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Emphasis in art history courses is on developing the following skills: visual and aesthetic understanding of a work of art or a building and an ability to explain this to others in both written and oral form; an ability to critically assess information and its source, distinguishing between the meaning and value of primary and secondary sources; and the knowledge of historical context and its constructedness.

This curriculum is designed to work within the curricula of the related disciplines of History, Asian Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Politics, Religious Studies and Sociology.

The curriculum is divided into three interrelated sections, each intended to present a series of methods that can be used to study works of art and architecture within their social, historical and cultural contexts and across those contexts.

Introductory Level

The study of Art and Architectural History, visual studies and urban design is introduced by a year-long course, Introduction to the History of Art (Parts 1 and 2). In this course the methods of art and architectural historians are discussed and key skills developed. These key skills include critical visual analysis, critical reading and critical, analytical writing. In addition to this introductory set of courses, two multi-level courses, Visual Literacy and The City, offered in alternating years give students an alternative way of entering into the study of the history of art and architecture as well as the related fields of Visual Culture, Urban Design and Planning and Communication.

Intermediate and Advanced

A variety of courses are offered in rotation at the intermediate and advanced levels. These courses are organized into three categories:

Architecture and Equity focuses on the history of architectural and urban design across time and space. Within this set of courses are also nested opportunities for community engagement and studying the practical applications of historical analysis through the examination of planning and community-engaged decision-making vis-à-vis spatial design.

Institutions (of Art) focuses on the human institutions that participate in the production, dissemination and preservation of works of art. These institutions include the broad categories of the state and religious hierarchies (church, mosque, temple) as well as the more specific entities such as the museum, the academy and the salon.

Public and Private includes courses which address the individual identity of the artist and the role that the artist has played in society across time. Within this framework students will also have the opportunity to study public art and the role that it plays in communities.


Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:

  • Urban design and architectural practice (Global and transhistorical)
  • Public art (Europe, the United States, Egypt and India - medieval to modern)
  • Religious art and ritual practice (Islamic, Christian and Hindu - medieval to modern)

Sample Tutorial Topics

  • Urban design practice in Nasser’s Cairo
  • Feminist Art Practice and the Canon
  • Harmony in Architecture: Mantua and Edirne in the 15th century
  • Romanticism and the New Romantic Artists of the 21st Century
  • Theater, Spectacle and the Italian Baroque
  • Women in the History of Art
  • Representations of Food in the History of Art


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)