The Art History major offers undergraduate students an opportunity to acquire specialized knowledge and understanding of visual artifacts from prehistory to the present day, from Western and non-Western cultures. As a humanistic discipline, the history of art closely relates the analysis of visual culture to other modes of intellectual inquiry; accordingly, art history students and faculty frequently participate in interdisciplinary programs across the University.
Contributing to the broad foundation that constitutes a liberal arts education, departmental courses prepare students for graduate work leading to professional careers in the arts, including teaching and research, art criticism, museum curatorship, art conservation, museum directorship, and art appraising. They also prepare the student to hold positions in commercial galleries and auction houses.
The skill sets developed in art historical studies, however, do not apply exclusively to the analysis of works of art. The ability to evaluate material evidence, to study the cultural contexts in which it was discovered, to assess critically the various interpretations works of art have elicited, and to fashion clear and persuasive arguments in kind are valuable in any program of study or professional situation. In a world increasingly dominated by images, visual literacy is as indispensable to navigating one’s everyday environment as it is to analyzing products of high culture.
To tailor departmental offerings to suit their specific needs, students majoring in art history plan integrated programs in consultation with their faculty advisors and are encouraged to take courses in history, philosophy, theology, and other fields related to their specialization. For those contemplating graduate study in art history, it is highly recommended that language courses in French and German be taken as early as possible.
The minor in art history will provide the student with an introduction to the art of Western and non-Western world. In addition to the two introductory courses, the student will have a choice of four upper-level courses covering specific art-historical periods. In these courses, students are exposed to the methods of the discipline and complete a research paper.
Students interested in the Art History Program can contact: