The Department of Art and Archaeology is devoted to the study and criticism of the visual arts and the investigation of material artifacts from a wide range of cultures and periods. It is also a primary place where students interested in the production of art (taught by faculty in the Program in Visual Arts) can pursue a major. Current faculty members explore subjects as diverse as Roman city planning, Islamic archaeology, Chinese cinema, and contemporary art, but are united in their belief that the visual arts offer key insights into the past and stimulate important ideas about the present.
In a world where images are evermore important, understanding the history and workings of visual culture has taken on an increasing urgency. Students in the Department of Art and Archaeology learn techniques for analyzing visual materials and locating them within time and place. They also investigate the factors that influence the form and direction of stylistic change (religious beliefs, economic constraints, patronage demands, technological change, and so forth). Like any humanist or social scientist, they must evaluate evidence (documentary, textual, or pictorial), form hypotheses, test data, and draw conclusions. Successful majors master the translation of visual perceptions into linguistic expression, develop their visual memory, and make connections with a wide array of other historical evidence.
Majors in the Department of Art and Archaeology are prepared to pursue numerous careers and graduate programs. Our majors have gone on to graduate programs in art history, fine arts, art education, museum studies, architecture, archaeology, comparative literature, area studies (Classics, Asian Studies, African-American Studies, Women’s Studies, European Studies, etc.), languages, and history. In addition, majors regularly enter medical, law, public policy, and business schools. The skills developed in the Department also can form the bases for future careers in teaching, journalism, communications and media, museums, non-profit organizations, architecture, design, advertising, and marketing.