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Art History & Museum Studies

The history of art is the history of the world in visual terms. These terms have been expanded dramatically in the 20th century by developments in photography, graphic design, film, performance art, video and computer art. Each of these modes of production has had a profound impact on more conventional art forms and, simultaneously, has fostered an ever-changing body of theory.

The art history and museum studies course offerings are designed to enable students to explore these new developments and better understand their relationship with art of the past. Toward that end, works of art and pertinent theories are discussed in a broad context, to include social, political and economic motivations for an artist’s choice of medium, as well as the formal, stylistic and aesthetic elements of his or her work. Museum and gallery offerings in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York City are utilized to amplify points made in classes. Our own collection of photographs, films and videos also provides students with a unique source of reference material.

Students concentrating in art history and museum studies are strongly encouraged to take more than one studio course. Two years of one language are required. For those who intend to go to graduate school, a second language is recommended. Students work closely with their advisor in developing individualized programs.

At UMBC, I was able to grow intellectually and artistically and to find my true passion and drive both as an artist and a future art scholar. UMBC offered me both theoretical and practical grounds for exploring the cutting edge topics of concern in film, photography, media, art theory and history. I will always remember UMBC as an institution that challenged and nurtured me.

Hadi Gharabaghi
Plans:
M.A. in Cinema Studies, NYU, Tisch School of the Arts
B.A., Visual Arts, UMBC

What can I do with a Concentration in Art History & Museum Studies?

Students who opted for the art history and theory concentration in the Department of Visual Arts at UMBC have pursued further studies in graduate programs, have secured positions in museums and art galleries, have found employment in the editorial departments of art publications, or have joined the public school system as art teachers.

In 2007, an art history major, Hadi Gharabaghi, was one of 34 students in the nation to be awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke academic scholarship that provides a maximum of $50,000 per year for up to six years of graduate or professional study in any field. Art history students have won scholarships or teaching assistantships for graduate work in Art History (Danielle Lenhard – SUNY Stony Brook, Kate Schaffer – Art Institute of Chicago; Najah Duvall – University of Cincinnati; Laura Blackwell – University of Maryland College Park{UMCP}), Historic Preservation (Najah Gabriel – UMCP), Museum Studies (Laura Pasquini – Corcoran School of Art & Design), Film and Media Studies (Hadi Gharabaghi – New York University {NYU}), Modern Languages and Linguistics (Pilar Rau – UMBC), Anthropology and Media Studies (Pilar Rau – NYU), Sociology (Elizabeth Donovan – New School of Social Research) and Law (Laura Hammel).

The art history and theory curriculum, which includes the completion of an internship at an art gallery or museum in the Baltimore-Washington region, prepares students to compete for job opportunities in the museum world. Our students have secured positions in the Corcoran Museum (Laura Pasquini – Department of Education and Outreach) the National Gallery of Art (Rachel Valentino – Buying Office of the National Gallery of Art shops); and the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery at UMBC (Emily Hauver – Curatorial Assistant).

Art History & Museum Studies Courses

Visual Arts, Art History & Museum Studies, B.A.

Students concentrating in Art History and Museum Studies are strongly encouraged to take more than one studio course. A foreign language through the 202 level is required. For those who intend to join a graduate program, a second language is strongly recommended. Students work closely with their advisor in developing individualized programs.

Note: ART 323: Modernism (1880 – 1960) [3] is the gateway course for students concentrating in art history and museum studies and must be passed with a grade of “B” or better to continue on to upper-level courses in the concentration. The following are required in addition to the VPA and visual arts foundation courses:

ART 318
Visual Culture of City and Cinema in South Asia [3]
South Asian cities are loci of culture, commerce, religion, politics, crime and poverty. This course studies urbanism in contemporary South Asia from two perspectives: through the influential lens of Indian entertainment or ‘Bollywood’ cinema and through an examination of visual cultural forms, derived from the cinema, that pervade urban public spaces in South Asia. Examples include street murals, commercial signage, haute couture, wedding festivities and even the addition of new deities to the Hindu pantheon.
Prerequisite: ART216 or ASIA100

