arts around the Atlantic Rim
    Jill H. Casid
    Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-12:15

    “Cross-Cultural Arts around the Atlantic Rim” takes its name from the Atlantic Ocean, that body of water traversed by slave ships in the Middle Passage that continues to connect Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean in a circuit of transverse influence. By taking its name and its outline not from a land mass but from the fluid boundary and conduit of the ocean, the Atlantic model allows us to trace the interdependence of what have been artificially and problematically separated into such binaries as “Western” and “Non-Western.” In his critical response to ethnocentric and nationalistic models of culture, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993), sociologist Paul Gilroy calls for an approach to cultural studies that would account for the ways in which slavery, colonization of the Americas and the Caribbean, and the transatlantic movement of peoples, goods, artifacts, and ideas shaped the formation of what we call “modernity.” This undergraduate lecture course takes off from Gilroy’s proposal that we consider the Atlantic “as one single, complex unit of analysis in our discussions of the modern world.” In our study of the networks of exchange around the Atlantic, we will explore what happens when we “use the model of the Atlantic to produce an explicitly transnational and intercultural perspective.” The first unit of the course is dedicated to two broad goals: developing critical tools of analysis that allow us to talk about cross-influence and hybridity and to introducing the ways in which key aspects of visual culture from mapping and landscaping to painting and printmaking are inseparable from the history of empire-building and slavery and yet have also been used as tools of resistance. The second unit focuses on the importance of the graphical text, cartoon avatars, performed stereotypes, and changeable trickster figures in the Americas for the production of counter-normative and doubled or hybrid identities, for the retelling of history, and for survival in the face of genocide. We consider the inter-relation of such seemingly diverse works as the illustrated chronicle of colonial Peru by Guaman Poma de Ayala and the contemporary version, the Codex Espangliensis, by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the comic book (super)heroes appropriated and resignified in such diverse works as the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jaune Quick-to-see-Smith, and the graphic tale Maus by Art Spiegelman. The third unit addresses a set of tough, ongoing questions about how we value and judge, about the roles of multi-media and installation arts, cinema, and the institution of the museum in forming identities in relation, for example, to particular versions of the past, about the representation of the body, family, and land in the construction and contestation of the “normative” and the “deviant” or the “minority,” and about the political uses of visual practices to transfigure everyday social conditions of injustice, waste, and shame.

    Course description

    Art History 475: Japanese Ceramics and Allied Arts

    Quitman Eugene Phillips
    Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15
    Elvehjem L150

    Art History 801: Historiography, Theory and Methods in Visual Culture
    Jill H. Casid
    Thursday 4:30-6:30
    Elvehjem L170

    This seminar is the core requirement for the M.F.A./M.A. certificate and Ph.D. minor minor in the transdisciplinary study of visual cultures. The seminar charts the formation and history of the dynamic, multi-stranded, and still changing field. It seeks to build a practice-based knowledge of the theories and methods important to the field’s formation as well as those driving the field’s future. You will develop a set of skills in critical reading, research, analysis, writing, and presentation (including visual presentation methods) that will be of use to you throughout graduate school and in your professional life beyond. Toward these goals, the course has three main dimensions. As your introduction to the Ph.D. minor and M.A./M.F.A. certificate, the course will take advantage of the programming of the Center for Visual Cultures to frame your encounter with the leading questions driving the field, assist in facilitating the formation of a network and intellectual community, and help point you toward the research resources here that may support your work As your introduction to the practices in the study of visual cultures, the course explores the controversies that drove the field’s formation, its complex relations to various disciplines and the issues, challenges, and debates fueling the ongoing transformations of the field. The readings are necessarily selective and partial. Thus, you are encouraged to use the syllabus as a map leading you to deepen your knowledge through further study. As a practicum, the seminar also emphasizes the development of essential skills in critical analysis of the visual and visual thinking and communication that are vital to your success in graduate study and future viability in the field. In addition to weekly readings and discussion, work for the course will include visual analysis, conducting primary and secondary research, producing and delivering polished oral presentations, and producing critical and creative visual interventions and forms of writing. As this course is designed to enhance your professional formation, you are strongly encouraged to navigate the course architecture of readings and assignments according to the needs and dictates of your own research and developing areas of specialization.

    Course Description

    Comparative Literature 770: Labor, Cinema, Theory
    Sarah Ann Wells
    Wednesday 3:30-6:00
    3425 Sterling Hall

    Geography 501: Space and Place: A Geography of Experience
    Keith Woodward
    Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:15
    350 Science Hall

    Space and place are arguably the central concepts of human geography. Whether we are considering public life, globalization, economic unevenness, the questions of difference and identity, or any number of other critical areas, space and place serve as active components in how such problems express and ‘ground’ themselves. By this, human geographers mean that space and place are something more than containers for human activities. Rather, they produce elements of social life. As Edward Said put it, “Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography” (Said 1993: 7). Thus, the past several decades have seen an explosion in the variety of spaces and places that affect our lives and our world, including spaces of everyday life, representation and the politics of space- and place-making, safe spaces and dangerous spaces, place and identity, spaces of difference and oppression, and so on.

    This course will explore a variety of grounded, ‘empirical’ studies with theoretical works devoted to the problems of space and place, regularly returning to how we – and our authors – square the circle between ‘theory and practice.’

