ARTH 301
Methodologies of Art History Spring 2024
Division I Writing Skills

Class Details

The purpose of this course is to trace the origin and development of key ideas that define the discipline of art history. They include the idea that art has a history, that style is unique to individuals but also definitive of entire periods or cultures, that interpretation should be contextual, that representation is fundamentally subjective, that art can be an instrument of power, that reception is as much a part of the history of art as production, among many others. This course begins with a series of texts from around 1900, which drew upon nineteenth-century fields such as cultural history, psychology of perception, and psychology of empathy, to articulate the first methodologies of art history. The course then considers the critiques of those methods that emerged in the middle twentieth century from the fields of iconology, marxism, feminism, structuralism, and ethnic studies, among others. The course concludes with a consideration of the current revival of interest in the writings of the first art historians coming from perspectives such as phenomenology, aesthetics, anthropology, new materialism, “Bildwissenschaft,” and neo-formalism. In this way, it becomes possible to see that the history of art is not merely the sum total of information available throughout the world about art objects, but also a coherent tradition of methodological debate about what are the most effective and responsible ways of writing the history of art.
The Class: Format: tutorial; One one-hour recorded lecture per week will be upload to Glow.
Limit: 10
Expected: 5-10
Class#: 3453
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Six 1,000-word analytical essays. Six short responses to the papers of tutorial partners. Participation in class discussion. Attendance.
Prerequisites: Two prior ARTH courses (100-level ARTH courses are ideal). In the absence of prior coursework in art history, permission of instructor is necessary for admission.
Enrollment Preferences: This course is designed for art-history majors, and they receive first priority (seniors, then juniors). The course is also open to history and studio majors who need to complete the methods requirement. The course is not open to other students.
Unit Notes: Satisfies the ARTH 301 requirement for the art-history major. It will also satisfy the methods requirement for the history and studio major.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students submit one 1,000-word essay every other week, for a total of six short essays. The purpose of the essays is to analyze the arguments and rhetoric of influential art-historical scholarship and criticism. The subject of the course, then, is how to write as an art historian. We discuss not only the content of the essays we read and write but also the form, both in class and in office hours.

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