The discipline of Art History encompasses the study of artistic endeavors of peoples around the globe. Individuals often choose to study art history to satisfy a deep curiosity about how art communicates the ideas of a culture. In many ways, works of art and architecture are visual documents with which we can recapture other peoples' experience of the world. That makes the field of art history interdisciplinary since art historians recognize how politics, literature, economics, religion, science, and other cultural factors affect the making of art. As professional art historians, we seek to understand the context of art – how art fits into larger cultural histories. We employ a broad spectrum of critical strategies to explore the diverse roles played by these artifacts. In our publishing, in our presentations in public venues, and in our teaching, we formulate reasoned analyses and interpretations of works of art and architecture as they relate to their historical and cultural circumstances.


In recent decades, the discipline of art history has expanded from a narrow study of the fine arts to the wider and more inclusive fields of visual and material culture. Different perspectives, including feminist, postmodern, postcolonial and contemporary theories, have also reinvigorated art historical writing. In effect, art history stands at the center of wide-ranging discourses on past and present visual cultures.



In 2006 the Art History Program received a Dee Grant for seed funding of the Visual Intersections Initiative, an interdisciplinary visual studies project that explores rigorous scholarly approaches to the production, use, and interpretation of images and visual representations of all kinds.


Through the Visual Intersections Initiative, the Art History Program has been able to develop innovative courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Our undergraduate seminar for Art History majors, Good Looking: Writing About Art & Visual Culture, introduces students to reading, looking, and writing about art and visual culture. Students examine seminal theoretical texts that address the issues of visual perspectives on race, class, gender, the body, art and culture.


For graduate students, we have designed Visual Intersections: Critical Approaches to Art and Visual Culture. This interdisciplinary seminar in visual culture is open to graduate students across the university. Through key theoretical texts and a series of historical and contemporary case studies, Visual Intersections addresses a broad range of visual representations including different media and genre of the fine arts, performance, advertising and design, film, television, video and digital media. Recent Visual Intersections seminars have focused on such topics as:


Art, Visual Studies, and Globalization

Gender and Sexual Politics in Modern and Contemporary Art

Art and the Sublime

Land Art, Earthworks, and Experimental Geographies

Art and Media

The Uncanny

The Body as Image, Text, and Process