    In seeking to understand the social production of space, we will work carefully through Neil Smith’s magnum opus, Uneven Development. This is a dense, but beautifully written theoretical text devoted to the politics of scale and uneven geographical development. Kosek’s provides a wonderful ethnographic study of a complex, southwestern space formed through a tangle of relationships and “everyday practices by Chicano activists, white environmentalists, and state officials as well as nuclear scientists, heroin addicts, and health workers.” Bill Bunge’s Fitzgerald will give us an early glimpse of the complex relationships that emerge when doing social justice in the city. In addition to these works, we will explore a variety of shorter tests devoted to identity and space, the sense of place, nonhuman spatiality, and a host of other wild concepts essential to the human geographer’s toolkit.

    Course syllabus

    History 201, Section 002: Visible History
    Lee Palmer Wandel
    Tuesday/Thursday 4:00-5:15
    1221 Humanities

    The past is visible.  That means many things.  The past has left many different sorts of artifacts: not simply texts of various kinds, themselves visible, but also objects of daily and religious life, images, buildings, instruments of music, navigation, and the sciences.  With the emergence of “documentaries,  the past seems to have become visible in another way perhaps drawing upon those artifacts to “reconstruct.   Are these “visible  in the same ways?  This class will explore methods historians use for analyzing objects, images, buildings, even as we use those methods to interrogate films that claim to document the past in some way.  Students will have a variety of writing and oral assignments – this is a CommB course.

    Integrated Liberal Studies 204: Art and Literature, Renaissance to Modern (“Italy Mix”)
    Dijana Mitrovic

    ILS 204 looks at the literature and arts, broadly conceived, through an interdisciplinary and integrative lens. That is, rather than focusing in depth on one art form or another, it treats multiple artistic disciplines – painting, sculpture, architecture, performance, music, dance, all forms of literature, and contemporary forms of video/installation art – and places them within the historical and cultural context in which they emerged. The focus of the course will be less on “art appreciation” and more on how cultural contexts – the ideas and values regarding religion, philosophy, political thought, social practices, and aesthetics – shape and make possible the various expressions of Western art and literature during this period, with special emphasis on Italy. The integrative learning takes place when we analyze how, collectively, these forms of expression constitute cultural activity. Students will be encouraged to look critically at the results of Western civilization even as they are invited to admire its many achievements.

    Interdepartmental Seminar 982: Race, Fiction, and Visual Culture in Latin America
    Victor Goldgel-Carballo
    Monday 3:30-5:30
    Mosse Humanities Building 2251

    Focusing on Cuba, and using regions such as Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil as points of comparison, this seminar will examine the cultural history of race as it was articulated in literature and visual culture from the late colonial period to the present. We will pay special attention to concepts such as pureza de sangre, negritud, whitening, racial passing, and mestizaje. The course will be accompanied by a distinguished speaker series, which will require that three classes from the semester meet later during the day. Reading proficiency in Spanish is required.

    Languages and Cultures of Asia 428/Art History 428
    Preeti Chopra
    Monday/Wednesday 2:30-3:45
    L150 Conrad A Elvehjem Building

    This lecture course concentrates on the images (art, advertisements, photography, television, and cinema), material culture (such as, clothing), and environments (architecture, urban planning, and public rituals) of India.

    During the semester, we will examine South Asian visual cultures from the ancient to the modern periods. This historical trajectory will be complemented by a critical focus on selected thematic issues. During these moments we will compare and contrast cases studies from across India, spatially and temporally. These historical ruptures, or time travels, will allow us to see the continuities and discontinuities between the past and present. Thematic issues and ideas that will be examined in this class include sexuality, the representation of women, patronage, cultural encounter and cultural synthesis, iconoclasm, the relationship between landscape and architecture, rethinking the canon, ways of seeing, art and craft, the sacred and secular, colonialism, modernism, nationalism, and the pleasures of Indian cinema. No prior knowledge of India is necessary.

    Course description

    Languages and Cultures of Asia 621/Art History 621: Mapping, Making, and Representing Colonial Spaces
    Preeti Chopra
    Monday 5:00-7:00

    The spatial legacy of colonialism continues to live with us in the present. It plays a role in molding the postcolonial spaces of the future, both in former centers of colonial rule (such as London, Paris) and also in former colonies (such as India, Vietnam). “Colonialism” is often used to describe a very specific type of cultural and material exploitation that accompanied the territorial expansion of Europe across much of the world over the last 400 years. This graduate and advanced undergraduate seminar explores several important ways in which the population, landscape, architecture, and urban environment of these territories were mapped, made, and represented, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries. Our primary settings will be territories under British colonial rule. Topics to be considered include: the mapping of newly colonized territories; hybridity; the making of colonial cities; colonialism and photography. Emulating the geographical spread of colonialism, theoretical and empirical analyses will travel across diverse disciplinary and spatial terrain, drawing on works in architectural and urban history, cultural studies, anthropology, and critical human geography.

    Course description

    Literature in Translation 241/Slavic 242: Literatures and Cultures of Eastern Europe
    Dijana Mitrovic
    Tuesday/Thursday 2:30-3:45

    In this class we will study cultures of Eastern and Central Europe through works of literature, theatre, and film produced between the end of WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall (1945–1989). Special focus will be placed on the strategies political regimes were employing to control artistic production during the Cold War era, as the subversive techniques of resistance that artists and authors used in return. Apart from learning about the region of the time, the class material will help us recognize/resist various forms of (self)censorship in general, thus making us better scholars, artists, and citizens of the world.

