Faculty of Arts & Science

Special Topics Courses

The Department of Art History offers several special courses. Special topics courses are developed to cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum. Not all courses are offered each semester—see the Arts & Science timetable for availability.

Fall 2023 

Time/Format: Wednesdays 13:00–15:00, in person

Instructor(s): TBA

This course will examine methods of valuing art and will focus on trends in the auction market in Canada since the 1960s. We will look at the history of art at auction internationally and discuss artists such as Banksy and Damien Hirst and their artworks within the primary and secondary markets. Other topics will include international art fairs, art advisory and appraisals, and issues in authenticity.

Time/Format: Tuesdays 13:00–15:00, in person

Instructor(s): TBA

This course will explore the artistic traditions of saints and miracles by examining visual representations and literary sources. The course will focus on these ideas within the context of Italy from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries but will also touch on some saintly traditions from France, Germany, and England. It will consider such artistic outputs as illuminated manuscripts, altarpieces, panel paintings, frescos and, of course, relics. 

Time/Format: Fridays 15:00-17:00, in person

Instructor(s): TBA

This course examines a broad range of visual culture and image-making practices with a relationship to criminal activity, behaviour, and the justice system. Spanning several centuries and working across global geographic boundaries, this class introduces students to an array of images created before, during, and in the aftermath of crime. The visual culture we investigate will take several forms, ranging from "high" art to vernacular images, including, but not limited to, photographs, paintings, drawings, advertising, film, and graffiti made by groups such as police, scientists, artists, and criminals themselves. Simultaneously, the course also emphasizes the creation, destruction, and theft of images for criminal purposes and the aesthetic qualities of criminal act by focusing on the productive and creative components of illegal conduct.

Winter 2024

Time/Format: Fridays 15:00–17:00, in person

Instructor(s): TBA

This course examines selected examples of Indigenous art from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Carribbean between 5000 BCE and the 16th century. Each week the course will explore a different medium: stone, clay, textiles, gold, jade, shells, feathers, soil, and bodily tissues, and highlight the connections between materials, making, and meaning. Engaging with theories of craftsmanship and technology, Indigenous worldviews, and human-environment relationships, the course will also examine how Indigenous forms of making challenge and expand the traditional methodologies of Art History that developed from the Greco-Roman tradition.

Time/Format: Mondays 10:00 - 12:00, in person

Instructor(s): TBA

An in-depth study of twentieth-century painting in Canada, this course will explore how narratives of Canadian art have been shaped over time by thinking about how it is written, collected, displayed, and sold. Through immersive class visits and discussions with professionals in the field, students will make industry connections, think critically about identity-making and nationalist narratives, and learn to contextualize Canadian art on a global scale. Students will also be granted special access to the private collection of The Faculty Club and have the opportunity to conduct original research on paintings by renowned Canadian artists.