Fall 2022 Course Descriptions

 The GW Bulletin houses official program requirements for the university. You can use it to find out the courses you need to take to complete your degree. However, we want to help you navigate the course selection process, so we have provided more detailed descriptions of what each course entails that you can use as a resource while planning your course schedule. Please contact your program with any specific questions.

For a list of when these courses are being offered in the spring, please refer to our 2022 Course Offerings page. Please note that these are still subject to change and the final schedule of courses can be found through the Office of the Registrar.

Please note that some professors may put their own spin on a course, so the actual syllabus of a course may vary slightly from the below descriptions.

Courses are listed by their course code in alphabetical order under their focus subject area. Sometimes the code prefixes can be confusing - here are some clarifications:

DESIGN: The design program houses graphic design, digital media design, interaction design, and exhibition design. Exhibition design and interaction design have been given their own sections below. The rest of design can be found under the Graphic Design section, including the codes CGD and CDE.

STUDIO ARTS: The Studio Art Program has the most degrees at the Corcoran. If you are looking for studio arts courses, look under the CSA (studio art and fine art photography) or CFN (first year foundations). If you are looking for photojournalism courses, look under CPJ (photojournalism).

CAH 1000: Art & Politics

L. Matheny

This course will explore the intersection of art and politics from the early twentieth century to the present. At its heart the class will consider whether all art is political, if art can effect political change, and whether art has a moral obligation to do so. What strategies have artists used to incite change? Is there a line between art and activism? Between art and propaganda? Between art and reportage? Among the lenses through which we will study this subject are: portraiture; photography; photomontage; language and conceptual art; performance; public art and monuments; abstraction; textiles and ceramics; and government sponsorship. Using these organizing categories, we will explore how artists have responded to a range of issues, including war, immigration, identity politics, climate change, feminism, racism, public health, and economic justice. A special effort will be made to incorporate discussions of art seen in Washington, DC, museums and throughout the city.


CAH 1031: Survey of Art and Architecture I (G-PAC)

M. Natif


This course is an introduction to the history of art that selectively surveys painting, sculpture, architecture, and material culture in Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean before 1300 CE (i.e. from Prehistory through the Middle Ages). By using a variety of theoretical, analytical and critical means, you will learn to approach works of art in relation to their larger historical, cultural, political, economic, and religious contexts. In class, we focus on the contextual conditions under which works of art were produced and the various ways they have functioned from that time on. You will learn how to perform visual analysis, understand iconography and meaning, articulate the important characteristics of individual objects and monuments, as well as recognize broader stylistic developments across time. Visits to museums will provide you with first-hand experience of original artworks. Classes are comprised of lectures and discussion groups. *This G-PAC course is approved to fulfill requirements in two distributions: Arts; and Global /Cross-Cultural Perspective.



CAH 1090: Art History I: Art Now, Contemporary Perspectives in the Visual Arts

L. Lipinski


Contemporary art is in flux and expanding beyond traditional forms, i.e. the painting on the wall and the sculpture on a pedestal. What does that mean for artists? For you as the viewer? For anyone who is invested in and involved with art today? Important and related questions are: What is art? What is theory and what is its function in relation to art? These are some of the questions we will explore. The mission of this course is help you develop tools to both appreciate and analyze contemporary art; to improve your oral and written communication by thinking critically about art; to recognize how contemporary art connects not only to your life experiences but also to the lives of others; and to embrace diverse perspectives and expand your knowledge of contemporary art and its institutions. Through a focused and thematic study of artists and artworks, exhibitions and institutions, and historical texts and critical theory, you will gain an understanding of the expanding art scene. The course is structured around the following themes grouped in three units—1) identity and the body; 2) time, memory, and place; 3) science and spirituality.



CAH 2071: Intro to The Arts in America

K. Markoski


A survey of American art from the period of colonial exploration and settlement to the postmodern present. Political and social meanings of painting, sculpture, architecture, prints, and photographs. The relationship of art to religion and nationalism; issues of class, race, and gender. *Same as AMST 2071.



CAH 2154: American Architecture I

P. Jacks


A lecture course on the built environment in the United States from the first period of European settlement to the eve of the Civil War. As America was formed by the melding of immigrants from the Old World and indigenous peoples of the New World, the course looks at how different forms of habitation adapted to regional characteristics of climate and topography. We also consider how cultural traditions and religious customs are expressed through architectural traditions. We also look at how advances in industrial technology changed the way buildings were constructed and the changing relationship between form and function.  Last, we analyze the major stylistic periods and their historical sources: Spanish Colonial, Palladian, Federal, Greek Revival and Gothic Revival.



