The Art History Program at Denison offers courses for a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A). The program is designed to identify and develop critical awareness, in accordance with the general aim of a liberal education. This program provides students with the opportunity for instruction and practice in the visual arts as preparation for graduate studies and professional pursuits in this field.
Art History majors will build a multi-dimensional body of knowledge about the discipline. This includes developing expertise in the analysis of visual expression and processes, artistic producers, and art-related institutions of a wide range of global (western and non-western) societies and cultures. In keeping with the goals of a liberal arts education, our pedagogy and curriculum encourage students to move beyond a narration of what they read, and instead engage in inquiry, critical evaluation, and autonomous thinking.
In addition to learning about the operations of artistic expression, material/visual culture, and the built environment from historical, socio-cultural, discursive, and aesthetic platforms, our majors will develop a well-stocked “tool kit” of significant issues and debates, theoretical frameworks, discursive traditions/historiography, and various methodologies central to conducting art historical research.
Students shall be actively conversant with the critical terms of art history. The emphasis placed on active scholarly production by faculty is carried through in our curricular goals, including research papers and especially the senior thesis, which represents the capstone experience for all senior majors. Our program also encourages an integrative approach to learning by emphasizing connections across areas of study in art history and complementary disciplines, as well as other sites for learning such as internships and study abroad programs.
The Art History and Visual Culture program engages art and visual culture from global perspectives. We interrogate ways in which visual images and objects are powerful agents in society and can be used either to support or undermine the status quo, to frame our understanding of class, culture, politics, and society, and to create, conceal, or contest perceptions of reality, time, and space. We offer different perspectives on the study of visual culture around the globe, engage different fields of research and combine diverse teaching practices and experiences. Our classes look at artists, visual and material objects and environments from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, and from ancient to contemporary times. We value listening to a multiplicity of voices and encourage students to make connections between different art practices and critical approaches, but also learn that these connections may not always be simple or direct. As a program, we pursue a richer, more critical, and global visual outlook on the discipline of art history and visual culture.
Students of art history and visual culture explore the agency of images and objects by thinking independently, critically, and creatively. They learn to analyze visual images, objects, and environments and their relations to specific historical and cultural contexts. Students learn to build compelling interpretative arguments about art and visual culture and present their ideas in effective ways and in a variety of settings. At the end four years, Art History and Visual Culture majors choose a unique research project, conduct serious research in primary and secondary materials, and apply relevant analytical methods and critical approaches to their study.