Graduate Art History

Current Graduate Courses

  • The 2024-25 Graduate Course Timetable is now posted. Thank you for understanding that the course offerings may still be subject to change.
  • Students enrolled in other graduate programs who are interested in taking Art History courses should obtain approval from the course instructor and send the completed SGS Add/Drop Course(s) form to the Graduate Assistant.
  • Consult the School of Graduate Studies Sessional Dates 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 don't hesitate to contact the Graduate Assistant.


Department of Art History Graduate Timetable

Special Studies and Language Courses

Timetable 2024–25

Delivery Method

All fall 2024 and winter 2025 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 2024 (September to December)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am          
10 am FAH2020H
SS 6033
AP 130
SS 6032
SS 6032

BT 319

SS 6032
11 am
12 pm  
1 pm          
2 pm   FAH1001H
SS 6032
SS 6032
3 pm    
4 pm    
5 pm          
6 pm          


Yi Gu | Tuesday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Unspecified | Research area: 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.

Giancarla Periti | Wednesday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Early Modern | Research area: European/US/Canadian

The development of Renaissance art has often been traced on the basis of large-scale works, including grandiose palaces, monumental chapels, colossal sculptures, imposing frescoes and massive tapestries. Small-format works, however, constitute an area of artistic performance that deserves further scrutiny and critical attention. This seminar explores miniaturization in several media works produced ca.1400–1600. We will be looking at a corpus of small-size works that provide some of the most compelling responses to questions of scale, crafting, performativity and portability. Readings include chapters by Mack, Payne, Lévi-Strauss, and Bredekamp, among others. There may be visits to local museums if the situation allows.

Matt Kavaler | Wednesday 10am-1pm

Time period: Early Modern | Research area: European/US/Canadian

This course examines varieties of sculpture in Northern Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth century with particular emphasis on the Netherlands and Germany. The course questions the near-exclusive focus on painting as the quintessential artistic medium of Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Sculpture was an essential medium for the expression of power relations. Tombs of the high nobility framed and controlled the communal space of churches and chapels. Towering sacrament houses offered magnificent stages for the Eucharist—the material focus of the central drama of the church. Mantelpieces in town halls asserted the complex relationship between competing groups within the city. Carved altarpieces found visual formulas for metaphysical notions of sacred space and time. And smaller works like bronze statuettes became treasured objects in Renaissance collections.

Jenny Purtle | Friday 10am-1pm

Time period: Medieval or Early Modern | Research area: East Asian

This course will explore a clearly defined topic and/or a problem related to Chinese painting history: either in local, China-wide, or global context; and, in a period from the medieval to the contemporary, but not necessarily including the entire breadth of these temporal periods. By the design of the instructor, the course may address select developments in the history of Chinese painting. Some modules might involve the study of: specific painters, movements, or dynasties; painting theory; a text or texts of Chinese art writing in the original; or, historiographic problems. All modules will emphasize: key primary sources (paintings and texts) in their original format; the development of the Sinological, philological, and bibliographical skills for working with these primary sources; and exploration of the secondary literature. This course emphasizes the development of art-historical skills grounded in Sinological practice in order to prepare students for further research either in entry-level art world jobs or in graduate school (including MA or PhD theses in Chinese painting history). Reading knowledge of Chinese or another East Asian language is recommended.

Louis Kaplan | Tuesday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Research area: European/US/Canadian

What is the relationship between photography and the occult? Is it possible for the camera to see the invisible beyond the powers of the naked eye? Beginning with the spirit photographs of William Mumler in the 1860’s to contemporary manifestations of digital ghost hunting, we will investigate the search for elusive ghosts via the camera lens as an ongoing preoccupation in the history of photography. We will review this rich and fascinating history with key case studies of “haunted media” starting with the emergence of phantasmagoric visual entertainments and other psychic, occult, and borderland phenomena whether UFOs, auras, fairies, or “thoughtography”. Exploring these “ghosts in the machines” through the lenses of science, religion, and art, the course will consider various reasons why some have wanted to believe in the veracity of these phenomena while others have wanted to debunk occult photography as a hoax, trick, or fraud.

Carl Knappett | Monday 10am-1pm

Time period: Ancient | Research area: Global

Across the humanities and social sciences there has been a surge of interest in connections and relations of various kinds. Network analysis has shown itself to be an effective and adaptable means of exploring such phenomena, particularly given the increasing accessibility of computational methods. This course will focus on the potential for using network analysis in reconstructing ancient connectivities and mobilities, with application particularly in studies of the ancient world across disciplines. There are various ways in which these fields can benefit. On the one hand, the social relations among artisans and artists responsible for bringing artworks into being can be scrutinised, as can the connections between consumers that help shape value, or indeed the networks of distribution or circulation that link producers to consumers. These factors all concern the social structures sustaining artistic output. On the other, it is also possible to conceive of the relations between artworks in network terms, within the oeuvre of a given artist, or more broadly between media or across periods or regions. The class will cover the history of approaches to connectivities, relations, and networks; present case studies that demonstrate the utility of network approaches; and offer students the chance to develop their own projects in network analysis applied to ancient materials (with all the attendant problems of data incompleteness). This is a course in digital humanities, in its concern for the exploration and visualisation of data with the aid of computational methods.

