Graduate Seminars

Spring 2015

AHIS 501
Problems in the History and Theory of Collecting and Display (12056D)
Selma Holo
M 12:00 pm — 2:50 pm
USC Fisher Museum of Art, Conference Room

This course, primarily for graduate students,  begins with providing a broad introduction to the museum world. In the first few weeks, we will discuss various kinds of art museums, gaining an understanding of the history of how and why they have come to be. As well, we will learn about their present operations: how museums are organized, maintain their collections (or why they choose not to collect), serve their audiences, generate research, and incorporate technology and social media, among others. These first three classes, and their associated readings,  will be held in conjunction with Professor Suzanne Hudson.  After the introductory period our own class will begin participating in the curatorial work for an important exhibition which will be shown at USC's Fisher Museum of Art of the Los Angeles artist, Lita Albuquerque.  We will meet with the artist, visit other shows and go to museums,  test our curatorial ideas and evolving curatorial plan against theory and best practices. We will work together as a team to develop concept, budgets, public relations, installation and performance ideas directly with the artist.  We will write essays that will either be published in a catalogue or used for educational material in the exhibition itself.


AHIS 520
Seminar in Modern Art (12074D)
World Art: History, Form, and the Human Spring
Megan Luke
T 2:00 pm– 4:50 pm
VKC   379

This seminar will investigate the disciplinary formation of art history, tracing its debts to philosophical aesthetics and cultural anthropology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

We will revisit fundamental questions that continue to structure research in the field and stimulate methodological debate: What kinds of objects need a history? And is it possible to historicize their perception over time? Our discussions will focus on attempts to understand subjectivity and definitions of the human through objects that have appeared to evade or resist historical analysis, such as archaic or “primitive” artifacts.

We shall consider the category of “world art” and its relationship to Western modernism, its afterlife in subsequent discourses about cross-cultural aesthetics and globalism, and the challenges it poses for formalist analyses of visual culture. Specific topics will include: ideas about medium-specificity and technological determinism; anti-chronological accounts of time; animism and agency; abstraction, ornament and supplementarity; theories of mimesis and the psychology of perception; the rise of structuralism and studies of the gift economy.

Primary authors we will read include: Gottfried Semper, Aloïs Riegl, Aby Warburg, Wilhelm Worringer, Carl Einstein, Georges Bataille, Marcel Mauss, Sigfried Giedion, Theodor Adorno, Henri Focillon, George Kubler, Claude Levi-Strauss, Alfred Gell. We will accompany close reading of texts by these authors (and others) with readings by art historians and anthropologists who are working across subfields to develop strategies for how to write the history of form


*The classes and times listed are subject to change.