Graduate Art History

Current Graduate Courses

  • Consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar or contact the Graduate Office for dates regarding course add/drop deadlines. Failure to make changes to your course enrolment within the allowed time limit may result in a grade of “incomplete” on your transcript.
  • If you have any questions regarding course enrolment please do not hesitate to contact the Graduate Assistant.


Department of Art History Graduate Timetable

Special Studies and Language Courses

Timetable 2023–24

Delivery Method

All fall 2023 and winter 2024 courses will be held in-person at the University of Toronto St. George campus.

Course Materials

The majority of courses in the Art History program use Quercus to host material including the syllabus, lecture slides, and handouts. Log in using your UTORid and password. Please consult with your course instructor to verify which learning management system is used.


Fall 2023 (September to December)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am   MAC1000Y
AP 140
10 am FAH1210H
UC 248
SS 2120

BT 319

UC 257
11 am
12 pm    
1 pm          
2 pm FAH1130H
 WE 69
3 pm FAH1001H
UC 255
SS 2120
4 pm FAH2037H
OI 11-200
5 pm    
6 pm        


Jain | Tuesday 3pm-6pm

Time period: Unspecified | Geographic region: Unspecified

A close reading of texts related to the theory and practice of art history and its related disciplines. Required for all PhD students, unless granted an exemption by the Director of Graduate Studies based on an alternate methods course.

Mostafa | Monday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Medieval or Early Modern | Geographic region: Non-Western

This course reexamines how notions of the otherworldly shaped Islamic art and architecture, with a focus on its formative and medieval period. It explores the act of building and making as a form of being, considering the ways art architecture upheld human encounters with the divine, the celestial realm, as well as other otherworldly beings, benign and malevolent. The course considers the ways Muslims navigated notions of sacrality through a lifecycle, from daily to annual ritual practices and how architecture and material culture emerged dialogically within this context. Through an exploration of Islamic temporality, eschatology, the afterlife, early Islamic sacred geographies, sacred cities, ritual practice, pilgrimage, relics and funerary cultures of early Islam, the course challenges notions of sacred space as a typology to reveal Islam’s relation to the otherworldly as an embodied enactment of transcendence.

Purtle | 10am-1pm

Time period: Early Modern | Geographic region: Non-Western

This course seeks to train students in the history of one the world's major traditions of painting, namely that of China, and in the methods for studying it – including in Sinological context and in dialogue with other traditions of painting. Weekly seminars will leverage Toronto collections, namely paintings in the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and painting facsimiles in the collection of the Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library at UofT, so that students can acquire an object-based foundation for researching Chinese paintings using established and novel methods in the discipline of art history. Beyond gaining hands-on experience with objects of a medium that – while painting – differs significantly from dominant Euromerican expectations for “painting”, this seminar will introduce students to theory, method, and historiography for studying Chinese painting, emic and etic, in dialogue with objects. This seminar will also position students to work meaningfully with a medium that, given its fragility and foreignness, many find difficult to handle and/or understand, teaching students, whether literate in Chinese or not, how to do research on these objects. The ultimate goal of this seminar is to enable students to mobilize knowledge of a distinctive premodern non-Western medium in the Eurocentric discourses of the discipline of art history. Knowledge of Chinese language not required; students who read Classical Chinese will have the option of reading primary source texts in the original.

Kavaler | Wednesday 10am-1pm

Time period: Early Modern | Geographic region: Western

What types of communication and value did each of the many media allow and express? Many of the same artists designed artifacts in multiple media. The role of drawing became essential to all arts, but drawing alone could not define the material and spatial properties of other media. Concepts of skeuomorphism, affordance, and intermediality have occupied scholars from James J. Gibson, Donald Norman, and W.J.T. Mitchell to our own Evonne Levy. We will examine theories that underlie these ideas along with principles of word-and-image relations, artistic mode, categories and functions of drawing, issues of color and polychromy, theatricality, and the role of family and professional networks. We will investigate the artistic culture of the Netherlands as a system, and we will concentrate on the sixteenth century, a period in which the region became truly Pan-European, with artistic and intellectual ties from Italy to Sweden, from England to Ukraine.

Gu | Thursday 3pm-6pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Unspecified

Digital technology has greatly changed the way we make, circulate, receive, and study art. From PowerPoint handouts, Instagram, TikTok, to Google image search, many students of art history use applications and platforms daily in their work and life. Moreover, new technologies such as AI are changing the production and dissemination of images, many of which challenge the pre-existing definitions of “Art.” This course encourages students to turn an inquisitive and critical eye toward these activities that are often taken for granted. Instead of approaching digital art history, digital art, and contemporary digital visual culture as separate domains of study, this course encourages students to pay close attention to how their assumptions of the digital, their working habits of digital tools, and the potential of art historical inquiry interact.