    Course description

  • Fall 2016

    Art History 355: History and Theory of Photography
    Jill Casid
    Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 – 12:15pm
    Elvehjem L140

    The course offers an introduction to the history and theory of the diverse and pervasive field of photography from its origins in the desire to work with light and shadows to declarations of its death in the drive toward the digital. The course emphasizes that to understand the history of photography means exploring the range of photography’s social, political and cultural practices from the documentary to the selfie and Instagram, from the conventions of the photo I.D. and tactics of surveillance to the use of photography in avant-garde art practices. The readings for the course will also introduce you to the important critics who have engaged with photography in their work and whose studies of photography demonstrate in various ways how issues of class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and economic, historical, and geopolitical relations of power are inseparable from the historical study of the medium of photography — its practice, dissemination, valuation, and interpretation. No prior knowledge of the history of photography or art history is assumed or required.

    Art History/Languages and Cultures of Asia 379, Section 1: Cities of Asia
    Preeti Chopra
    Monday/Wednesday 2:30 – 3:45pm

    This semester long survey course, presents a historical overview of the built environment of the cities of Asia from antiquity to the present.  Most surveys of the city focus on the West, even though the earliest neolithic settlements are found in western Asia, and the first true cities were constructed between the Tigris and Euphrates around 3500 B.C.  Max Weber’s work on the City was influential in drawing a contrast between Western and non-Western cities, arguing that ‘urban communities’ and hence ‘true cities’ were only found in the West.  This course seeks does not seek to essentialize Western or non-Western cities.  Instead, it seeks to explore and tease out common themes that thread through the diverse geographical regions and cultures of Asia.

    The aim of this course is to examine the architectural and urban legacy of the past and present in its social and historical context.  In this course, we will look at the rise of cities in Asia, study the influence of Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman planning traditions on their colonies in Asia, examine debates surrounding the Islamic city, explore the role of religious ideas and practices in shaping the city, and discuss the relationship between sovereign power and the city.  We will then move on to see the ways in which colonial ideologies were used to reshape existing cities and build new ones. In the postcolonial context, this course will analyze the rise of nationalism and the influence of western architects and planners such as Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in introducing “modernization” and shaping a vision of architecture and urbanism appropriate to the newly independent states of Asia.  As the world becomes increasingly integrated into a global network, we see the emergence of world cities in Asia.  At the same, a large majority of the population in many Asian cities lives in slums.  Are these spaces of despair or can they also be seen as vibrant settlements?  We will look at both the origins of cities and their transformation over time, and examine the physical city in order to understand the texture of urban life.

    Art History 800/Art History 500: What is Art History?
    Jill Casid
    Thursday 4:15 – 6:15pm
    Elvehjem L166

    This seminar is conceived to run alongside my finishing of a book that is designed to be used in seminars such as this one on the latest theories and methods for doing art history now. The book titled “What is Art History?” is a critical reframing of the field’s methods commissioned by London-based Polity Press for their “What is History?  series. This book and the seminar move through a sequence of critical questions that motivate research and critical practice now from questions of desire to who or what is the subject. The book and seminar demonstrate ways of doing an art history that is rooted rhizomatically in genealogies of the contemporary with special attention to shifts in contemporary art practice globally, reorganized in recognition of the problematics of a post-medium situation, and capable of reckoning not only with the globally transmissible image and the ubiquity of projection but also with its roots in the photographic, filmic, and performative. These still unresolved problematics from the live questions of what is the object (with attention to new materialism) to how we pursue the conflicting temporalities and directionalities of the history in art history opens historiography to the tests of practice as the course moves through a sequence of constellations of foundational texts read alongside the newest and most exciting challenges to the field from queer and crip theory to biopolitics and necropolitics. The particular topics (as well as the form and style) of final projects will necessarily be open as the aim is to have the work that you pursue further your particular research interests and develop your portfolio.
    Art History 802/African American Studies 802/Languages and Cultures of Asia 630: The Everyday: Lives, Spaces, and Things
    Preeti Chopra
    Monday 5:00 – 7:00pm

    What is the everyday and how can one discuss it? This seminar tries to tackle these questions by taking on the difficult-to-grasp subject of the everyday. For Lefebvre, the everyday is what remains after we have deleted all specialized, structured activities.  Thus it can appear to be anonymous, undated, insignificant and outside the disciplines of knowledge.  Yet Lefebvre also insists, “everyday life is profoundly related to all activities, and encompasses them with all their differences and their conflicts.” Indeed, it can be seen as very powerful. Some theorists, like Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau see in the everyday a relation to power, in particular as a way through the quotidian, the ordinary and the repetitive a capacity to resist the capitalist economy and governmental authority. As one can see from these definitions, the problem with everyday life is that is both a nebulous and expansive concept: to think about it is to realize that it encompasses a vast domain constituting both our conscious and unconscious worlds, the appearance of things and what lies behind them.  The everyday is not as it appears.

