Previous course offerings can be found here.

ARTH 101


Instructor Reed O’Mara

MWF 10:35am-11:25am

ARTH 203


Prof. BO LIU

TR 1:00pm-2:15pm

This course surveys a selection of major developments and masterpieces in the arts of Asia from the bronze age to the present in a wide range of media, including sculpture, painting, ceramics, architecture, bronzes, calligraphy, and prints. We explore factors behind the making of works of art while examining the historical contexts for the arts of China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and Central Asia. The course provides thematic focuses, introducing the core issues salient to understanding the objects under study. Its thematic and contextual approaches help students explore how political, religious, philosophical, aesthetic, and social ideas have shaped the artwork of these regions. It will also familiarize students with the vocabulary, terminology, and patterns of thinking, needed for a critical analysis of a visual culture in general.




MW 12:45pm-2:00pm

ARTH/ARTS 310/410



M 1:00pm – 4:00pm

The COVID-19 pandemic and the movements for social justice (Black Lives Matter, Me Too) are rapidly and dynamically altering long-held conceptions about the role of art in society. The culture industries (along with many other sectors) have been forced to re-examine the viability and utility of their current models, and the assumptions these models are predicated upon. Art institutions are in the process of reconciling their complicated and often contradictory relationship with white, sexist, ableist, and classist ideology, in which they have tacitly perpetuated dominant structures and perspectives while rhetorically advocating for reform and radical change. In this course, we will explore this contemporary cultural moment and unravel the seismic changes that have brought uncertainty to the art world. We will speculate potential futures free of racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and classism, and the role that art could play within those possible futures. And we will explore alternative conceptions of art with the potential to instigate those futures through a focus on social engagement, community, and radical inclusion.

ARTH/HUMN 316/416



T/TR 10:00am-11:15am

Who has access to knowledge and why? How is knowledge produced and publicized? What and where is the public? Who is included and excluded in this public?  What is the role of art and culture in various publics? This innovative course will address these questions as it introduces students to the theories and methods of the Public Humanities and Civic Engagement. Broadly defined, Public Humanities works to engage diverse publics in the subjects of the humanities by making topics like art history, literary history, film, and theater, accessible and understandable to a wider civic audience, but it also interrogates the concept of the expert and seeks to find experts in the field, rather than exclusively in the academy.  Through a combination of reading, discussion, and in person visits from leaders of Cleveland-area organizations, administrators, legislators, and public historians, this course will teach you how to put your degrees to work for the greater good! Although this course is about Public Humanities & Civic Engagement, it is open to students in all fields across the university who or are interested in ways to integrate the community in their education and to think creatively about the types of work their academic training prepares them to do. Undergraduate and graduate students will benefit from opportunities to broaden their professional networks and to learn more about the kinds of skills that are necessary in professions across the disciplines. For Undergraduates enrolled in this course, the class fulfills the Local and Global Engagement perspective area of the GER. 

ARTH 351/451



MW 3:20pm – 4:35pm

What desires drove the interpretation of art in East Slavic lands? How does the East Slavic artistic tradition differ from that of Byzantium and the Latin West? In this class we will study monuments, mural cycles and icons from medieval and early modern Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland. We will traverse a range of stylistic idioms in small handful of media, inquiring into the interpretive dispositions of audiences within a wider cultural context. You will be asked to read primary sources in translation as well as to study architectural drawings and image cycles to wrestle with the persuasive impact of murals and sculpture. Our class discussions will circle around a range of themes, including the politics of patronage, facets of adornment and the all-important role of the icon in East Slavic visual culture.

ARTH 382/482 (ESTD 382)



T/TH 2:30pm-3:45pm

As issues of sustainability and environmental impact have become increasingly dominant concerns in contemporary society, eco-criticism has emerged as a vital methodological thread across the humanities.  Motivated by ethical as well as scholarly concerns, eco-criticism not only enacts a fundamental examination of nature as an ideological construct, but also seeks to investigate the complex interrelationship between humanity and the environment.  Concurrently, there has been a marked interest in studying the role of “green issues” in contemporary art, particularly in tracing the development of earth art or eco-art from the early 1970s to the present.  The goal of this class is to forge a link between these two emergent strands by tracing the complex relationship between art and the environment from the early nineteenth-century to the present, seeking to thereby assess the capaciousness of eco-criticism as a methodological approach to art history.

