Updated 1/15/2015

Art History and Archaeology

AHIS G4142 Mediterranean “East”-”West” Interactions: An Introduction    T 6:10-8pm, 934 Schermerhorn   A. Shalem
The constant contacts, in peace and war times, between the Latin West and the world of Islam, especially during the Middle Ages, formed and shaped the identities of both Christian and Muslim worlds. Moreover, these cultural clashes and artistic exchanges seemed on the one hand to consolidate identities and maintain barriers of differences but on the other hand to contribute to dynamic aesthetic conversations, enriching the visual cultures of both. In several moments in history, which, sometimes, can hardly be defined as convivencia, a new amalgamated aesthetic language was born. Trade with luxury goods and even the sack of works of art ‘sponsored’ and enhances visual dialogues between different religious cultures of the Mediterranean. In this seminar the routes and the ‘ambassadors’ of these exchange moments are discerned. The Mediterranean basin (between 800 to 1500 AD) is in focus. The mobile world around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – from the far west district of al-Andalus and the city of Cordoba to the near Eastern metropolises of Cairo and Damascus – will be highlighted. Port cities such as Salerno, Amalfi, Genua, Mahdiyya, Venice, Palermo and Acre will be jointly discussed in order to draw a full and complete picture of the particular medieval art, which developed across the Mediterranean basin.

AHIS G4330 Paris in the Middle Ages    R 2:10-4pm, 934 Schermerhorn   S. Murray
The urban fabric of Paris provides the connective tissue linking medieval achievements in architecture, sculpture, and painting with the history of the city from the Romans to the Renaissance.

AHIS G6125 Painting in the Song Dynasty    T 9:10-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn    R. Harrist
The goals of this course are to study major works of painting from the Song dynasty (960-1279) and to master art historical and sinological methods that can be used for research in any field of Chinese art. Among the topics that will receive special attention are the rise of landscape painting, imperial patronage, urban life and painting, the art of scholar-officials, and the relationship between words and images, especially during the Southern Song period.

AHIS G8221 Art and Diplomacy: Gifts and Gift-Giving from Late Antiquity to the Early Renaissance    M 2:10-4pm, 930 Schermerhorn    H. Klein
Silk textiles, luxury objects made from precious metals, stones, or ivory, and even Christian relics and reliquaries feature prominently in surviving lists of goods exchanged between foreign courts and rulers as part of the diplomatic process. Precious books, carved gems, and objects of fine metalwork are likewise attested as gifts exchanged between members of aristocratic families as well as potentates and ecclesiastical communities to serve as tokens of allegiance or familial bonds, pious votives, or exquisite offerings that aimed to secure a person or a family’s earthly memory and heavenly afterlife. Building on a rich body of art historical, anthropological, and sociological literature, this graduate seminar explores the culture of gifts and gift-giving and its intersection with familial and dynastic politics from late antiquity to the early modern period. A number of canonical texts and prominent artifacts will help to illuminate the role and function of artistic products in a complex system of value and valuation that defined and structured the interaction between individuals and groups in a shared ‘culture of objects’ that stretched from the Eastern Mediterranean to the fringes of Western Europe. Please note that the number of participants in this seminar is restricted to 10 to facilitate a more immediate approach to the study of objects and allow for a number of site visits to museum collections in New York City.

AHIS G8525 Laughter and Renaissance Images     R 2:10-4pm, 832 Schermerhorn    D. Bodart
Laughter escapes all sorts of uniform classification, as literary studies have taught us, and during the Renaissance one used to laugh with images in many different ways. The seminar will focus not only on the representation of laughter, but also on the modalities of laughter used in images in 15th-16th century Europe. A special attention will be devoted to the comical language of images, with its witticisms, inversions, and parodic inventions: the distinctive structures and a specific vocabulary for pictorial syntax will be investigated in relation with the language of comic theatre, burlesque literature, carnival culture and farce. Examining the various forms of laughter produced by images, whether they concern ‘vulgar laughter’ or ‘erudite laughter’ or contaminations of the two, the seminar intends to develop a preliminary taxonomy of laughter in Renaissance visual art. Students are required to read at least one of the following foreign languages: French Italian, Spanish or German.

