Global Art Histories

Please note: this is archived course information from 2021 for ARTHIST 115.


This course will provide a broad survey of art and visual culture spanning the early modern world leading up to an examination of the contemporary world we live in today. This course is an important meeting of history, politics and art.

In history and in different cultures images, materials and art practices are used to express and extend power and authority. Yet such images have also been used for revolution and change. In this unique course, students will be introduced to art, history and politics in a global context including European and American, Māori, Pacific, African and Asian traditions. Taking this comparative approach, the course provides students with the knowledge to recognise how power manipulates vision, concepts and materials, and how artists have challenged this power.

The classes are structured within thematic topics which include the expression and representation of authority and power; the emergence of different perspectives on modernity and different cultural and political explorations of feminism and identity, migrations and diasporas.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have acquired the following skills and competencies:

  • The ability to visually analyse artworks, images and examples of visual culture using reliable methods and terms
  • Confidence in comparing and contrasting artworks and examples of visual culture across cultures
  • The ability to situate artworks in their social, historical, cultural and economic contexts
  • The skills to sustain an argument and logically compose a narrative in essay writing
  • Techniques to find and research quality resources and information in the library and online

The course aims to be exciting and exploratory featuring digital media, online learning, discussion groups, multimedia bibliographies and tutorials to encourage fresh and innovative ways of learning, understanding and engaging with artworks.


Coursework + exam

Availability 2021

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Gregory Minissale
Dr Caroline Vercoe

Recommended Reading

Adrienne Kaeppler, The Pacific Arts of Polynesia and Micronesia. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Gregory Minissale, Images of Thought: Painting in Islamic India. (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009)

Partha Mitter, Indian Art. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)

Nicholas Thomas, Oceanic Art. (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995)

Caroline Turner, ed. Art and Social Change: Contemporary Art in Asia and the Pacific. (Australia: Pandanus Books, 2005)

Frank Willett, African Art. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003)

David Joselit, American Art Since 1945. (London: Thames & Hudson, 2003)

Jessica Rawson China: the three emperors,1662-1795 (London : Royal Academy of Arts, 2005)


Coursework + Exam


ARTHIST 115: 15 points