Art History trains students to develop a critical awareness of the role cultural production plays in the creation and contestation of structures of power as well as identity. Understanding a variety of visual languages - ancient to modern, east to west - and the ideologies hidden therein could not be more relevant in a world today awash in overt and covert visual messages. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of the Art History program teaches students to approach artworks from a multiplicity of theoretical angles: social history, symbolism, literary interpretation, feminism, marxism, biography, anthropology, sociology, etc., thus preparing them to understand how knowledge may be constructed and deconstructed. Since HWS is fortunate to have a significant collection of works of art, all theoretical approaches are grounded on object based analysis, making it possible for many classes to offer the unique opportunity to study prints, drawings, paintings, and sculpture, among other mediums.
Program Learning Outcomes
- Students will gain extensive knowledge of the history of art from various geographic and cultural contexts and perspectives.
- Students will develop the skills necessary to be able to write both descriptively and analytically about works of art in a variety of media.
- Students will advance their skills in research and writing so that they are able to complete an independent research paper on a topic of their choosing under the close mentorship of an Art History faculty member.
- Students will learn to read critically and carefully. They will read texts from various disciplines and learn to synthesize numerous theoretical and methodological approaches to thinking about and understanding the production, dissemination, and historicizing of human cultural production.
- Students will learn to identify the social, political, and cultural factors that shaped the production of art within a specific geographic and historical context. This includes an understanding of the ways race, gender, and class, among other differences, shape the making, viewing, and meaning of art.