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About the Major

Art History encompasses the study of visual and material culture, performance, and the built environment across geographies, media, and technologies. The transdisciplinary nature of art and architectural history allows students to draw upon a broad range of subjects and approaches that span the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Concentrators hone skills in visual literacy, critical thinking, written and oral communication, and engage with innovative digital technologies. Many of our courses provide students with opportunities for experiential and project-based learning, from working with collections at the Wellin Museum and Burke Library, to field trips to regional museums and historical sites, to creating virtual exhibitions and digital visual narratives.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Analyze material and visual culture and/or the built environment as a form of visual literacy
  • Apply art historical and interdisciplinary methods of analysis to the study of material and visual culture and/or the built environment
  • Draw connections between the past and present to illuminate the relevance of both
  • Identify how particular scholarly discourses and practices have contributed to social, structural, and institutional hierarchies in art history’s own history

A Sampling of Courses

9. U.S. bombing airplane over enemy territory, 1918

Ways of Seeing: Vision, Technology, Media

An introduction to the study of media with a focus on visual media and experience. Students will learn about key moments in media history, from the invention of print to the rise of broadcasting/mass media and the entrenchment of digital/social media. Students will engage with foundational concepts in media and visual studies, and develop tools to critically analyze, discuss, and write about the images that come to us through physical and virtual networks. Topics include: photojournalism, infographics, screen cultures, public relations and advertising, social media, AI, and the effects of digital media on the environment and mental health.

Explore these select courses:

This class involves the study of the formless divine and the corporeal nature of the body in South and Southeast Asian art. We will examine representations of the Buddha, the Jina, gods and goddesses, queens and kings, and an array of apotropaic motifs in sacred art and architecture from India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Case studies are chosen from a period spanning over two thousand years, beginning with the third century BCE and ending with portrayals of the divine in contemporary art.

This course surveys the art and architecture of Europe during the Middle Ages from ca. 500-1400. We will focus on key artworks and monuments made and built in Europe from the Visigoths and Vikings to the Valois court, as well as examine cross-cultural interactions across religious and political boundaries in medieval Africa, the Arctic, and the Mediterranean. Students will develop an awareness of the production, function, and social context of medieval visual culture through the close study of architecture, manuscript, metalwork, mosaic, painting, sculpture, and textile. Despite our historical distance from the Middle Ages, we will also consider how medieval imagery remains relevant to our current visual world.  

Art & Social Change explores the history of artistic production as political activism. From the early efforts of painters, sculptors, and photographers in the nineteenth century to more recent developments in experimental media, artists have offered not only social critique but also attempted direct political intervention. Whether addressed to issues of race, class, gender, globalization, or ecological precarity, this course grapples with art’s ability to affect social change.

A history of alternatives to commercial movies, focusing on surrealist and dadaist film, visual music, psychodrama, direct cinema, the film society movement, personal cinema, the New American Cinema, structuralism, Queer cinema, feminist cinema, minor cinema, recycled cinema and devotional cinema. While conventional entertainment films use the novel, the short story and the stage drama as their primary instigations, experimental and avant-garde films are analogous to music, poetry, painting, sculpture and collage.

This course examines architecture’s historical relationship with the environment by engaging with broad Anthropocene questions. We will trace changing conceptions of "nature" through the study of the co-production of architecture and the environment, and the ways in which designers continually reconceive the human-nature relationship. Topics include colonial land management, materiality, infrastructure and resource extraction (eg. Erie Canal, dams, solar farms), waste, architecture of logistics (eg. Walmart and Amazon), eco-cities and sustainable urbanism, and landscapes of food production.

Meet Our Faculty

Nadya Bair

Assistant Professor of Art History

nbair@hamilton.edu

history of photography; modern and contemporary visual culture; media studies; digital humanities

Michael Feinberg

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History

mfeinber@hamilton.edu

Visual culture of Europe and the Americas (18th century-contemporary), history and theory of landscape, decolonial theory, queer theory, visual studies connected to historical study, nineteenth-century art

Susan Jarosi

Associate Professor of Art History

sjarosi@hamilton.edu

art and visual culture since 1950; performance art; trauma studies; gender in visual studies; economic histories of the arts

Breton Langendorfer

Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History

blangend@hamilton.edu

Art of the ancient Middle East and Central Asia; cuneiform culture; visual culture of empire; violence in ancient art; visual narratives; late antiquity

Ruth Lo

Assistant Professor of Art History

rlo@hamilton.edu

modern and contemporary architecture; history of urbanism; architecture and politics; environmental humanities; food studies

Arathi Menon

Assistant Professor of Art History

amenon@hamilton.edu

South Asian art; visual culture of Indian Ocean trade; churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples in Kerala; syncretism; religious iconography; artistic agency; digital art history

Laura Tillery

Assistant Professor of Art History

ltillery@hamilton.edu

Medieval and early modern art; Scandinavian studies; German studies; economics and trade; religious iconography; object-based learning; history and methods of art history

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in art history are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Account Manager, Sotheby’s
  • Vice President and Real Estate Counsel, Lehman Brothers
  • Cataloguer, Lang Antiques
  • President, McGraw-Hill Professional
  • Sales Manager, NBC News
  • Senior Vice President, William Doyle Galleries
  • Tour Coordinator, Academic Arrangements Abroad
  • Presidential Innovation Fellow, The White House
  • President, Nye & Co. Auctioneers

Explore Hamilton Stories

Nadya Bair in the classroom

Eye-Opening Class Proves ‘Photography Changes Everything’

Assistant Professor of Art History Professor Nadya Bair’s Photography Changes Everything course has taught me how a crucial storytelling medium developed and contributed to the last 200 years of human history. I have been fortunate to dive into art history while exploring my passion for storytelling.

Madeline Pittel '24 Sotheby's intern

A Sotheby’s Internship Years in the Making

For Madeline Pittel ’24, interning at Sotheby’s has been a longstanding dream. In high school, she would walk by the auction house’s large New York office en route to a job elsewhere, all the while thinking, “I want to work there one day, and I’m going to wait for my junior year college internship. So this is a five- or six-year plan-in-the-making.”

Contact

Department Name

Art History Department

Contact Name

Onno Oerlemans, Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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