Art History

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Introductory Classes

Please note that not all courses are offered every semester. This listing is not considered authoritative. Please visit Access.SMU for authoritative course offerings including meeting times, professor, and more.

ARHS 1303: Introduction to Western Art I: Prehistoric Through Medieval
An introduction in lecture form to the fundamentals of art history. Includes observations of historical styles, techniques and media of cultures. 

ARHS 1304: Introduction to Western Art II: Renaissance Through Modern
A continuation of ARHS 1303. Can be taken separately or as part of a two-term survey of the history of Western art. 

ARHS 1305: Introduction to Asian Art
A survey of the major monuments of China and Japan including paintings, ceramics, sculpture, bronzes and some minor arts. Some material from India is also included, especially for the beginnings of Buddhism. 

ARHS 1306: Introduction to Architecture
A contextual history of European and North American architecture from classical antiquity to the present century, with particular emphasis on 1400 to the present. Students will be introduced to basic principles and terminology, but the course will focus on the social and cultural meanings of the built environment in its urban context. 

ARHS 1307: Introduction to Art History
A survey of the visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics) of Asia, the Pacific World, Africa and the native New World. 

ARHS 1308: Epic of Latin America
Examines art, society and culture in Latin America, 1450- 1950. Presents art as a broad and multifaceted cultural problematic, and considers both the enduring legacies and the dynamic processes of change that have shaped the region and its art. Topics include: Pre-Columbian Empires; Royal Spanish Cities, Revolution, Reform and Modernism; Umbanda, Santeria and Vodou; Native American and Gendered Identities. An introductory survey intended for undergraduates of all academic and professional interests: no previous art history courses or experience with Latin America necessary. Slide lectures, classroom discussions, visits to SMU and Dallas museums. 

ARHS 1312: Picturing the American West
This class will examine the ways the American West has been depicted over time in photography, painting, film and fiction, from Lewis and Clark to Clint Eastwood. 

ARHS 1315: Medieval Messages: Symbol and Storytelling in Medieval Art
Designed to introduce nonmajors to the many questions surrounding the making, meaning and interpretation of images in medieval art. Emphasis is placed on developing visual and critical skills through writing and discussion exercises. Weekly case studies are drawn both from the medieval secular and Christian West and from Byzantine, Islamic and Jewish artistic traditions. 

ARHS 1333: Introduction to Visual Culture
Designed to help students develop the skills necessary to negotiate the visual culture in which we now live. Organized as an introduction to the media, methods and issues of visual culture through the dialectic of copies and originals. Questions of originality and authenticity are particularly resonant today in the age of video and electronic media where digital technology has generated a world of endlessly reproducible, transmittable images. The class is particularly well-suited to students interested in art, art history, advertising, film and electronic media. 

ARHS 1335: Monsters, Mayhem and Miracles: Life in the Medieval World
The Great Hall at Hogwarts; the Knights Templar of the Da Vinci Code; the werewolves from New Moon – what do these have in common? They are all creations of the Middle Ages, an age of daring crusaders, awesome architecture, and fantastical beings of all kinds. This course explores the medieval world through images, monuments, music and legends ranging from the miraculous to the preposterous, offering students a new perspective on the power of this medieval heritage.

ARHS 1336: Ways of Knowing: RASC/a
This class helps you understand why nearly every image you see in an advertisement or on a movie screen has been affected by the history of art. It introduces students to the language and materials of art and to the impact of war, money, religion, politics, sex and the media on its reception. The class consists of lectures by art history's best teachers and smaller discussion sections held in campus and area museums looking at actual works of art. 

ARHS 1338: Chicano Art and the Politics of Place 
This course examines the historical context that led to the emergence of the Chicano Art Movement in the Southwest of the 1960s and 1970s with the United Farm Workers in California and the Raza Unida Party in Texas. By means of labor and community organizing, Mexican Americans and their allies challenged social inequities based on racial, ethnic, and cultural prejudice. A history of Chicano art after 1968 focuses not only on the creative impulse of individual makers and their artworks; it looks also at the struggle of artists to create publics while achieving recognition through mainstream institutions. Topics include the problem of representation in a variety of forms, media and genres; the struggle for human rights and cultural selfhood; as well as the politics of place, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. 

ARHS 1340: Urban Vision: Place, Culture and the Theories of Cities
This is an introductory course on the history and theory of cities that introduces students to the history of ideas and ideals in city making. Although the course will build from the theories of the Roman, Chinese and Renaissance cities, it will concentrate on the development of contemporary critical thinking on the relationships between the spatial environment and the social and cultural life of cities. The discussions will focus on the ambitions of urban theorists throughout history to imagine "ideal" visions or solutions to specific urban crises, be they economic, social or physical. 

Areas of Study



Art History

Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies


Introductory Classes

Ancient Art History Classes

Directed Topics in Art History Classes

Medieval Art History Classes

Renaissance and Baroque Art History Classes

Modern Art History Classes

British and American Art History Classes

World Art History Classes

Undergraduate Seminar Classes


Faculty and Staff

Graduate Students

Art History Newsletter

Department Projects

Dallas Resources

Libraries and Visual Resources

Community Engagement


Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts