Course Listings

Displaying 1 - 25 of 61


Illuminating Women—Female Artists, Heale


Pre-Requisite:AH114 or AH115

People often wonder exactly when, throughout history, women first started to become active in society? Of course, the answer is: Always. Even though women’s efforts have been overshadowed by that of their male contemporaries in the chronicling of official histories, women have always participated in every facet of life, from rich to poor, north to south, east to west, and from the ancient period to the present. In this course, we will examine the lives and creative pursuits of the many women who contributed to the arts, sciences, and humanities throughout history, particularly focusing on artists & craftspersons, writers & poets, healers, pharmacists, natural philosophers, and rulers, with a few warriors included for good measure. Students will conduct close readings, originate research, formulate short essays, and in an effort to gain insight into the state of mind of historical women, reconstruct a piece of history with a hands-on laboratory project and a small, original artwork placing themselves in the environment of a chosen historical female. Prerequisite: AH210, or one course from the Ancient Civilizations category. This course can be taken concurrently with one class from the Medieval Worlds in Motion category. 3 units.


Project Green: Oceans


This course is designed to provide students with a broad introduction to the coastal oceans of Orange County. As a part of the course work, students will observe and analyze physical processes and distribution of organisms in the intertidal and shallow zones, and document their findings. These findings will be translated into digital educational materials that will be made available to the public. Students will also investigate coastal processes, coastal marine ecosystems (kelp forests, the intertidal zone) and the impact of humans on the coastal ocean. Students will study the marine mammals that call the Orange County coast home, for migratory seasons, or for all of the year.


Introduction to Psychology


This course explores the basic psychological concepts underlying human behavior and development. Students may gain an understanding of the history of the science of psychology and how it has advised our culture over the last century.


Intro to Philosophy


From the mystics of the East to the Classical philosophy of the west, this survey course takes a look at our cultures' attempts to understand the world we live in and how to live the good life.


Worldly + Otherworldly: Fantastic Creatu


Pre-Requisite:AH114 or AH115

For centuries, earthly creatures, charmed animals and otherworldly beings conjured by artisans, magicians, folklorists, natural philosophers, and physicians, have inspired both wonder and delight as well as revulsion, alarm, and terror in the hearts and minds of otherwise thinking persons. Considering beasts and beings of all sorts, both earthly and divine, this course seeks to investigate the origin stories of such creatures and inquire as to what motivations compel an individual or society to conjure such creatures. From the Classical World to Medieval Scandinavia, from the Americas to Slavic Europe, this course explores how art and monstrosity intersected in the cultural imagination to both delightful and devastating effect. In consultation with a range of visual and literary primary materials, including the Great Chain of Being, the Malleus Maleficarum (the Witches Hammer), and Della Porta’s How We May Produce New and Strange Monsters, students will conduct close readings, originate research, formulate essays and create original artwork of their own in an effort to gain insight into earlier states of mind as well as open avenues into wholly new creations. All readings for the course will be in English, although international and graduate students may be asked to give additional reports on texts written in other languages.


Introduction to Sociology


Designed to introduce students to a sociological understanding of how we build and live in communities. With a strong emphasis on the psychology of power structures, social institutions, social reasoning, and social constructivism, this course helps students to understand the role of the individual within the larger society. With a broad scope into the science of groups, topics may also include urgent current events to build a vivid understanding of the social interactivity in everyday life.


The Science of Sight


The Science of Sight is a comprehensive overview of the visual phenomenon of eyesight incorporating information from disciplines of anatomy and health, history, psychology, sociology, natural science and computer science. Though topics outside of the discipline of art will be introduced, the primary intended audience are those who intend to focus their career in the visual arts. The class consists of lectures, mini-experiments, viewing of short films, group discussions, and student presentations. Guest lecturers for specific topics are encouraged when available.


Mesoamerican Empires of the Aztec and Ma


An introductory course exploring the art and architecture of Mesoamerica from the rise of the Olmec in 1500 BCE to the Spanish conquest of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in 1521, Mesoamerican Empires will focus on how changes in visual culture have reflected larger religious and political transformations in Mesoamerica. Issues of cultural memory and myth will be examined to understand indigenous conceptions of art, history, cosmology, and social hierarchy. Forging links with the present day, students will learn to identify and contextualize Mesoamerican iconography in contemporary media including the creative expression of lowrider culture, tattoos, fine art, and fashion. Students will be required to demonstrate their understanding of the material through visual (art) projects, a formal writing assignment, and their participation in class discussions. No prerequisites.


Introduction to the History of Asian Art


This course is an exploration of art and visual culture from the Asian continent. Focusing on art works as historical, cultural, and social documents, we will examine how art was commissioned, collected, and used by royalty, the elite, popular audiences, and religious communities in both rural and urban settings. Different themes discussed include art as an instrument of power and propaganda, as a tool for social and religious ritual, an expression of status and prestige, a medium for social protest, as well as a product for the marketplace. Beginning with Bronze Age objects for ritual purposes, subsequent artforms include scroll paintings in the Song Dynasty, women’s painting and printed books, Japanese secular emaki scrolls and ukioy-e art, the luxury of Mughal art in India, and true-view landscape painting in Korea. Students are required to do class readings and engage actively in class discussion, complete two papers, create a final project, and make a final presentation. No prerequisites.


The Medieval World


The Middle Ages were a time of knights and ladies... or maybe brutal Viking warlords... or a clash of civilizations between Christians and Muslims... and maybe there were dragons? A lot of what we “know” about the medieval world comes from fantasy, pop culture, and from old nationalist scholarship that mostly invented origin myths. So, how can we know what the Middle Ages were really like? In this class, we’ll go back and try to get a more accurate picture by looking at things medieval people made: manuscripts, sculptures, buildings, weapons, clothing, etc., all in tandem with reading primary sources by the people who were there. Starting with the collapse of the western Roman Empire, we will uncover a different picture of how two related cultures arose out of the wreckage of the ancient world: Christendom and Dar al-Islam. Along the way we’ll learn that the “barbarians” weren’t that barbaric, that some Vikings converted to Islam, that trade and cooperation across the Mediterranean were far more common than Crusades, and that the medieval world was more diverse, cosmopolitan, and queer than you may have been led to believe. No prerequisites.


Nature in Art: The Arts of East Asia—Jap


Nature in Art explores the rich and varied traditions of artistic expression unique to the regions of Japan, Korea, and Tibet, from prehistoric indigenous practices through the mid-19th century. Looking closely at Japan, the Korean renaissance, and the coded art of Tibetan Buddhist culture, we will uncover the distinct artistic heritage found in each, noting particularly the sharing and transmission of art practices and ideas as they cross geographical and cultural boundaries. Working chronologically, this course will identify intersections of spirituality and nature, then examine artistic expressions of such concepts through lacquer, ceramic, ink, paper, stone, bamboo and ivory, among other media. Both two- and three-dimensional art forms are considered, from calligraphy, wood-block prints and landscape painting to festivals, garden design, poetry, and tea ceremonies. The objects and sites studied in this course will reflect how concepts of beauty and aesthetics are achieved through the practice of “harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.” The course is conducted as a hybrid seminar-lecture style course, with instructor led lectures and video, student presentations, research, writing, culinary experiences, as well as hands-on exploration of the traditional processes of historic art production in these regions. This class requires a visit to the USC Pacific Asia Museum to see art in person from each of the regions studied in this class. No prerequisites.


Western Art History 2



This course introduces students to art historical issues and important monuments from the Renaissance through the mid-nineteenth century in the Western tradition. It establishes a social, political, and historical context for the production of art in society, and provides art students with a sense of the historical development of styles as a continuous tradition relating to their own work.


