Art History Major

Department of Art and Art History

Department Faculty

The Art History Program

The Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History provides the background for a life-long appreciation of art and the intellectual framework for conducting research in art history. Our discipline explores the cultural, philosophical, historical and global contexts of visual human expressions. Classes focus on styles, issues, media, and individuals and give a broad overview of the complexity of art. Course offerings include both historical periods and thematic approaches that demonstrate the interconnectedness as well as diversity of artistic expression and the rich history of our discipline. Art History faculty connections to UMW current and developing programs in American Studies, Asian Studies, Contemplative Studies, Disability Studies, Museum Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies emphasize our commitment to working across disciplines and seeing Art History as central to the Liberal Arts here at UMW.

The Art History major provides a foundation for any type of career that requires a strong and developed ability to read and write, identify and solve problems, and think critically. Faculty are teacher-scholars engaged in research and professional activities. We work closely with students on student-initiated research topics and invite students to join us on our research. University resources in Simpson Library include strong holdings in Art History and related disciplines as well as subscriptions to Jstor, Artstor, and other databases to support opportunities for expansive and exciting learning. Department and University resources also include scholarships and grants that allow students to conduct on-site research to look at and study art; grants have allowed our students to travel throughout the US as well as Mexico, African nations, and European countries on research.

Proximity to Washington, D.C., Richmond, Baltimore, and New York City, give students first-hand experiences of art works.  Visiting scholars and artists offer students important networking opportunities, as well as lectures on recent developments in the field. In addition, UMW Galleries bring exciting exhibitions and events to campus while advancing the educational goals of the University through the collection, exhibition, and interpretation of works of art. Students may intern with UMW Galleries as well as the University’s Belmont, Gari Melchers Home and Studio, and the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library to gain experience as catalogers, researchers, administrative assistants, and exhibition installers.  Internships allow our students to gain valuable experience and career contacts by working in museums and art institutions not only in Fredericksburg, but in Washington, D.C., Richmond, and beyond. Many of our students have gone on for graduate study in Art History at major institutions and are now employed by museums, galleries, cultural centers, and universities. Others have gone into library science, law, art therapy, publishing, retail design, and business. Our alumnae/i are generous supporters to our program and mentors to current majors.

Requirements for the Art History Major

Thirty-nine (39) credits to include ARTH 114, 115, and 303; and thirty (30) additional credits in Art History, including at least one 400-level seminar course (ARTH 460 or 470) and one course from each of the following chronological periods: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern.

Art History Course Offerings

Art History course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of ARTH in the course listings.

114 – History of Western Art I (3)

A survey of Western architecture, painting, and sculpture from the Prehistoric period to the late Gothic.

115 – History of Western Art II (3)

A survey of Western architecture, painting, and sculpture from proto-Renaissance to the present.

118 – History of Asian Art (3)

A survey of architecture, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and gardens produced by societies in Asia from Prehistoric period to the present.

224 – Arts of Japan and Korea (3)

Explores the history of Japanese and Korean art from the Prehistoric period to the present day.  The works of architecture, gardens, ceramics, sculpture, painting, and other visual forms from the major periods of Japanese and Korean history are examined within social, cultural, political, and religious contexts.

260 – Topics in Art History (3)

Explores significant figures, styles, movements, and topics in Western art. Does not fulfill an area requirement but can count as elective credit in the major.

270 – Topics in Non-Western and Non-Eurocentric Art (3)

Major monuments of architecture, sculpture, and painting of non-Western and/or non-Eurocentric cultural contexts are explored, as specified by the topic title. Previous topics have included: Asian art, African art, Islamic art, and Pre-Columbian and Latin American art.

303 – Methods of Art History (3)

Prerequisite: Art History major. Permission of instructor required. Introduces philosophies of art historical methodologies and principles and examines the historic development of the discipline.

305 – Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology (3)

Using the methodologies developed by archaeologists and art historians, this course examines the artistic and architectural traditions of Egypt and the Near East from the prehistoric through the Greco-Roman periods. Cross-listed as CLAS 305.

310 – Greek Art (3)

Focuses on the development of Greek art from the early Aegean Age through the Geometric, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods.

311 – Roman Art (3)

A review of the major developments in Roman art and architecture from the Italo-Etruscan period to the end of the Roman Empire. Special attention is devoted to the topography and major monuments of the ancient city of Rome.

315 – Art Museum Studies (3)

Examines the art museum and its role, including: developing and managing collections and exhibits; interpretation and museum education for diverse audiences; funding; governance; and ethics and values. Case studies, field trips, practice, and readings included. Does not satisfy the Art History requirement for the Studio Art major. Does not count as an elective for the Art History Major.

317 – Laboratory in Museum Studies (3)

Prerequisite: ARTH 315 or HISP 200. Through the creation of an exhibition or hypothetical museum, students gain experience working in a team environment as they apply their knowledge about museum audience, collections, education, curation, organization and administration, physical plant, and public relations.  Does not satisfy the Art History requirement for the Studio Art major. Does not count as an elective for the Art History Major.

