2023-2024 Catalog

ARTH 395 Special Topics in Art History

Topics vary semester to semester. Specific topics may satisfy different Core Program requirements.

Imag(in)ing War and Disaster in Modern and Contemporary Japan

This course explores how practitioners of art and visual culture have responded to physical and psychological damages that were caused by wars and disasters in modern and contemporary Japan. The course loosely follows a chronological order and a thematic framework. We will look at expansive materials, including colorful and playful woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) of natural disasters; prints and memorabilia of the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05); topography and the building of the Yasukuni Shrine and its exhibitions; the birth of the avant-garde and its relation to the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923); war documentary paintings and propaganda during WWII; atomic bomb photographs and memorials; reportage painting of the 1950s; anti-art and non-art movements of the expanded 1960s; kawaii (cuteness) and monstrosity in manga and animation; and socially engaged art about Fukushima. The course aims to enable students to analyze how politically inspired or socially engaged art developed in modern and contemporary Japan. Additional Core Requirements Met: Regional Focus (CPRF).

Who Owns Art? 

As art objects - especially those from antiquity - have become increasingly valuable, as both commodities and as national treasures, questions as to who owns art and who is best to care for these objects are essential to museum curators, academics, and politicians. There are several debates over who owns art of ancient civilizations like Greece and India. Do treasures like the Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum belong to Greece and should they be returned? Or should they remain in the museum where more people have access to them? This seminar will introduce students to laws enacted by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) to protect world, cultural, and national heritage, as well as to the examination of museum collecting policies in America. Specific cultural patrimony cases will also be examined and discussed. This seminar is for students who are interested in learning more about cultural patrimony, art law, and museums.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Fine Arts