Special Topic Courses

Fall 2019

FAH102H1-F Art and Ideas: From Sight to Light
Thursdays, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm
Instructor: Brittany Myburgh

How do we learn to see? As historians, how do we examine visions of the past? This course investigates exemplary works of art alongside theories of artistic vision and historic understandings of light. Light is what makes it possible for us to see the world around us, so it is worth examining the way that artists have engaged with this topic across the history of art.  Artworks will be examined as windows into the past, as visions of the ideal, and as representative of alternate realities. Lectures will explore changing understandings of light, cultural considerations, and how visual artists have engaged with light as a symbol and a subject since the dawn of art. The parallel skills of describing and analyzing what it is that we see will also be addressed throughout the course. Introductory methods of formal and historical analysis will be introduced throughout. Course readings will combine general texts on art, light, and vision.

FAH486H1-F Case Studies at the Royal Ontario Museum: Furniture
Thursdays, 12:00 pm–3:00 pm
Instructor: Ross Fox
Location: Royal Ontario Museum, Curatorial Centre, Room 603

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 early 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.


Winter 2020

FAH380H1-S Topics in Art History: Greek Architecture
Thursdays, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm
Instructor: Philip Sapirstein

In this course we will survey the broad 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 Mycenaean society on Greek building followed by 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, an era of Mediterranean empires, as 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 selected 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.

Prerequisite: two FAH half courses

FAH449H1-S, LEC0101 – Contemporary Art Movements: Birds, Balloons and Drones: The Aerial Image in Photography
Fridays, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Instructor: Emily Doucet

In his 1969 book, Airborne Camera: The World from Air and Outer Space, photography historian Beaumont Newhall argued that human flight was a significant turning point in modern visual culture. Examining the critical implications of such a statement, this course will explore the history of aerial photography from the nineteenth century to present day. This course will explore topics such as early attempts to photograph from hot air balloons, aerial mapping in Iraq in the early twentieth-century, pigeon-photographers in World War I, aerial perspective in New Vision and Modernist photography, aerial surveying in the Canadian arctic, DIY kite photography in Palestine, and contemporary artists responding to drone vision and violence, amongst other topics. Seminar discussions and assignments will prompt students to think about the cultural and political implications of the aerial image in both historical and contemporary contexts.

Prerequisite: FAH246H1

FAH449H1-S, LEC0201  Contemporary Art Movements: Digital Art and the Politics of Immersive Media
Mondays, 9:00 am–11:00 am
Instructor: Liron Efrat

The aim of this course is to allow the students to pursue core questions about daily reality, technology, and artistic practice in a new way: through the study and use of immersive technologies. We will analyze immersive media art in order to better understand how technology functions in our daily lives. Focusing on creative and artistic applications, this course will introduce students to the potential of immersive technologies as a tool for the shaping and production of social reality through assigned readings, lectures, and experiences using virtual reality and augmented reality in a lab setting and in short field trips and museum visits.

This course will focus on learning about contemporary practices and applications of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality in art, performance, film, activism, and other culture-related fields, such as museum practice and cultural heritage. Artistic projects will be discussed through the lens of their use of media and mediation, considering how technology is being employed and what kind of social impact the artwork aims to create.

FAH486H1-S Case Studies at the Royal Ontario Museum: Exhibiting Islamic Art and Material Culture
Fridays, 10.30 am–12.30 pm
Instructor: Fahmida Suleman
Location: Royal Ontario Museum, West Asia Library, 6th Floor

In-depth investigation of the display and interpretation of objects at the Royal Ontario Museum with a focus on the art and material culture of the Islamic world. Students will be exposed to several ROM staff (e.g. curators, collections managers, exhibition designers and interpretation planners) with a view to researching and developing a curatorial project proposal for an exhibition or gallery display as the culminating assignment for the course. This course requires departmental permission, as numbers are limited. To request permission, please  submit this form.

Prerequisite: 8 FAH half courses

FAH 489H1-S Topics in Art History: Women in Classical Antiquity
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm–5:00 pm
Instructor: SeungJung Kim

This seminar is a comprehensive exploration of women, both their myth and their reality, in classical antiquity (Greece and Rome). By examining extant visual and literary representations, the course aims to unravel the hidden history of women, obscured by selective bias of official records. Students learn thus how the representations of women in the visual art of Greece and Rome often give us access beyond the official history; at the same time, they learn in what way these representations are also a construct of gender ideals. The course content is organized both by subject matter (divine figures, heroines, amazons, courtesans, etc.) and theme (festivals, drama, religious participation, daily life, marriage, etc.) and offers theoretical and methodological insight during each topic. The students will also read key texts from modern gender theory along with relevant primary and secondary literature on women and gender in the ancient world. This course requires extensive research and presentation skills and includes field trips to the galleries and store rooms of the ROM to investigate and handle Greek pottery fragments.

Prerequisite: 8 FAH half courses