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Art History

Senior lecturer Amanda Luyster conducts a course in the Archives and Special Collections area of Dinand Library at Holy Cross.

Senior lecturer Amanda Luyster conducts a course in the Archives and Special Collections area of Dinand Library at Holy Cross.

Art history uses the close study of objects and sites to come to an understanding of the individuals, social contexts and material realities of the past and present day. 

Art history is an interdisciplinary field, incorporating knowledge of history, literature, religion and philosophy. The practice of art history provides both cognitive and discursive skills to probe past developments and confront those of the present.

Our courses engage the temporal and geographic breadth of art history, and offer dynamic opportunities to explore local art institutions and sites beyond the College.

Senior art history majors mark the culmination of their studies with the Senior Capstone Seminar.

Courses

Our courses fall into the following broad categories. Read descriptions of each course.

Introductory Art History

VAHI 100 - Introduction to Visual Arts

VAHI 111 - Introduction to a Global History of Architecture I

VAHI 112 - Introduction to a Global History of Architecture II

Pre-1800

VAHI 104 - Introduction to Islamic Art

VAHI 105 - Art of Africa and the Americas

VAHI 137 - Destruction and Renewal

VAHI 199 - Arts of Asia: Temples and Silks

VAHI 204 - Arts of Religion

VAHI 205 - Global Commerce in 15th-Century Italy

VAHI 206 - Art & Antiquity in 16th-Century Italy

VAHI 207 - Art, Science, & Power in the 17th-Century (formerly Baroque Art)

VAHI 214 - 17th century Dutch Art & Society

VAHI 310 - Kings & Caliphs: Art of Luxury

Cross-Cultural

VAHI 104: Introduction to Islamic Art

VAHI 105 - Art of Africa and the Americas

VAHI 199 - Arts of Asia: Temples and Silks

VAHI 310 - Kings & Caliphs: Art of Luxury

Modern and Contemporary

VAHI 136 - Narrative in Art and Film

VAHI 199 - History of Photography

VAHI 209 - Art in the Modern World, 1780 to 1940

VAHI 210 - Contemporary Art, 1940 to the Present

VAHI 220 - Arts of America

VAHI 230 - American Architecture

VAHI 240 - Modern Architecture

Architectural Studies

VAHI 111 - Introduction to a Global History of Architecture I

VAHI 112 - Introduction to a Global History of Architecture II

VAHI 137 - Destruction and Renewal

VAHI 230 - American Architecture

VAHI 240 - Modern Architecture

VAHI 250 - Making the Modern City

VAHI 320 - The Modern Home

VAHI 399 - Designing Green - From Parks to Sustainability

CIS 205 - Architectural Studio

Museum Studies

VAHI 150 - Introduction to Museums

VAHI 420 - Museum internship

Art History Capstone Seminar

The seminar is a culminating course in the major. Two or three major events, such as a film, lecture or exhibition (at New York or Boston galleries, or MASS MoCA) are integral to the course. The class reviews all exhibits in the Cantor Art Gallery on campus, invariably attending as a group. Students also participate in a two-hour majors' review held by the studio division. 

The first half of the course is focused on discussions of "methods" of viewing art. These topics have included: formalism, historic context, iconography, Marxism, feminism, biography, film criticism and postmodernism. During the latter half of the course, students concentrate on capstone projects that reflect their own professional interests. Students make oral presentations of capstones, an event attended by diverse faculty and students in the Studio Concentration Seminar.

Museum Studies

students looking at a statue in a museum

What is the role of the museum in today's high-tech and multicultural society? How has the role changed since the rise of the museum among the educated elite in the early modern period?

This program addresses such central questions in the history, mission and structure of museums. We also explore the ways in which visual display conveys knowledge and builds broader arguments about cultures and society. We engage with the ethics embedded in acquiring and displaying irreplaceable and ritual objects from various cultures. 

In addition, these courses cover practical issues like conservation, funding, organization and public outreach in museums. Students participate in field trips to different types of museums and learn about careers as directors, curators, collections managers, and educators in museums and historic houses.