AHIS G8916 Meyer Schapiro and the Practice of Art History   M 9-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn   R. Harrist

The goal of this graduate seminar will be to systematically read Meyer Schapiro’s most important works, which remain vital to the historiography of many field of art history, theory, and criticism. One of the few offerings in the department’s graduate curriculum that will cut across fields of specialization, the seminar will be organized around a series of presentations by member of the faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology from a wide range of fields. Students also will make extensive use of the Schapiro Collection in the division of Rare Books and Manuscripts in Butler Library which encompasses over 600 boxes of Schapiro’s notebooks, research materials, unpublished essays, and works of art by Schapiro, who was a gifted draftsman and painter.


 LATN W4152 Section 001  Medieval Latin Literature: Renaissance   TR 2:40pm – 3:55pm  Carmela Franklin 3pts

Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission. A survey of early medieval biblical hermeneutics from the patristic age to Bede. The course will include both the theory of biblical interpretation (and especially its relation to classical grammar and rhetoric and to the debate about translation), as well as its literary practice. Readings from the works of Augustine, Jerome, Bede, Avitus, Proba, and others.

English and Comparative Literature

CLEN G6707   Magic, Carnival, Sacrament, Theater,   TR 10:10A-11:25A,  Instructor:  Julie Peters.  3 points.  Lecture

Spectacle, make-believe, and other forms of alternative reality in the European Renaissance. This course will look at drama, theatre, and the cultures of spectacle in Renaissance, baroque, and neoclassical Europe (Italy, Germany, Spain, England, and France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), situating English Renaissance drama in the wider European context. While looking at European drama’s enactment of the tropes of altered reality (“life is a dream,” “all the world’s a stage,” “acting is believing”), we will also attend to the ways in which street performance, machinery, technologies of the human body, and the Renaissance sensorium generally (music, light, movement) coalesce into the spectacular illusionism of Renaissance performance. We will explore theatre as magical and spiritual practice; carnival, charivari, and everyday cross-dressing, beggary, prostitution, and other street improvisations; court masque, imperial pageant, and public torture as disciplinary technique; sacrament, conversion, and other forms of illusionism and self-transformation. Texts include films, visual images, theatrical documents, festival books, commedia dell’arte scenarios, and plays by Shakespeare’s greatest near-contemporaries.

ENGL W4130  Literature to 1550,   TR 10:10-11:25AM    Instructor:  Eleanor Johnson.  3 points.  Lecture

A survey of early British writing in its cultural contexts. The course begins with Anglo-Saxon poetry, traces the changes brought to Britain by the Norman Conquest, focuses on the literature of aristocratic courts in the later Middle Ages, and ends as Caxton sets up London’s first printing press. We will read Anglo-Saxon works in translation and most Middle English works in their original language. The syllabus will include Beowulf, the Lais of Marie de France, The Book of Beasts, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Morte D’Arthur.

ENGL G6002   Troilus and Criseyde and its Neighbors,   M 10:10AM-12:00PM   Instructor:  Christopher Baswell

ENGL G6129   Writing Lives in Early Modern England,   W 9:00A-12:00P   Instructor: Alan Stewart.  4 points. Seminar.

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission (Seminar). This seminar explores the ways in which Englishmen and women made sense of their lives in writing, in the period 1500-1700. We will investigate the genres that we now term “biography” and “autobiography,” but which in early modern periods were inchoate, experimental forms. The course will be particularly interested in examining how, when and why early modern life-writers wrote; how the writing of others’ lives (biography) may have influenced how one wrote one’s own life (autobiography); the impact of religious doctrines on a sense of one’s own life, and on modes of self-writing; the relationship between clearly autobiographical forms (the diary, the journal, the life-story) and other forms of writing (the account-book, the printed almanac, and so on). We will explore the impact of major social, political and religious changes (notably the English Reformation and the Civil Wars, Interregnum, and Restoration) on life-writing of various kinds. The writers studied range from the well-known (Samuel Pepys, Izaak Walton, John Aubrey) to the more obscure, with particular attention paid to non-elite and women writers.