CAH 2162W: History of Photography

B. Obler


Photography was developed in the early nineteenth century and since then has had a tremendous impact on our world--on the way we perceive and interact with our social and physical environment, on scientific and aesthetic endeavors, on fields from anthropology to fashion, medicine to astronomy, architecture to painting. In its earliest incarnations, photography may now strike us as old-fashioned, even archaic. Indeed, dark-room photography is fast seeming almost as antiquated as the daguerreotype. This course will survey the history of photography from its inception through the present, concentrating on exemplary cases to gain purchase on certain questions that almost every generation of photographers and their critics seem to ask in some form: Is photography art? What kind of documentary function does it serve? What relationship do its practitioners and viewers have to the subjects captured on film? How has photography been used as a mode of resistance to colonialism? We will approach these and other questions from both theoretical and historical perspectives. We will take advantage of exhibitions and collections in the area, including the National Gallery of Art and GW’s own holdings.



CAH 2190: East Asian Art

J. Lee


This course discusses modern and contemporary art in Asia with particular attention to visual art produced as a result of encounters between groups identified primarily on the basis of their racial and ethnic origin. Beginning in the late 18th century, this course looks particularly at two modes of encounter: one is animated by race, or the encounters between the so-called West and the non-West, and most commonly understood as the relationship between whites and Asians; and the other on ethnicity, or the tensions and convergences resulting from interregional encounters between Manchus and Han Chinese, Chinese and Taiwanese, and/or Koreans and Japanese. Course materials interrogate how constructs of race and ethnicity arise from the production of visual representation.



CAH 2191: South Asian Art (G-PAC)

V. Vijayasekharan


This course considers visual and material culture of South Asia from early archaeological settlements to the contemporary period. Regions to be studied include the Himalayas and the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka). Working chronologically, we will examine artists and diverse creative practices and the powerful patrons who supported them. Fundamental to our study will be to acquire a working knowledge of the geographical, political, and social forces in the region, and to explore the ways in which both religious and secular art and architecture operate in this rich cultural terrain. No previous knowledge of South Asian history or art history is required. This course fulfills the G-PAC Arts requirement for Critical Thinking and Cross-Cultural Perspective.



CAH 3060: History of Design

L. Lipinski


Since the mid-nineteenth century design has exercised an increasingly important role as a cultural force, from the chairs we sit in to the utensils with which we eat. This wide-ranging survey from 1850 to the present presents a history of designed objects, images, and spaces, including products, furniture, appliances, interiors, posters and other printed materials, and the latest digital media. Influences among the design disciplines, as well as developments in materials and technologies, are studied within their cultural, political, economic, and social contexts.



CAH 3101: Ancient Art of the Bronze Age & Greece

E. Friedland


This course surveys Greek sites and monuments from the Minoans and Mycenaeans (c. 3000 BC) to the age of Alexander and his Hellenistic successors (c. 100 BC). It focuses on the techniques, trends, styles, and functions of art in the Greek world and the impact of Greek art on Western visual culture. Readings, class discussions, and coursework will address public and private architecture, three-dimensional and relief sculpture, vase painting, mosaics, and decorative arts. Topics will include the representation of the human figure in art; “heroic nudity”; the portrayal of women; the depiction of narrative in vase painting and architectural sculpture; the political, social, and economic roles of Greek vases; the development of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders in the service of religious and public architecture; the role of art and architecture in creating Greek democracy; the dawn of urban planning; and the birth of portraiture. Ultimately, the course provides students with an understanding of the ancient Greek models and motifs adopted and adapted by many—from Alexander the Great to our American Founding Fathers.