ART 319
Space and Place in Public Art and Urbanism [3]
This course studies the production and reception of public art. Through case studies, encompassing a range of public art forms, from ephemeral actions to monumental sculpture, we examine the spatial, social and political impact of public art in urban locations. Investigations of public art are conducted through reviewing theories of space and place as well as through practical experience, whereby teams of students collaborate with Baltimore community leaders to propose and execute public art projects.
Prerequisite: ART216 or ENTR200 or ENTR201

ART 321
From the Enlightenment to the Birth of Modernism (1750-1880) [3]
A study of the visual arts from the Enlightenment era (1750) to the advent of modernism (1880), with an emphasis on the changing social and aesthetic conditions that influenced later art forms. From the Enlightenment to the French Revolution to the impact of photography, the period gave rise to revolution and innovation. Art reflected and responded to these conditions with its own radical shifts in style and content from neo-classicism and romanticism to realism and impressionism. This course will explore how the developments of the 18th and19th centuries laid the foundation for modernism.
Prerequisite: ART 216 or ART 221 or permission of the instructor.

ART 323
Modernism (1880 – 1960) [3]
A survey of turning points in the development of modernism in the visual arts beginning with European movements in the late nineteenth century (e.g. impressionism and post impressionism) and continuing to artistic movements of the first half of the twentieth century (e.g. cubism, German expressionism, Italian futurism, Russian constructivism, dada and surrealism). The course closes with key developments in American modernism (e.g. the Armory show, the Harlem renaissance, social realism, abstract expressionism) including a brief glimpse at pop art. All art historical developments will be considered in their specific sociopolitical and economic contexts.
Note: This course is designated as a gateway course for students concentrating in art history and museum studies and must be passed with a grade of “B” or better.
Prerequisite: ART 216 or ART 221 or permission of the instructor.

ART 328
Postmodernism (1960 – present) [3]
The period from the 1960s onwards witnessed the almost simultaneous challenge to Modernism in a host of movements in the USA, Europe and, increasingly, around the world. This new phase in art, that some art historians termed Postmodernism, opened up the boundaries of the art world as never before to new practitioners, new media and new centers of contemporary art practice, while the term itself became the subject of great debate. The course will end with a survey of current developments in art of the twenty-first century. All art historical developments will be considered in their specific sociopolitical and economic contexts.

ART 329
Topics in Art History & Visual Culture [3]
The topic of this course will be concerned with major currents and stylistic directions in the history of art and media in the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries. In some instances the course content will focus on a specific art historical period or movement; others will trace a prominent theme through several periods. The topic of the course will change depending on the expertise of the instructor teaching the course. Note: Repeatable for a total of 6 credits.
Prerequisite: ART 216 or ART 221.

ART 349
Black, Queer, and Feminist Film [3]

This course examines prominent themes in films that fall within the categories Black,Queer, and Feminist. Most of the films are narrative, dealing with issues involving race, gender, and sexuality. This course is not just about watching films. It makes extensive use of critical historical and theoretical texts from the disciplines of psychoanalysis, feminism, literary and queer theory, as well as from film history, art history, and critical theories of race, gender, and sexuality. Prior knowledge of film-making and/or film history/theory is not required
Prerequisite: ART216 or ART221

PLUS three of the following:

ART 424
Topics in Contemporary Art [3]
The topics of this course will focus broadly on key developments in contemporary art. The course content will reflect the particular research expertise of the instructor teaching the course. Some seminars may examine current critical discourses. that shape and define a cultural practice or artistic medium (e.g. theories of race, gender and sexuality, postcoloniality or poststructuralism); others may survey the contemporary art of a specific geographical region (e.g. the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Africa and their respective diasporas). The course will be conducted as a small seminar with weekly discussions and written assignments culminating in student presentations and research papers. Note: Repeatable for a maximum of 6 credits or 2 attempts.
Prerequisite: You must have completed ART 318 or ART 319 or ART 321 or ART 323 or ART 328 or ART 329 or ART 349 all with a grade of C or better or permission of the instructor.

