Graduate Programs » Art History
Art History (M.A.)
In addition to providing students with a broad understanding of world art, the Art History program focuses upon African American art and the art of the African Diaspora. In beginning and advanced courses and seminars, students are encouraged to engage in scholarly investigation and analysis of visual styles, cultural movements, and social evidence in the history of art, especially original scholarship in African American and African Art History. The program’s strong research focus provides a virtual road map for students who wish to pursue careers as art historians in academia or in museums as curators and educators.
Developing a Visual Culture Component in the Art History Program
The emergence of Visual Culture Studies about a decade ago has broadened the academic discourse on imaging beyond film studies and art history widening the scope to include the moving image, as well as performance, display and the virtual. It proposes an interdisciplinary means of approaching the vast world of visual culture within a historical and contemporary context bringing into the forefront, the impact of the “visuality” of popular culture, the new media and technology of digital and electronic media and the Internet. Four specific fields of inquiry in Visual Culture Studies include: (1) the interactivity of viewed object and viewer; (2) the “hyperreality” and “hypervisuality” of imaging where new ways of seeing and viewing engenders a new visual literacy; (3) the simultaneity of image/sound/text where the convergence of data that is read, viewed and heard as one piece of information, brings about a heightened engagement; and (4) the relationship between the visual event and the consumer/participant/observer.
As the black image becomes increasingly imbued in popular culture via, film, television, music videos and popular magazines, the exploration of the relationship between production and consumption of the black image in visual culture requires more than ever a critical discourse in which to interpret it. This is important in the context of Howard University’s position as a major HBCU. Using theorizations and visual representations of black imaging as the point of departure, the goal of Visual Culture Studies is to examine the evolution of the black image and responses to these constructions, especially as it relates to the repositioning of the gaze and re-conceptualization of the producer/spectator relationship. Ideas and practices within visual culture by black people throughout the world are important components as well the focus on transnational, cross-cultural relationships and influences within contemporary societies.
While many of these concepts are already part of the discourse in the Art History courses taught in the Department of Art, the inclusion of the electronic media of television, video and the computer that is inherent in Visual Culture Studies, means that there will be an emphasis on the technology that is part of the production and exhibition of these images.