ENGL G6199   Early Modern Literature: Writing London,   M 2:10P-4:00P   Instructor:  Jean Howard.  4 points. Seminar.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar). This seminar examines the many ways in which London was put into print by early modern writers including dramatists, chorographers, poets and historians. We will look at how various genres and textual forms offered different possibilities for interpreting urban life, and at the way changing demographic, spatial and economic practices made themselves felt in literary representations. Among the questions we will ask are the following: What do we think we know about early modern London in terms of the built environment, demographics, political and economic structures? How do literary texts contribute to knowledge about early modern London? How do they represent and divide urban space? How do they suggest urbanization changed notions of status, gender, and sexuality in the early modern city? How do they represent conflict (religious, political, economic) within urban life amd register the ills of city living: pollution, debt, overcrowding, disease, disruption of communal and family structures? To what extent do they represent utopian dimensions of the urban space?


HIST BC4062  Medieval Economic Life & Thought,  T 4:10P-6:00P,   Instructor: Joel Kaye      Points: 4  SEMINAR

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. Preregistration required. Traces the development of economic enterprises and techniques in their cultural context: agricultural markets, industry, commercial partnerships, credit, large-scale banking, insurance, and merchant culture. Examines usury and just price theory, the scholastic analysis of price and value, and the recognition of the market as a self-regulating system, centuries before Adam Smith.

HIST W4083 – Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages, R 2:10-4    Instructor:  Neslihan Senocak   Points: 4   SEMINAR

Crime and its control continues to be a challenging issue for modern states despite all the high-tech forensic aid. Fewer crimes go unpunished compared to the Middle Ages, but the battle to lower the crime rates, and to curb violence is still as fierce as it was in medieval Europe. This course is primarily designed to examine critically what the medieval people considered crime, why, who tended to commit these crimes,  and what worked well and what did not in their system of criminal justice. The study of medieval crime records and criminal law presents a great opportunity for the study of the lives and minds of people from various social classes, their contemporary moral and cultural values, and the solutions they have invented to the universal problems associated with creating and maintaining an order in the society. Class discussions will encourage comparisons between the modern and medieval aspects of criminal justice.  NOTE: APPLICATION REQUIRED

HIST W4155    Christian Missions in the Early Modern World,   R 11:00A-12:50P    Instructor: Bronwen McShea.   Points: 4   SEMINAR

This course follows the spread and transformation of Christianity by Western missionaries in American, African, and Asian settings, from the late fifteenth through early nineteenth centuries. We examine what missionaries preached and urged others to believe and practice, and also what motivated missionaries, mission converts, and those who resisted proselytization. We also examine missions as sites of intercultural and colonial encounters with long-term impacts on politics, wars, and social dynamics.

HIST W4645  Jews and Early Modern Europe, F 9:00am-10:50am  E. Carlebach.  4 Points. Seminar.

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission is required.  A seminar on the historical, political, and cultural developments in the Jewish communities of early-modern Western Europe (1492-1789) with particular emphasis on the transition from medieval to modern patterns. We will study the resettlement of Jews in Western Europe, Jews in the Reformation-era German lands, Italian Jews during the late Renaissance, the rise of Kabbalah, and the beginnings of the quest for civil Emancipation. Field(s): JWS/EME

HIST G8100, The Medieval Mediterranean,  2:10-4:00 Instructor: Adam Kosto     Points: 4         Colloquium

This colloquium examines the problem of the integrated study of Mediterranean societies and institutions in the pre-modern period through readings in recent scholarship and select primary sources.  We will focus on themes and places that seem to best lend themselves to such an integrated approach. The course is designed for graduate students in medieval history and others preparing for original research or oral examinations fields on Mediterranean subjects.  Participants should be prepared to read works in either French or another Romance language; Latin and German will also be helpful.

