Art history studies the arts and architecture of the world from antiquity to the present. As art historians, we consider objects and buildings from multiple perspectives including but not limited to their visual and physical characteristics, their aesthetic and historical contexts, their use of technology and their relationship to science, and their ideological or social function. We also study individual artists or makers, cultural institutions, audiences, and intercultural exchanges. Because the field is inherently interdisciplinary, it is often in dialogue with work done in other departments such as anthropology, philosophy, political science, history, literature, film, performance, theater, and theories of race, gender, class, and sexuality.
A major in art history is designed to provide knowledge of a geographically and historically diverse corpus of art and architecture, as well as the related cultural practices of the societies that produced and encountered them. As a key component of a liberal arts education, the study of art history emphasizes informed and critical looking, reading, writing and speaking. With its broad historical, cultural, geographic, and methodological range, it meets the needs of burgeoning specialists while it also offers an excellent formation for those who intend to specialize in other areas including business, education, international relations, law, medicine or politics. Those interested in the "classic" art history careers will generally find that museum (curatorial) work often requires at least a master's degree, while college and university teaching and research require a Ph.D. The major is an essential platform to those degrees.
Image: Undergraduate students at the Warnock Lecture at the Block Museum, November 6, 2019.