Art History - Undergraduate Program

Curriculum Guide

Margaret Franklin PhD. University of Cambridge, Renaissance and Baroque, Associate Professor 
     Research Interests: Uomini famosi/donne illustri images; humanism and the visual arts in the Italian Renaissan
Samantha Noel Ph.D. Duke University, African American and African Diasporic Art, Associate Professor
     Research Interests: Modern and contemporary art and visual culture of the African Diaspora, black
     performance in the Americas and the Caribbean, race and gender in visual culture, and pre-colonial,
     colonial, and postcolonial African art and visual culture.
Jennifer Olmsted Ph.D. Northwestern University, Nineteenth Century European Art, Associate Professor
     Research Interests: Imperialism, masculinity, and modernity in 19th-century French art.

Undergraduate Program Overview

Art History is a rich academic discipline. Students learn about past and present artistic traditions and practices that have shaped our world and gain the critical tools to interpret works of art, architecture, print media, photography and all forms of visual culture. Art History demands analytical, creative thinking and develops a variety of communication and organizational skills, which are ideal preparation for a wide range of career options or further study in art history or the humanities.

Art History courses at Wayne State University are designed for both majors and non-majors. The Art History curriculum offers students courses in Western and African Arts. Some courses explore the art of long-vanished civilizations while others examine current trends in artistic practices and visual culture. Students thus have ample opportunity to pursue individual interests no matter what their previous background.

The Art and Art History Department at Wayne State University taps into the urban richness of Detroit's midtown University Cultural Center, the Detroit arts community, and world-class arts institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, the fifth largest art museum in the nation, and Cranbrook Art Museum. Department-sponsored trips to regional museums and collections encourage students to view original works of art in the Detroit area. In addition, Directed Study provides an ideal method of tailoring projects to suit individual interests.

Why Take Art History?

Because Every Picture Tells a Story.  Learning to become visually literate will help you in many kinds of professions and disciplines. Art History encourages humanity and sympathy through understanding.

Because There Is More to Art History than You Think. It encompasses all aspects of visual culture and connects to politics, religion, sexuality and history from the ancient past to the present cultural moment.

Because our World Is Becoming More and More Visual. As a global society, we rely more and more on visual thinking as we are bombarded with visual stimulation through a variety of digital and other formats.

Because Art History is YOUR History. Artists represent the world in all its multiple cultural contexts. Students of Art History become students of the world.

Because Art History Is Fun. If you're interested in art, culture, the built environment, and the histories and theories of human endeavor, then a degree in a humanities subject like Art History is not only an eminently sensible option, but also an intellectually fulfilling and enjoyable one.

Because Art History Hones Your Skills. The knowledge and critical skills emphasized in the study of Art History translate into a wide range of professions. Key transferable skills highly prized by employers include visual and critical awareness, problem solving and time management. You will also develop effective written and oral communication skills, be adept at analyzing and interpreting information from a range of sources, and be able to work independently. Art History builds intellectual confidence.

What can you do with a degree in Art History? Art History majors working in related professions include: teaching, publishing, arts administration, arts education, historic preservation, art libraries, journalism, advertising, gallery/museum curator, exhibition installation, and art conservation. For more careers in this field, speak to your academic advisor or the Art History area coordinator. 

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