Liberal Studies & Art History

The Cornerstone of our
Art & Design Education

To educate and to inspire: these are the two main goals of the Liberal Studies & Art History departments. Through our courses we ensure that our students are fully equipped with the capacity to write, think and communicate clearly about their work, but we also assure that their creativity and imagination find a broad space for expression and expansion.

The interdisciplinary Liberal Studies curriculum provides students with a grounding in general humanities – history, philosophy, languages and literatures – as well as social sciences and sciences. The courses taught within the department help students understand how to place themselves within the world and within the history of their chosen practice, providing the context they need to navigate the complexities of contemporary culture. In the Freshman year, students take “Critical Thinking & Writing”, a foundational “great books” course and a necessary stepping stone to higher level courses. It provides a general education in the humanities that combines literature, poetry, the history of philosophy, and the history of art. Focused on the close reading of influential texts, it is geared at helping freshman students develop as analytical readers and thinkers, and acquire or perfect the writing skills they need.

In addition to a set of core courses in the history of art and design for the specific majors and degrees, a wide selection of Liberal Studies electives enables students to broaden their knowledge and sharpen their capacity for analytical enquiry. Courses cover an extensive range of disciplines, with a changing selection of electives ranging from cognitive psychology or semiotics to the history of technology or Renaissance politics. French classes are offered over four levels. Topics in French civilization has a high literary component, while the advanced level course is a content-based course whose theme changes each term.

PCA takes special advantage of its campus and location as an ideal environment for observing and exploring the social and cultural variety that is typical of a European and multicultural metropolis in the 21st century. Courses often include visits to a large variety of venues – museums and galleries, cultural events and urban sites. Senior level seminars and guest speakers address timely and provocative issues that help students develop ideas and make the choices that will enhance their own careers.

Faculty

Barbara Portrait

Barbara Montefalcone

Chair of Liberal Studies
cospen gharibian

Emmanuelle Cospen-Gharibian

Liberal Studies Coordinator
dobui bien

Bien Dobui

Adjunct Faculty
EISENHAUER_Andrew

Andrew Eisenhauer

Adjunct Faculty
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Pauline Lastennet

Adjunct Faculty
Alana Manga

Alana Manga

Adjunct Faculty
ralph

Karen Ralph

Adjunct Faculty
serena_maurizio

Maurizio Serena

Adjunct Faculty
KAROLE_Theaux

Karole Theaux

Adjunct Faculty

Course Offerings

Credits

Liberal Studies

Paris Yesterday and Tomorrow: history, art and urban culture

Code
FLIB 1105
Description

This course acquaints students with the neighborhoods, cultures, people, customs, institutions and organizations in Paris through a thematic approach based on three main modules: the city and its history; the literary and artistic representations of the city; the city, its citizens, and its future. Students will learn about key moments in French history, from the Romans on, via the Middle Ages, the Revolution, Haussmannization, and May 1968; they will be introduced to such themes as political migrations and colonialism, and will explore the city from a variety of points of views including literary and artistic exchanges, urban history, architecture, and ecology. Active exploration of the environment is strongly encouraged and learning is accomplished through a variety of means: site visits, the examination of texts and images, and first-hand encounters with museums, galleries, and libraries, as well as other art and design-related resources in the city.

Critical Thinking & Writing I

Code
FLIB 1011
Description

This year-long course is designed to improve critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Students learn to understand the inherent argument and logic of a text, to think more systematically and critically, and to write more effectively by developing skills in the structure, grammar, and mechanics of writing. Students also work toward the more focused goal of situating design and art practices within larger intellectual, historical and philosophical frameworks by exploring the indissoluble connection between ideas and the products of human culture. This is achieved by introducing students to texts representing and describing various methodologies applicable to art and design, which can then be used to critique and analyze visual and material artifacts.

