2022-2023 Catalog

ARTH 390 Seminar in Art History

A research-intensive course on a topic within the history of art; coursework will include the process of researching and writing a scholarly essay and a focus on the methodologies of art historical scholarship. Required for Art History majors to fulfill the Second-Stage Writing Proficiency requirement. 

Performance, Embodiment and the Dematerialization of Contemporary Art

When many people think of “Art” they envision a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, a lithograph or woodcut, or even an artist’s handmade book. Yet in the later years of the 20th century, artists drew on the disruptive works of the historical avant-gardes like Dada and Surrealism, as well as new ideas about the artist’s place in the world, to create work that looked and behaved very differently than traditional media. In the years after 1960, artists questioned the definition of art (is it a thing or is it an action or an event?). In turn, artists grew invested in making work that disrupted the more traditionally passive relationship between viewer and work; instead, the spatial, temporal and cultural contexts of art works became part of the work itself. Coupled with the desire by many artists to displace art from the traditional confines of the commercial gallery system, as well as to call into question the realities of individual and collective embodiment and identities, the effect of these new approaches was to expand the definitions of art to include performance, body art, installation, and institutional critique. Thus, artists transformed, and often dematerialized the “work of art” in favor of an art that could provoke action, communication, collaboration, and cultural critique. This seminar will enable us to explore these new modes of artistic practice in North America  and Europe through provocative art historical and theoretical readings; student research projects; and activities and exhibitions at Oxy Arts and across Los Angeles.

Building the ‘American Pacific’

This course examines modern and contemporary architecture of the ‘American Pacific.’ Students will investigate the historical, social, cultural, political, climactic, and technological factors that have influenced the development of architecture in Hawai‘i, American Sāmoa, and Guam. Theoretical examinations about U.S. empire, race, and sovereignty allow us to challenge the very notion of an ‘American Pacific’ and frame our study of architecture as a complex interplay of evolving beliefs and meanings. An examination of Pacific Island spaces/places and their relationship to artistic endeavors by artists and architects reveal the ways in which indigenous and foreign identities influence the built environment. Students will engage with interdisciplinary and intersectional scholarship as we consider the architectural legacy of American expansion in the Pacific. Additional Core Requirement Met: Regional Focus.

Colonial Urbanism 

In this course, we will examine the spatial legacy of colonial cities. The focus is on colonial urban spaces and architectural projects that were manifestations of the political, economic, and social relationships between the colonizers and the colonized. In relation, the role of imperialism - as it transpired in both the colonies and colonizing societies of Europe and the United States - will reveal the ways in which the imperial imagination was visible in physical form. Through a range of case studies, including sites in former European and American colonies of Asia and the Pacific, as well as former imperial centers, such as London and Washington D.C., students will develop a theoretical toolkit for the critical study of urban colonial environments.

Gender and Sexuality in 20th Century Art

This seminar will explore the how issues of gender and sexuality have shaped the practices of visual artists in the US and Europe in the 20th century.  We will investigate how artists have engaged directly with these issues in their art, and we will also consider how the field of Art History itself has been impacted by practices and stereotypes about gender and sexuality. Additional Core Requirement Met: Global Connections.


4 units


Any 100- or 200-level Art History course, or by permission of instructor

Core Requirements Met

  • Fine Arts