TBA | Thursday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Research area: Global

In connection with the forthcoming reinstallation of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s collection of art since 1900, this seminar explores the history, theory and practice of museums, critically examining recent collection installations globally. Taking a colloquium format, readings and discussion will be supplemented by presentations from curators working on post-1900 art at the AGO. Spanning the museum’s collecting areas—including photographs, arts of global Africa and the diaspora, prints and drawings, European and Canadian art—students will meet at the museum and engage closely with the work of curators. How do we translate histories and theories of art since 1900 for a public broadly conceived? What forces shape how we meet artworks in the present?.

John Ricco | Thursday 10am-12pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Research area: European/US/Canadian

This seminar examines some of the principal themes in the work of Roland Barthes over what were to be the last three years of his life. Enabled by the recent publication and translation of his lecture courses at the College de France (The Neutral; The Preparation of the Novel), and the mourning diary that he kept in the wake of his mother's death, the course seeks to understand the central importance of the notion of the neutral, the experience of mourning, the evidence of photography, and the notations of homosexual erotics in Barthes' writing and teaching from his Inaugural Lecture at the College on January 7, 1977, to his seminal book on photography, Camera Lucida. Other texts that we will discuss include: Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes; Incidents; as well critical works by Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, D.A. Miller, Diana Knight, Eduardo Cadava, Geoffrey Batchen, and others.

Philip Sapirstein | Tuesday 10am-1pm (this course runs from September to April)

Time period: Ancient | Research area: European/US/Canadian

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 2025 (January to April)

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
9 am          
10 am FAH1960H
SS 6032
AP 130
SS 6032
SS 6032
SS 6032
11 am
12 pm
1 pm          
2 pm   FAH1205H
SS 6032
3 pm        
4 pm   FAH2042H
SK 348
5 pm        
6 pm        


Adam Cohen | Wednesday 10am-1pm

Time period: Medieval | Research area: European/US/Canadian

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. In winter 2025, the focus of the course will be the early medieval Bible.

Evonne Levy | Tuesday 2pm-5pm

Time period: Early Modern | Research area: Global

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.).

Alison Syme | Thursday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Research area: Global

This course examines ideas of craft that have emerged in the modern period in response to the industrial and digital revolutions, and other significant social and political changes. From the Arts and Crafts movement, the Bauhaus, and mingei to Etsy, maker culture, Craftivism, the Hobby Lobby, and biofacture, modern craft is associated with radically different practices and politics. Drawing on a variety of disciplinary and theoretical frameworks, we will consider craft’s relationship to art, design, industry, and leisure in a global context, using case studies to illuminate key concepts and issues. We will pay particular attention to the place of craft in modern and contemporary art; to issues of gender, class, and race in understandings of craft and its queering; to craft’s relationship to the environment; to what Indigenous perspectives and practices can teach us; and to what has been seen as craft’s revolutionary or reactionary potential.

Mikinaak Migwans | Monday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Research area: Indigenous

This course takes handiwork as its topic and its method, combining theorizations of materiality with hands-on exploration of artworks, sites, and materials. Students will be introduced to a broad range of customary artforms and contemporary practices of Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes, with special attention to 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 Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee artists, with an eye to wider movements and connections. Beads, black ash, earthworks, stone and more will be explored through theorizations of place, relationality, and agency, as well as through artist talks and hands-on workshops.

Maya Harakawa | Friday 10am-1pm

Time period: Modern/Contemporary | Research area: Global

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.

Bjoern Ewald | Wednesday 4pm-7pm

Time period: Ancient | Research area: European/US/Canadian

At its most basic level, the course examines ancient representation of eroticism against the background of Greek and Roman constructions of gender and sexuality, as well as the medical understanding of the human body in antiquity. It also explores intersections with the themes of ancient humour, myth, and magic, and explores visual strategies of 'othering' by means of sexualized representation. This is, however, more than a standard course on 'gender and sexuality' in antiquity, or on 'text and image': It also examines the hedonic structures and libidinal economies of the works of art themselves, and relates them to changing notions of pleasure and desire in antiquity (from the 6th cent. BCE to the 4th cent. CE), as well as to social, cultural and philosophical constructions of personhood. The course avails itself of the rich scholarship that has been produced in the wake of the foundational works by K. Dover (Greek Homosexuality, 1978) and M. Foucault (The History of Sexuality I-III, 1976; 1984).

Seth Bernard | Tuesday 10am-1pm (this course runs from September to April)

Time period: Ancient | Research area: European/US/Canadian

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