Critical Thinking & Writing II

Code
FLIB 1012
Description

This year-long course is designed to improve critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. Students learn to understand the inherent argument and logic of a text, to think more systematically and critically, and to write more effectively by developing skills in the structure, grammar, and mechanics of writing. Students also work toward the more focused goal of situating design and art practices within larger intellectual, historical and philosophical frameworks by exploring the indissoluble connection between ideas and the products of human culture. This is achieved by introducing students to texts representing and describing various methodologies applicable to art and design, which can then be used to critique and analyze visual and material artifacts.

Introduction to Design Studies

Code
FLIB 1162
Description

As an introduction to design in general, this seminar provides students with a contextual understanding of specific movements in design history. ‘Design’ has come to mean many different things. It has been defined as problem solving, communication of an idea, an aesthetic decision, but it is rarely discussed as a vital business concern, though design communicates to us and makes us desire things in order to sell something. The weekly sessions will incorporate topics ranging from avant-garde movements, technology and media, information theory, business and marketing practices, sociology, and psychology, set within a broad historical narrative.

English For International Students I

Code
FLIB 1005
Description

This course is designed for students with an intermediate level in English, and will support their studio classes and experience as a student in an English-language environment at PCA. The content and material covered in class will focus on language related to their studies, as well as their areas of interest. Class themes will also include visual analysis of art and design, and cover questions related to the collection and display of art and images. Throughout the course, students will develop and practice their English language skills in order to prepare them for the next semester of their studies.

English For International Students II

Code
FLIB 1006
Description

The class takes a dual approach to the study of English, giving a fuller vision of this global language. We will examine 1) its internal expression (aspects of its grammar and vocabulary) and 2) its exterior expression (its historical and sociological life). Human language is a system! In taking a more formalized approach to English language learning, students can use theories developed in the language sciences as tools to efficiently master concepts in grammar. We will seek to conceptualize language as a system and describe the specific system that is English.

Language is political! In parallel, we will also study the history of the English language, its socio-political role as a global form of communication and finally the implications of language variation in the Anglosphere. We will be asking questions like: why do English and French have so many words in common? and why are there different ways to pronounce -gh, like in ‘tough’ versus ‘dough’ or why do people have accents?

French for Paris

Code
FLIB 1150
Description

“French for Paris” is a course open to beginners who would like to expand their knowledge of French culture and develop their listening & speaking skills. The course will cover specific themes relating to everyday life in Paris, its history, its culture, and the arts. Emphasis will be placed on phonetics (rhythm, intonation, liaisons, silent letters & some specific French sounds) as well as everyday vocabulary and exchanges. Different subjects will be developed over the semester: cultural life in Paris, French cinema, French and Francophone cuisine, as well as music. Students will be able to engage in short conversations and will practice describing themselves and their environment along with their studies and artistic practice. Visits in French will be organized. Conscientious completion of homework and class participation is emphasized; a website has been specially designed to accompany students throughout the semester (readings, targeted grammatical exercises, podcasts, phonetics, etc.) The class will be conducted in French.

French Language and Culture

Code
FLIB 2250
Description

“French Language and Culture” is a course open to anyone who has some knowledge of French and would like to improve their listening & speaking skills. The course will cover specific themes such as Paris and its architecture, French cinema, French artists and artistic movements, as well as professional life in Paris. Students will develop key vocabulary in order to be able to communicate orally in French in everyday life situations, as well as in professional settings. Using a variety of materials, students will learn how to tell a story, make a description of their work and practice, talk about a personal experience or project, and give their opinion. Several museum guided tours in French will be organized during the semester. Conscientiouscompletion of homework and class participation is emphasized. Class will be conducted in French.

Pre-requisite: French for Paris or Placement

Topics in French Civilization

Code
FLIB 3400
Description

Ce cours a pour objectif de fournir aux étudiants les connaissances nécessaires pour comprendre la culture française mais également d’approfondir leurs connaissances linguistiques. Le cours portera sur différents aspects de la culture française : faits historiques et politiques marquants, courants intellectuels, économie, mouvements artistiques et vie quotidienne. Les étudiants auront l’opportunité grâce à des visites de se familiariser avec l’architecture et les monuments de la ville, mais ils pourront également découvrir les institutions culturelles et artistiques ainsi que la vie professionnelle à Paris. Les discussions seront nourries par la lecture d’articles de journaux, par des analyses littéraires, des documents audio-visuels ainsi que grâce à des rencontres avec des professionnels et historiens de l’art. Une partie du cours sera consacrée à des révisions de grammaire et des exercices de composition. Le cours est dispensé en français.

Pre-requisite: Placement

Paris Inside/Out

Code
FLIB 0010
Description

Paris Inside/Out is a one-credit course consisting of visits to art & design exhibits, as well as meetings with artists, artisans and designers in Paris. The course will use a wide approach by including a variety of artistic fields, thus allowing students to draw inspiration from any discipline. The course will be held every week in a different location in Paris. Students are free to participate in as many visits as they wish, however a minimum of 5 visits are required to pass the course. For each visit, students will create a personal work within a given set of constraints. At the end of the semester, students will be asked to present to the class a personal work inspired by one of the visits during the semester.

Marketing

Code
FLIB 2230
Description

This introductory course focuses on the theories and principles of standard marketing strategies and practices, so that students may begin to develop a framework for understanding marketing tactics and strategies useful for design-driven and other creative businesses. The course’s goals are to introduce students to marketing strategy and to the elements of marketing analysis (customer analysis, competitor analysis, and company analysis), as well as to familiarize them with the elements of the marketing mix (product strategy, pricing, advertising and promotion, and distribution).

Introduction to Human Anatomy

Code
FLIB 2005
Description

This course will provide an introduction to human anatomy and physiology. The systems, structures and functions of the body will be studied through the lens of our ever-evolving understanding of the human organism. Topics will include studies of the gross and microscopic anatomy and embryological development of the human body systems. Learning will be enhanced through visits to sites integral to the understanding of anatomical science.

Le Cinéma Français de 1895 à nos jours

Code
FLIB 4004
Description

A partir d’une sélection de longs métrages, allant du Voyage dans la lune de Méliès, à la fin du 19e siècle, à Ni le ciel, ni la Terre (Clément Cogitore) en 2015, nous  tenterons de découvrir et de définir ce qui constitue le cinéma français. Nous étudierons son histoire, ses différents univers et genres (muet, parlant, Nouvelle Vague, film social, aventure et comédie populaire), son économie et ses « acteurs » (réalisateurs, chefs opérateurs, décorateurs, musiciens, comédiens, critiques, …). Pour une approche plus concrète et créative, nous nous rendrons à la Cinémathèque Française, au cinéma indépendant Le Louxor et nous rencontrerons des professionnels du cinéma français. Chaque semaine les étudiants seront en charge d’une présentation sur un sujet donné.

Langue et Littérature Françaises II

Code
FLIB 4015
Description

Dans la continuité du séminaire d’automne de langue française et littérature 1, ce cours se propose d’initier les étudiants à la lecture d’une grande variété de textes littéraires populaires et à la découverte de la culture du livre à Paris. Chaque semaine sera consacrée à la découverte d’un thème (les contes de fée, la bande-dessinée, les nouvelles fantastiques etc…) et à un texte que les étudiants liront du début à la fin. Le cours de conversation hebdomadaire prendra ainsi la forme d’un club de lecture dans lequel les étudiants pourront échanger librement au sujet de leurs livres et discuter de manière précise de thèmes littéraires. La séance de deux heures nous permettra d’approfondir les connaissances littéraires et livresques, d’améliorer le niveau de lecture et donc d’écriture (révisions de points de grammaire et mise en place d’un lexique). Nous étudierons également le livre en tant qu’objet d’art, son histoire et ses illustrations. Le cours permettra également aux étudiants de découvrir l’actualité littéraire parisienne à travers la visite de bibliothèques, de maisons d’éditions et de librairies spécialisée et des sorties à la Maison de la Poésie et au Salon du Livre de Paris.

Art History

Artists On Art

Code
FHCA 0305
Description

This course will examine how artists from the mid-19th to the early 21st Centuries conceive of and talk about their own artistic practice. While artists’ works are frequently viewed through the lens of art history or criticism, students will consider how artists present, engage with and develop further levels of inquiry into their work. Topics covered will include artists’ published writings, their notebooks, the artist’s statement versus the manifesto, and their teachings. The course will also offer the opportunity to explore the relationships between artistic identity and art work, ranging from analysis of self-portraits to their performance on screen. Students will discover the extent to which artists’ practice depends upon a critical awareness of the cultural, theoretical, and historical matrix in which they operate. Assignments will include research projects on artists and the preparation of a statement that defines the students’ own self-conception of their studio practice or area of study.

Classicism and its Discontents

Code
FHCA 0223
Description

There is little doubt that the “classical” and classicism constitutes the principal matrix through which art history prior to the end of the nineteenth century is viewed. The course will examine the birth, meaning, and significance of the classical in ancient Greek and Roman art; study how the retrieval of its motifs made possible the art of the Renaissance; examine its return as “neo-Classicism” in the 18th century (and what this return means sociopolitically); and how it has been “remarked,” often ironically, in postmodernism. Students will acquire a clear sense of what classicism means and how it has, in its many forms, pervaded the history of visual culture and the traditions of the West.

History of Fashion in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Code
FHCA 0227
Description

This course investigates the visual history of fashion, focusing on France from the Ancien Régime via the Revolution to the present day, and with a particular focus on primary sources available in the museums and archives of Paris. Weekly units explore historical European fashion trends – their details, silhouettes, fabrics and embellishments – in their original social, political, economic, aesthetic and spiritual contexts. Influences and parallel developments in other countries are also covered in this class, as are connections between the fashion industry, theatre, film, and the fine arts. Students are introduced to research practices and encouraged to reflect on design and style choices rooted in fashion history.

Introduction to Art & Design

Code
FHCA 0103
Description

This course introduces students to themes and topics relevant to the production and reception of the art and design disciplines taught at PCA. Using art and design objects located in Parisian collections as the basis for visual, contextual and cultural analysis, students will develop ways of seeing, contextualizing and describing art and design, while tackling a common set of issues, including but not limited to: chronology, style, authorship, form, function, composition, originality, narrative, and the decorative. Students will be guided as to how to conduct research in local collections and libraries and will produce a short contextually-oriented research paper on an art or design object or an artist or designer based on first-hand access to the object, artist, designer and archives.

Introduction To Visual Culture

Code
FHCA 0340
Description

This interdisciplinary course explores the rise of visual media, communication and information, within the context of a broad cultural shift away from the verbal and textual toward the visual, which has taken place since the advent of photography and cinema in the late 19th century, through the birth of television, to the present proliferation of digital media worldwide. We will consider the critical practices of looking, historicizing and interpreting that have accompanied this ‘visual turn’. Our readings will primarily address the theoretical foundations of the study of visual culture, which is understood to incorporate a variety of visual media and visual technologies: painting and sculpture, scientific imagery, material culture, the internet. If everything can be visual culture, what remains of traditional notions of medium specificity? What critical tools must be invented to analyze visual events from a visual cultural perspective? The relationship between the visual arts and visual media, especially with respect to the ‘global’ contemporary visual landscape, will be a focus of this course.

Modernity & Modernisms

Code
FHCA 0221
Description

If modernity can be understood as the distinctive set social, political, economic, and technological conditions that both shape and respond to the needs of a new form of human existence and that begin to emerge in the late 18th century, then modernism can be taken as critical literary, artistic, and architectural responses to those conditions and their consequences. The responses are therefore plural, and as such, we must speak of modernisms, some of which celebrate and make use of the advances offered by modernity, while others call them into question. This course will inquire into the distinctive features that characterize modernity and explore the various aesthetic responses to them in tune with technological advances such as photography and film.

