Courses for Spring 2014: Topics in Film and the City, Contemporary Art, Film Studies, and Ancient to Pre-Renaissance Art

As registration for Spring 2014 academic courses begins soon, I wanted to provide more information about courses I will begin teaching in January, 2014. Please see detailed descriptions below. If you have any specific questions that are not answered here or in the links I provide you to the registration for the courses, you can contact me directly. I look forward to another rich and engaging semester with both new and familiar faces.

ARTH 3130: Film and the City
Kwantlen Polytechnic University 
(Mondays 7:00-9:50pm, Room Fir 3414)

Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire (1987) representing Berlin
This course takes as its focus the dynamic intersections of the filmic medium and the emergence of the “city” as both a conceptual and material idea, examining how filmmakers and the techniques of filmmaking from the early 20th C. forward have been closely bound up in representing the visual, spatial, and mental contours of the metropolis. Beginning with an examination of film’s critical role in the development of modern art and the history of the avant-garde, this course will also draw from existing issues and debates concerning the expanding field of visual culture, exploring how the evolving city (as place and idea) and its various filmic representations have played a reflexive role in the development and understanding of important themes emerging in the modern and contemporary art of the past century. In this way, the course will roughly follow the history and theory of visual arts as it moves from the emergence of the modern period in Europe through the demise of modernism following WWII and into the areas of post-modernism, post-colonialism, and identity politics informing current debates about globalization/migration.

The course is organized using case studies beginning with European cities and representative films that engage with questions of modernism and modernity, then working outwards to non-Western and North American cities, allowing for both a chronological and thematic approach to exploring the intersections of film and the city. Cities under investigation will include Rome, Tokyo, Paris, London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, Lahore, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Vancouver.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University
(Wednesdays 7:00-9:50pm, Room Fir 128)

Geoffrey Farmer, Leaves of Grass (2012) exhibited at Documenta 13
ARTH 2222 offers a critical examination of international visual art and culture focusing on the role of art in consumerist society and the emergence of postmodernism. The course concentrates on visual art from the mid-1940s to the present day, with particular regard for historical events, factors of patronage and institutions—as well as changing attitudes to making and approaching art—in modern and postmodern art. We will consider the traditional media of painting and sculpture but must also take into account the addition of innovative media to art practice in recent years. From photography to video, collage to assemblage, installation to performance, such media have extended notions of what art could materially consist of, but have also affected the anticipation of audiences for that work, having social as well as aesthetic implications. Ultimately, our attention will be on the network where art is made, presented to and reacted to by different parties, and to the ways that portions of the art system―such as art history and cultural criticism―have conceived of and explained the workings of such a system and the society it exists within.

ARTH 1130: Introduction to Film Studies
Kwantlen Polytechnic University 
(Fridays 1:00-4:50pm, Room Fir 128)

Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Students will study the history and development of world cinema, and the comprehension and theory of film as a visual language and art-making practice from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the present. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the critical interpretation of the cinema and the various vocabularies and methods with which one can explore the aesthetic function, together with the social, political, and technological contexts and developments, of moving pictures. The weekly format of this course (as a 4 hour block) will normally entail a 1.5-2 hour lecture and the screening of a full-length film. Each film will thus serve as a starting point and gateway for discussion about the course’s weekly theme.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
(Mondays/Wednesdays 4:00pm-5:20pm, Room Fir 128)
Thomas Struth, Pantheon (1992)

This course provides students with the ability to critically evaluate and recognize how the art, architecture, and modes of representation of the early eras of Western culture continue to impact our collective visual, intellectual and cultural environment today. All of the works under examination in this course (which will introduce and cover aspects of visual culture from Prehistoric Europe, Ancient Egypt, the Aegean, Ancient Greece, the Roman Republic, Early Christian and Byzantine cultures, and the period of the Medieval, Gothic and early Renaissance in Europe) will be related to their original contexts and functions, but also ask questions about the range of functions that art might fulfill within different societies. The course will therefore not just be about following a chronological and progressive trajectory of “great monuments” and “great artists”, but will instead address broad issues related to political power, gender, sexuality, race, and the formation of individual and group identities. In this way, the ideas raised in this course will also draw student’s attention to the constructed nature of more traditional art history while exploring the paradigms and models of knowledge production that art historians and other commentators use to explain art, architecture, and visual culture.