Graduate Art History

Current Graduate Courses

  • Consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar or contact the Graduate Office for dates regarding course add/drop deadlines. Failure to make changes to your course enrolment within the allowed time limit may result in a grade of “incomplete” on your transcript.
  • If you have any questions regarding course enrolment please do not hesitate to contact the Graduate Assistant.


Department of Art History Graduate Timetable

Special Studies and Language Courses

Timetable 2022–23

Delivery Method

All fall 2022 and winter 2023 courses will be held in-person at the University of Toronto St. George campus.

Course Materials

The majority of courses in the Art History program use Quercus to host material including the syllabus, lecture slides, and handouts. Log in using your UTORid and password. Please consult with your course instructor to verify which learning management system is used.


Fall 2022 (September to December)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am  

Sapirstein /
AP 140

10 am   FAH1486H
SS 6032
SS 6032
SS 6032
UC 51
11 am  
12 pm    
1 pm

UC 63

SS 2116
SS 6032
2 pm FAH1462H
SS 6032
3 pm  
4 pm     FAH2034H
SK 218
5 pm        
6 pm        


Purtle | Monday 1 pm–4 pm

Time period: Medieval
Geographic region: Non-Western

Originally part of the UofT Getty Connecting Art Histories project, this course examines the arts of medieval China—especially those of the port cities of Guangzhou and Quanzhou—from a multicultural perspective. This course considers how the idea of “medieval art” might be understood with respect to the production of art in China, how such art raises questions about the geography and periodization of native and non-native art forms in China, and how non-native art forms that flourished in China connect to their originating sites and move along the networks of their transmission. While in the past decade art history has embraced the idea of globalization, this seminar seeks to probe the making of medieval Chinese art in postglobal context by introducing the methodological tools of postglobal art history, a new approach to the discipline emerging from developing art histories (i.e., from non-Western nations in which art history has developed as a discipline only since the late 20th century).

Cohen | Wednesday 1 pm–4 pm

Time period: Medieval
Geographic region: Western

This seminar investigates a wide range of questions related to the use and function of imagery in medieval books. What are the origins of medieval book illustration in the transition from roll to codex; what kinds of books were typically illustrated—and how; who conceived of the complex pictorial programs found in medieval manuscripts, and how did these programs function? Issues of patronage, audience and reception are central to this seminar, which focuses on specific case studies of manuscripts from throughout Europe dating from the late antique period until the advent of printing.

Kavaler | Thursday 10 am–1 pm (This course may be held online to allow students in Europe to join.)

Time period: Early Modern
Geographic region: Western

What types of communication and value did each of the many media allow and express? Many of the same artists designed artifacts in multiple media. The role of drawing became essential to all arts, but drawing alone could not define the material and spatial properties of other media. Concepts of skeuomorphism, affordance, and intermediality have occupied scholars from James J. Gibson, Donald Norman, and W.J.T. Mitchell to our own Evonne Levy. We will examine theories that underlie these ideas along with principles of word-and-image relations, artistic mode, categories and functions of drawing, issues of color and polychromy, theatricality, and the role of family and professional networks. We will investigate the artistic culture of the Netherlands as a system, and we will concentrate on the sixteenth century, a period in which the region became truly Pan-European, with artistic and intellectual ties from Italy to Sweden, from England to Ukraine..

Bear | Thursday 2 pm–5 pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary
Geographic region: Western

This course investigates the dynamic relationship between photography and the natural, physical, and human sciences in the 19th Century. We will be concerned with a number of pressing questions: How did photography compete and collaborate with other modes of scientific representation for the mantle of authority? How did scientific photography enter into the canon of the history of photography, and at what cost? What role did the medium play in the rise of scientific professions, and in science education? How did photography complicate or clarify the categories of scientific realism and anti-realism? Ultimately, we explore varied strategies of the production of scientific knowledge by photographic means, and the cultural and social implications of these activities.

Syme | Tuesday 10 am–1 pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary
Geographic region: Western

This course examines two early twentieth-century British modernist movements and their key artists and writers. Topics include the groups’ complex politics, contributions to aesthetic theory, exploration of text/image relations, response to World War One, and sexual politics. Students work with local collections.

Harney | Friday 10 am–1 pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary

While the allure and mechanisms of the archive have held the attention of modernist scholars for well over a decade, the interest in mining its contents has shifted with the ascendance of the global contemporary—with its presentist and universalist claims, at once disavowing the need for modernist genealogies and simultaneously re-orchestrating them to explain current “global art currents,” theories of the global contemporary seem to require a “backward glance” in the work of artists hailing from beyond the received boundaries of the modern. This seminar will address the history of thought surrounding the modernist archive, particularly in light of its presence in the work of many artists from postcolonial and post-trauma sites. It will ask how conversations about imperial nostalgia, postcolonial melancholy and other forms of memory work play out in the works of these artists and how they inform critical re-imaginings of both the materiality and representational politics of the archive. Readings will include Agamben, Buchloh, Derrida, Demos, Enwezor, Foster, Huyssen, and Mbembe.

Gu | Tuesday 1 pm-4 pm

Time period: Modern/ContemporaryGeographic region: Non-Western

The beginning of Chinese contemporary art is often traced to the last years of the 1970s, when China transitioned to market driven reforms that brought a temporary loosening of political and ideological control. The development of contemporary Chinese art for the past four decades is in parallel with the boom of neoliberal globalization. In many ways, the prosperity of Chinese contemporary art—in its scale of production, its market reception, and the maturity of its robust critical/curatorial infrastructure—demonstrates both the potential and the underlying problems of this era. This course approaches contemporary Chinese art as a unique site to reflect on the pressing questions in contemporary art and society. Students of this seminar are not expected to have prior knowledge of China or contemporary art. Drawing on debates in art history as well as sociology, gender studies, cultural geography, and anthropology, we will look at a wide range of methodological approaches to the analysis of art, from the more conventional object-based semantic readings to inquiries of critical political economy. The seminar is imagined and organized as a collective journey, which aims to facilitate students to define their own analytical insights into art and the world we live today.

Harakawa | Wednesday 10 am–1 pm

Time period: Modern/ContemporaryGeographic region: Non-Western

This course examines artistic production associated with the Caribbean, with particular focus on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The goal of the course is twofold: first, to survey a wide-ranging literature on artistic practices across a variety of mediums (painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, performance, exhibition making, etc.) from across this diverse region and second, to assess how its social, political, and cultural specificities offer new methodological possibilities for art historical research. Special focus will be paid to histories of colonialism and indigeneity as well as geographic frameworks such as the global, the hemispheric, the archipelagic, and the diasporic.

Ewald | Wednesday 4 pm–7 pm

Time period: AncientGeographic region: Western

A seminar on Roman Imperial Art and the various approaches, metanarratives and conceptual frameworks that have shaped its study over the past 120 years. Topics include: formalism and the transformation of Roman art during the first four centuries of our era; art and embodiment; empathy and emotion; Roman “classicism”; “propaganda” and the function of “official” art; the figure of the “viewer” in archaeological scholarship; spolia and “damnatio memoriae”; historical commemoration.

Sapirstein/Murray | Tuesday 9 am–12 pm (This course runs from September to April.)

Time period: Ancient

A year-long core course with the aim of providing students with a critical understanding of what constitutes method within the different domains of Classical archaeology, ancient history, and prehistory, and the challenges and opportunities in working across these methods to produce new frameworks for researching the ancient Mediterranean. Students will examine ways in which historical and archaeological methods might be applied comparatively or diachronically across traditional chronological or geographical boundaries. Readings will be drawn from several core ‘classic' texts on the ancient Mediterranean and specific case studies.

Winter 2023 (January to April)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am   MAC1000Y
Sapirstein /
AP 140
SS 6032
10 am   FAH1490H
RL 14190
SS 6032
SS 6032
BT 319
11 am  
12 pm        
1 pm       FAH1921H
SS 2112
2 pm   FAH1001H
UC 255
UC 124
3 pm    
4 pm      
5 pm     FAH1232H (Jan only)
Art History library
6 pm        


Jain | Tuesday 2 pm-5 pm

A close reading of texts related to the theory and practice of art history and its related disciplines. Required for all incoming PhD students, unless granted an exemption by the Director of Graduate Studies based on a previous course.

