Previous course offerings can be found here.

ARTH 102



MWF 10:35am-11:25am

Art history II is an introductory course exploring the visual cultures of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe from 1400 to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on visual analysis, historical and sociocultural contexts, and an introduction to issues in the study of art history and the institution of the museum. We will also focus on various methodological approaches to the history of art, such as gender, class, colonization & decolonization, and globalization as we trace the stories of art and its creation. We will look at a diverse range of objects and monuments, emphasizing their functions, forms, and historical and cultural contexts. Students will gain a deeper understanding not only of individual works of art but also of the cultures that produced them, and we will consider the relevance of the past to our own culture today. This class will take advantage of the rich collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art with weekly sessions in the galleries.




T/TH 1:00pm – 2:15pm 

This course explores the history of ancient Roman art and architecture, with a particular emphasis on the Roman Empire. We will focus on situating objects and monuments in the changing historical, cultural, political, and religious contexts of the Roman world. The course will introduce students to famous buildings such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon in Rome, but we will also look at lesser known but equally fascinating works that offer insight into the imaginations, aspirations, and identities of the Roman Empire’s diverse population. From statues and paintings to oil lamps with erotic scenes, drinking cups with images of famous athletes, and even travel souvenirs, Romans were surrounded by images and objects that allowed them to participate in but also shape and resist a broader imperial culture.

Students will consider how art and architecture shaped the complex ways that people living in the Roman world related to the empire and to more regional and local cultural traditions from Egypt and North Africa, Northern Europe, and the Near East. Finally, we will also examine how the legacy of Roman art and architecture continues to fuel debates about power, politics, and representation in the United States, including controversies over Confederate monuments. Students will examine works of art in person in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s ancient art galleries and will visit the CMA’s Art Study Room to handle works of art themselves. We may also visit other sites such as Lakeview Cemetery. There are no prerequisites for this course other than curiosity and an open mind! Please contact Professor Maggie Popkin ( with any questions.




MW 5:30pm – 6:45pm

Survey of the development of American art from colonial times to the present which explores how art has expressed both American values and American anxieties. Painting is emphasized, but the course also considers architecture, the decorative arts, film, literature, and music. Offered as AMST 270 and ARTH 270.

ARTH 284



T/TH 11:30am – 12:45pm

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.  We will also explore several pervasive themes throughout the history of photography, including: the tension between indexical knowledge and artistic expression in defining the nature, interpretation and role of photography; the struggle for photography to gain legitimacy as an artistic medium; the artifice inherent in the photograph as self-evident document; the rise of photography in the construction of personal and collective memory; the democratization of the photographic image and the development of amateur practice, as well as the burden of representation and visual surveillance; and the commodification of photography and its function in mass popular entertainment.  Supplementing the course textbook, this class will also employ various primary source documents and a range of theoretical texts in order to explore diverse approaches to the medium from its inception to the present.  Class sessions will be a mixture of lecture and in-class discussion of readings and images.  In addition, several classes throughout the semester will take place in the study room and galleries of the Cleveland Museum of Art, as well as the Western Reserve Historical Society, where we will be introduced to a selection of their rich holdings of photographic works, while gaining the tools of first-hand visual analysis.

Course Requirements: one in-class presentation; two short papers; take-home mid-term examination; take-home final examination.

Required Texts: Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History 5th ed. (Prentice Hall, 2021) ISBN-10: 1856694933

Alan Trachtenberg, ed. Classic Essays on Photography (Leete’s Island Books, 1980) ISBN-10: 091817208X




MWF 11:40AM – 12:30PM

In this course students will delve into the histories of US-based activist movements for racial justice, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and disability rights and the artistic movements that coincided with each of them. As they examine a variety of sources including archival material, photographs, paintings, poetry, performance art, oral histories, and written accounts, students will investigate the ways in which artists and activists have collaborated in challenging, shifting, shaping public discourse and political action. Students will engage in both individual research and collaborative digital humanities projects and which explore the following driving questions of the course:

How have US-based civil rights movements and artistic movements been in conversation with one another? What can we learn about public debate regarding issues of identity, citizenship, and access by looking at the art produced in that particular cultural moment as well as the reception to it? What role do the arts have to play in political and cultural change?