ART 425
Writing By and For Artists, Curators & Critics [3]
How do artists engage in the practice of writing about their own and others’ artwork? What are the conventions curators follow in formulating theses statements for art exhibitions and in writing labels for the art objects on display in a show or a museum? What is entailed in producing an effective piece of art criticism? Students in this seminar grapple with these questions on a practical level by reading published works by artists, curators and critics, and by carrying out a range of weekly writing exercises. On a more philosophical level, the goal of the course is to become so comfortable with writing about art that to do so becomes more of a matter of desire than duress. The course will be conducted as a small seminar with weekly discussions and written assignments.
Note: Individual goals may be established with the professor.
Prerequisite: Prerequisite: You must have completed ART 318 or ART 319 or ART 321 or ART 323 or ART 328 or ART 329 or ART 349 all with a grade of C or better or permission of the instructor.

ART 427
Museum Practice [3]
This project-based course is designed to help students gain insight and expertise in key components of museum and gallery work (e.g. curating, exhibition design, collection management, and public programming). Students learn and train under the guidance of an instructor experienced and knowledgeable about the art museum world. By the end of the semester students will have gained an invaluable preparatory training for career opportunities with art museums, art galleries and like institutions involved with the public display of historical and cultural material.
Prerequisite: You must have completed ART 318 or ART 319 or ART 321 or ART 323 or ART 328 or ART 329 or ART 349 all with a grade of C or better or permission of the instructor.

ART 428
History & Theory of the Art Museum [ 3 ]
The art museum is a key arbiter of culture in modern societies. This course will integrate historical and theoretical knowledge about the art museum with the practice of proposing and designing an innovative model exhibition. The course will have two components: a seminar component and a laboratory component. Seminar discussions will focus on the changing political and cultural histories, philosophies and practices that have dynamically molded the art museum since its inception. The laboratory component will experiment with theories of museum resource management, in other words, the mechanisms that “frame” the object or “stage” the show. The course will be conducted as a small seminar with weekly discussions and written assignments culminating in student presentations and research papers.
Prerequisite: You must have completed ART 318 or ART 319 or ART 321 or ART 323 or ART 328 or ART 329 or ART 349 all with a grade of C or better or permission of the instructor.

ART 429
Seminar in Art History & Visual Culture [3]
The topics of this course will be wide-ranging, reflecting the particular instructor’s research specialization. Some seminars will focus on a specific historical art period or movement; others will trace a prominent theme through several periods: Still others will examine key developments within current theoretical and critical discourses. The course will be conducted as a small seminar with weekly discussions and written assignments culminating in student presentations and a research paper.
Prerequisite: You must have completed ART 318 or ART 319 or ART 321 or ART 323 or ART 328 or ART 329 or ART 349 all with a grade of C or better or permission of the instructor.

PLUS one of the following:

ART 494
Internship [1-6]
An internship inside or outside the university related to the student’s focus, to be taken under the supervision of a visual arts faculty member or advisor. If a student works 120 hours in the semester or summer (or 40 hours per credit), the student is eligible to enroll for three credits. Students will work in a professional environment and perform a range of tasks. The circumstances of the internship experience will be evaluated before both the student and supervising firm proceed. This ensures that both parties will benefit mutually from the association. P/F only.
Prerequisite: Permission of advisor

ART 498
Center for Art & Visual Culture Intership [3]
ART 498 exposes the student to all aspects of exhibition organization, design, installation, and presentation on a professional level. Working closely with Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture staff, each student will assist with the coordination of exhibitions and accompanying publications and educational outreach initiatives. Areas of concentration include curatorial research, collection management, exhibition and publication design, K-12 educational outreach, public programming events, and grant writing.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

ANCS 397
Internship in Ancient Studies

PLUS five of the following:

ART 324 – History of Film: Origins to 1965
ART 325 – History of Film and Video: 1965 to the present
ART 326 – History of Photography 1
ART 327 – Contemporary Directions in Photography
ART 335 – Graphic Design V: Origins and Issues in Design
ART 342 – Film/Video Theory and Criticism
ART 343 – History of Animation
ART 380 – History and Theory of Games