Mostafa | Wednesday 10 am-1 pm

Time period: MedievalGeographic region: Middle East

This course reexamines how notions of the otherworldly shaped Islamic architecture, with a focus on its formative period. It explores the act of building as a form of being, considering the ways architecture upheld human encounters with the divine, the celestial realm, as well as other otherworldly beings, benign and malevolent. The course considers the ways Muslims navigated notions of sacrality through a lifecycle, from daily to annual ritual practices and how architecture and material culture emerged dialogically within this context. Through an exploration of Islamic temporality, eschatology, the afterlife, early Islamic sacred geographies, sacred cities, ritual practice, pilgrimage, relics and funerary cultures of early Islam, the course challenges notions of sacred space as a typology to reveal Islam’s relation to the otherworldly as an embodied enactment of transcendence.

Levy | Thursday 10 am-1 pm

Time period: Early Modern

With the material turn, art historians have been engaged in imaginative explorations of the uses and meanings of materials in early modern art and visual culture. This course focuses on crossings from one medium to another (intermediality or intermateriality) whether through conscious imitation (material mimesis) or translation. We will look at explicit statements of medium-specificity in treatises; the situating of drawing as the unifying art; border crossings in the well-known art theoretical debate of the 16th century, the paragone; anxiety about deception (terracotta that feigns stone, stucco that imitates gold). A principal preoccupation will be with the intermedial effects of the introduction of printed images. For while intermediality is as old as art itself, there is an intensification with the introduction of print, when all media became graphic, only to be remedialized again. The chronological span is 15th–18th centuries and the geographic reach is global, with a particular focus on Europe and Latin America (where print was translated into painting and architecture often and in unexpected ways). We will spend time on signal works of intermediality (Roger van der Weyden, Rubens, Gianlorenzo Bernini) as well as many anonymous works, especially in the Americas (16th–18th centuries). This course is historiographically-oriented, tracking the reception of these historical artefacts alongside the modern call for truth-to-materials and the post-war call for medium-specificity in abstract art. A goal of the course is to develop a lexicon of terms specific to intermediality (pictorialization, linearization, resurfacing, flattening, modelling, etc.).

Anderson | Friday 9 am-12 pm (Jan, Mar-Apr); Wednesday 5 pm-7 pm (Jan)

Time period: Early Modern

Water comprises the majority of the earth's surface, and has shaped the creation of art, architecture, and objects as the means of travel and transport as well as a powerful cultural metaphor. This course offers students the opportunity to study the environmental conditions, imagery, and mechanisms used by artists and craftsmen as well as the everyday experiences of water. Each week will offer a particular case study and point of view through which to study the connections between liquid contexts and art objects. Themes will include flows, surfaces and depths, water edges, and technologies. Students may work on projects in their choice of geographical and historical moments.

This course will meet on Wednesdays and Fridays in January, and on Fridays in March-April. It will not meet in February.

Kaplan | Tuesday 10 am-1 pm

Time period: Modern/ContemporaryGeographic region: Western

What is the relationship between photography and the occult?  Is it possible for the camera to see the invisible beyond the powers of the naked eye? Beginning with the spirit photographs of William Mumler in the 1860’s to contemporary manifestations of digital ghost hunting, we will investigate the search for elusive ghosts via the camera lens as an ongoing preoccupation in the history of photography. We will review this rich and fascinating history with key case studies of “haunted media” starting with the emergence of phantasmagoric visual entertainments and other psychic, occult, and borderland phenomena whether UFOs, auras, fairies, or “thoughtography”. Exploring these “ghosts in the machines” through the lenses of science, religion, and art, the course will consider various reasons why some have wanted to believe in the veracity of these phenomena while others have wanted to debunk occult photography as a hoax, trick, or fraud.

Cheetham | Thursday 1 pm-4 pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary

We will examine the extensive visual culture of voyages in the Arctic from the 16th century to the present, with an emphasis on the long 19th century and the Anglosphere. Topics include Western and Inuit perspectives on the Northwest Passage, the magnetic and geographic north poles in print culture, imaging technologies, commercial enterprises in the Arctic and in Europe, the USA, and Canada, nationalism, colonialism, and scientific understandings of the unique meteorological, human, and animal phenomena of this region. We will also interrogate the notion of the Anthropocene and competing contemporary ideas of the human impact on nature as a way to explore ecological understandings of the Arctic in the 19th century and today.