CAH 3107: Ancient Mexican Civilizations

J. Blomster


The cultural region referred to as Mesoamerica – encompassing modern day Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – was the cradle of early and spectacular civilizations in the New World. This interdisciplinary course uses archaeological and art historical scholarship to explore substantial anthropological issues related to the rich cultural traditions of Mesoamerica; the class focuses on the unique character of Mesoamerican civilization, its development, and its contributions to the world. No prerequisites are required. The structure of the course follows the chronological sequence of Mesoamerican cultures. After examining the peopling of the New World and the initial hunting/gathering lifestyle, the focus is on the development of agriculture, pottery, and the first permanent villages. We will examine the change from egalitarian societies to complex chiefdoms, states and even empires. Emphasis will be placed on the development of Mesoamerica’s first civilization – the Olmec – and the features first synthesized by the Olmecs, especially monumental art, that resonate in subsequent Mesoamerican civilizations. Different approaches to complex society, art, and political organization will be examined by comparing the cities and states of Teotihuacán, Monte Albán, and various Maya polities. After examining the militarism that arose after the demise of these major states, the course will conclude with a brief examination of the final prehispanic empire in Mesoamerica – the Aztec.



CAH 3141 & CAH 3141W: European Art of the Early Nineteenth Century

L. Robinson


This course considers the development of Neo-Classicism and Romanticism in the context of the rapidly changing political, intellectual and social climate of Europe during and after the 1789 French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Restoration and the French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848. The primary focus is on painting and sculpture and the thematic, stylistic and contextual examination and interpretation of Neo-Classicism and Romanticism in France, England and Germany in the work of representative artists such as Jacques Louis David, Antonio Canova, Eugène Delacroix, Caspar David Friedrich, Francesco Goya, John Constable and JMW Turner. Requirements of the course include: two examinations, assigned readings and a research paper.  Students enrolled in the WID section of the course have additional writing assignments. All images shown in class are posted on Blackboard.



CAH 3146 & CAH 3146W: Modern Architecture in Europe and America

P. Jacks


A survey of major movements in architecture and urban design from Palladian Revival in England (Burlington, Chambers, Wyatt), the archaeological discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Greek Revival in England, visionary architecture in the Age of Revolutions (Ledoux and Boullée), the impact of the Industrial Revolution (Paxton's Crystal Palace), Gothic Revival (Pugin), Rundbogenstil in Germany, Arts & Crafts (Ruskin and Morris), Jugendstil and Art Nouveau (Guimard, Horta, Gaudi), Vienna Secessionist (Wagner, Olbrich, Loos), Bauhaus from Weimar to Dessau (Gropius), the Machine Aesthetic (Le Corbusier),  De Stijl (Rietveld, Doesburg), International Style (Mies van der Rohe), Modernism in Scandinavia (Aalto, Saarinen, Asplund), Critiques of Modernism (Stirling, Smithson).



CAH 3170: Methods, Materials, and Techniques in Art History

P. Reuther


Materials, Methods, and Techniques in Art History supplements traditional approaches to art history by investigating works of art as objects. Introducing recent research trends in technical art history, students will become familiar with current practices in conservation, restoration, imaging and chemical analysis. Wherever possible students will experience direct interaction and contact with the objects themselves and will engage with practitioners in the field. Additionally, students will be guided in one or more hands-on projects individually or in groups, recreating objects utilizing traditional materials, techniques, and methods. The course will track regional institutional exhibitions and events particularly where these relate to professional conservation work.



CAH 4129 & CAH 6225: Manuscripts, Tapestries, & Narrative Revivals

B. von Barghahn


Lectures will concern art in the Netherlands and France during the final stages of the Renaissance age of chivalry. Of specific focus is the artistic patronage of Barthélemy d’Eyck, a master who I believe was one and the same as Lambert van Eyck, brother of the famed painter Jan van Eyck. While I hope to begin with Barthélemy d’Eyck’s work at The Hague for Jan, Count of Bavaria, I will consider his patronage by Jean, Duke of Berry, and contribution to the Très Riches Heures before discussing more fully his activity in Bruges as a member of Van Eyck’s workshop. I lastly will consider Barthélemy d’Eyck’s transfer to the French court of Anjou where he was patronized by Yolande of Anjou and her son, René, King of Naples and the Two Sicilies. Barthélemy worked in Anjou and Provence completing important allegorical manuscripts such as the Book of the Heart taken by Love. He was acquainted with Jean Fouquet and Enguerrand Quarton, two master illuminators and panel painters active in France during the tumultuous age after the English victory of 1415 at Agincourt.



