The Art History program covers historical perspectives on the visual arts, study of the methodologies of art history and critical theory, and consideration of contemporary issues in the practice and display of art. Students pursuing a Major or Minor in Art History are required to take a minimum number of courses in each of three areas of focus in the program: Western Art; Visual Arts of the Americas; and Art Theory, Critical Methodology and Museology.
Students interested in the study of Art History in conjunction with other programs are recommended to look at the Minors offered in Visual Arts of the Americas, Museum Studies, and Art Theory and Criticism. Please see the Undergraduate Calendar for course listings and details about the Major and Minor programs.
We respond to the vision of a learner-centered university by engaging in innovative teaching, and providing students with opportunities to travel to museums, galleries and sites, and to discuss their work in a supportive and challenging environment.
Our primary role is to stimulate novel thought and encourage scholarly research amongst the students and to encourage students to adopt a professional approach to their work.
We further student's command of literacy and visual literacy through key texts that are relevant to art's history. In addition, we give students the opportunity to engage critically with the most significant interpretative methods that art historians and critics use to analyze artwork over a sustained period of time and at different levels.
The study of Art History, with its procedures of visual analysis, description and criticism, provides students with fundamental and original skills: an ability to discern quality in visual matters, to access creativity, to discriminate between the exceptional and the routine, and to make visual judgments.
Art history students learn critical visual analysis skills and develop richer language skills that assist description and analysis process. Our students acquire the ability to link style and formal appearance to the historical, social context from which the art arose.
The knowledge and critical and analytical skills that students gain prepare them for many careers, not only art-related ones.
Art History Curriculum
The key learning objectives addressed throughout the curriculum include: developing increased literacy (both written and visual); encouraging a sense of historical development; providing a breadth of understanding of other cultures; appreciating differing forms of enquiry; encouraging a high degree of professionalism; and inspiring a love of learning.
The first year comprises the core survey courses: Art Historical Studies I and II and The Visual Arts Today.
In the second year fourteen courses are offered. These comprise the beginning of a comprehensive program of study in the fields of art theory, critical methodology and museology, the visual arts of the Americas, and Western Art.
In the third year fifteen courses are offered. They constitute thematic approaches to the discipline covering the art of Europe and the Americas as well as art theory and critical methodology. The aim of part of the curriculum was to offer 3rd year courses whose content can be varied according to the instructor. This is reflected in the course titles, which were designed to be as open as possible, yet addressed key concepts of the discipline. This approach is distinctive and unique to Art History at Guelph.
The fourth year is a year of specialization with six Questions courses offered reflecting the thematic streams of the curriculum. Students are encouraged to work in a small seminar environment and research a substantial paper on a topic of their choice. In addition a student may wish to engage in an Honours Thesis or Individual Study at this level.
Our Mission Statement
To take visual literacy to a higher level through global understanding and intellectual awareness.
Though art history is a relatively young discipline, it has had wide effects on the production, marketing, circulation and exhibition of past and present art. The curriculum at Guelph not only teaches the history of art but also invites students to critically consider how it has been developed and what have been its effects.
Our goal as a community of scholars, whether faculty or students, is to continue to play a major role in defining and redefining the dynamic practices of the discipline.
In this regard we encourage broad, interdisciplinary exploration of artistic, aesthetic and visual traditions in their social, historical and cross-cultural contexts.
Finally we enable the student to develop a critical understanding of the history and theory of visual and material culture, architecture and the interpretation and display of art and design objects within museums.
To recruit, champion and publicize our academic talent developing creative opportunities for out students and associates in the process.
What is Art History?
Art history is the study of art and architecture as manifestations of human creativity and as valuable forms of historical documentation. Art history students learn to appreciate the fundamental and varied roles the visual arts play in the lives of human beings, as they become familiar with major works in the Western and non-Western traditions. Toward this end, students learn how works of art embody, but also condition and control cultural, economic, social, religious, political, racial and gender dynamics.
Why Study Art History?
An undergraduate degree in art history is a valuable credential for graduate studies in the discipline, and the passport to a professional career in:
- teaching, museum and gallery work
- art preservation and conservation
- art publishing
- art librarianship
- It is also an invaluable asset to legal, business and governmental organizations and agencies associated with the arts and culture.
Why Study Art History at Guelph?
Because we believe emphatically in:
- integrated Learning
- in interdisciplinary approach
- a global perspective
- proactive learner-centredness
- creative connections
- stimulating curiosity
- expert faculty
Art History at Guelph: An Interdisciplinary, Global Approach
The history of art is a vital and challenging discipline of quite particular relevance to the interests and needs of contemporary society. We live in a world dominated by images. The essence of modern culture is visual. Because our curriculum promotes a multi-cultural understanding of the history of art that spans both time and geographical location, we are uniquely situated to encourage insights into societies and cultures other than our own. We also understand the importance of incorporating the students' own local and regional cultural histories into the program of study. It is imperative that today's students gain a broader understanding of other groups, communities and cultures. Our complement of courses addresses and develops students' ability to comprehend the aesthetic, historical, social, and ethical significance of the visual realm that is our present environment and the heritage of many cultures.
Our curriculum provides a unique opportunity for students to learn and explore the history of art by integrating western and non-Western material, and by introducing them to critical approaches to the discipline to enable students to study the art history of Canada, the United States, and of Central and South America as an integrated field bringing into dialogue social and cultural theory, history, politics and aesthetics. The complement of courses we offer is enhanced by our association with English, History, Anthropology, and Sociology, European Studies and International Development Studies.
Through courses that combine a wide range of reading, writing, and analysis of visual material approaches to the study and interpretation of the story of art form part of our sense of what is important. Therefore students may take courses concentrating on issues of production, patronage, function and meaning, or on theoretical issues about how to conceptualize art and its history.