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the work of art into the original context of its making and reception, foregrounding its significant status as both historical document and act of social communication.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


    The Department offers a major and minor in Art History.  For more information about the undergraduate art history program, contact Linda Esquivel Undergraduate Coordinator.

The French Ambassadors of King Henry II at the court of the English King Henry VIII

Oil on canvas

Holbein, Hans the Younger (1497-1543)

Photo credit: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

J'al des papillons noir tous les jours

Silk, paper, plexiglass, lights, electronics, 2800 bug pins

Gail Wight

Students shooting a project



Acrylic on Shaped Canvas

Matt Kahn