Art History Advising Guide

The Visual Arts Department

 

What is Art History?

Art history is the study of art and architecture created in both the past and present by artists, architects, and craftspersons from various cultures ranging from antiquity to the contemporary world. The field of art history goes beyond the basic memorization of artist’s names and dates, by exploring the social historical context in which the art was produced as well as by examining the desired meaning and impact the artist or architect intended to have on the viewer. What constitutes as art can range from traditional fine art (such as paintings and sculptures), new media in today’s popular culture, or archaeological artifacts. Art and architecture is made for a variety of reasons from a variety of different materials; it can be a reflection of the artist’s life, a culture’s religious beliefs, or a source of political propaganda. The art historian seeks to interpret and understand art and architecture by using a variety of methods including learning about artists' lives, and attempting to understand the societies in which the art was produced. In addition to learning the social, historical, cultural, and aesthetic significance of the visual arts, students in Art History acquire knowledge of critical analysis, interpretive skills, research, communication, and creativity. 

 

Art History Degrees in the Visual Arts Department

The Department of Visual Arts is unique in offering two degrees in Art History, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Both degrees are designed to prepare the student to pursue careers in a variety of fields including traditional art historical fields such as museums, galleries, and auction houses. In addition, it provides an advantage for entry into a variety of professional fields such as law, medicine, and business, which is especially important given the increasing demand by professional schools that applicants have a broad intellectual background.

There are several areas of specialization available to a student majoring in Art History for both the BA and BFA degrees, including Ancient (3500 BC-500 AD); Medieval (1-1300 AD); Renaissance, Baroque, Eighteenth Century (14th to 18th centuries); Modern (19th and early 20th century), and Contemporary (1965-Present). While students may choose an area of specialization, they will be required to take at least one class in all five areas of study.

 

Bachelor of Arts Degree:

The BA degree offers the student a degree with a greater breadth of knowledge by giving the student the opportunity to minor in a field of study in other areas of the humanities, science, or business. The BA degree also requires four semesters (two years) of a foreign language, important not only for pursuing an art history career, but also for business and law degrees. Students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in Art History, Classical Archaeology, Religious Studies, Museum Studies, and Education benefit from a degree in Art History. The BA also provides a sound academic background for students who intend to pursue graduate or professional degrees such as law, business, marketing, and medicine where observation and critical thinking skills are a must.

 

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree:

The BFA is designed for students who are interested in the practical application and production of art. The BFA allows students to further focus their studies in a specialized field of art history culminating in an undergraduate thesis, as well as engaging in a secondary concentration in an area of studio art. Students going into art education, art therapy, art preservation, and art restoration, or who want to explore their artistic side often pursue this degree.

 

Areas of Study: 

Ancient (3500 BC-500 AD): Students who choose to focus on Ancient art, architecture, and archaeology will be concentrating primarily on the art of Greece and Rome, including such famous monuments as the Parthenon in Athens, the Pantheon and the Colosseum in Rome, and the ancient city of Pompeii. Compared to the other fields of art history, there is a greater emphasis on archaeology in this area of study. Many students in this field choose to go on to pursue graduate degrees in Classical art and archaeology and/or work in museums with a large ancient collection. All of the courses in this field are cross-listed with Classics and can be used towards minors in Museum Studies and Classical Studies, as well as majors in Philosophy and Classics. Minors that pair well with a BA degree in this area are Anthropology, Classical Studies, History, Museum Studies, Foreign Languages, and Religious Studies. For those students interested in art restoration, a Chemistry minor is suggested. For those students pursuing a BFA with a concentration in Art History with an emphasis in ancient art and architecture, a secondary in ceramics, sculpture, painting, or interdisciplinary is desirable.

 

Medieval (1-1300 AD): Students who choose this field of art history will focus on the art and architecture of the Europe and the Near East during the Middle Ages. In this period of art history there is a strong emphasis on Christian and Islamic art and architecture that include monuments such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and Notre Dame in Paris. This field of study is of great interest to students interested in the rise of Christianity and Islamic religions. There is often an emphasis on religious, sculptural, and architectural themes in this area of art history. All of the courses in this field can be used towards a minor in Museum Studies. Minors that pair well with an Art History degree in this area are Anthropology, Classical Studies, History, Museum Studies, Foreign Languages, Philosophy, and Religious Studies. For those students interested in art restoration, a Chemistry minor is suggested. For those students pursuing a BFA with a concentration in Art History with an emphasis in medieval art and architecture, a secondary in ceramics, glass, painting, sculpture, or interdisciplinary is desirable.

