Methods and Theories of Art History
This course introduces theories and methods of art history that have played a major role in the formation of the discipline from the later eighteenth century to the present day. Readings include key texts by major art-writers, art theorists, and art historians, ranging widely and in roughly chronological order from early connoisseurs and iconologists to recent proponents of eco-aesthetics and affect theory. This course emphasizes the methods and theories developed in the Euro-American tradition of art history, while remaining attentive to critiques and shortcomings of that tradition. To explore this set of methods as it operates broadly and perhaps globally, we touch on art-historical practice in ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary studies, as well as from Western and non-Western contexts. In this class special attention focuses on the institutional and professional formation of art history, which includes consideration of careers art historians might have today.
Previous coursework in art history is not required and non-majors are encouraged to take the course, but students may find it helpful to have completed a course in art history and/or related fields (e.g., film studies or art practice).