Art History

Learning to look closely and analyze what you see is essential to a liberal arts education in the 21st century.

The Art History faculty is committed to teaching the skill of visual analysis, which prepares Wellesley graduates not only to manage the world of representations, but also to develop a critical voice as both a consumer and producer of images. We encourage our students to gain a strong understanding of the social and political dimensions of art and architecture. Historical connections can be studied across our curriculum, which spans the ancient Mediterranean and Mesopotamia; the Islamic world; the Italian and Northern Renaissance; ancient to contemporary Latin America; ancient to contemporary Asia; medieval, modern, and contemporary Europe; and the United States. We also offer cross-departmental courses in order to provoke interdisciplinary questions about the roles of art and the built environment.

Our courses stress direct engagement with art, architecture, and urban form. Our teaching spans the media of painting, sculpture, photography, digital media, film, and video; material culture, architecture, and urbanism; as well as social and other conceptual practices. Through museum and site study trips, our students become familiar with collections and buildings in the Boston area and beyond. On campus, classes work closely with works of art in the Davis Museum and the Special Collections of Margaret Clapp Library. One of our deepest commitments as a faculty is to excellence in writing. We use these encounters with objects and sites as the foundation for independent research and well-crafted written argumentation.

We also believe firmly that creating art is essential to understanding its historical development. Art History majors are encouraged and required to take studio classes, and our introductory courses (Arth 100 and 101) include studio components. Our offices and classrooms can be found in the Jewett Arts Center, where we work in close proximity to the media arts, video, and photography studios, and where members of the Studio Art program regularly exhibit their most recent work.