Faculty News - Dr. Alexis Clark
In October of 2016, the SECAC panel explored the introduction of art history into primary school and public education programs.
Primary school attendance became compulsory throughout much of Western Europe and the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, leading to a rise in literacy and so visual literacy. These educational reforms were motivated by several purposes: such reforms could mold those who attended school into an internationally and economically competitive workforce, make them into a learned electorate, instill in them state-sanctioned ethical codes, and inculcate them into shared national and cultural identities. Courses understood to be connected to the arts, such as geometry and draftsmanship, prepared future laborers for work in the applied and industrial arts that, in turn, bolstered national economies.
Rather than examine the ideological or economic intentions behind arts education, however, this panel explored how visual literacy came to be taught and learned in various pedagogical sites and institutions, including school classrooms, public lectures, nighttime museums, distance education courses, and programs that trained museum curators and conservators.
Papers by panel participants from the University of Southern California, Virginia Tech University, Duquesne University and Texas A&M University studied materials used to support the teaching of art and art history, including as illustrated books and children's journals, prints, and photographs. As participants demonstrated, these materials had a lasting outcomes on public appreciation and public consumption of the arts.