Photography Since 1960

Code
FHCA 0303
Description

This course will focus on the second half of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st. The work of various international authors representative of that time period will be examined. Arranged thematically, the course will approach each subject through a selection of photographs. The study of their meaning and singularity will help understand the particularities and issues of each theme and put them into perspective.

The notion of “creation” will constitute the common thread of this course. Each theme will interrogate the use of photography as a means of expression whether it be with a personal, political, artistic, commercial or social goal. Examining body of works developed from 1960 to today, we will see how photography has fostered tradition (commitment to a certain vision of the medium and to its history) as well as a stimulated novelty (invention of new ways of using the camera).

Based on the observation and comment of photographic images, this course aims to start a discussion and foster debate on the medium, its specificities and the way they have developed since 1960.

Photography Before 1960

Code
FHCA 0302
Description

Conceived as an introduction to the history of photography, this course will focus on the first half of the 20th century. The main movements and aesthetics characterizing that period will be examined through the work of various international photographers. Arranged thematically while following a chronological progression, it will approach each theme in connection with a major photographer whose singularity will help understand the particularities and issues of the subject and put them into perspective. As a product of light and chemistry, photography has always been determined by technical parameters. We will address these parameters and see how they shaped the history of the medium and what we can learn from them today.

Since its invention, photography has had an ambivalent status, regarded by some only as a way of recording or copying things, while others considered it as an actual means of artistic creation. This constant dichotomy between document and art will constitute the common thread of this course. We will look at it with a critical eye, examining photographs through all the stages of their life, from the moment they were taken to the moment they were printed, published, exhibited or discovered by others. In doing so, we will be able to examine how the status of these photographs often changed during the various stages of their history, going from mere document to renowned work of art.

Based mostly on the observation and comment of photographic images, this course aims to start a discussion and foster debate on photography, its specificities and the way they were developed and used in the first half of the 20th century.

Pop & Around

Code
FHCA 0222
Description

The industrial revolution made new forms of technology and mass communication possible, allowing not only for the mechanical reproduction of the image and its circulation on a large scale, but also new materials, new processes, and new media. These developments have had a decisive impact on visual culture, on aesthetic categories, and on the status of the image. The aesthetic revolution began in Montmartre in the 1880s, reached a climax in SoHo in the 1960s, and continues to shape visual culture and aesthetic debates today. What status does the image have? What is the difference between a Brillo box produced by industrial means and one produced by Andy Warhol? Does a distinction between high art and kitsch still matter in the age of Pop? How have the transformations in visual and material culture affected the productive activity of artists, or conversely, how does artists’ activity take up and critically remark upon these transformations? How has the Pop aesthetic translated and transmuted in contemporary global culture? These are the kinds of questions that this course will explore.

Primitivism Revisted

Code
FHCA 0224
Description

While searching for alternative styles and means of expression, modern artists were attracted to the unusual and exotic. Both pre-historic art, early ancient, and “primitive” art (the traditional indigenous products of Africa, Oceania and North America) penetrated the western artistic world and had a determining impact on the aesthetic of the 20th century. The purpose of the course is to contextualize and analyze art and architecture from these cultures, and to describe their afterlife in modernist production. It will also describe the social changes associated with this attraction to “primitive” art forms. Key aesthetic discourses of the period will be articulated, offering crucial insight into the complex and always changing nexus between culture, politics and representation. The course will include field trips to the antiquities collections at the Louvre, to Musée du Quai Branly, and the Centre Pompidou to examine both primitive and ancient objects and images together. Students will be exposed to art historical and post-colonial critiques of the appropriation of past forms and the complex visual and ideological implications of the wholesale designation of cultures as “other”.

Senior Seminar

Code
FHCA 0402
Description

The Senior Seminar alternates between combined collective seminar and individual tutroials with senior theis advisors. Students develop and produce research for the written student thesis on a topic relevant to art history, theory and critisism, which may include a practice component if relevant to their art historical thesis topic and a public presentation of their thesis topic during the end of year show.