CAH 4149 & CAH 6225: Medieval & Renaissance Venice: A Voluptuous, Wealthy,
and Cosmopolitan City

C. Joost-Gaugier


Among the many great cities of the world, Venice stands out as a symbol of extraordinary beauty, wise government, communally controlled finances, and was as well the freest of Italy’s many free cities. In this voluptuous, wealthy, and cosmopolitan city open to exotic influences, the Venetians depended heavily on art and architecture in order to put forward their creative ideas. The uniqueness of their site fostered a style of art and architecture that from the beginning distinguished it from all others. The first part of this seminar will study the intellectual and creative avenues through which images already current in other parts of Italy came to Venice during medieval times.  Subsequently, it will examine the complex ways in which the ideas inspired by these images were translated into a unique visual language.   While the seminar will be focused on paintings and drawings and on the major Renaissance artists of Venice including Jacopo, Gentile, and Giovanni Bellini, Antonello da Messina, Giorgione, and Titian,  many lesser known artists, such as Carpaccio, Sebastiano del Piombo, Lorenzo Lotto, and Domenico Campagnola, will also be studied.  Students will be encouraged to examine original works by these artists in the National Gallery.   The cities that Venice controlled on the Mainland – including Padua, Vicenza and Verona -- which were all affected by the extraordinary innovations of Venetian artists, will be studied as well. The seminar will take into account developments in the architecture and sculpture of this magnificent city which was also a state and, from the sixteenth century, one of the wonders of the world.



CAH 4189 & CAH 6270: Collectors & Collections
L. Robinson


Built on assigned readings ,class discussion, and lecture this course considers the evolution of European and American collecting from antiquity to the early twentieth century. Individual collectors-- monarchs, aristocrats, and the middle class- provide the focus for an examination of collecting motivation, aesthetic considerations, methodology of collecting and display in the context of the artistic, intellectual, social, and political climate of the time. Requirements of the course: research paper, oral presentation based on research paper, review of a current local exhibition, and a take-home examination. In addition, students take turns presenting a synopsis and leading a discussion of one of the readings assigned for that day.



CAH 4189 & CAH 6270: Fashion in Art

T. Wetenhall


Fashion depicted in art documents a period's global economy, trade, world politics, and a society's values -- both high and low. In Fashion in Art, students engage in an episodic study of the fashionable dress depicted in various artistic mediums from the classical era to the modern. Students learn to date works of art by identifying the dress and textiles portrayed and discover the visual semiotics of given periods that establish and manipulate meaning. Students analyze the depicted materiality of the world of both subject and artist together with expositions of theory and criticism relevant to the field.



CAH 6258: Art Historiography: Writing Art History

B. Obler


In this seminar, we will work toward developing our own approaches to art history by considering a variety of models that, for a range of reasons, have inspired past and current art historians. In addition to reading assigned texts closely, students will be expected to participate actively and required to write frequently; the ultimate goal of this course is for students to hone their sense of what matters to art-historical writing and to cultivate and refine their own way forward.



CAH 6265: Women in Islamic Art

M. Natif


As artists, patrons, collectors, and subject-matter, women played important and diverse roles in Islamic art. As elite women, they commissioned monuments and gardens, patronized artists and calligraphers, and had their own libraries. Oftentimes, they were involved in all stages of the artistic production, and like their male counterparts, had access to the myriad of resources in the royal workshops. Women in pre‐modern Islamic courts used power and financial means to cultivate art and took active part in political and cultural life. This seminar will focus on women as the subjects and the creators of art, as well as the patrons of architecture and artifacts. Classes will be organized chronologically and thematically, starting with a historical survey of the status of women in the pre-modern Muslim sphere, of female artists and their artistic contributions, as well as an examination of art history’s exclusions, female portraiture, the female heroine, the nude, and sexuality in illustrations and album paintings. All reading materials, including original sources, will be in English. No previous knowledge of Islamic art, history or religion is required.



CAH 6400: History of Exhibitions

L. Lipinski


The exhibition is where modern and contemporary art meets the public. This course looks at the history and theory of exhibiting new art in the past 150 years, starting with the French Salon and the independent alternatives that challenged it (Courbet, the Impressionists, and Post- Impressionists), through avant-garde exhibitions (Expressionists, Constructivists, Dada, and Surrealists), installation art and alternative exhibition practices, and current strategies for exhibiting contemporary art. We will discuss historic exhibitions including the Armory Show and Hitler’s Degenerate Art exhibition and consider such issues as exhibition design, audience, ideology, politics, economics, and critical reception.