Why Study Art History at New College?

Based on the training and exposure they receive as part of our Art History program, as well as the personal mentoring they receive from our faculty, many of New College’s graduates in Art History go on to careers in teaching and/or museum and gallery work. Others successfully pursue a wide range of careers, including law, business and the Foreign Service.

aRt history area of concentration

Art History is the discipline concerned with the historical study of material objects, especially those that involve visual communication. It includes much of what is traditionally considered “Art,” such as works in fresco, oil paint, or marble by well-known artists (whether the traditional canon of “great masters” or contemporary art stars). But Art History can also be understood to encompass a broader range of material objects that are experienced visually and/or through other senses: not only artworks that were previously ignored and undervalued, but also items like films, advertisements, ceramics, posters, and quilts. Art historians study the ways in which artifacts, whether artworks or other elements of material culture, are composed and constructed so as to communicate a variety of messages to different groups of people.

At New College, students are expected to acquire a basic familiarity with the major periods and movements of western art, as well as some awareness of non-Western artistic traditions. They also become acquainted with the various methods currently practiced by art historians. Approaches to studying the history of art include both the traditional object-based analysis of style and subject matter and the interpretation of art in its broader cultural context using a variety of critical frameworks (such as social history, semiotics, feminist and gender theory, race and post-colonial theory, globalization, and visual and material culture). Students are encouraged to develop and pursue their own intellectual interests, arriving at their own definitions of what constitutes “Art” and formulating their own critical approaches to the material.

Direct contact with works of art is an essential component of the program. The Ringling Museum of Art, adjacent to New College, provides rich permanent collections, regularly scheduled exhibits, lectures, and films, and an excellent art library. Students are encouraged to undertake museum internships and to pursue opportunities for study and travel abroad. The study of art history may serve as pre-professional training leading to a careers in teaching, arts administration, and various forms of museum and gallery work. Training in art history has also proved to be valuable preparation for a wide range of careers, including law, business, and the Foreign Service.

The program offers a range of courses and tutorials in four major historical periods: Ancient/Medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, Modern, and Contemporary. Representative course offerings in art history include: Global Perspectives in Art History; Consuming the Visual Arts in Late 19th Century Paris; Public Art and its Public(s) in the United States; The Gothic Cathedral; Saints and Sinners: Art, Gender, and Spirituality; Caravaggio and His Era.

View Art History Academic Learning Compact

View art history courses offered in last 5 years


Area of Concentration Requirements

An Area of Concentration in Art History normally includes the following:

  1. A broad selection of courses in the discipline covering all of the major periods and emphasizing the field in which the senior thesis will be written. This involves undertaking at least one general course as well as no fewer than six courses from the four historical periods: Three courses in Ancient/Medieval and Renaissance/Baroque, and three courses in Modern and Contemporary (including at least one course in each of the four categories).
  2. “Ways of Seeing” (writing-intensive seminar for second- and third-year students with a focus on critical theory and methods of art history; offered in alternate years, normally in the spring term).
  3. Two additional courses, tutorials, internships, or ISPs in art history (especially applied or independent work).
  4. One studio art course or equivalent.
  5. Breadth beyond the discipline is essential; especially valuable are courses in literature, history, philosophy, music, religion, psychology, and anthropology, selected in accordance with the student’s areas of interest.
  6. Travel abroad and off-campus study are highly recommended; when possible, work in non-Western art is especially encouraged.
  7. The study of at least one foreign language (traditionally French or German) is required (three semesters of college-level coursework or an equivalent proficiency; a fourth semester of college-level coursework is recommended).
  8. A senior thesis in the field and a baccalaureate examination.


Recent Theses

  • Pains, Pleasures and Puns: Women Artists of the ’70s Reclaim the Female Body
  • Fabricated Bodies: The Empty Dress in Art and Culture
  • Milk, Blood, and Tears: Maternal Images of the Virgin in Art of the 14th and 15th Centuries
  • Spectacle and Dining in Imperial Rome: The Outdoor Triclinia of Sperlonga and Tivoli
  • Just Being: The Drag King Book and Negotiated Meaning

Careers of Art History Graduates

Associate Permissions Director
Art Resource, New York City

Images and Rights Coordinator
High Museum of Art, Atlanta

Tibbals Curator of Circus
The Ringling Museum, Sarasota

Assistant Professor of Art and Art History
University of Utah

Director of Communications
Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago

SAMPLE PATHWAYS to complete AOC Requirements

These pathways show how you could complete the AOC requirements within four years at New College or within two years after earning an associate’s degree. Please consult with your academic adviser to determine the most appropriate courses for your area of concentration.