ARTH 304/404


Prof. BO LIU

MWF 2:15pm – 3:05pm

This course is on the “Silk Road,” the historical international trade routes throughout Eurasia, with a focus on the northern overland routes, primarily through modern China, the eastern Turkic republics, Afghanistan, and India. In its peak periods, these international trade routes were very much in the business of exchange: of goods, ideas, diplomacy, and politics. This course introduces the main artistic, cultural, and religious traditions of the countries/areas along the Silk Road.

Students will understand how local communities met and tolerated differences for mutual benefit and how their arts expressed, negotiated, and reformed their cultural, religious, and ethnic identities.

Key sites and artworks from China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Japan, and Central Asia will be studied to understand the basic motives, mechanisms, and mutual goals for cross-artistic/cultural/religious dialogue and interaction.

ARTH/HUMN 320/420



MW 3:20pm – 4:35pm

Since antiquity, public monuments have been sites for decoration, for mobilizing political action, and for coalescing community.  Monuments in Cleveland are no exception. This course explores the history of public monuments from antiquity to the present day but it does so with an aim toward actively contributing to the civic life of our city.  Students will join with community partner, LAND Studio, to develop and contribute to the newly launched City is Our Museum app. Created in 2021, the City is Our Museum app is an interactive platform that hosts walking tours of Cleveland’s most integral public art. Carefully curated and thoughtfully written, the City is Our Museum now has over 2900 users. Written by contributors with art historical background, the app is, however, still fairly traditional in its curatorial approach. LAND Studio would like to diversify the types of voices that come together to interpret Cleveland’s monuments and its collective memory. Toward that end, students in this course will study best practices in oral histories, and work with the Freedman Center to integrate new ways of surveying and narrating community experiences of public art. This course will introduce students to the theory and methods of the public humanities and service learning, but it will also serve our larger university and urban community by bringing research into practice. If you’ve ever wondered what art or the humanities can do for society, this class is for you!

ARTH 392/492


Prof. ANDREA RAGER, in collaboration with SPACES

TH 2:30pm-5:00pm

Cleveland’s SPACES gallery has been selected as the commissioning institution for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2023 Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy.  Titled “Everlasting Plastics,” this group exhibition is co-curated by Lauren Leving, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and Tizziana Baldenebro, executive director of SPACES, and will be open from May 20 and through November 26.  Featured artists include Xavi Aguirre, Simon Anton, Ang Li, Norman Teague, and the Cleveland-based sculptor Lauren Yeager.  This course presents a unique opportunity for a community-engaged learning partnership with SPACES centered around “Everlasting Plastics.”  The course will consider the central themes of the exhibition, including the history and emergence of plastics as an industrial product, the rising global environmental crisis of plastic pollution, and how artists have engaged with plastic as a medium for critiquing and raising awareness of its pervasive impact.  We will explore the local and global networks of plastic consumption, plastic waste, and plastic futures, connecting Lake Erie to the Venice Lagoon, as a vital component of social and environmental justice.  A significant portion of the class will take place at SPACES gallery on Cleveland’s West Side, where students will have the opportunity to contribute to the implementation of the exhibition, as well as related programming, by working closely with co-curators Baldenebro and Leving.  Students will write regular journal entries, which will include responses to class discussions and synopses of tasks completed to support the exhibition, as well as a final reflective paper.  Students must be willing to travel off campus to SPACES gallery.  The course is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, with instructor permission and a maximum enrollment of 10 students. Please write a short statement of 200-300 words describing your interest in the course.

ARTH 350/450



MW 4:50pm-6:05pm

M – Campus/W – CMA Classroom A

In this course, students will explore the late Roman Mediterranean until the sixth century, with an emphasis on the West, and then will focus exclusively on Early Medieval visual culture in the West until about the tenth century. This is a turbulent time in Europe, with new polities like the Carolingians and Ottonians forming themselves on the model of the imperial Romans and the contemporary Byzantines. Monastic art contributes much to the cultural heritage of the period. While the primary emphasis will be on the dominant religion, Christianity, and its art, both polytheism and Judaism will be brought into the class.

Lectures will mostly be recorded, so that in-person class time can be spent developing skills in critical analysis and visual acuity. For much of our time we will be in the Cleveland Museum of Art with works of art on display and others brought for our class to the Art Study Room. Cutting edge HoloLenses will be used to visit the late fifth-century church at the Red Monastery. This is the future of high-quality teaching about architecture. Visual and material culture will be considered from various points of view, including gender, ritual studies, class, race and ethnicity.

