BA: Art History

Photo info: This molded and glazed brick striding lion once decorated a side of the “Processional Way” in ancient Babylon. The Processional Way led out of the city through a massive gate named for the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, whose symbol was the lion.

Neo-Babylonian period (604-562 BCE)

Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

What is Art History?

Art history explores the historical meaning of art, architecture, and visual culture in all parts of the world from antiquity to the present. It analyzes visual objects through their form, technique, design, historical context, and ideological function. It also studies individual artists or makers, cultural institutions, audiences, and intercultural exchanges. It is inherently interdisciplinary, often requiring theoretical engagement with fields such as anthropology, philosophy, critical theory, political science, history, literature, film, performance, theater, and area studies.

What can I do with a degree in Art History?

The study of art history develops skills of informed and critical looking, reading, speaking, and writing. Thus, while it offers specialized knowledge of the visual world for those who want to pursue careers in the art world, academia, and the practice of art and design, the major is also excellent for any student seeking a solid foundation in the liberal arts. With its broad historical, cultural, geographic, and methodological spectrum, it offers an excellent background for students who want to specialize in areas such as law, medicine, business, international relations, politics, and education.

What will I study?

The Art History degree requires 45 credits in art history, visual art, and cognates; a minor in a non-art secondary area, and the General Education requirements including a foreign language (French or German recommended). A BA in Art History is recommended for those planning to do graduate work in the humanities or enter professions that require a broad overview of visual culture. Careers in museums generally require at least a master’s degree. Careers in college and university teaching and research require a PhD.

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