Requirements for 382: Three response papers; one small group presentation; final research art project; participation in class discussion.

Requirements for 482: Graduate students will be responsible for all of the above, plus additional weekly readings and bi-weekly meetings, and to serve as discussion leader for one class.

ARTH 495


TU 11:30am – 2:00pm

ARTH 512


Prof. Maggie Popkin

Wednesday, 1:00-3:30 pm

This graduate seminar investigates the material popular culture of the Roman Empire. Art histories of ancient Rome have traditionally focused on monuments and artworks produced for elite patrons and consumers, overlooking a vast body of material and artistic evidence that opens a window into the experiences, interests, imaginations, and aspirations of people in the Roman world beyond wealthy, metropolitan patrons. This course explores these untapped resources, asking what an art history of Roman popular culture could look like. We will wrestle with what constitutes popular culture, how material popular culture simultaneously reproduces ideologies that perpetuate unequal power relations while also offering opportunities for subversion—and how we as art historians can approach and draw new meaning from objects that our discipline has often dismissed as banal or trivial. The primary aims of this course are: 1) to introduce students to utterly fascinating ancient Roman objects that seldom appear in art history textbooks, from glass drinking cups with scenes of chariot races to knife handles carved with erotic scenes to tray-bearing statues in the form of domestic slaves; 2) to investigate methodologically how popular material culture intersects with pressing questions of globalization, imperialism, cultural hegemony, and resistance; and 3) through engagement with the Cleveland Museum of Art’s galleries, to consider how and why museums do (or do not) present objects of popular culture and what the implications are for the public’s understanding of antiquity. All graduate students are welcome in this course. I do not expect you to have a background in ancient art. I do expect you to have an open mind!

ARTH 545



W  10:00am-12:30pm

The seminar, co-taught with the CMA’s curator of medieval art, Gerhard Lutz, will explore medieval concepts of creation and  re-creation: of the world, of humanity, of the sacred, of the material. While the focus of the  seminar remains on the western medieval world, visiting scholars will contribute to our  understanding of these themes within the global medieval context, and the installation, keyed to the centennial of the Medieval Academy of America, will reflect the shift in  emphasis. The global turn in art history continues to be at the forefront of our field, embraced  and interrogated by museum professionals and academics alike. This course and the  accompanying installation participate in and contribute to this essential scholarly inquiry through  consideration of some of the major objects at the CMA drawn from western medieval, Asian,  Islamic, and Mesoamerican collections. In addition, the Ingalls library has an extraordinary  collection of true facsimiles, including those of Jewish manuscripts, which will be available for  students to study.

The seminar will be organized around the CMA collections. Each session will include object  studies. Eventually, we hope to organize a study day around the installation, keyed to other  centennial events held by the Medieval Academy of America (MAA). Students  should plan to submit several linked session proposals on the topic of the seminar to the  MAA’s centennial conference to be held at Harvard University in 2025.

ARTH 571



M 1:00pm-3:30pm

How do the arts add to our daily lives? That is the charge of the John and Mildred Putnam Art Collection at CWRU– to make the (visual) arts part of the everyday experience on campus. What could be a richer or more rewarding inspiration for artists than a university – the world of ideas, challenges, histories, and possibilities, virtually every and any topic under the sun?  Who are the artists who represent diverse voices with thought-provoking perspectives?

Since 1980, the Putnam Collection has provided funding for a wide spectrum of artworks installed across the CWRU campus.  This course will explore the many factors that go into the on-going evolution of the 80+ works of art and how they add to our environment.

This class will have numerous first-hand experiences – walking the campus from one end to the other; hearing from planners, designers and artists who have a role in shaping today’s CWRU, brainstorming, researching and discussing potential projects.

Collectively we will get the lay of the land and assess the collection looking for gaps and opportunities. We’ll reach out to our community about what they would like, what would be useful, inspiring, affirming and set the campus apart. Students will conduct research to develop conceptual ideas, present comparable model projects, consider a wide range of artists working in different materials and technologies, and then develop creative briefs and new project proposals.

Students will gain an understanding of the logistics of artist selection, purchases, commissions, siting of pieces and on-going maintenance, interpreting artworks, writing labels – and approaches to all-important programming that continuously  invites viewers to engage with the artworks.