Indicators of Achievement

Student Learning Outcomes for the Art History Major

  1. Visual Literacy and Historical Thinking
    • In the 100-level classes, students will acquire an introductory background of historical data as well as a basic set of interpretive tools in order to critically locate and understand the production, reception and diffusion of visual codes, styles and techniques belonging to the field of art, from the prehistoric cave paintings of Southern France to the aesthetic challenges of Post-modernism. Cultivating Visual Literacy is a primary goal of the required introductory courses (Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Art History, Introduction to Renaissance and Early Modern Art History, Introduction to Modern and Contemporary Art History), preferably undertaken in chronological sequence. Formal analysis and basic historical investigations will constitute, therefore, the methodological core of this formative sequence.
  2. Critical Terminology and Interpretive Skills
    • In the 200-level classes, students will further develop the capacity for recognizing, critically de-structuring and historically interpreting different forms of artistic creation as well as other typologies of visual production properly set in their specific contexts. In these courses, students will become able to describe, explore and explain, thanks to the adoption of more sophisticated interpretive strategies and appropriate critical terminology, the processes of elaboration, reception and dissemination of styles, techniques and visual codes in different historical contexts. Philologically-based analysis of primary and secondary sources (i.e., art literature and criticism) will be introduced as fundamental tools within the hermeneutic process.
  3. Metacriticism and Discussion/Oral Presentation Skills
    • In the 300-level art history classes, students become familiar with a broader bibliography in the Humanities by reading books and articles written not only by art historians, but also by scholars belonging to other disciplines, such as Anthropology, Philosophy, and Literature. In this way, students will be exposed to a more consistent critical vocabulary regarding historical as well as methodological matters. By systematically adopting this new lexicon in class discussions and individual oral presentations, students will enhance their own interpretive vocabulary and rhetorical skills, simultaneously inaugurating a dialogue with ideas, problems, and hypotheses related to the general network of studies in Art History and Visual Culture, and thereby establishing a fundamental background of meta-critical references.
  4. Research Tools and Art Historical Writing
    • Finally, in the 400-level classes and, more specifically, throughout the required Art History Senior Seminar (ARTH 496W), students will learn how to effectively organize and undertake a rigorous research project in the fields of art history and visual culture, applying the various methodologies and interpretive tools they have so far studied and incorporated, in order to explore, in a historically-grounded process of cross examination, specific objects and themes of investigation. The historical, philological and formal analysis of artworks as well as the critical interpretation of subjects pertaining to the fields of art history and visual culture will thus constitute the starting point for research in which students, by exploring different methodologies and increasing their familiarity with metacritical concerns, will be expected to provide personal contributions to their areas of investigation, as young scholars. For that purpose, the course ARTH 362W (Theories and Methodologies of Art History) is a required prerequisite for ARTH 496W. A primary goal of both courses is the cultivation of critical writing on visual art.
Willamette University

Art History

Ford Hall
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6977 fax

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