Coronavirus Update: Washington College responds to coronavirus outbreak. More Info

Art & Art History

Course Decriptions: Art History

Regular Course Offerings in Art History:

200. Introduction to History of Western Art
A careful discussion and analysis of a selection of significant topics in the history of Western art from the earliest times to our own century. Emphasis is placed on the methods and approaches of the art historian. The term paper is written on a museum object or objects. Required of all majors.

311. Italian Renaissance Art
After discussion of the special historic-cultural conditions that made the Italian city-state possible, the greatest painters and sculptors of Florence and Venice will be examined in this art history course. Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello, Botticelli, and Bellini are some of the major figures of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to be included. Field trip to the National Gallery of Art. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.

315. Northern Renaissance Art
This art history course covers painting and the graphic arts in Germany and the Low Countries during the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, with special emphasis on Van Eyck, Dürer, Bosch, Brueghel, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. Field trip to the National Gallery of Art. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.

316. European Art from the Baroque to Neoclassicism
This art history course covers the seventeenth-century grand manner in Italy, France, Spain, and England, followed by the rococo and finally the austere style of revolution in the late eighteenth century. Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velazquez, and Gainsborough are a few of the principal artists. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.

318. Nineteenth-Century European Art
Starting with Romanticism, this art history course gives intensive coverage to the major nineteenth-century movements in European art. The art of the period is seen in its cultural context with special reference to literature and to social conditions. Field trip to the National Gallery of Art. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.

320. Twentieth-Century Art
This art history course discusses major artistic developments and key figures in twentieth-century art from Matisse and Picasso into the twenty-first century. The emergence of abstraction, the historical position of the avant-garde, and theories of visual modernism are among the themes discussed in the course. Field trips to Philadelphia and Washington museums. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.

322. The Arts in America
Although this art history course sketches in the art of the early colonies, its main body begins at the period of the American Revolution. Lectures and discussion explore the changing significance of the visual arts in American life and culture through the 1930s. Field trips to museums in Washington. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor. This course is cross-listed under American Studies.

324. Photography’s First Century
This art history course examines historical developments in photography from the 1830s to the1920s, from the medium’s inception through early modernism. Lectures and discussion will consider topics at issue in debates about photography’s place in the history of art, such as changing attitudes toward photography’s dual role as aesthetic creation and as documentary artifact. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.

327. Washington Center Internship
A full-time, semester-long internship in Washington, DC, with a federal government agency, museum or gallery, or the like. The student must develop a substantial portfolio as part of their internship experience. Prerequisite: ART 200, a cumulative GPA of 2.8, permission of an instructor, and successful application to The Washington Center for internships and Academic Seminars. This course is normally open only to juniors and seniors. 12 credits. The internship package of Art 327, 328, and 329 will yield 16 credits towards graduation and 8 credits toward the art major or minor.

328. Washington Center Seminar
Washington Center Interns participate in an evening seminar selected from a variety of topics offered during the semester concerned. Students engage in class discussion, and may also be required to research seminar topics, prepare written assignments, and take examinations. Required of and limited to students enrolled in Art 327. Three credits.

329. Washington Center Forum
Washington Center Interns participate in lectures, site visits, small group discussions, briefings, and other required events, designed to help them understand the connection between their academic and professional goals and the special educational opportunities available through living and working in Washington, DC. Evaluations of these experiences are included in the student portfolio. Required of and limited to students enrolled in Art 327. 1 credit.

393. Junior Seminar: Methods and Theories of Art History
Required of all art history majors, this seminar, which should be taken in the spring semester of the junior year, will provide a more theoretical framework for art and its histories than is possible in 300-level courses, while also modeling the best professional practices. The class is run in a seminar format with student oral presentations, close analysis of assigned texts, and frequent written assignments. The seminar’s exploration of the variety of methodologies in the discipline of art history helps to prepare students for writing the senior thesis in art history.

425. Women Artists and Feminist Art History (Honors)
In recent decades, growing scholarly attention has been brought to the previously neglected productions of female artists. This art history seminar examines the variety of approaches that feminist art historians have taken in studying art made by women in the modern period. We will be concerned both with the historical analysis of the visual productions of particular female artists and with an exploration of how feminist theories, practices, and political commitments have affected, and can continue to change, the discursive and institutional construction of the history—or histories—of art and visual culture. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor. This course is cross-listed under Gender Studies.

440. Rembrandt (Honors)
This art history course, which has as its subject the life and art of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69), not only opens a window onto the culture of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, but also serves as an introduction to the methodology of art history—from the scientific examination of paintings, to theories of interpretation—for few artists raise so many fundamental issues as to what it is we do as art historians—indeed resist traditional methods of interpretation—as does Rembrandt. The format of the course is that of a seminar, with students giving presentations, aimed at honing their ability, not only to tackle tough art historical questions, but also to articulate their ideas, in visual, oral, and written forms.

294, 394, 494. Special Topics
The intensive study of some selected art form, movement, or other specialized subject in art history.

Recent Art History special topics courses include:

Art and the Natural World, Global Sixties, Art of Stuff, Contemporary Arts of Africa, Not About Beauty, Art of the Islamic World, Women Artists, Whistler and His Contemporaries, Performance Art 1909 to the Present, Medieval Art and Architecture, Ancient Egyptian Art, Oceania Art & Culture, Classical Art: An Odyssey in Method, American Pictures, Dürer and His Culture, and Art and Nature, Then and Now.

290, 390, 490. Internships
295, 395, 495. On-campus Research 296, 396, 496. Off-campus Research

397, 497. Independent Study in Art History
Exceptional students in their Junior or Senior years seeking to define their own course of study, distinct from the course offerings in the department, may submit a formal application to do so. The deadline for applications is the end of the 7th week of the preceding semester, and must consist of a 1-page written proposal for the student’s course of study, a portfolio of recent written work, a bibliography of texts relevant to the proposed course of study, and a proposed course syllabus. Proposals will be reviewed and notice will be given by the department’s faculty. If the student’s application is accepted, notification of acceptance will be accompanied by an assigned art history advisor to facilitate the course of study during the desired semester. Prerequisite: Art 200 

490. Museum Internship
This internship is for seniors with a strong academic record in the Department. In recent years, art majors have held internships at such places as the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; the Mass MOCA, North Adams, MA; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; and the British Museum, London. Students can also intern for academic credit at the College’s Kohl Gallery.

SCE. Art History Senior Capstone Experience
Meant to be the summation of all one has done in the Department, the SCE involves some combination of comprehensive examinations and/or an art history thesis or curatorial project. The SCE will be accorded Pass, Fail, or Honors, and, upon successfully completing it, the student will receive four credits.