Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them


To illustrate, let’s look at memes. Internet memes are an example of how ordinary people are visually com- municating through social media. They are how we share information and create social cohesion or divi- sion. They’re forms of entertainment amongst small groups of friends, and instruments of propaganda amongst political groups. Art Historians of the future will undoubtedly have to study them just to be able to make sense of our time. The same skills one would need to fully appreciate the contextual meaning of a Picasso or Cezanne painting can be applied to the study of memes. Whether you are making the memes or sharing them with followers on social media, these skills can help. They can help you spot usage trends, gauge social re- sponse, learn more about the kinds of people that use different memes, and much more. With so much of our mass communication taking place in visual media, the skills of the art historian are becoming more relevant than ever.

Think for a moment, about the ways your parents ex- perience modern technology. For some, the latest gadgets and platforms that their kids navigate easily are totally alien to them. For some parents the experi- ence of going on these sites or using these new tools is comparable to visiting a foreign country. Getting a good working understanding of how Snapchat works, or how to use TikTok takes a really good understand- ing of that media environment, and its many different social contexts. This is a lot to take in, and it’s only get- ting more complex. Many jobs today exist for the sole purpose of mak- ing these digital worlds navigable. They need workers with the skills that art historians use to navigate differ - ent spaces and times. For example, today there are positions for what are called User Experience or User Interface designers. These people study human experience using different tech - nologies and from their observations, design the many aspects of the product that go into producing the desired effect. Anyone with a deep understanding of perception, con- text, communication and effective argumentation has many of the basic skills and talents needed to be ef- fective in this field.

Introductory Courses (Art History 101)

The same could be said for designers of virtual real- ity environments. The designs of these spaces and the events that take place within them will vary sig- nificantly depending on context and combination. Un - derstanding the patterns and used by artists across dif- ferent regions, time periods and social contexts can be very useful when designing, navigating, or otherwise working with such worlds. Typically, art history students go on to work in academ- ia, museums, art galleries, and auction houses. Others make careers in architecture, preservation, finance, consulting, advertising, law, and medicine. They also bring their art history skills to the worlds of business, law, medicine and international relations.

These courses are designed to give you a general over- view of the topics you will encounter and the skills you will use as an Art Historian. You’ll explore many differ - ent kinds of art: monuments, sites, images, mediums, and objects and museums. As you sample works of art from across historical cultures, genres, and periods, you’ll learn about perception and the many tools art historians use to evaluate works of art or buildings. You can expect class trips to local museums, historical sites or even the school's own art collection. Your tests and assignments will typically ask you to express (oral and written) how you use the tools of the art historian to gain insights into different works of art.

Art History Surveys

Typical Class Descriptions

These classes will focus on a well-defined period, place, or tradition. For instance, you could take a sur- vey of Classical Roman Architecture, Ancient Chinese Calligraphy, or of 20th Century American furniture. In these courses, you will hone in on the unifying con- texts and characteristics of that period.

There are typically three basic kinds of classes you will find in an Art History department: Introductory cours - es, Survey Courses, and Arts in Context courses. An art history class also requires you analyze, think critically, and write well. Expect to write lots of essays that demand strong grammar and spelling and cita- tions.


Arts & Humanities

Don’t Leave College Without Them


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