Theories and Methods
Tuesday, Thursday: 12:30-2:00pm
This course introduces the principal methods and theories of the professional discipline of art history from the later eighteenth century to the present. Although it emphasizes conceptual and practical tools that arguably are unique to art history (such as stylistic attribution and visual iconography) it also looks at background theories of aesthetics, art, and history that have shaped the work of art historians. Readings are drawn from primary sources–that is, the writings of art historians that exemplify their particular methodological and theoretical orientations–and selected critical commentaries. The first half of the course traces the development of art history up to the middle of the twentieth century. The second half considers important recent developments and focuses especially on the emergence of new frameworks of art historical thinking, including “world art studies” and “eco art history.” No prerequisites are required but students who have already taken one or more courses in art history or closely related fields (e.g., classical archaeology, film studies) will find the course to be accessible and helpful.