    In this class, we will explore concepts of the everyday and how it relates to space, material culture, our bodies, our perception, and practices.  For example, we will examine why Lefebvre argued that everyday life was sustained by material culture and that social life was embedded in space.  We will also consider how the architectural historian Dell Upton concludes that the power to control society is linked to the ability to govern repetitions and thereby shape various aspects of an individual’s being.  These ideas are most clearly articulated in the work of the anthropologist and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his idea of habitus or practical sense that ties together space, time, bodily habits and cultural memory. Thus, in this course we will examine how distinct theories and practices have interrogated and engaged with the everyday, while paying special attention to issues of power, space, bodies, and materiality to look beyond the appearances of the everyday.

    Comparative Literature 203, Lecture 001: Calling Planet Earth. Introduction to Environmental Humanities
    Frederic Neyrat
    Monday/Wednesday 1:20 – 2:10pm
    6104 Social Science Bldg.

    We live on Earth, but do we know exactly what the Earth is? Is it a mere planet wandering in a cold universe? The quasi-living ecosphere some thinkers call “Gaia”? Or a sort of “spaceship” that geoengineers can enhance and pilot? Drawing on literature (Sun Ra, J.M. Coetzee), cinema (Gravity, Promised Land), philosophy (H. Arendt), science (P. Crutzen), environmental history (W. Cronon), and anthropology (T. Ingold), this class investigates the crucial issues of our terrestrial condition. If we want to address the environmental problems that humans are confronted with (climate change, loss of biodiversity, technological risks, environmental inequity), we need to change our representations of nature, humans, and technology.

    Life Sciences Communication 350: Visualizing Science & Technology
    Tues. / Thurs., 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
    119 Babcock, 1605 Linden Drive
    Shiela Reaves
    Professor, Department of Life Sciences Communication
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Office hours: Tues/Thurs 1–2 p.m. & by appointment
    228 Hiram Smith Hall, 1545 Observatory Drive

    Visualizing Science & Technology explores the multidisciplinary dimensions of “the visual brain” in order to attract audiences in the media and science communication. This course is primarily interested in the brain’s first two seconds, a key window of attention, for communicating visual media messages. Since the visual brain is shaped by culture and autobiography, LSC 350 draws from core principles in vision science, visual behavior and visual cultures. Specifically, this intermediate-level course explores the visual culture of news imagery, early neuro-processing centers of form, color, depth and movement; mid-level processing of gestalt pattern-finding and depth; higher-level cognition of attentive viewing found in photojournalism, visual ethics, symbols, cultural space of maps, and visualizing data in media charts and graphs. Students expand their own observation skills by understanding the power of visual imagery.

    Lectures introduce a visual theory each week while student-led discussions explore dynamic, visual examples across media, science and technology. Students write media critiques applying visual communication theories to media depictions that they select. Active participation and attendance are required. The take-home final exam integrates student final presentations applying visual critical thinking skills. Student-selected topics span diverse fields such as genetics, science and health communications, agriculture, environmental sciences, strategic marketing, cultural communication, news editing, media design and visual media communication.

    Course Objectives:

    • Explore visual communication theory using media depictions across science, technology and visual cultures

    • Understand how core processing channels of the visual system allow us to notice visual impact as well as subtle nuance as we attend to dynamic visual messages

    • Support a class dialogue of diverse opinions and “ways of knowing” across the media, humanities, social sciences and core principles in visual processing

    Full Syllabus

  • Spring 2016

    Art History 372: Arts of Japan
    Professor Gene Phillips
    Elvehjem L140
    MWF 9:55 – 10:45

    This course introduces students to the history and aesthetics of Japanese art from some of the world’s earliest pottery to examples of anime-inspired art of today. It explores the forms, contexts, and meanings of works of painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, prints, and other selected media. It looks at the social, religious, and other functions of art works in various social and aesthetic environments, including early tombs, the ancient imperial court, early medieval Zen monasteries, tea ceremony circles, the floating world of visual and erotic pleasure found in early modern cities, and the global spaces of contemporary art. Class participation is encouraged and rewarded.

    Learning Objectives:
    Knowledge about a fascinating culture and its art
    Sharpened ability to perceive and interpret visual information
    Improved critical reading skills
    Greater sophistication in writing

    Art History 603: Curatorial Studies Colloquium
    Professor Henry Drewal
    Elvehjem L166
    Th 7:00 – 9:00pm

    This course is designed to introduce advanced undergraduate students (and graduate students) to a broad range of questions, both theoretical and practical, related to curatorial practice. The core of the course is a series of sessions on curatorial strategies. Particular emphasis will be placed on integrative and collaborative approaches to curating a wide variety of material: art, film, music, books, anthropology/culture, archeology, history, geology, zoology, dance, etc. With this ideal in mind, we will bring in a series of experts to engage with each other and with the class on the theories, objectives, and processes of conceiving, designing, and mounting exhibitions, as well as reaching different audiences with both physical and virtual exhibitions. Students will also be introduced to the distinctive collections and resources on campus and in the region.

    Some of our opening questions/issues might be: What is curation? How has it changes over time? What are its possible futures? What is the nature of collecting and exhibiting? Rethinking creation, interpretation, exhibition, and dissemination.

    Student assignments (both individual and collaborative) include: two exhibition reviews, reading responses, and a final research paper focused on a curatorial project.