Migwans | Wednesday 2 pm-5 pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary

This course will explore activism within art contemporary movements as well as art strategies used by activist movements, with a specific focus on the local and ongoing. The course will span theory and praxis, asking how we might bring the critical and decolonial lenses of our texts into the world and vice versa. We will learn from artists and activists working locally, and from these conversations move into a wider global framing.

Ricco | Thursday 10 am-12 pm

Time period: Modern/ContemporaryGeographic region: Western

Jean-Luc Nancy’s work on art, aesthetics, and sense has achieved widespread significance in contemporary philosophical, art historical, and theoretical discussions and debates on the relations between art, politics, and ethics. This course provides students with an opportunity to engage with close readings of his work, in order to develop an understanding of the specific priority granted to the praxis of art and aisthesis in his thinking on sense, existence, and being-with. Books by Nancy such as The Muses, The Ground of the Image, Being Singular Plural, Corpus, The Pleasure of Drawing, and Noli Me Tangere, will be read along with the work of other philosophers who have informed Nancy’s own thinking (e.g. Hegel, Kant, Freud, Heidegger, Bataille, Blanchot and Derrida).

Sapirstein/Murray | Tuesday 9 am-12 pm (This course runs from September to April.)

Time period: Ancient

A year-long core course with the aim of providing students with a critical understanding of what constitutes method within the different domains of Classical archaeology, ancient history, and prehistory, and the challenges and opportunities in working across these methods to produce new frameworks for researching the ancient Mediterranean. Students will examine ways in which historical and archaeological methods might be applied comparatively or diachronically across traditional chronological or geographical boundaries. Readings will be drawn from several core ‘classic' texts on the ancient Mediterranean and specific case studies.


Special Studies and Language Courses

Type Description
Reading Courses

Only one full-course equivalent from the Reading Course series (FAH3011H–3014H) is permitted in any one degree program. Reading courses require approval from both a Department of Art History faculty member and the Director of Graduate Studies. To enrol in a reading course, obtain approval and submit the Request for Reading Course form to the Graduate Assistant.

  • FAH3011H Readings in Ancient Art
  • FAH3012H Readings in Medieval Art
  • FAH3013H Readings in Early Modern Art
  • FAH3014H Readings in Modern/Contemporary Art
Collaborative Program Courses

Please visit the participating degree programs’ pages for course listings and timetable.

Courses Outside the Department

Only one full-course equivalent of courses outside the department is permitted in any one degree program. To enrol in courses outside the department, please obtain approval from the course instructor and forward the email with the approval and the SGS Add/Drop Course(s) form to the Graduate Assistant.

Language Courses

Taking a language course does not fulfill the language requirement. They are intended as preparation to write the Department of Art History language exam. These courses do not count towards the seminar work required for the graduate degree. 

  • FSL6000H Reading French Course for Graduate Students: Open to Masters and PhD graduate students who need to fulfill their graduate language requirement. A grade of Credit/NonCredit (70% is the minimum grade for CR) will be entered on their transcripts. Students are not permitted to audit this course. This course is designed to develop students' reading skills, particularly as they pertain to research interests. Some remedial grammar, but the primary emphasis is on comprehension of a wide variety of texts in French. Please visit the Department of French for more information.
  • GER6000H Reading German for Graduate Students: In this course, German reading knowledge is taught following the grammar-translation method designed for graduate students from the Humanities. It is an intensive course that covers German grammar with a focus on acquiring essential structures of the German language to develop translation skills. The course is conducted in English, and consequently, participants do not learn how to speak or write in German, but rather the course focuses exclusively on reading and translating German. Prior knowledge of German not mandatory. By the end of the course, students should be able to handle a broad variety of texts in single modern Standard German. Please visit the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures for more information.
  • Undergraduate Language Courses: Graduate students may enrol in any undergraduate language course at no additional cost. A grade of Credit/No-Credit (70% is the minimum grade for CR) will be entered on their transcripts. Please consult the undergraduate timetable for course listing and description.


Please refer to the FAQ page and/or contact the Graduate Assistant.

Graduate Studies FAQ