 

Renaissance, Baroque, and the Eighteenth Century (14th-18th centuries): This area of art history is often referred to as the early modern era is an exciting period in the world of art architecture. Students who choose this field of study will explore the art and architecture of Europe beginning in the Renaissance to the French Revolution. The study of the early modern era begins with "rebirth" (Renaissance) of the visual arts, focusing on the artistic works of the great Italian and Northern Renaissance masters, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Albrecht Dürer and Jan van Eyck. The Renaissance is followed by the art of the counter-reformation in the 17th century - Baroque Art and Architecture - including such artists as Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, and Velazquez. Students will examine along with the impact of the Counter Reformation, global exploration and early modern science on the art and architecture of the period. The early modern period comes to a close with the art and architecture in Europe and the Americas during the 18th century, a period of rich cultural and intellectual exchange known as the "Enlightenment." Classes in this area address a number of key themes in the playful, sensual style known as the Rococo; complex treatments of gender; the fascination with nature and science; and encounters both economic and cultural with people of other parts of the world, notably China. Minors that pair well with a BA degree in this area are Anthropology, History, Museum Studies, Foreign Languages, Gender Studies, International Studies, Natural Sciences such as Biology, Philosophy, and Religious Studies. For those students interested in art restoration, a Chemistry minor is desirable. For those students pursuing a BFA with a concentration in Art History with an emphasis in early modern art and architecture, a secondary in glass, painting, pottery, printmaking, sculpture, or interdisciplinary is desirable.

 

Modern (19th and early 20th century): Students who choose this field of art history will focus on the art and architecture of Europe and the United States during the 19th and early 20th century. In this period of art history there is a strong emphasis on the rapid changes resulting from industrialism and democratic revolutionary movements. The major movements in the period of Modern art include Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism, most of which developed in the art center of Paris. There is often an emphasis on social and political themes in this area of art history. All of the courses in this field can be used towards a minor in Museum Studies. Minors that pair well with an Art History degree in this area are History, Museum Studies, Foreign Languages, Philosophy, International Studies, and Gender Studies. For those students interested in art restoration, a Chemistry minor is suggested. For those students pursuing a BFA with a concentration in Art History with an emphasis in Modern art and architecture, a secondary in glass, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, or interdisciplinary is desirable.

 

Contemporary (1965-Present): Students who choose this field of art history will focus on the art and architecture from the mid-20th to the 21st century from around the globe with emphasis on the United States. In this period of art history there is a break from the modernist artistic canon and a desire to move away from the traditional Western cultural model, preferring instead global, multicultural, interdisciplinary, and multimedia practices. Some of the movements in the period of Contemporary art include Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, Performance Art, and Neo-Expressionism to name a few. There is often an emphasis on social and political themes in this area of art history. All of the courses in this field can be used towards a minor in Museum Studies. Minors that pair well with an Art History degree in this area are History, Museum Studies, Foreign Languages, Philosophy, International Studies and Gender Studies. For those students interested in art restoration, a Chemistry minor is suggested. For those students pursuing a BFA with a concentration in Art History with an emphasis in Contemporary art and architecture, a secondary in animation, glass, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, or interdisciplinary is desirable.

 

Careers for Art Historians:

While art historians go into a variety of jobs, the most common are those associated with Museums such as Museum Curator, Museum Registrar, and Archivists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “employment of archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators is projected to grow 7 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need to store information in archives and public interest in science, art, and history, will continue to spur demand for archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators.”

 

Other careers to consider with an art history degree:

  • Antiquarian Book Trade
  • Artist Representative
  • Estate and Art Appraiser
  • Preservationist and Conservationist
  • Antiques Dealer
  • Consignment Director at Auction Houses
  • Art Lawyer
  • Freelance Collection Manager
  • Publishing
  • Architectural Conservation
  • Art Librarian
  • Freelance Writer
  • Teaching (at all levels of education)
  • Art Advisor
  • Arts Organization Consultant
  • Local, State, and Federal Governmental Agency Jobs
    • Includes historical preservationists, archivists, curators, and registrars
  • Visual Resource Curator

In addition many art history majors go on to work in business, marketing, and law.

 

Degree Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Art History

The B.A. program requires completion of the general education requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences, requirements for a minor, and enough elective courses for credit hours to total 120. At least 32 hours of courses numbered 300 or higher must be taken at this University, including a minimum of 15 hours of upper-division art courses. Two courses must be designated writing credit (W) courses, at least one of which is in the art program. A minimum of 39 hours in art history and studio courses is required. All students must complete the core requirements and those listed under one of two concentrations, art history or art studio.