    Art History 879: Carnival Arts of Resistance and Empowerment
    Professor Henry Drewal
    Elvehjem L166
    Wed 4:30 – 6:30pm

    African Diaspora art history is the story of resistance, subversion, accommodation, and transformation. This course explores the arts of Carnival, a specific pre-Lenten Christian festival that has served as a vehicle for the agency of African peoples and their descendants in the Americas. We will consider how and why African diasporic peoples have shaped and been shaped by historical factors and cultural values (social, political, religious, philosophical, and aesthetic) in the face of hegemonic forces that attempted to suppress or eradicate them. The specific sites will include: Puerto Rico, Panama, New Orleans, Trinidad and its Diasporas (Toronto/Brooklyn), and Brazil.

    From the fifteenth century, European expansion greatly intensified the global encounters of cultures with radically different forms and concepts of art and artistic production. In the Americas such encounters involved primarily Europeans, Africans, and indigenous peoples. The interactions of these three groups contributed to the formulation of distinctive arts — visual and performance cultures.

    In the Americas, Africans had to devise new strategies and tactics to ensure the survival, continuity, and vitality of their cultural and artistic heritages in the face of hegemonic forces — slavery, conversion, and oppression. In this course, the central hypothesis to be examined and tested is that the arts (carnival arts in particular) have been and continue to be vehicles for self and social assertion and agency – that the arts can and do shape society and history. Our central questions are: What is the nature of the agency of such carnival arts? Do they create something new or simply accommodate and reinforce existing power relations?

    Design Studies 501-021: Design Trends: Material Culture of Contemporary Design
    Professor Mark Nelson
    Van Hise Hall 583
    Tues & Th 2:30 – 3:45pm

    The Design Trends course examines contemporary design and designers in the ever more closely related practices of interior design, textile/apparel design, architecture, and product/furnishings design. Looked at through the lens of material culture, these practices are tied together by their attention to the relationship between objects, environments, human bodies, sensory experience and culture.  The course begins with a look back at 19th and 20th century design, putting current designers into context.  Next, the course is divided into thematic sections based on stylistic and theoretical intentions (such as Postmodernism, Expressivism, Deconstructivism, Neo-Punk, Minimalism, Biomorphism, Street Design and Neo-Pop). For an example, see  The last part of the semester focuses on broad topics through a material culture lens, with areas that include socially conscious design, virtual design (including technologically/digitally driven design), critical design/art, anti-design/lowbrow design, subculture design and guesses about the future of design.

    Lectures address these thematic sections and incorporate examples from each of the practice areas, studying ways that they overlap as well as diverge, and are augmented by discussion and student presentations: over the course of the semester, students find and report on designers from the broad thematic sections, with the option to choose designers from their own practice areas.  Additionally students find and post links referencing current designers on a recurring basis, and complete readings on a regular basis.  For a final project, students choose the work of a designer and construct a critical analysis; in addition to written text, students may develop a visual narrative using multimedia or their own creative work.

    Course Objectives:
    The course is especially meant to develop students’ ability to identify and critically analyze designs that are current and that might not yet have been studied or written about extensively. It is aimed at students from all disciplines who have an interest in current trends in design, including students from design, from retailing, from art history, from art and from material culture.

    Specific areas that will be addressed include:
    A broad exposure to the breadth of designers and design trends both within and outside the commercial arena
    The ability to research contemporary designers and relate the designers’ ideas to those of other designers
    The enrichment of students’ design skills outside of their standard education and discipline
    The ability to write about, create and discuss abstract design ideas and concepts
    The ability to apply material culture approaches an methods to designs
    An appreciation of the overlap between disciplines within design
    An appreciation of the overlap between design and other disciplines
    An appreciation for the possibilities of design as an activist endeavor

    English 706: How To Do Things with Words Images, Objects, and Sounds: Beyond Textual Rhetorics
    Professor Christa Olson
    Wed 1:00 – 3:30pm
    Helen C. White 7105

    Rhetoric has never been just about words. Rhetorical theory and practice across time and space have brimmed over with bodies and actions, with pictures and places; for a long time, though, it was possible to study rhetoric without acknowledging any of those things (except, perhaps, the rocks in Demosthenes’ mouth). Not so today. Some present-day scholars still, like Quintillian, distinguish the sheer linguistic aspects of “oratory” (or writing) from the more messy terrain of persuasion, where clothing and scars and the presence of one’s children might influence the jury. For the most part, however, we recognize that even those artifacts that appear entirely linguistic—speeches or published essays, for example—are shot through with images (black text on white paper), sounds (the rise and fall of pitch), and things (the podium and pen). This course takes a romp through the current state of scholarship on rhetoric beyond and beneath the textual, offering as well a brief history of the transition from a primarily text-obsessed field to one rife with sorts of material. In addition to reading (and viewing) recent scholarship and talking with rhetorical scholars, we will try our own hands at making and doing rhetorical analysis across media and modes. Likely course materials include Brown’s Ethical Programs, Finnegan’s Making Photography Matter, Horner, Selfe, & Lockridge’s Translinguality, Transmodality, and Difference, and Gries’ Still Life With Rhetoric.

