History of Decorative Arts

George Mason University
in Partnership with Smithsonian Associates

Courses

ARTH 570 Proseminar in History of Decorative Arts

Required of all first-year students.  A writing-intensive course designed to equip students with the skills necessary for professional scholarship in the history of decorative arts. Examines a variety of theories and methods for analyzing objects. Teaches visual and contextual analysis skills as well as critical thinking about and documentation of primary and secondary sources.

ARTH 571 Survey of Decorative Arts I

Required of all first-year students.  Provides an overview of major historical developments in decorative arts and design from the fifteenth century through the eighteenth century, with a focus on objects from Italy, France, England, and the Netherlands.  Individual lectures familiarize students with significant forms, materials, sites, styles, patrons, designers, and craftsmen.  The course will provide students with a working visual and historical vocabulary of significant designed/manufactured objects and a better awareness of the areas they might pursue at the History of Decorative Arts program. 

ARTH 572 Survey of Decorative Arts II

Required of all first-year students.  Provides an overview of major historical developments in decorative arts and design of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a focus on objects from the United States and Western Europe.  Individual lectures familiarize students with significant forms, materials, sites, styles, patrons, designers, and craftsmen.  The course will provide students with a working visual and historical vocabulary of significant designed/manufactured objects and a better awareness of the areas they might pursue at the History of Decorative Arts program. 

ARTH 620 Topics in Individual Decorative Arts

Topics vary by semester.  Examines a single decorative art medium and/or method of production.

Courses from previous semesters have included:

250 Years of American Costume: 1750-2000 – Fall 2011

Topics in Glass: Sources of Inspiration – Fall 2011

Survey of Ceramics – Fall 2011

Western Textiles – Fall 2011 & Fall 2012

18th Century Furniture – Fall 2011 & Fall 2013

ARTH 630 Material Culture Studies

Topics vary by semester.  Introduction to traditions that have contributed to the field of material culture study.  Examines a broad range of the material world from the past to the present. Surveys the field’s historical roots and examines approaches to material culture scholarship.

Courses from previous semesters have included:

Virginia Plantations, Then and Now: Material Life and Interpretation – Fall 2011 & Spring 2014

Material Culture Studies – Spring 2012

Material Culture of the Gilded Age – Summer 2012

From Babbit to Rabbit: Narratives of the New Consumer’s Republic, 1945-1964  - Spring 2013

Art and Objects of the Everyday – Winter 2013

Collectors and Collecting – Fall 2013

ARTH 640 European Decorative Arts

Topics vary by semester.  May examine stylistic periods, individual makers/designers, or specific media, including textiles, costume, ceramics, silver, furniture, jewelry, metalwork, and glass.

Courses from previous semesters have included:

19th Century French Decorative Arts – Fall 2011

European Modernism – Fall 2011

European Modernism – Fall 2011

18th Century French Furniture – Fall 2012

The Age of Revolution in Fashion, 1700-1825 – Fall 2012

The Decorative Arts of Dining – Spring 2013

History of Western Jewelry – Spring 2013

French Decorative Arts, 1850-1925 – Fall 2013

The Aesthetic Movement - Fall 2013

British Furniture and Interiors – Fall 2013

ARTH 650 Global Decorative Arts

Topics vary by semester.  Examines specific key media, moments, or locations in the global decorative arts beyond the Western tradition.

Courses from previous semesters have included:

2,000 Years of Chinese Ceramics – Spring 2012 & Spring 2014

Textiles in Global Trade – Spring 2012 & Spring 2014

Symbolism in the Decorative Arts – Spring 2012

Patterns of Collecting of China – Spring 2013

Chinese Export Porcelain – Fall 2013

ARTH 660 Museum Studies 

Topics vary by semester.  Explores the role of museums through presentations by key museum personnel, field visits to institutions, and discussions of required readings.

Courses from previous semesters have included:

Museum Curatorship – Spring 2012

Museums in the Digital Age – Fall 2012 & Fall 2014

Exhibition Planning – Spring 2012

The Kaufman Collection – Summer 2013

ARTH 670 Design and Design History 

Topics vary by semester.  Examines key moments in design history.

Courses from previous semesters have included:

Advanced Studies in Furniture: Connoisseurship – Spring 2012 & Spring 2014

Women Designers of the Arts and Crafts Movement – Spring 2012

Objects of Adornment – Spring 2012

History of Furniture Making Technologies – Winter 2012, Fall 2012 & Winter 2014

Studio and Contemporary Glass – Winter 2012

Victorian Furniture – Fall 2012

Art Ceramics, 1876-1976 – Fall 2012

Survey of Silver – Fall’12 & Spring 2014

History of Product Design – Fall 2012

History of Glass – Spring 2013

Victorian Costume – Spring 2013

20th Century Furniture – Spring 2013

Genealogical Research Methods – Winter 2013

Fashion and Modernity – Fall 2013

Textiles in Historic Interiors – Fall 2013

The Decorative Arts of Louis Comfort Tiffany – Summer 2014

ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History and the Decorative Arts

Topics vary by semester.

ARTH 610 Theory of Decorative Arts

Topics vary by semester.  Explores the different perspectives and theoretical viewpoints used to analyze and understand decorative arts and design.

ARTH 593 Internship in Art History and the Decorative Arts

Internship with a professional arts institution, organization, or individual. Project to be arranged by student in consultation with academic department and field supervisor.

ARTH 596 Independent Study

Independent reading and research on specific project under direction of faculty member.

ARTH 799 Master’s Thesis

Research and writing on approved thesis topic under direction of faculty advisor and thesis committee.

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