ARTH 385/485



MW 12:45pm – 2:00pm

This class will explore the history of Industrial Design—that is to say, the design of all the things in the world around us. It will focus particularly on the 1930s and the development of streamlining. Much of the class will be built around the project of creating an exhibition at the History Center, which will open in April, on a car made here in Cleveland in the 1920s: The Jordan Playboy: The First Car For Women.




F 10:00am – 12:45pm

CMA Ingalls Seminar Room

This course examines the idea of the art museum in both its historical and contemporary manifestations, focusing on the context of Western Europe and the United States. As a result of this course, students should be familiar with the following topics: the historic development of the museum, from its origins in collecting practices to its modern incarnation as an institution; the development and care of a collection, including acquisition, cataloguing, and conservation; the display and housing of a collection, including internal and external museum architecture; the study and interpretation of the collection/exhibition, considering diverse publics; the governance of the institution, including project management, finance, and administration. Through the study of these topics, the student should be familiar with the following concepts: the museum as a place for learning, research and scholarship and the museum as steward of cultural property and the attendant issues of ethics and the law. ARTH 490B concentrates on the museum as an institution, including physical aspects, management and governance, and as a site of learning. The inter-connections between these broad fields and individual departments will be demonstrated and reinforced throughout the semester. Students who successfully complete ARTH 490A and ARTH 490B may be considered for admission into ARTH 491A, a supervised internship in an art museum or gallery situation.





ARTH 496



T 10:00am – 11:15am

This foundational course will introduce students to the examination methods, terminology and goals of art conservation as it supports art historical research and practice. Students will learn about the various materials that make up different kinds of works of art, how these materials have been used, and what can be learned by the physical examination of works of art. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the uses of and results obtained with imaging techniques (such as X-radiography, infrared reflectography) and on what can be learned through the trained use of the human eye alone. While art from the western tradition, particularly from the 14th through the 21st centuries will be emphasized in class examples, comparisons will be made to objects from other global cultures. The growing field of technical art history, where the results of physical examination are used to illuminate art historical issues such as how workshops functioned, will be considered as well. Each student will research one work of art in the Cleveland Museum of Art or other local collections to understand the physical history and current condition of that object. The goal will be for students to gain an informed understanding of how to evaluate the condition of a work of art, of what options are available for conservation treatment, and of what art-historical information can be obtained through physical examination.

ARTH 512



TH 10am – 12:30pm

What constitutes an original? What are copies or replicas? Should one be valued more than the other? How do they construct knowledge differently? What objects and monuments—and experiences of objects and monuments—count as authentic? These questions are critical for the study of Greco-Roman antiquity, where people held different notions of authenticity than many modern Americans and Europeans. Many Greco-Roman artworks that grace museum galleries as prized “originals” were in antiquity members of much larger series produced via casts or molds. In a world before mass media and mechanical and digital reproduction, physical replicas were vital means of conveying information, and the power to decide what got replicated and what replicas looked like was, arguably, the power to shape how people knew their world. At the same time, the study of antiquity relies on replicas of (often lost) originals: plastic models, axonometric drawings, digital models, and, increasingly, extended reality models. No less than ancient replicas, these modern models result from countless interpretative decisions that have enormous implications for our conceptions of what constituted “reality” in the Greco-Roman world. This course will explore changing notions of authenticity, analyzing replication as a form of knowledge construction in and of antiquity. We will draw on the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art as well as HoloLens apps developed by CWRU art history faculty in collaboration with the Interactive Commons. This course itself will be collaborative, with students assuming an integral role in directing our topics of study and selected readings. The aim is for us to dive deeply, together, into both foundational and cutting-edge scholarship and ongoing research projects that address these fraught questions of originality and replication.


ARTH 545



W 10:00am – 12:30pm

CMA Ingalls Seminar Room

This seminar will explore the complex relationship between material and meaning-making in the Middle Ages. Our central concern will be the power of the medium to entangle the corporeal and the intangible, the concept and the object, the ontology and the epistemology. Specifically, we will look at semiotics and iconology of the medium, thinking through the ways material works to signify and embody. Among our foci: wood, metal, wax, bone, skin, stone, shell, and thread. We are lucky to have three visitors to our seminar: Prof. Nina Rowe (Fordham U), Prof. Claudia Brittenham (U Chicago), and Dr. Gerhard Lutz (CMA) who will take us to the alabaster exhibition and co-lead an object study session. Be prepared to read and discuss primary and secondary sources, and marvel at the vibrancy of medieval material writ large.