Department of Art History and Art

Department of Art History and Art    Courses Advice


Art History Courses for First Semester Students




Welcome to CWRU.
If you are interested in studying art history, you have come to the right place, for your professors are all professionals who have worked in museums as well as in universities, and our classes incorporate the works of art that can be seen in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Think of the CMA as your art history laboratory, one that is open free of charge for the permanent collections, and where you can go and look at just one work or hundreds at a time. Whether you take one course with us, or decide to major or minor in art history, we welcome you to study of art history at CWRU.

We encourage all students to take ARTH 101 and 102, even if you did study art history in high school AP courses. We take a different, object-centered approach to teaching art history through our weekly visits to the Cleveland Museum of Art galleries, and we go into greater depth than AP classes are able to do.

Typically, art history courses at CWRU do not have prerequisites, even on the 300 level. However, it is always a good idea to email the Professor of a 300 level course to see if she or he thinks it is an appropriate choice for you in your first semester at the university.

Here are the courses we are offering in art history this fall.

ARTH 101. Art History I: Pyramids to Pagodas.
Professor Popkin
The first half of a two-semester survey of world art highlighting the major monuments of the ancient Mediterranean, medieval Europe, Mesoamerica, Africa, and Asia. Special emphasis on visual analysis, and socio-cultural contexts, and objects in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

ARTH 260. Art in Early Modern Europe: Decorum and Decadence in the Age of Reason.
Professor Benay
This course explores the art of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, an era of rising nationalism, political aggrandizement, religious expansion and extravagant art patronage. Artists like Caravaggio, Bernini, Velazquez, and Rembrandt negotiated emerging tensions between naturalism and idealization, court and city, public and private, and church and secular patronage.

ARTH 284. History of Photography.
Professor Rager
This course will examine the invention, development, and proliferation of photography in its artistic and cultural contexts, from the advent of the daguerreotype in 1839 to the ubiquity of the digital image today. Through the close study of significant photographers, photographic technologies, and individual photographs, we will consider issues of politics, gender, nationalism, imperialism, globalization, and class intrinsic to the medium.

ARTH 335. Issues in Ancient Art: The Art of War in Ancient Rome.
Professor Popkin
Few societies in history have been as militaristic as ancient Rome—or as proud of their warrior culture. This course examines the many ways that Romans constructed and contested their conceptions of war from the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 B.C. to the reign of Constantine (A.D. 306-337). Why did Romans choose to represent war in certain ways, and how did these artistic representations shape Romans’ military values? We will explore major public monuments in the city of Rome (including triumphal arches and the Colosseum) and private objects (such as silver drinking vessels) to observe how Roman militarism pervaded different walks of life.

ARTH 340. Issues in the Arts of China: Bridging and Rupturing Past and Present in Chinese Contemporary Art .
Professor Giuffrida
This course explores the artists, works, ideas, and reception of Chinese contemporary art from 1979 to the present. We examine the creation, expression, and performance of Chinese identity in painting, sculpture, ceramics, performance, photography, video/film, and installations.

ARTH 349. Gothic Art: Vision and Matter.
Professor Gertsman
This course will examine the development and dissemination of Gothic art in Western Europe in the High and Late Middle Ages. We will consider a variety of media, including architecture, metalwork, sculpture, manuscript illumination, panel paintings, fresco cycles, and small devotional objects.

ARTH 352. Art in 15th Century Italy: The Rise of the Renaissance Artist
Professor Benay
This course will examine the moment of intellectual and cultural rebirth known as the early Renaissance. The emergence of Humanism and the revival of classical texts and ideals had a lasting impact on art in Italy and helped to shape the way artists conceived of themselves and their roles in society.

ARTH 360. Renaissance Art in Northern Europe Ca. 1380-1570.
Professor Scallen
The visual arts of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries participated in the widespread social and political changes in northern Europe in what is today Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and France. In this course we will examine both the work of pioneering individual artists, such as Jan van Eyck, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Dü rer and Pieter Bruegel, and larger themes such as patronage and the rise of the art market, the invention and dissemination of prints, the development of new subjects in art (landscapes, scenes of daily life) and the use of art for political propaganda and religious devotion.

ARTH 374. Impression to Symbolism.
Professor Rager
Although the Impressionists exhibited as a group for only twelve years, the movement they inaugurated would forever change the course of French art, sending out shock waves that continue to reverberate today. While public attitude has shifted from one of skepticism to adulation, the movement has also been widely chronicled by critics and scholars engaging in fierce debates over their significance in the history of art. This class will consider the movement in its broadest sense, including its precursor in Realism, as well as the subsequent rise of Symbolism and Post-Impressionism.

ARTH 393. Contemporary Art: Critical Directions.
Professor Teixeira
An examination of the directions taken by avant-garde American art and criticism in the aftermath of Abstract Expressionism. Includes the rise and fall of modernism in the 1960s and ‘70s, as well as an investigation of Post-modern trends and theories.


The following 300 level art history courses listed for fall 2013 are ones normally taken after your first semester or more of study in the department.

ARTH 395 (internship) is best taken after your first year of study, and ARTH 398 (independent study) is best taken by majors in their third or fourth year of study. The honors thesis, ARTH 399, is reserved for majors and is taken in the final year of study. All three of these courses require the permission of the instructor, and ARTH 399 also requires the permission of the department chair.

Click here for information about majoring or minoring in Art History at CWRU.