    Spanish 882: Latin American Visual Culture, Theatre and Performance Art
    Professor Paola Hernández
    355 Van Hise Hall
    Tues 3:30 – 5:30pm

    This course is relevant to Latin American studies, performance studies, visual culture and public humanities students. It explores the many ways Latin American visual culture, theatre and other performative acts define the role of citizenship in different stages of the 20th and 21st century. We will focus our studies on how citizenship categorizes identity at national and multinational dimensions, while at the same time engaging issues of legal, cultural and political rights. We will begin by reassessing paradigms such as Bertolt Brecht’s “Verfremdung,” Augusto Boal’s “Theater of the Oppressed,” and anthropologist Victor Turner’s “social dramas” in an emerging global framework. To this end, we will consider the adoption of multilateral cultural and social networks, the establishment of international recognition and jurisdiction of human rights, the revision of physical and virtual borders, and changing notions of citizenship. Theorists, such as, Carlson, Taylor, Huyssen, Canclini, among others will help us identify more recent issues of citizenship in philosophy, anthropology and performance studies. Within this theoretical framework we will then focus on how visual arts, theatre and performative acts (political manifestations, public demonstrations, installations) both empower certain citizenship practices and participate in the critical analysis of the evolving discourse of citizenship. We will study a variety of Latin American plays in translation and U.S. Latino theatre.

    This course is taught in English.

  • Fall 2015

    Afro-American Studies 229 / Art History 241: Introduction to African Art and Architecture
    Professor Henry Drewel, Art History Department

    This course examines the rich heritage of African arts and architecture as they shape and have been shaped by the histories and cultural values (social, political, religious, philosophical, and aesthetic) of African peoples, both past and present, on the continent where humanity began. Given Africa’s enormous ecological and cultural diversity, we cannot be comprehensive. Instead, we present an historical overview that highlights selected artistic traditions from different parts of the continent from 26,000 BCE to the 20th century and introductory case studies of specific cultures throughout history; genres; artistic movements; and individual artists. We do not have a passive, objective relationship to Africa, its people, and its artistry – we have been shaped by Euro-American culture and a deeply embedded history of racism. Where possible the course highlights historical and contemporary intersections between Africa and Euro-America, demonstrating that our exploration of this art history is as much an encounter with our own cultural values as those of the peoples from whom the art originates.

    Afro-American Studies 272: We Wear the Mask: Race and Representation
    Professor Johanna Almiron, Afro-American Studies
    Inspired by Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear The Mask,”(1896) this inter-disciplinary course examines how race is constructed through representations in art, art history, museums, popular culture (film) and popular media (television). As a means to gain media literacy, students will learn how to recognize and analyze racial stereotypes in relation to the concepts of social inequality and white privilege. While there is an emphasis on racial representations, the course will also examine intersections with gender, sexuality and class. This course will examine how contemporary artists have engaged these stereotypes as a means to reproduce alternative visual representations of history, culture and race. (Cross-list with Ethnic Studies programs, Media/Communication Arts)
    Selected texts and films: Gender, Race, and Class in Media, A Critical Reader, Edited by Gail Dines, Jean M. Humes; Selections from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skins, White Masks, bell hooks’ Black Looks: Race and Representations, Marlon Riggs’ Ethnic Notions, Robert G. Lee’s Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture, Shilpa Dave’s Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film, Frances Negron-Muntaner’s Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture, Arlene Davila’s Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race, Haunani-Kay Trask’s Notes from A Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i.

    Afro-American Studies 679: Divas and Dandy-lions: Visual Culture, Gender and Critical Race Theory
    Professor Johanna Almiron, Afro-American Studies
    T 1:20-3:15

    With a focus on the cultural production of the 20th and 21st century, this inter-disciplinary course examines how the visual informs the construction of race, gender and sexuality within social and historical contexts. Students will study Black visual culture through the historical origins of world fair displays and museums (bodies and art objects as ethnographic study), fashion (dress, style, culturally-coded representation, photography), popular culture and mainstream entertainment (film, television) to policy, social protest and cultural movements. How do Black artists and curators engage, challenge and/or appropriate these visual representations? How do these cultural practitioners create counter-narratives against stereotyping and seek to produce alternative imagery? How do Black artists negotiate the subjective binaries of masculinity/femininity, straight/gay identities and further offer queer and transgender frameworks to understand race, culture and society? (Cross-list with Women Studies, Art History)

    Selected texts, films and artists: Jacqueline Bobo’s Black Feminist Cultural Criticism, Lisa E. Farrington’s Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women, Jose Munoz’s Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, Thelma Golden’s Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art, Deborah Willis’ Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning; Carrie Mae Weems, Faith Ringgold, Bettye and Alison Saar, Renee Cox, Lorna Simpson, Julie Dash, Kara Walker, Wangechi Mutu, Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, among others.

    Art History 379/Languages and Cultures of Asia 379: Cities of Asia
    Professor Preeti Chopra, Art History Department
    This semester long survey course, presents a historical overview of the built environment of the cities of Asia from antiquity to the present.  Most surveys of the city focus on the West, even though the earliest neolithic settlements are found in western Asia, and the first true cities were constructed between the Tigris and Euphrates around 3500 B.C.  Max Weber’s work on the City was influential in drawing a contrast between Western and non-Western cities, arguing that ‘urban communities’ and hence ‘true cities’ were only found in the West.  This course seeks does not seek to essentialize Western or non-Western cities.  Instead, it seeks to explore and tease out common themes that thread through the diverse geographical regions and cultures of Asia.

    The aim of this course is to examine the architectural and urban legacy of the past and present in its social and historical context.  In this course, we will look at the rise of cities in Asia, study the influence of Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman planning traditions on their colonies in Asia, examine debates surrounding the Islamic city, explore the role of religious ideas and practices in shaping the city, and discuss the relationship between sovereign power and the city.  We will then move on to see the ways in which colonial ideologies were used to reshape existing cities and build new ones. In the postcolonial context, this course will analyze the rise of nationalism and the influence of western architects and planners such as Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn in introducing “modernization” and shaping a vision of architecture and urbanism appropriate to the newly independent states of Asia.  As the world becomes increasingly integrated into a global network, we see the emergence of world cities in Asia.  At the same, a large majority of the population in many Asian cities lives in slums.  Are these spaces of despair or can they also be seen as vibrant settlements?  We will look at both the origins of cities and their transformation over time, and examine the physical city in order to understand the texture of urban life.

    Art History 430/731: Topics in Visual Culture: The Artist as Scientist
    Professor Shira Brisman, Art History Department

    This course invites a historical approach to understanding how the energetic pursuit of knowledge spawned explosions of human creativity. We will take as our organizing principles three areas of scientific study—The body, the environment, and outer space.
    Picture this: a drawing of conjoined twins in a womb; an instrument for measuring geological time; a calendar proscribing when to go to war. Art and science—though often positioned as separate modes of inquiry—in fact are motivated by shared goals. Focusing on the period of 1450-1650, from the birth of Leonardo da Vinci to the death of Galileo Galilei, this course invites a historical approach to understanding how the energetic pursuit of knowledge spawned both inventions that celebrated human creativity and discoveries that exposed the elegance of nature. Taking as our organizing principles three areas of scientific study—the Body, the Land and Outer Space—we will pursue such topics as: pre-modern anatomical treatises; medicinal plant manuals; advice treatises on sex and conception; Renaissance-era robots and machines; tools devised by cartographers and astronomers; and the first engravings of the moon as seen through a telescope. Emphasizing skills in research, writing, and presentation, this course invites students interested in Art History, the History of Science, Mathematics, and Technology, Pre-Med, Philosophy, the culture of early printed books, or anyone lured by beautiful and strange things.

    Art History 579/879: Pro/Seminar in African Art: Masquerades and the Senses
    Professor Henry Drewal, Art History Department

    This pro/seminar explores the artistry of African and African Diaspora masquerade performances and the crucial role of the senses in the creative process and in our understanding of these aesthetic experiences with an approach I term Sensiotics. Since the focus on the body is receiving renewed attention, As engaged scholars (individually and collectively), we will participate in the masquerading traditions of Halloween & Day of the Dead identify and evaluate the literature on the present state of our knowledge of the senses, the body-mind (cognitive) sciences, and their relevance for understanding the arts. Elements of this pro/seminar may also be integrated with those of the Arts Institute Artist-in Residence – master Cuban musician Juan de Marcos.

    We will first consider cultural theories and practices surrounding masquerades – their psychological and philosophical foundations in culture and history, and some of the ways to study masking arts and performance using a variety of sources (written, oral, experiential), and especially multi-sensorial ones. Then we will critically evaluate these with reference to African and African Diaspora materials as a prelude to the preparation of individual or collaborative research projects and presentations by pro/seminar members. The first seminar presentations will be done by the instructor based upon his research in Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America, using PowerPoint presentations, sound recordings, and film. There may also be guest presenters.

    Design Studies 642/Art History 500/Art History 800: Taste

    Professor Preeti Chopra, Art History Department

    This seminar will explore the idea of taste – both “good” and bad”, in “popular” and “high” culture – drawing on material from the United States, Europe, and South Asia. Taste has at least two meanings, both of which concern the faculty of perception.  The first, an older meaning, is used in a physical sense to convey the sensation caused in the mouth when it comes in contact with a flavor, or a small sample of food.  The second meaning is obtained from developments in intellectual culture deriving from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the word became increasingly important and complex.  The second meaning of taste went beyond simple liking or preference for something, to include the notion of discrimination.  Here, the ability to distinguish between something that was beautiful, ugly, or merely pleasant, was an attribute of someone that exhibited “good taste.”  However, both the words tasteful and tasteless emerged during the same period.  So who decides what constitutes “good” taste or “bad” taste?

    There is no escaping from matters of taste – we judge others and are judged on the basis of our individual tastes.  In our everyday actions, each one of us is seen as a consumer exercising our personal taste, our purely subjective preferences, in the choices we make, from the art and movies we view, or the books we read, to the clothes we wear, and the food we eat.  But is taste personal or collective?  We all know that taste is shared in a particular period and place, such as the “Victorian” taste that dominated late-nineteenth century Britain.  And yet, even as we might conform to publicly sanctioned attitudes about certain styles, we still assert our individual preferences.  Do we belong to particular taste cultures and taste publics?  What is the relationship between taste and shared institutions and spaces that are supposed to represent the public?  Whose tastes are considered and whose are not?  Who should decide?  How should decisions be made?

    In this seminar, we will read both historical and theoretical works on the idea of taste, and examine works of architecture, landscape, art, articles of clothing, and public space.  The readings will be drawn from a wide range of disciplines including architectural, and art history, anthropology, sociology, and material culture.

    Gender and Women’s Studies 372: Visualizing Bodies
    Intructor Eunjung Kim, Gender and Women’s Studies
    T/TR 11:00am-12:15pm
    Ingraham 224

    Writing intensive.