Cheetham | 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Unspecified

Can there be a ‘Canadian’ art, and if so, what are its parameters in this rapidly changing country? Focusing on art made in Canada in its interactions with international practices, we will investigate defining frames in the fields of art history and visual culture studies today. Art historians habitually use national groupings to organize our field and employ genres such as landscape, land art, and public art to contour thinking. Since Montesquieu and Winckelmann in the 18th century, scholars in the west have also relied on what Thomas Da Costa Kaufmann calls the “Geography of art,” defined as “the effect of the environment, cultural and natural, on what humans have created.” The “contemporary” as a category often depends on the assumption that it is a global, not national, phenomenon. To test these and cognate practices, in 2023-4, we will examine the idea of the (far) north in Canada as a category in eco-critical art history and in art making that aspires to be global. Art and artists working in and thematizing the far north in Canada will be discussed in comparison with those in cognate geographical regions elsewhere.

Ewald | 4pm-7pm

Time period: Ancient | Geographic region: Western

Ancient art wanted to be experienced 'in the flesh'. This course explores how Greek and Roman artworks both depicted and elicited empathic, bodily and 'emotional' responses; this includes scenes that (self-referentially and recursively) thematize the bodily sensations of interacting with the object they decorate. But how exactly, and why, did ancient works of art evoke such affective, empathic responses? And how did such responses relate to the gendered emotional protocols that can be reconstructed from ancient literary sources? Did empathy translate into sympathy or pity? Did the shifting emotional and empathic economies of ancient art relate to changing concepts of personhood and subjectivity? Can the recent sub-discipline of 'neuro-art history' provide a productive perspective, and how does it account for historical modulations in the responses to images, or formal change? Readings will include some seminal texts from the fields of aesthetics, phenomenology and empathy theory, as well as from 'neuro-art history', formalist art history and classics.

Ricco | Thursday 10am-12pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Western

This seminar reads a series of contemporary novels and short stories by women authors in the context of current discussions and debates on intimacy and violence; misogyny; desire, fantasy, and the pornographic. The course will consider the ambiguity of desire and pleasure’s contradictions; transgression and consent; rape; female friendship; sex talk; the stories of young women; and readership and audience. African-American, Indigenous, Canadian, Irish, Moroccan, and American authors will be read: Roxanne Gay, Kathleen Collins, Katherena Vermette, Miriam Toews, Eimear McBride, Leila Slimani, Diane Williams, Jamie Quatro, and Mary Gaitskill, amongst others. The focus will be on stories that are intentionally unsettling and operate without clear moral lessons. What is it that fiction can do, that non-fiction cannot, precisely when absent of general accusation, but instead is filled with detailed observations of the “inconsistencies and incoherence” of sex?

Knappett | Tuesday 9am-12pm (this course runs from September to April)

Time period: Ancient | Geographic region: Western

A year-long core course with the aim of providing students with a critical understanding of what constitutes method within the different domains of Classical archaeology, ancient history, and prehistory, and the challenges and opportunities in working across these methods to produce new frameworks for researching the ancient Mediterranean. Students will examine ways in which historical and archaeological methods might be applied comparatively or diachronically across traditional chronological or geographical boundaries. Readings will be drawn from several core ‘classic' texts on the ancient Mediterranean and specific case studies.

Winter 2024 (January to April)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am   MAC1000Y
AP 140
10 am FAH1410H
UC 257
UC 124
SS 6032
SS 6032
SS 6032
11 am
12 pm  
1 pm          
2 pm   FAH1205H
SS 6032
SS 6032
3 pm      
4 pm      
5 pm          
6 pm          


Cohen | Wednesday 10am-1pm

Time period: Medieval | Geographic region: Western

Early medieval art has long been viewed in the shadow of Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture, although the seven hundred years between c. 400 and 1100 produced a wealth of material culture that provides critical insights for understanding the formation of Europe. The seminar will focus in any given semester on one of the following four subdivisions with this period: Merovingian and Migratory, Carolingian, Ottonian, or Insular and Anglo-Saxon. The art and architecture in these periods can be understood in light of their relationship to the classical past, the development of political and ecclesiastical structures, the importance of the cult of saints, and the rise of monasticism. The focus in 2024 will be on the Carolingian Utrecht Psalter and there will likely be an important digital humanities component to the course.

