The undergraduate program is designed to help students think critically about the visual arts and visual culture. Courses focus on the meaning of images and media, and their historical development, roles in society, and relationships to disciplines such as literature, music, and philosophy.
The discipline of Art History teaches students how to analyze and interpret works of fine art (paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture), photography and moving image media (film, video, television, and digital art), material culture (ritual objects, fashion, advertisements, and the decorative, applied, and industrial arts), and the built environment (architecture, urbanism, and design). We take it as axiomatic that the skills of visual literacy and analysis are not innate but may be acquired through training and practice. Ranging from antiquity to the present, our objects of study are drawn from the rich and complex cultures of Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East, and Western, Central, and Eastern Europe.
Art History is a historical discipline that seeks to reintegrate the work of art into the original context of its making and reception, foregrounding its significant status as both historical document and act of social communication. At the same time, Art History seeks to understand the ways in which the work of art transcends the historical moment of its production, taking on a range of different meanings in later historical periods, including our own. As part of their visual training, students of Art History become proficient in cultural analysis and historical interpretation. Art History thus envisions itself as uniquely well positioned to train students from a variety of disciplines in the light of the dramatic visual turn that has gripped the humanities and the sciences over the course of the last decade, with more and more disciplines becoming vitally interested in visual forms and modes of communication.
African and African American Studies
An interdisciplinary undergraduate major that seeks to convey a broad understanding of American culture and society in all their complexity.
While Comparative Literature seeks to prepare its students for reading and research in the languages and histories of different societies and periods, it is also dedicated to their critical and cultural analysis.