AFST 205 – Contemporary Black Popular Culture
AFST 460 – Seminar in Black Hair and Body Politics
AGNG 415 – The Art of Aging
AMST 230 – The Arts in America
AMST 320 – Television in American Culture
AMST 322 – American Society and Culture in Film
AMST 323 – Baltimore in Film
AMST 324 – The Road Movie in America and Abroad
AMST 325 – Studies in Popular Culture
AMST 327 – Sports and Media in American Society
AMST 344 – Made in America: Material Culture in the United States
AMST 345 – Indigenous Heritage: Issues of Representation and Ownership
AMST 350 – Critical Decades
AMST 358 – Special Topics in American Signs
AMST 374 – Things to Come: Perspectives on the Future
AMST 375 – Studies in Asian American Culture
AMST 388 – American Environments: Landscape and Culture
AMST 391 – Studies in American Culture
AMST 420 – Seminar in Global America
AMST 422 – Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore
AMST 430 – Seminar in American Signs
AMST 460 – Seminar in Black Hair and Body Politics
AMST 466 – Media Literacy and Racial Representation
AMST 474 – Theorizing Identity in Contemporary American Culture
AMST 476 – Theories of Culture and Media
ANCS 201 – The Ancient Greeks
ANCS 202 – The Roman World
ANCS 301 – Ancient Civilizations
ANCS 370 – When Worlds Collide: The Rediscovery of Antiquity

ANTH 310 – Ethnographic Film
ANTH 311 – Urban Anthropology
ANTH 382 – Global Flows in Local Worlds: The Anthropology of Globalization

ARCH 200 – Greek Archaeology and Art
ARCH 201 – Roman Archaeology and Art
ARCH 220 – Archaeology and Art of Ancient Egypt
ARCH 310 – The Archaeology of Ancient Egypt
ARCH 330 – Archaeology of Bronze Age Greece
ARCH 340 – Cities of the Past
ARCH 350 – Topics in Archaeology
ARCH 380 – Hellenistic Archaeology and Art
ASIA 300 – Topics in Asian Studies
DANC 101 – Dance Appreciation
DANC 201 – Dance History I: Cultural and Classical Forms
DANC 202 – Dance History II: Contemporary Forms
DANC 260 – Introduction to African Dance
DANC 325 – Dance and the Contemporary Arts
ENGL 316 – Literature and the Other Arts
ENGL 342 – Principles and Practices of Visual Literacy

FREN 440 – Studies in French Speaking Culture and Society

GWST 321 – Queer Representation in Film and TV
GWST 322 – Gender, Race, and Media
GWST 323 – Gender and Sitcoms
GWST 349 – Gender, Sex and Theatre Performance
HIST 203 – Film & History: Representations of Imperialism in Modern World History
HIST 339 – Images of Science and Technology in Cinema and Media
HIST 358 – Art and Society in the Renaissance
HIST 381 – From Samurai to “Salariman”: Japanese History through Film and Literature
HIST 383 – Japan in the Shogun Age
HIST 411 – Service Learning in Public History
JDST 311 – Modern Israel in Film
JDST 371 – The Jewish American Experience in Film

MCS 390 – Transcultural Studies in Global Television
MLL 322 – Gender, Race and Media
MLL 301 – Textual Analysis: Words, Music, Images

PHIL 368 – Aesthetics
PSYC 370 – Sensation and Perception
RUSS 270 – Introduction to Russian Culture and Civilization
RUSS 271 – Introduction to Modern Russian Civilization and Culture

THTR 206 – Fashion, Costume, and Society
THTR 349 – Gender, Sex and Theatre Performance
UM 260 – Issues in Photography and the Humanities

PLUS

ART 490
Senior Thesis or Curatorial Project [3]
The student undertakes advanced individual work in history, theory or criticism under the direction of a member of the art history faculty. The project is finished during the last semester of a student’s senior year. The student may choose to submit a research paper and to deliver an accompanying oral presentation at the Senior Thesis show held annually in the month of May at the Center for Art Design and Visual Culture. Alternatively the student may choose to conduct a curatorial project (in conjunction with the Senior Thesis show) with an accompanying exhibition thesis.
Prequisite: Permission of the instructor

Art History Faculty

Preminda Jacob   Associate Professor & Chair
James Smalls   Professor
Kathy O’Dell   Associate Professor