Department of Art History and Art

Navigation + Search
Home / News / Art History Courses for First Semester Students

Art History Courses for First Semester Students

Posted on June 25, 2014

Courses Advice Banner

Welcome to CWRU.

If you are interested in studying art history, you have come to the right place, for your professors are all scholars who have worked in museums as well as in universities, and our classes emphasize study of 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. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ARTH 220. Jewish Traditional Art and Architecture.
Professor Neulander
Tradition and transformation in Jewish artistic expression over time and across space. Course will begin with biblical period and continue down to the present day in Israel and America. Examination of how concepts such as “Jewish” and “art” undergo change within the Jewish community over this period. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ARTH 241. Medieval Art.
Professor Gertsman
This course will introduce students to the pivotal works of art created between approximately 250 and 1500. We will discuss painting, sculpture, architecture, manuscript illumination, and graphic arts. Medieval visual and material culture will be considered within the framework of socio-political developments, rapid urban growth, the flowering of monastic culture, the rise of universities, and changes in devotional practices. While the course will primarily focus on western part of the medieval Christendom, we will also discuss Jewish, Byzantine, and Islamic art. Visits to the CMA will form an integral part of the course. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ARTH 250. Art in the Age of Discovery.
Professor Benay
A survey of developments in Renaissance art and architecture in northern Europe and Italy during a new age of science, discovery and exploration, 1400-1600.

ARTH 301. Museums and Globalization.
Professor Levin
Museums are everywhere contested spaces today. Historically designed as symbols of power, centers for research, agents of public education and community formation in Western industrial societies, they have become sites of development and cultural controversy on a global scale. From Cleveland and Paris to Nairobi and Dubai museums figure in urban redevelopment, national identity formation, conflicts between religion and science, and global tourism. Questions we will consider in this course: what are the fundamental features of museums as institutions? what ties have linked them to wider national and international communities of academics, NGO’s and business? to political, economic and social concerns? how do museums in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America figure in the current international contention over heritage rights? This is an innovative course allowing students to collaborate on projects, engage with guest lecturers and access museums across the globe. The course is organized in three parts: Part I: National Identity Building and Museums; Part II: Museums and Identity Politics; Part III: Museums and Global Development. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ARTH 307. Arts of China.
Professor Giuffrida
This course explores a selection of major developments in Chinese visual and material culture from ancient times to the present day. We consider works in multiple media including bronzes, pottery, sculpture, calligraphy, paintings, ceramics and installations. We look into the roles of art in society, the relationship of art to political authority, the place of art in religious practice and experience, connections between art and literature, and how art relates to the expression of personal, social, political, and cultural identity. We pay particular attention to landscape painting; pictorial and sculptural programs of Buddhist grottoes; art commissioned and collected by the imperial court; objects associated with Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian religious practices and sacred sites; art produced during periods of non-Chinese rule under the Mongols and Manchus; the affects of foreign styles and ideas on artists; and the role of Chinese artists in the contemporary global art world and market. We also examine the role of museums in selecting, preserving, and presenting Chinese art in the 20th and 21st century. Visits to the Cleveland Museum of Art form an integral part of the course. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.

ARTH 327. The Parthenon: Then and Now.
Professor Neils
The Parthenon is an icon of western art and culture. Over 250 year of scholarship on this world-renowned building have revealed many of its secrets, but numerous questions still remain. New finds on the Acropolis itself and elsewhere in Greece have shed light on some of these issues, and as a result new theories abound. This seminar offers an overview of the temple, its architecture and sculpture, and will investigate its place in the civic and religious ideology of classical Athens. The course will also trace the Parthenon’s many post-classical permutations, into a Christian Church and an Islamic mosque, and its impact on later western art and architecture. Finally the class will debate the moral and ethical issue of the Elgin Marbles – to repatriate them to Greece or to retain them in the British Museum in perpetuity.

ARTH 342. Issues in Indian and Southeast Asian Art.
Professor Quintanilla, Cleveland Museum of Art
This course covers topics in the history of India and neighboring regions with emphasis on connections with works in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Offerings include The Buddha Image, Murals and Manuscripts, The Hindu Temple, Krishna in Art and Literature, and the History of Mughal Painting. Lectures, discussions, and reports.

ARTH 390. The Work of Art and the Museum.
Professor Adams
This writing-intensive class will explore essential questions about the art museum, art collecting, authenticity, and quality through analysis of the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The CMA is generally regarded as one of the top ten American art museums, and one of the few that provides a near-comprehensive survey of art from all regions of the world from ancient times to the present. In order to exist, any art museum must provide practical answers to large questions. What is a work of art? What is a masterpiece? What sorts of meanings do works of art communicate? What sort of history do works of art provide? How does the context in which an artwork is placed affect its meaning? What should an art museum collect and what should it exclude? We will explore these issues through close readings of texts, discussions, and meetings with art historians and curators, and above all through first-hand study of and contact with original works of art. Counts as SAGES Departmental Seminar.

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 2014 are ones normally taken after at least one semester 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.

Page last modified: February 7, 2017