    Why and how do we look at the images of bodies experiencing pain, violence, and global injustice? What assumptions and desires are embedded in the practice of looking and what identities are constructed in the interaction between the viewers, the images, and the persons who are represented in the images? Do the images of vulnerability and suffering bring actions and changes based on solidarity? Visualizing Bodies focuses on these questions in the intersections of the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of visual images of Othered bodies in humanitarian communcations from transnational feminist disability studies perspectives. In addition, students will learn a history of humanitarian media and their relationship with transnational hierarchies. Students will practice critical analyses of visual media including photography, NGO campaigns, and documentaries, focusing on race, ethnicity, gender, class, disability, health, religion, sexuality and other markers of differences, while taking structural, historical, and cultural conditions into account.

    History 125 / Environmental Studies 125 / History of Science 125: Green Screen: Environmental Perspectives Through Film
    Professor Gregg Mitman, Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies

    From Teddy Roosevelt’s 1909 African safari to the Hollywood blockbuster King Kong, from the world of Walt Disney to The March of the Penguins, cinema has been a powerful force in shaping public and scientific understanding of nature throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century. How can film shed light on changing environmental ideas and beliefs in American thought, politics, and culture? And how can we come to see and appreciate contested issues of race, class, and gender in nature on screen? This course will explore such questions as we come to understand the role of film in helping to define the contours of past, present, and future environmental visions in the United States. and their impact on the real world struggles of people and wildlife throughout the world.

    History 201: Ways of Seeing: Visual Archives and Visual History

    Professor Florence Bernault, History Department
    M/W 4:00-5:15
    Soc Sci 6116

    Many documents used by historians come in visual form. Today, graphic incidents and strategies increasingly contribute to shaping history (think, for instance, about the Abu Ghraib prison pictures released in 2004, or the beheading of US and British hostages released online by Al Qaida). This course will help you to engage with various visual sources overtime (paintings, maps, caricature, cartoons, advertising, photographs, movies, objects and architectural designs), to analyse them critically, and to utilize them to compose historical narratives.

    During the first part of the semester, we will discuss the production, diffusion and reception of images from the 15th to the 20th century, approaching them as sources and as “actors” with a historical agency of their own. The second part of the semester will concentrate on the visual dimension of power struggles in the modern era (18th- 21st century).

    This course has a sizable historical methods component and offers an opportunity to experience the excitement and rewards of doing original historical research and conveying the results of that work to others. Students will gain hands-on experience doing archival research and will share their research findings with the class in oral presentations.  At the end of the semester each student will submit a 10-page research paper on a topic relating to the course theme. (A number of the shorter course papers are designed to help students develop a research proposal, a research plan, and ultimately the paper itself.)

    Life Sciences Communication 350: Visualizing Science & Technology
    Professor Shiela Reaves, Department of Life Sciences Communication

    Visual theory survey course; principles of neuroscience applied to media images for communicating visually to audiences.

    History 600: Modern Objects and Their Histories

    Professor Lee Palmer Wandel, Department of History

    In the early modern world, things—feathers, shells, rugs, porcelain, dyes, glazes, wood, stone, plants—traveled as never before, and Europeans collected them, first in curiosity cabinets and then in museums. We shall begin with cabinets of curiosity and the movement of things.
    Each student in this seminar will then choose a specific object from the early modern world; research where it came from, its production (if a made object), and circulation; and explore its meanings and/or values in changing contexts.  Students will be required to write a 25-page research paper on an object, its history, and its meanings and values in the early modern world.

    History of Science 350: Things not Words: Using Material Culture

    Science is what happens when ideas meet things. When what we’d like to be true collides with nature. This course shows you how that works.

    Based around UW-Madison’s remarkable history, collections and architecture, this practically oriented course will give you hands-on experience of how material culture changes our understanding of science, its history, its relationship to the arts and humanities, and its placein wider society. It will also introduce you to current research in this area – right here in Madison.

    The class will involve regular field trips to collections in local/campus museums, including visits to the Zoology Museum, Special Collections, and to see the Chemistry Department¹s resident glassblower at work.

    This interdisciplinary course is suitable for undergraduate students in history of science, history and the sciences, as well as for those in anthropology, art history, and architecture. The course is also open to graduate students. Any student with an interest in visual and material culture or museum studies should consider taking this course. Interested students should contact me directly to discuss their particular circumstances.


    History of Science 909: History of Biology and Medicine
    Professor Lynn Nyhart, History of Science Department
    Professor Tom Broman, History of Science Department
    Topic: The New History of Natural History

    In the past 15 years, the history of natural history has flourished as an area of scholarly inquiry across many disciplines—history of science, art and visual culture history, museum and material culture studies, and literary studies. This graduate seminar samples three especially significant themes in this new wave of scholarship, investigating natural history’s intersections with a) travel and empire; b) visual and material culture; and c) scientific practice.

    This is primarily a reading seminar: you should expect to read a book and possibly some additional articles per week, and come to seminar prepared to talk about them. Students will be assigned as discussion-launcher (or co-launcher) for at least one week (depends on the size of the class).

    Writing: students may choose a writing assignment of approximately 15 pages that is suited to their interests and stage of graduate career: a) a historiographic essay of on one of the three themes, expanding the list from the core readings;  b) a historiographic essay that develops your own theme, covering an equivalent number of books (including some from the core readings, some from outside);  or c) a detailed proposal for a research project using primary and secondary sources related to the history of natural history.