Willamette's program in Art History, a humanistic liberal arts discipline, is critically based, while broad in chronological and geographic purview. Course offerings cover the visual art and architecture created from the Stone Age to the present in the Ancient Mediterranean region and in Europe and North America, with introductory classes on the arts of Asia. Course offerings also explore the theories and methodologies of art history and the study of visual culture. The department offers both a major and a minor program in art history.
The Art History major program is comprised of a core of three introductory courses (ARTH 115, 116, and 117) designed to build basic visual literacy, which explore the significant monuments and themes in Western art from prehistoric times to the twenty-first century. The core also includes a course (ARTH 362W), intended for more advanced students of art history, which surveys the most significant interdisciplinary theories and methodologies used by art historians. The final course in the art history major core is the Art History Senior Seminar (ARTH 496W) in which students pursue an individual research project, write an original thesis paper, and make a formal oral presentation of their findings. Students build their major around this core, choosing at least one more advanced course in Early or Asian Art History, in Early Modern Art History, and in Modern and Contemporary Art History. Two electives in Art History are also required, and these allow for some focus on a specific period (such as the Renaissance), a particular art form or tradition (such as architecture), a unique locale (such as ancient Greece), or a single individual or monument (such as Leonardo Da Vinci). Finally, all art history majors are required to take one course in applied studio art to facilitate their understanding of the creative process and the mastery of materials. Art History students are encouraged to take additional studio art and arts-related courses, to study abroad, and to study foreign languages (especially French and German).
A distinctive resource for the Art History program is Willamette's own Hallie Ford Museum of Art, where permanent collections and changing exhibitions offer students original works of art to study firsthand, whether in class assignments or as the focus of advanced independent study. The museum also serves as a laboratory for those students with an interest in museum studies, and internships and work study assignments can be arranged to work with the art collections in this professional environment.
The major program in Art History at Willamette complements coursework in American Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Archaeology, Classical Studies, English and Comparative Literature, History, International Studies, Religious Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and Film Studies, among others. As taught at Willamette, it is a flexible, wide-ranging discipline involving many modes of inquiry, the development of skills in visual analysis and historical interpretation, with an emphasis on precise and critically informed writing about works of art, their historical contexts, and their changing significance over time.
Events and Lectures
Making decisions on whether or not to treat a work of art, and if so, how, remains a difficult and complex process. Since the so-called cleaning controversy at the National Gallery in London around 1947, considerable debate has continued over technical, aesthetic, and ethical questions of cleaning, treatment, and restoration of all types of objects of art and cultural heritage.
Art History Lecture: The Heart of the Millennial Kingdom
Read McFaddin (B.A., Art History, Willamette University, 2006; M.A., Art History, University of Oregon, 2009; Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University, History of Art and Architecture)
Monday, October 14, 7:30 p.m. | Roger Hull Lecture Hall | Hallie Ford Museum of Art
Free and open to the public
Apocalyptic and utopian themes proliferated in the friar-commissioned but native-painted monastic decoration in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Do these murals represent nostalgic reflections of a bygone era, or do they perhaps act as agents of a broader mendicant program to reassert the important religious and political role of the friar in an increasingly secularized colonial landscape?