HIST G8368  EARLY MODERN BRITISH HIST,   R 09:00A-10:50  Instructor: Christopher BROWN,  Points: 4  SEMINAR

HIST G8906, Craft and Science: Objects and Their Making in the Early Modern World    Instructor: Pamela Smith  Points: 4  COLLOQUIA  M 9-12:50;  place Chandler 260-262

This course will study the materials, techniques, settings, and meanings of skilled craft and artistic practices in the early modern period (1350-1750), in order to reflect upon a series of issues, including craft knowledge and artisanal epistemology; the intersections between craft and science; and questions of historical methodology and evidence in the reconstruction of historical experience.  The course will be run as a “Laboratory Seminar,” with discussions of primary and secondary materials, as well as hands-on work in a laboratory.  This course is one component of the Making and Knowing Initiative of the Columbia Center for Science and Society.  Thus, in its first years, this course contributes to the collective production of a critical edition of a late sixteenth-century manuscript, Ms. Fr. 640.  Students are encouraged to take this course for both semesters (or more) but will only receive full credit once.

HSEA G8883 Topics in Middle-Period Chinese History   W 4:10-‐6   Hymes   Points: 4 COLLOQUIUM

Prerequisite: G4815-4816 or the equivalent. Selected problems and controversies in the social, cultural, and political history of the Sung dynasty, approached through reading and discussion of significant secondary research in English.


ITAL G4098 Italian Renaissance Epic II M 2:10pm-4:00pm Instructor: Jo Ann Cavallo  Points: 3  LECTURE
An in-depth study of Italy’s two major romance epics, Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, in their literary and historical contexts. Topics include creative imitation, genre,allegory, ideology, and politics. Attention will also be given to the place of these two texts in the global history of the epic.

ITAL G4020 Renaissance Italy and the Ottoman Empire  W 2:10pm-4:00pm Instructor: Pier Mattia Tommasino Points: 3  LECTURE
The main focus of this seminar is the analysis and the discussion of a specific Renaissance literary genre.  The turcica were texts on the Turks and the Ottoman Empire written approximately between the Conquest of Constantinople (1453) and the battle of Vienna (1683).  The genre includes military reports, histories, and genealogies of the Ottoman empire, ethnographic accounts and polemical pamphlets.  Through an in-depth analysis of primary source, we will discuss the role of the Ottoman Empire in the self-definition of European identity, with a particular interest in the Italian historians and orientalists.  PDFs or photocopies of the texts will be distributed one week before each class meeting so that students may prepare them for discussion.

Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Spanish G6343 Theory of the Arts in the Iberian Worlds  1:10pm-3:55pm Alessandra Russo 4 Points
A research seminar on the unexpected theories of the arts born in the context of —and in tension with— the Iberian expansion (1400-1600). This course aims to reposition these reflections within the Renaissance and Baroque debates concerning creation, image production, individuality, nobility/liberality of the arts, etc., while investigating the Early Modern geopolitical atlas that these artistic theories reveal. In recent decades scholars have focused their attention on a precise aspect of the Iberian expansion between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries: the vast circulation of overseas objects as “goods,” with the consequent enrichment of the European collections, the birth of the Wonder Cabinets etc. Beyond these physical movements of new items, from Peru, Brazil, India, New Spain, Sierra Leone, or the Philippines, however, another parallel and equally significant process took place: the production and circulation of texts documenting, describing and analyzing the diversity of these creations, the qualitative exceptionality of their creators ́ abilities, their mythologies, their material specificities, and their possible aesthetic, theological, or political links as well as their key role in the Iberian domination process itself. These two movements between texts and images are intimately intertwined: as more items were being produced overseas, more texts were being devoted to their existence and production; then as more texts were being written, published, and read, more objects were being desired, commissioned, invented, and shipped. The seminar will explore the variety of these sources -­‐variety of genres (chronicles, histories, inventories, grammars, dictionaries, legal or inquisitorial processes), variety of authorships (conquistadors, missionaries, ambassadors, travelers, visitadores, cronistas, naturalists, historians, collectors, artists) etc.-­‐ in order to examine the relationship between textual and visual production in Early Modernity. The study of these unexpected “theories of the arts” will be continuously accompanied with the discussion of the actual artifacts commented in the sources. We will also consider if there are local specificities in the production of such texts: for instance, is the impressive amount of sources exclusively related to the “American” (New Spain, Brazil, Perú…) artistic processes understandable within a broader Iberian perspective or is there something specific in the observation and examination of the “American” aesthetics?