Levy | Tuesday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Early Modern | Geographic region: Unspecified

With the material turn, art historians have been engaged in imaginative explorations of the uses and meanings of materials in early modern art and visual culture. This course focuses on crossings from one medium to another (intermediality or intermateriality) whether through conscious imitation (material mimesis) or translation. We will look at explicit statements of medium-specificity in treatises; the situating of drawing as the unifying art; border crossings in the well-known art theoretical debate of the 16th century, the paragone; anxiety about deception (terracotta that feigns stone, stucco that imitates gold). A principal preoccupation will be with the intermedial effects of the introduction of printed images. For while intermediality is as old as art itself, there is an intensification with the introduction of print, when all media became graphic, only to be remedialized again. The chronological span is 15th–18th centuries and the geographic reach is global, with a particular focus on Europe and Latin America (where print was translated into painting and architecture often and in unexpected ways). We will spend time on signal works of intermediality (Roger van der Weyden, Rubens, Gianlorenzo Bernini) as well as many anonymous works, especially in the Americas (16th–18th centuries). This course is historiographically-oriented, tracking the reception of these historical artefacts alongside the modern call for truth-to-materials and the post-war call for medium-specificity in abstract art. A goal of the course is to develop a lexicon of terms specific to intermediality (pictorialization, linearization, resurfacing, flattening, modelling, etc.).

Cheetham | Monday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Unspecified

‘Artwriting’ can be thought of as writing ‘about’ art in the broadest senses, both thematic and spatial, including a website or monograph on an artist, an article or blog, a text in philosophical aesthetics, texts by artists, art that employs written or aural language, or a label in a museum. We will consider these practical and theoretical practices in European and North American contexts from c. 1750 to the present. We will discuss the relationships between and mutual definition of text and image, the institutional contexts of artwriting, and the import of geographical locale and cultural assumptions to the types of imagery and text produced. In 2023-24, we will focus on published and unpublished travel narratives from the 18th and 19th centuries as artwriting, specifically as imagetexts (Mitchell) and iconotexts (Louvel). We will use Arctic voyages from the Anglosphere and Nordic countries as the anchor for comparative studies of illustrated travel literature. We will discuss the complex infrastructural media of voyages on land, sea, and in the air (often together), oral and written accounts (some Indigenous, others Western, often in their intersections), mapmaking, publishing protocols, tourism, early guidebooks, and developments in reproductive media technologies – from wood engraving to chromolithography to photography – using period documents at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Toronto Public Library. Theoretical perspectives from media theory, eco-critical art history, and analyses of empire, imperialism, and colonialism will be examined in the context of illustrated travel publications.

Kaplan | Thursday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Western

What are the ways in which photography as a visual and narrative medium induces laughter and provides amusement? This course explores this question by focusing on major photographic genres throughout the history of the medium and by examining major photographic humourists in particular. The course is particularly concerned with the analysis of key images (both old and new) that mock conventional assumptions made about the nature and function of photography in terms of its claims to truth, identity and reference. The course also includes readings of major philosophers and cultural theorists on the subject of humour and applies them to thinking about photography.

Migwans | Tuesday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Non-Western

This course introduces methodologies for the study of Indigenous customary arts (both historical and contemporary), taking as our point of departure the materials and practice of these arts from a maker's perspective, and the land- and trade-based relations they enact. We will focus locally on Great Lakes arts by Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee artists, with an eye to wider movements and connections. Beads, black ash, porcupine quills, clay, copper and more will be explored through theorizations of place, process, sovereignty, and relationality, as well as through artist talks and hands-on engagement in exploratory workshops.

Harakawa | Wednesday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Geographic region: Unspecified

The 1960s are synonymous with revolution, both political and aesthetic. In this course, we will consider how recent methodological "turns" within art history (e.g. the global, the diasporic, the decolonial; queer, transgender, latinx, indigenous, and Black studies; reassessments of social history of art) might produce new histories of this monumental decade. Potential topics include: the body and sculpture, performance and abstraction, information and technology, commercialism and capital, and solidarity. Students will be expected to identify the themes and gaps in current literature, discuss questions of methodology, and develop practices of close reading and close looking.

Kim | Wednesday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Ancient | Geographic region: Western

This is a graduate seminar on Greek vase painting that takes place in the Royal Ontario Museum, using their significant collection of Greek vases. The course is co-taught with the ROM curator of antiquities, who will oversee the handling of and discussions about the vases, fragments, and their historiographical and iconographical studies. This course not only offers a rare opportunity for hands-on, object-based learning, it also provides instructions on writing for the museum, whether a catalogue entry, archival notes or labels. The course will also introduce students to theory, methodology and historiography of vase painting scholarship, while using the ROM’s collection as case studies for further research. Topics of exploration will include formalist subjects such as vase painting techniques, connoisseurship and dating, as well as interpretative frameworks including archaeological and social contexts, aspects of daily lives, gender and sexuality, and mythological iconography. We will also be engaging in digital technology such as 3D reconstructions and photogrammetry of the objects. The format of the class will be an hour lecture, followed by discussion / hands-on investigations of vases and fragments, and a visit to the galleries where students will have chances to perform short presentations.

