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Lascaux Cave painting, Wikimedia Commons

Art History

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School of Humanities and Sciences

Think critically about the visual arts and visual culture and 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.

What You'll Study

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the work of art into the original context of its making and reception, foregrounding its significant status as both historical document and act of social communication.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.

Degrees Offered 

  • BA
  • Minor
  • Honors
  • Coterm

More Information

Exploratory Courses

The Artist in Ancient Greek Society (CLASSICS 18N)

ARTHIST 101

Introduction to Greek Art I: The Archaic Period (CLASSICS 161)

ARTHIST 102

Introduction to Greek Art II: The Classical Period (CLASSICS 162)

ARTHIST 152

The American West (AMSTUD 124A, ENGLISH 124, HISTORY 151, POLISCI 124A)

ARTHIST 160

Censorship in American Art (AMSTUD 167, CSRE 160, FEMGEN 167)

ARTHIST 1A

Decolonizing the Western Canon: Introduction to Art and Architecture from Prehistory to Medieval (CLASSICS 56)

ARTHIST 2

Asian Arts and Cultures (JAPAN 60)

ARTHIST 5

Art and Power