Spanish G6535 The New Poetry T 1:10pm-3:55pm Seth Kimmel 4 Points SEMINAR
This seminar has two principal goals. First, it provides a graduate-level introduction to the Spanish Renaissance and “Golden Age,” always within a comparative and transnational frame. Second, it explores of the politics, aesthetics, and institutionalization of lyric poetry, with a particular focus on the sonnet. My hope is that students of poetry produced in a variety of times and places will find early modern technologies of publication, modes of commentary, and debates about form to be useful tools for historicizing the conventions of their own critical crafts.  What was lyric poetry’s social, political, and economic role in early modern Europe? How was the gendered rhetoric of unrequited love imported from Italy and then transformed in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spanish, as well as Portuguese, French, and English? Why were the works of some early adopters of this “new poetry,” such as Garcilaso de la Vega, for instance, re-edited and glossed so many times by subsequent generations of scholars? What is the relationship between these early modern scholars’ strategies of commentary and edition, on the one hand, and contemporary critical methods and pedagogical practices, on the other hand?  In order to answer these and related questions, this class focuses on one particular poetic form: the sonnet. But we will subject our sonnets to diverse interpretative approaches, honed in both early and late modernity. And we will follow these sonnets as they travel across linguistic and imperial boundaries. This seminar is thus both an experiment in how and why to read poetry and a graduate-level introduction to Renaissance aesthetics and cultural history. Readings include works by late medieval and early modern authors such as Juan Boscán, Garcilaso de la Vega, Fernando de Herrera, Luis de León, Francisco de Quevedo, Alonso López Pinciano, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Francesco Petrarca, Gaspara Stampa, Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay, Luis de Camões, Philip Sidney, and others. We will also read scholarship by Theodor Adorno, Roland Greene, John Freccero, Francisco Rico, Richard Helgerson, Nancy Vickers, Alberto Porqueras Mayo, Susan Stewart, Jonathan Culler, and others.


Music G8102, Seminar in Historical Musicology: The Middle Ages    F 11:00-1:00   Instructor: Susan Boynton   Points: 3 SEMINAR  Chang Room, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
This seminar will provide an introduction to medieval Western chant and liturgy and a practical initiation into the study of medieval liturgical manuscripts. Each week, we will consult medieval manuscripts at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Students will learn the major research questions and methods and apply them to the description of liturgical fragments and codices in the Columbia collection. Research, analysis, and description using digital tools, and the creation of digital exhibits, will comprise a significant portion of the seminar’s work.


PHIL G9670,  Topics in Early Modern Philosophy – Radical Rationalism,  Wednesday 2:10-4,   Christia Mercer,   716 Philosophy Hall,   3 points 

This seminar has two main goals: to offer an overview of the philosophy of the English Platonist, Anne Conway (1631-79), and reconsider the centrality of rationalism in the seventeenth century. It is my contention that “great rationalist system-builders” like Descartes and Leibniz are no such thing. We will explore the philosophical goals and methodologies of Descartes and Leibniz and, along the way, discuss contributions that late medieval and early modern women made to the development of early modern philosophy. Having set the context for Conway’s philosophy, we will explore its affective rationalist approach to knowledge and the vitalist metaphysics that underlies it.

In other words, there is no such thing as early modern rationalism and this is a seminar about it.


REL V3130  The Papacy: Origins to the Sixteenth-Century Reformation     TR 4:10-5:25   Instructor: Robert Somerville
This is a one-semester lecture course offering a historical introduction to the papacy, moving from papal origins through the age of the institution’s greatest influence, i.e., the Middle Ages, down to the age of the sixteenth-century Reformation. Reading assignments will be drawn from both primary and secondary sources in English.