Age of Michelangelo, 1450-1650


Pre-Requisite:AH114 or AH115

“Force yourself to imitate Michelangelo in everything.” These were the words expressed by Michelangelo’s biographer to a remarkably self-aware generation of artists in 16th-century Florence, Rome, and Venice. However, whether rival artists wanted to, or even imagined they could succeed in imitating Michelangelo’s work is another question—one among many we’ll explore in The Age of Michelangelo, 1450-1650. In consultation with a range of visual, historical, and literary materials, we’ll delve into the spirit of the age, looking at drawing, painting, sculpture, furniture and garden design, food, weaponry, architecture, and urban planning, as well as people. We’ll tap into the players and personalities of the times—Leonardo, Giorgione, Raphael, Sofonisba Anguissola, Titian—as well as Isabella d’Este, the Della Rovere, and the Medici families who sought to shape their immediate world through power, imagination, and the artistry of their times. Students will conduct close readings, originate research, formulate essays, and in an effort to gain insight into the Renaissance state of mind reconstruct a piece of history with a hands-on laboratory project and a small, original artwork of their own. Prerequisite: AH210, or one course from Ancient Civilizations category. This course can be taken concurrently with Medieval Worlds in Motion category.


Los Tres Grandes—The Mexican Muralist Mo


Pre-Requisite:AH114 or AH115 + AH204 or AH205 or AH206 or AH207 or AH305

Los Tres Grandes explores the Mexican Muralist movement of the 1920s from its beginnings under the post-Mexican Revolution government to its present-day influence on Chicanx and Street artists. Utilizing a curricular framework centered on Los Tres Grandes (the big three), Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, our studies will then expand to include further influential figures such as Frida Kahlo and Rufino Tamayo among others. Students will be required to demonstrate their understanding of the material through visual (art) projects, a formal writing assignment, and participation in class discussions. Prerequisite: One course from Ancient Civilizations category and one course from either Medieval Worlds or Renaissance/Early Modern category.


The Traditional Arts of Western Africa


Pre-Requisite:AH114 or AH115 + AH204 or AH205 or AH206 or AH207 or AH305

This course examines a diverse array of art created by different ethnic groups in West Africa from pre-colonial through the 19th century and beyond. Through the lens of both spiritual and cultural traditions, we will consider a wide range of styles and materials, and ask how meaning is derived from objects and practices, keeping in mind particular challenges that emerge when studying art that is both permanent and impermanent. The significance of oral traditions will be studied, as well as the roles of ancestor spirits, mythical creatures, divination and initiation rites, and how music, dance, and masking function in establishing power, status, political, and social conventions. Objects created exclusively for performative and ritual uses, art in service to royalty, sculpture, utilitarian objects, architecture, performance, and the body as subject and site of adornment will form the core of our studies. Materials studied will include metal, wood, textiles, mud, ivory, beads, bone, dung, and blood/bodily fluids. While important, this class does not intend to cover present-day political crises, border disputes, or changing social constructs in West Africa. This course is conducted with instructor led lecture, film, guided reading and discussions, student presentations based on independent research, and other exploratory exercises. A visit to the UCLA Fowler Museum is required for this class. Students will experience textile creation and the development of personal symbolism in a hands-on project. Prerequisite: One course from Ancient Civilizations category and one course from either Medieval Worlds or Renaissance/Early Modern category.


Modern Visualities: 19th to 20th-Century


Pre-Requisite:AH114 or AH115 + AH204 or AH205 or AH206 or AH207 or AH305

This course will examine the relationship between visuality and technology as expressed by photographers of the 19th- and 20th-centuries. Materials and readings for the course will focus on the roles and development of photography primarily in India, Afghanistan, China, and Japan, and the alterations it engendered in the perception and depiction of the world. We will examine the use of photography in the service of journalism and news reporting, ethnographic studies and geographical awareness, science, propaganda, tourism, entertainment, and of course, art. Beginning with Western photographers’ images of a distant “Orient,” this course will conclude with the uses of photography in contemporary Asian art, looking particularly at themes of national and personal identities as well as commentary on traditions. Students are required to do class readings and engage actively in class discussion, complete two papers, submit one individual project related to the course apparatus, and make a final presentation. Projects deriving from other time periods or regions are welcome, for example, photography from Imperial Russia or the Ottoman Empire. Prerequisite: One course from Ancient Civilizations category and one course from either Medieval Worlds or Renaissance/Early Modern category.


Exiles in L.A.—Art, Architecture, in L.A


Pre-Requisite:AH320 or AH404 or AH405 or AH406

Los Angeles, not known for being a bastion of either culture or liberalism during the early twentieth century, was—for a time—both a cradle of high-modernism and a refuge from the charnel house of European fascism. Icons such as poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht, Marxist philosopher Theodor Adorno, noir filmmakers Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder, composers Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinski, novelists Thomas Mann and Aldous Huxley, and architects Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler, many of whom had fled the Nazis, made their homes in Los Angeles. In this course, we will examine the lives and major works of the many refugees and exiles who transformed LA’s intellectual and aesthetic culture in the 1940s, as well as look closely at three critical aspects of their enduring legacy. First, the transnational exchange of aesthetic and intellectual history between Europe and the United States; Second, the effects of fascism on aesthetics and its implications; and Third, the degree to which the creative output of European émigrés provided survival strategies in the wake of such genocidal and illiberal ideologies. What, in other words, can we glean from Brecht’s poetry, from Adorno’s “reflections from damaged life,” from Fritz Lang’s deeply expressionistic noir films, from Huxley’s Brave New World? Through the consumption of text and images representing this history students will create a project utilizing this aesthetic and intellectual history of art (and artists) as a means of strategizing survival in today’s climate. Prerequisite: One course from Ancient Civilizations category and one course from either Medieval Worlds or Renaissance/Early Modern category.


Living Thru History—Understanding the Am


Pre-Requisite:AH320 or AH404 or AH405 or AH406

Since 1954 when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the people of the United States have been engaged in a series of “culture wars” concerned primarily with identity—particularly race and gender—and a grappling with its morally ambiguous past. This deep and alienating sense of polarization and clashing of identities—some voluntary and others forced upon us—has only intensified over the years, coming to an explosive climax in the chaotic and tragic years of 2020-21. Everything from the anti-mask movement and “cancel culture” to the fate of Confederate Statues and defunding the police falls under the rubric of a longstanding, and increasingly tribal culture war in the United States. In this course we will look at the broad historical context of the 1960s from which these battles emerged and trace them through the present. In doing so, we will pay close attention to the ways in which the expansion of rights, freedoms, and liberties for historically marginalized groups has elicited conservative reactions seeking to roll back those gains through an often sectarian vision of American culture and history. This course will focus on flashpoints or sites of contestation—Roe v. Wade, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the rise of “Alt-Right” groups such as the Proud Boys, recent controversies about “Big Tech” censorship, the fate of civil rights, Black Lives Matter protests, and the violent denouement of the Trump Administration. Students will produce written responses to the readings and also formulate a final project determining the role of art and the artist in meeting this particular historical moment. Prerequisite: One course from Ancient Civilizations category and one course from either Medieval Worlds or Renaissance/Early Modern category.


Intro to Exhibition Design


Pre-Requisite:AH320 or AH404 or AH405 or AH406

This course will introduce students to current theoretical and real-world applications of exhibition design operating today in museums, galleries, and contemporary art spaces, both real and virtual. Through weekly in-person exploration of cultural sites in and around Orange County and Los Angeles, students will observe and critique aesthetic and practical decisions made by professional curators and exhibition designers, with particular emphases on structural layout, cultural themes, the curation and arrangement of objects, and how artworks interact with one another in outdoor and indoor spaces. In doing so, students will sharpen their perceptive skills, strengthen their discourse specific to the fields of art production, curation, collecting, and museum studies, and pursue theoretical examples of design brought to life within the rich artistic landscape of Southern California. Students produce written journal entries, participate in discussions, produce directed reading responses to museum catalogues, articles, and other didactic material, as well as participate in oral presentations and collaborative hands-on projects. Prerequisite: One course from Ancient Civilizations category and one course from either Medieval Worlds or Renaissance/Early Modern category.


