Art History

Art History

Images courtesy of World Images Kiosk

The primary goals of the Art History Major are:

I. To familiarize students with the visual culture and theory of societies from prehistory to the present day. This includes architecture, sculpture, painting, prints, and photography, as well as utilitarian objects such as pottery and textiles, and newer art forms such as film and video. 

II. To strengthen students' understanding of art and culture by examining, analyzing and interpreting works of art as primary evidence in relation to historical events, politics, religion, social life, and other art forms. Students gain familiarity with major monuments of art history and learn to understand how artistic style, technique, material, and purpose are bound to historical and cultural conditions.

III. To teach students a variety of scholarly art historical and archaeological methodologies, including traditional aesthetic emphases, as well as more recent theoretical approaches. These methods all require rigorous critical thinking, visual literacy, clear and logical writing, and expertise in a variety of research skills.

IV. To prepare art history majors for careers in the arts and archaeology by providing opportunities for internships and study abroad, in addition to the academic requirements for the major.  Majoring in Art History can also prepare students for other occupations requiring strong writing and research skills, critical thinking, and the ability to articulate and sustain arguments based on relevant evidence.  Click on this link to see how Art History majors do in law school acceptances

V. To support the arts and archaeology on campus and in the community.

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I. Coursework. All students: 

a. Exams: identification of works of art.  This measures the students' ability to identify characteristics of art objects specific to their period in time and culture of origin, such as style, content, materials and techniques.  Assessed according to accuracy.

b. Exams: timed essays.  These measure the students' ability to articulate connections between art objects and their historical and social context.  Assessed according to accuracy.

c. Research papers. These measure the students' ability to master basic art historical methods of scholarship: identifying appropriate topics; locating appropriate bibliographic sources; locating the necessary and appropriate images for their topic, selecting from these sources those which are the most pertinent to the topic and useful in writing the paper; using and interrelating visual and textual information to provide information and/or interpret the topic; compose a clearly written, grammatically correct and accurate report. Assessed according to following directions and guidelines established by faculty.

d. Response/critical analysis papers.  These short papers measure the students' ability to think and write critically about primary and secondary textual material. Students are required to analyze argumentation, understand the authors' rhetorical strategies, and apply their analysis and comprehension of textual material to works of art in their historical context.

II. Senior capstone seminar.

Beginning in Spring 2008 and required for all majors beginning in Spring 2009, this course will provide the students with a culminating experience in which they will apply art historical, theoretical and archaeological methodologies they have learned in their previous courses.

III. Senior thesis.

Optional; strongly encouraged for students planning to attend graduate school. This is a longer and more in-depth research project than that required in coursework. The senior thesis should construct and defend an argument (rather than simply be an informational compilation of research) and should demonstrate a deeper awareness of art historical and/or archaeological theories and methods than the term paper.