Graduate courses

ARTHI 5575: Extraordinary Bodies: Disability in Art/Design/Culture. Spring 2020

This course explores disability as an embodied experience, an analytic frame, a social construction, and a reappraisal of the aesthetics and politics of modern art and design. Topics include the history of performance and exhibition of disabled bodies; aspects of visual and sensory histories; disability identity and ‘crip culture’; architectural and design accessibility; and contemporary art and design responses to the ‘extraordinary’ body and self. Students will propose topics of independent research.

ARTHI 5572: The Design of Politics. Fall 2019

This class explores the intersections of design and politics. From the circulation of messages and materials related to revolutions, to personal habits of consumption and use, we will consider how design creates and responds to ideological programs and agendas. Students will develop their own paths of inquiry, selecting core issues (such as environmental, labor, social, or ideological interventions) to track in design history and culture. Our readings and writings will focus on the question, “do artifacts have politics?” as we consider design practices both official and subversive.

ARTHI 4005: American Design History: Research & Writing. Fall 2019

This class draws on local collections and archives to give students hands-on research experience with artifacts and documents of design practice in the 20th-21st centuries. We will track the rise of Modernism and Postmodernism in architecture, product design, and publishing/graphic design, and then turn to local design studios/galleries to document design practices embedded in contemporary environments and economies. Previous design or design history experience a plus but not required.

Undergraduate courses

ARTHI 2128: History of Designed Objects

This course examines the history of designed objects and their place in a variety of material contexts. Even within our increasingly digitalized existences today, physical objects continue to play a key role in determining our experiences as humans. Our objects are designed by us and at the same time design us by extending the possibilities of what it means to be human and exist in a world. The designed object will be considered under the conditions of global exchange, in relation to questions of health, disease, and the body, as well as urbanism. We will also reflect on the designed object through the lenses of craftsmanship, technology, materials, activism, identity, and cultural heritage. Course participants will read texts relevant to the theoretical and historical aspects of the designed object and its representations, contribute to weekly discussions, conduct object-based analyses, and engage in a series of team and individually written critical writing assignments.

ARTHI 3551: American Design Culture in the 20th Century

In this course, we consider American design as a constellation of social and political acts that are materialized in designed artifacts. In particular, we examine how design has been mediated through advertising, marketing, and journalism in the United States. These multiple mediations establish the many lifestyles associated with design and design artifacts. Through research, writing, and discussion, students expand their understanding of the role of design in American culture. Students will gain a critical appreciation of both the production and consumption of design in the United States.

ARTHI 3740: Design Discourses.

This class examines diverse perspectives on the production, consumption, and use of design. Reading key primary writings by designers and observers, we will consider topics such as the role of technology in design change, the uses and functions of design in home, work, and community life, and proposed futures of design. Assignments include hands-on study of designed objects and their histories.

ARTHI 3212: World on Fire: 1968 to Now. Spring 2019 only.

A special team-taught course in the SAIC Art History department reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the momentous year of 1968. A half century on, this class examines the intersection of art, design, and politics in 1968, the mythic year of global upheaval. Nearly simultaneously, signal events erupted on multiple continents: May 1968 in France, the Tet Offensive, the murder of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Tlatelolco Massacre in Mexico City, riots at the Democratic National Convention here in Chicago, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, and Mao Zedong’s ‘Up to the Mountains, Down to the Countryside’ movement. The course draws connections to recent events and to what we might broadly call ‘the contemporary.’

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