Courses Past

Critical Approaches to Art History

HSAR 401a, Undergraduate Seminar
Mondays, 3:30-5:20 pm

Intended for History of Art majors in their junior year, this seminar introduces students to the theories, methods, aims and historical development of the discipline of art history. Each week, through close readings of seminal texts, we will explore a different facet of the field, from its formalist origins in the late nineteenth century through its engagements with social history, gender studies, and media theory in the twentieth and twenty-first. Because art history is a dynamic and evolving discipline, with its practitioners continually seeking to expand the possibilities of traditional methods and open up new avenues of inquiry, the canonical texts we read each week will be supplemented by publications from members of Yale’s History of Art department and other active scholars. As far as schedules permit, the respective faculty member will visit our class to discuss his or her work and its place in the field.

Along with honing skills of visual and textual analysis and oral presentation, this course ultimately aims to encourage in students a deeper awareness of art historians’ working practices and a sharper understanding of the theoretical models that will guide their own scholarly work, especially the writing of the senior essay. It also seeks to cultivate the ability to synthesize diverse readings from various times and places, to apply theories and methods studied to actual works of art, and to think and speak self-consciously about a work of art from a variety of perspectives.

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