Sapirstein | Friday 10am-1pm

Time period: Ancient | Geographic region: Unspecified

This course considers fundamental problems in developing an Art History for ancient art, with an emphasis on the prehistoric through Medieval Mediterranean. How can the approaches, methods, and theories developed for the study of “art” be applied to ancient artifacts and visual culture recovered from archaeological contexts? How is art history impacted when we seldom can identify the creator of an artifact, or so little is known about an ancient persona that we cannot meaningfully assess a career at an individual level? Going beyond the erasure of the great majority of creative individuals from an otherwise literate ancient society, how do we engage with imagery in a prehistoric context, where creators are not only anonymous, but the lack of written documents introduces a deep uncertainty in any interpretation? In response to these existential questions about ancient art history, we will examine both modern and ancient concepts of art and craft, including the culturally embedded constructs of artist versus artisan. The surviving ancient literature and epigraphical records cast important light on ancient aesthetics, modes of perception, and emerging ancient notions of art history, albeit one quite distinct from the modern. The course also reviews specific methods and theories which have been applied to the study of ancient artisans and aesthetics, beginning with attribution studies and collection practices which shaped modern museums. We will then consider the corpus of ancient signatures and other personal marks left on artifacts, as well as visual representations of craft created by the artisans themselves. Additional topics will be adapted to the background and interests of the enrolled students. We may consider the power and influence of images and image-makers in antiquity, the approaches to symbolism and meaning in prehistoric visual culture, the organization of artisans and workshops in various media and conditions, the economics of craft production, or the reconstruction of ancient technologies – each of which provide new insight into and perspective over the lives of artisans and craftspeople in the ancient world.

Knappett | Tuesday 9am-12pm (this course runs from September to April)

Time period: Ancient | Geographic region: Western

A year-long core course with the aim of providing students with a critical understanding of what constitutes method within the different domains of Classical archaeology, ancient history, and prehistory, and the challenges and opportunities in working across these methods to produce new frameworks for researching the ancient Mediterranean. Students will examine ways in which historical and archaeological methods might be applied comparatively or diachronically across traditional chronological or geographical boundaries. Readings will be drawn from several core ‘classic' texts on the ancient Mediterranean and specific case studies.


Special Studies and Language Courses

Type Description
Reading Courses

Only one full-course equivalent from the Reading Course series (FAH3011H–3014H) is permitted in any one degree program. Reading courses require approval from both a Department of Art History faculty member and the Director of Graduate Studies. To enrol in a reading course, obtain approval and submit the Request for Reading Course form to the Graduate Assistant.

  • FAH3011H Readings in Ancient Art
  • FAH3012H Readings in Medieval Art
  • FAH3013H Readings in Early Modern Art
  • FAH3014H Readings in Modern/Contemporary Art
Collaborative Specialization Courses

Please visit the participating degree programs’ pages for course listings and timetable.

Courses Outside the Department

Only one full-course equivalent of courses outside the department is permitted in any one degree program. To enrol in courses outside the department, please obtain approval from the course instructor and forward the email with the approval and the SGS Add/Drop Course(s) form to the Graduate Assistant.

Art History students often take courses in the following departments: 

Language Courses

Taking a language course does not fulfill the language requirement. They are intended as preparation to write the Department of Art History language exam. These courses do not count towards the seminar work required for the graduate degree. 

  • FSL6000H Reading French Course for Graduate Students: Open to Masters and PhD graduate students who need to fulfill their graduate language requirement. A grade of Credit/NonCredit (70% is the minimum grade for CR) will be entered on their transcripts. Students are not permitted to audit this course. This course is designed to develop students' reading skills, particularly as they pertain to research interests. Some remedial grammar, but the primary emphasis is on comprehension of a wide variety of texts in French. Please visit the Department of French for more information.
  • GER6000H Reading German for Graduate Students: In this course, German reading knowledge is taught following the grammar-translation method designed for graduate students from the Humanities. It is an intensive course that covers German grammar with a focus on acquiring essential structures of the German language to develop translation skills. The course is conducted in English, and consequently, participants do not learn how to speak or write in German, but rather the course focuses exclusively on reading and translating German. Prior knowledge of German not mandatory. By the end of the course, students should be able to handle a broad variety of texts in single modern Standard German. Please visit the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures for more information.
  • Undergraduate Language Courses: Graduate students may enrol in any undergraduate language course at no additional cost. A grade of Credit/No-Credit (70% is the minimum grade for CR) will be entered on their transcripts. Please consult the undergraduate timetable for course listing and description.


Please refer to the FAQ page and/or contact the Graduate Assistant.

Graduate Studies FAQ