Book illustration by Bill Holm

You are here

ART H 509 A: Seminar In Special Topics In Art History

Eastern Europe and Global Contemporary Art

Meeting Time: 
F 9:00am - 11:50am
* *
Portrait of Adair Rounthwaite wearing an earth-toned sweater and sitting on a teal colored chair
Adair Rounthwaite

Syllabus Description:

Eastern Europe and Global Contemporary Art

Professor Adair Rounthwaite, 

Spring quarter, Fridays 9am-12pm (alternating synchronous Zoom and asynchronous weeks)

Office hours by appointment

stilinovic an artist.jpg

Mladen Stilinović, An Artist Who Cannot Speak English Is No Artist, 1994  


This seminar examines questions about the global nature of contemporary art production and art’s relationship to its context, via the analysis of modern and contemporary art in Central and Eastern Europe. Art of this region coalesced as a focus within English-language art history in the 1990s. Since that time, the field has come a long way from viewing this art as something repressed and isolated that struggled to thrive “behind” the Iron Curtain and has begun to look at the lively forms of intellectual exchange that connected artists to each other and to colleagues across the world. Moreover, even under the most repressive state conditions, censorship didn’t unilaterally determine creative possibilities, but rather set in motion complex, uneven power relationships between artists and the state. Our seminar will use Central and Eastern Europe as a case study to think through questions about how art is connected to its context, specifically, how it can respond to difficult political circumstances without being unilaterally determined by them.


Our readings will place texts about the region in conversation with others written on themes of transnational and postcolonial modernism from other fields, in order to develop a comparative understanding of how to approach the art histories of a given geographic area. Regardless of whether you have an existing interest in the region, the seminar will provide opportunities to reflect on trenchant questions about art, politics, and social worlds that have wide-ranging importance for artists and scholars today.


The course is organized with a synchronous Zoom discussion on Friday from 9 to 12 every other week. On the alternate weeks, we will work together to annotate texts using and will use discussion tools to share our thoughts about material we view online. Students can choose either to write a major paper, or to write two shorter response papers that address directed prompts.


This course is designed primarily for graduate students in Art, Art History, and related Arts and Humanities fields. Advanced undergraduates may also enroll if they have done significant relevant coursework; if that is your situation, please contact me to discuss registration.


Full syllabus: 

Rounthwaite 509 Sp2021 EastEurope.docx 

Catalog Description: 
Specific focus changes from quarter to quarter.
Last updated: 
February 12, 2021 - 11:54am