Ancient Civ: Egypt-Greece-Rome


If consciousness is shaped by our history, then where are we, collectively, if we’ve lost faith that a shared historical commonality among cultures ever existed? To the people who thrived in the strange and beautiful empires of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, religious and cultural differences found in one’s neighbors weren’t unusual, confusing or frightening—they were part of everyday life. In short: normal coexistence. In the class Egypt, Greece, Rome—we’ll explore the commonalities and shared experiences found among these three remarkable civilizations, as well as follow the cultural fault lines exploited by those in power which eventually forced these empires to dissolve. Together, we’ll explore three millennia of artefacts, objects, architecture, writings, as well as cultural and religious practice to see how these civilizations evolved, ran alongside one another, then overlapped and overcame one another to lay the foundations of modern western society. Through lecture, images, discussions, essays, and close readings, students will learn to identify, decode, understand and describe artworks and objects from the past, translating them from visual to verbal and textual language. In addition, in an effort to gain insight into the ancient state of mind, students will reconstruct a piece of history with a hands-on laboratory project and a small, original artwork of their own. No prerequisites.


Rome, City of Splendor


Rome, the Eternal City, is a city unlike any other. It is entrenched in history and undeniably beautiful, where Roman ruins serve as a backdrop for classically restrained Renaissance structures and dramatic Baroque spectacle. This course takes students through the incredible transformation the city has undergone from ancient times through the rise of Christianity, culminating with the tumultuous era and style of the 17th-century Baroque. Through these great epochs of Roman history, the city attracted some of the most revered artists including Raphael, Michelangelo, Gentileschi, Caravaggio, and Bernini. Students will leave this class with an in-depth understanding of the innovation of Roman architecture and engineering, what led to the decline of ancient Rome, and how the city transformed from a glorious capital of pagan culture to the prominent seat of the Catholic faith, home to over 900 churches. Requirements for this class include a museum visit, independent research, and the creation of an artwork related to the course content and historic techniques analyzed in this course.


Vision, Passion, Rebellion - Modern Art


Set primarily in Paris, this course traces the development and public reception of modern art in Europe from the mid-19th century through the early years of the 20th century. The main focus of this course is the Post-Impressionists, artists working in diverse styles during the years 1880-1900. In order to better understand the radical approaches to art undertaken by these artists, the course will include a brief investigation of the cultural, political, and artistic trends which led up to the period known as Post-Impressionism. Thus, students will gain familiarity with the major art movements of the 18th and 19th centuries: Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, and Impressionism. This course will be framed by the theories of “bohemian” poet Charles Baudelaire, whose close friendship with many artists helped shaped the trajectory of modern art. Encircled by other likeminded writers, these artists spurred the creative process and championed one another. Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Mucha, and Klimt are among the artists examined in this class. Through close analysis of the artists’ own words, students will explore the psyche of the modern artist as they sought to create an expressive art imbued with feeling, originality, and innovation. This course requires a museum visit, independent research, analysis of primary sources (artist letters and essays), and the creation of an artwork related to course content.


Human Sexuality



Human Sexuality is a course that combines lectures, films, discussions and research regarding our sexuality from physiological, psychological and sociological perspectives. Topics include history, anatomy, reproduction, cross-cultural perspectives, gender roles, myths, safety and variations in sexual expression.


Project Green: Hillside



This course is an ecological survey of the native flora and fauna of our surrounding wilderness area. Students will collaborate as a research team to participate in the ecological restoration of a coastal sage scrub community, develop research questions, document results, and propose further research. The canyon offers a unique outdoor class environment, applied research opportunity, and a rewarding experience of engaged stewardship in our ecological community.


Human Diversity



Human Diversity explores biological variation in modern humans, biological concepts of species and subspecies and the race concept from a social perspective. Following completion of this course you should have a greater understanding of the misuse of the term "race," an appreciation of human biological diversity, and a grasp of the adaptive nature of human variation.