325 – Early Christian, Byzantine, and Early Medieval Art (3)

This course traces the development of art and architecture from the beginnings of the Christian tradition through the Byzantine, Hiberno-Saxon, Carolingian, and Ottonian periods. Focus is placed on the major monuments from these periods and the related issues of patronage, culture, and liturgy that influenced their creation.

326 – Romanesque and Gothic Art (3)

A survey of the visual arts of western Europe from the 11th through the 15th centuries. The works of architecture, sculpture, and painting are studied with attention to the social, religious, and intellectual frameworks of the societies that produced them. Special emphasis is given to the monastic tradition, pilgrimage and relic cults, and the urban cathedral.

330 – Northern European Art, 1400 to 1600 (3)

An introduction to the artistic traditions of northern Europe through a focus on such artists as Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden, Bosch, Dürer, and Bruegel. The relations between patron and image are of particular interest, as are the connections between northern and southern European art during this period.

331 – Early Italian Renaissance (3)

A survey of the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Italy from about 1300 to 1475. All major figures, including Giotto, Ghiberti, Donatello, and Botticelli are considered. Works are examined in terms of setting, patronage, and cultural context in addition to questions of style and meaning. Of particular interest is the relationship between artistic expression and the personalities and institutions of the city of Florence.

332 – High Renaissance and Mannerism (3)

A survey of the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Italy from about 1475 to 1600. Among the High Renaissance artists considered are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. Of special consideration is the nature of the Papacy as a patron of the arts and the city of Rome as a context for artistic activity. The course also considers the reasons for the dissolution of the classical tradition during this time by artists such as Pontormo, Parmigianino, and Giulio Romano.

340 – Northern Baroque Art (3)

Examines the major works of northern European art from the late sixteenth century until around 1700. Issues covered include the influence of antiquity, contacts with Italy, patronage of royal courts as well as the new “middle class,” and the role of religion. Selected works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Poussin, and others are studied from a variety of interpretative points of view including iconography, style, technique, social and economic circumstances, and the relationship of the visual arts to other cultural productions such as literature and music.

341 – Italian and Spanish Baroque Art (3)

Examines the major works of Italian and Spanish art from the late sixteenth century until around 1700, with some attention paid to Islamic influences in Spain as well as influences from the arts of the “New World”. Selected works by Caravaggio, Bernini, Borromini, Velazquez, Zurbaran, and others are studied from a variety of interpretative points of view including iconography, style, technique, social and economic circumstances, and the relationship of the visual arts to other cultural productions such as literature and music.

350 – Neoclassicism to Impressionism (3)

Focuses on the periods of Neoclassicism, Realism, and Impressionism in painting and sculpture in Europe, with emphasis on French art.

351 – Post-Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism (3)

Focuses on the periods of Post-Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism in painting and sculpture.

352 – American Art (3)

A survey of American painting and sculpture with emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries.

354 – Pop Art to the Present (3)

Explores the history of art since 1945 and its critical response.

355 – Modern Architecture (3)

A chronological survey of 20th-century architecture that focuses on the most noted architects and their work, as well as the revolutionary building technologies and aesthetic theories that made such architecture possible.

356 – Global Modernisms in East Asian Art (3)

A global approach to the transformative art scenes outside of Europe and America with a focus on the distinctive, yet intimately related, modern and postmodern art movements of China, Japan, and Korea in the 20th century, including Post-Impressionism, revival of Asian painting traditions, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, and post-war avant-garde art.

360 – Special Studies in Art History (3)

Concentration in lecture and discussion format on an individual artist, specific problem, limited time period, geographic area(s), or theme.  Does not fulfill an area requirement but can count as elective credit in the major.  May be offered for study abroad credit by UMW art history faculty.

450 – Topics in Art and Art History (3)

Prerequisites: ARTH 114 or 115 and Studio Arts 105; or permission of instructor. Previous offerings have included: “Mosaics: History and Techniques,” that bridge traditional boundaries between Art History and Studio Art.

460 – Seminar: Women and Western Art (3)

Prerequisites: ARTH 114, 115, 303, and permission of instructor. Examines the roles women have played in the visual arts in Western traditions, as well as the literature by and about these women. Focus is on the work of women artists, the commissions of women patrons, the responses of audiences to these works, meanings placed on the feminine form, and the work of male artists which has as its subject the female form. Also looks at contemporary issues to examine the role of feminist art as an art which critiques and creates society.

470 – Seminar: Special Studies in Art History (3)

Prerequisites: ARTH 114, 115, 303, and permission of instructor. For Art History majors and other qualified students. Concentration, in seminar format, is on an individual artist, specific problem, limited time period, or theme.

491, 492 – Individual Study in Art History (3, 3)

Prerequisites: ARTH 114, 115, at least three ARTH courses in three different chronological periods, and permission of the department individual study committee and instructor required. For Art History majors only. Includes a faculty-approved research project, oral presentation, and major paper. Vehicle for those seeking honors in Art History. Available on a competitive basis.

499 – Internship (Credits variable)

Supervised experience developed in consultation with the Art History faculty. May not be used to satisfy the Art History 400-level research course requirement. A maximum of three credits may count toward the major requirements.