The Major in Art History
The art history major challenges students to investigate and analyze art and visual culture with close attention to social and historical contexts, and through comparative cultural study.
As in studio art, the Wright Museum of Art plays an important role in the art history program, effectively functioning as a laboratory. As they work to complete the major, students will enroll in at least one upper-level course that will involve them either in careful study of works of art from the collection; in organizing, researching and curating an exhibit of art (as part of a class or special project); and/or in writing essays and catalogue entries for an exhibition publication. This distinctive feature of our program provides invaluable professional experience. It is the kind of collaborative and experiential learning that is both the hallmark and the essence of Beloit College.
Art history majors take a minimum of eight art history courses, one studio art course, and at least one full year of college-level foreign language; students planning to pursue graduate study are strongly encouraged to take two years of foreign languages and at minimum, acquire a reading comprehension in both.
Two survey courses serve as the foundation to the major. Students may then select five upper-level courses, and either a sixth art history course or a second studio art course. Survey courses are complemented with seminars and special topics courses (ARTH 285 and ARTH 335)*, which are routinely offered on a one-time or occasional basis. Recent topics have included contemporary Native American art; Women and the Book in the Middle Ages; art history and museum practice; American art and visual culture to 1945; and Faith and Power in Byzantium. Students must also take at least one course in Asian art history.
Majors also take Theory and Methods (ARTH 337), which introduces an array of art historical problems and scholarly approaches. This seminar develops and refines critical thinking and writing skills, and it is excellent preparation for graduate study in art history.
*ARTH 285 and ARTH 335 are somewhat (and sometimes necessarily) interchangeable; see your advisor if substitution of one for the other is necessary.