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 2021

Time/Format: Wednesday 13:00–15:00

Instructor(s): Dongwon Esther Kim

In the mid-1300s, one of the deadliest outbreaks of epidemic disease swept through Europe, which became endemic (recurring) throughout the later medieval, early modern, and modern periods. This course looks at the impact of epidemic disease on art and architecture of late medieval Europe by considering some of the changes and innovation in domestic spaces and interior design, the consumption of art in the post-plague economy, and the new iconographies of death, illness, and salvation, with a geographic focus on the north of the Alps.

Time/Format: Tuesday 13:00–15:00

Instructor(s): Fox, R.

This is an object/artifact-based course that serves as an introduction to furniture history as relates to the European and Canadian furniture on display in the galleries of the Royal Ontario Museum. Instructional strategies include the fundamentals of artifact analysis and the methodologies of furniture study. Stylistic developments in the furniture of France, Britain, and the United States are highlighted as a backdrop to understanding Canadian furniture of the 17th through the 19th centuries. Also considered are social, economic and political forces that help to explain preferences in styles, designs and forms, as are craft organization, construction techniques and conservation issues.

Time/Format: Friday 13:00–15:00

Instructor(s): Midanik, S.

In today's world of seemingly infinite images, it is easy to overlook the powerful effect of the new medium of print on the early modern world. This course offers a reexamination of the development of printmaking. While historical prejudices have limited understandings of the nascent medium to simple 'copies' of other media we will instead focus on the active role print played in early modernity Various aspects of print and its histories will be explored: its numerous techniques (etching, chiaroscuro woodcut, etc.) the 'peintre-graveur', reproductive printmaking, combined book and print media, and the movement of prints across the world to generate new works and meanings. If Covid-19 restrictions ease, we will visit the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and other print collections for hands-on experience with early modern prints.

Winter 2022

Time/Format: Wednesday 13:00–15:00

Instructor(s): Clarke, J.

This course introduces students to the discipline of art history, examining practices of visual representation from antiquity to the present. We will focus on pivotal moments when particular images and artifacts were singled out as "art" in something like our modern sense of the term. In parallel with weekly lectures, students will participate in required biweekly tutorial sessions, undertake writing exercises, and visit local museums. Special attention will be given to cultivating the knowledge and skills needed for upper level courses in art history. No previous knowledge of the field is required.

Time/Format: Monday 13:00–15:00

Instructor(s): Sapirstein, P.

In this course, we will survey the history of Greek architecture and its impact on the buildings of the ancient Mediterranean. Chronologically, we will begin in the latter second millennium BCE, examining the consequences of the collapse of the Mycenaean society on Greek buildings, after which we will examine the synthesis and dissemination of exciting new forms of monumental building at Greek sanctuaries and cities during the Archaic and Classical periods (ca. 700-350/323 BCE). We will conclude with the developments of the Hellenistic period, the era of eastern Mediterranean empires when architectural patronage is increasingly dominated by Greek and Hellenized royalty. Along the way, the course will examine topics such as the interpretation of meaning in Greek buildings and their sculptural decoration, the origins of building technologies, the interaction of Greek and non-Greek architects and builders, and the reception of Greek architectural forms within non-Greek contexts throughout the Mediterranean.

Time/Format: Wednesday 17:00–19:00

Instructor(s): Ewald, B.

Issues explored might cover Republican and Imperial painting; its Hellenistic sources and parallel media (mosaic, relief). The four distinctive genres of Roman sculptural production: the portrait, the historical relief, sarcophagi, and replicas of famous Greek sculptures. Styles, themes and modes of display in cultural context.

Time/Format: Monday 11:00–13:00

Instructor(s): Dunlop, D.

Since Romanticism, the post-Enlightenment concept of nature has been hopelessly entangled within the theory of the aesthetic. This entanglement has greatly impacted art history; it not only contributes to the seemingly irresolvable binaries that exist between theory/practice, the subject/object, and nature/culture, but it also undermines contemporary artistic responses to the climate crisis. Through an analysis of key historical and contemporary texts, we will address the limitations imposed by this vestige of Romanticism in order to imagine new ways of thinking about art history. Thus, this course takes a critical approach to the functioning of both "nature" and the "aesthetic" within contemporary art in order to address the kind of work that art is purported to do. Although our discussions will be relevant to most contemporary art practice, our case studies will focus on the field of Art & Ecology. Readings drawn from critical theory, philosophy, political ecology, film studies, and recent decolonizing scholarship, will help prepare students to research case studies on objects/artworks/contexts/images of their choosing. Theoretical discussions will be grounded in a diverse range of artistic practices including: earth art, creative ecologies, eco art, and performance, as well as more experimental approaches to art making that involve walking as practice.