BA Concentration in Art

Course Title

 

Credit Hours

Core Courses:

 

15

ARH 103

Art History I

3 hrs

 

ARH 123

Art History II

3 hrs

 

ARH 344

Contemporary Art

3 hrs

 

ARS 123

Two-Dimensional Design

3 hrs

 

ARS 124

Three-Dimensional Design

3 hrs

 

 
Art History: 24 hours

In addition to the core requirements, 24 hours in art history courses including ARH 492 Seminar, ARH 493 Methodology of Art History, and at least one 300 or 400 level course in each of the following areas:

  1. Ancient Art - ARH 304, ARH 306
  2. Medieval Art - ARH 312, ARH 415
  3. Renaissance Art and Baroque Art - ARH 322, ARH 324, ARH 326, ARH 330, ARH 332, ARH 335, ARH 434
  4. Modern Art - ARH 340, ARH 345, ARH 346 Seminar and Special Topics courses may be used to satisfy area requirements.
 
Language Requirements in Art History:

The art history concentration requires two years (12 hours) of university level study or equivalent proficiency in French or German. French and German are the preferred languages because they are required by most M.A. and Ph.D. programs in art history.

                                          

Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Concentration in Art History

 

Requirements

Credit Hours

General Education Requirements

 

Written composition: EH 101, EH 102

6

Oral communication: CA 110 

3

Fine Arts - Art History: ARH 103, ARH 123, ARH 344, 6 hours in elective Art History courses

15

Humanities: One approved course in literature  (EH 215, EH 216, EH 225, EH 226, EH 235, EH 236)

3

History, Social and Behavioral Sciences:

 

HY 101-102 or HY 135-136

6

Two approved 100/200 level courses in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, International Studies, Political Science, Psychology or Sociology (AN 100, AN 101, ECO 215, ECO 216, GEO114, GEO 115, IS 100, PSC 130, PSY 120, PSY 250, SY 109, SY 112)

6

Natural Sciences and Mathematics:

 

MA 110, 112, or higher level course

3

Two courses in laboratory sciences (AN 210, BLY 101, BLY 102, CH 101, CH 103, CH 131 or CH 141, CH 132 or CH 141, GEO 101, GEO 102, GY 111, GY 112, PH 101, PH 104, PH 114 or PH 201, PH 115 or PH 202)

8

Art Core Requirement

 

Drawing: five course including ARS 121, ARS 122, one or two 200 level courses, and at least one 300 or higher level drawing course, or ARS 326

15

Design: ARS 123, ARS 124

6

One of the following:

 

Professional Practices (studio students): ARS 396

3

Business Practices for Graphic Design (graphic design students): ARS 479

3

Methodology of Art History (art history students): ARH 493

3

Courses in section "c" satisfy technology requirements.

 

 

Senior Thesis: Students with a primary concentration in Art History must complete six hours of ARH 498: Senior Thesis. The thesis is to be taken over a two semester period during the student's senior year.

Individuals pursuing BFA in Art History must take ARH 493 Methodology of Art History in the Art Core section C. In addition to the General Education and Art Core requirements, a primary concentration in Art History requires 30 hours in Art History to include ARH 492 or ARH 480, ARH 408 (6 hours), and at least one course in each of the following areas:

  1. Ancient Art - ARH 304, ARH 306.
  2. Medieval Art - ARH 312, ARH 415
  3. Renaissance Art and Baroque Art - ARH 322, ARH 324, ARH 326, ARH 330, ARH 332, ARH 434.
  4. Modern Art - ARH 340, ARH 345, ARH 346.  ARH 290 Special Topics, ARH 390, Special Topics, and ARH 492 Seminar, may be used to satisfy area requirements.

 

Secondary Studio Concentrations

Fifteen hours in studio areas. Secondary concentrations are available in Ceramics, Glass, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture and Interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary Secondary consists of 9 credits in one area and 6 credits in any combination of the other areas.

 

Requirements for a double primary concentration

In lieu of a secondary concentration, students may complete a second primary concentration. This will require course work in excess of the 120 hours minimum required for the B.F.A. and may delay time to graduation. To complete a Double Primary Concentration, students must complete Primary Concentration requirements in two separate areas including Senior Thesis or Senior Portfolio where applicable.

                                   

Visual Arts Highlights

The Department of Visual Arts boasts over 25,000 sq. ft. of dedicated studio space and two 60 person lecture halls in its own complex built around a central courtyard. The Department offers concentrations in ten areas and an MFA program in Creative Technologies and Practice. Among the offerings, Animation and Glass are particularly noteworthy in that they are the only programs of their kinds in the state. The Department also houses an exhibition space and maintains a visiting artist program through which internationally recognized artists and scholars conduct lectures, demonstrations and workshops.

 

The Department of Visual Arts offers numerous Art Scholarships such as:

Gordon B. and Martha Kahn Endowed Scholarship

Freshman/ Sophomore Scholarship

Robert Snell Art Scholarship

The Visual Arts Scholarship

 

Student Groups

There are a number of student organizations within the department of visual arts: Art History Association, Glass Club (Jaglass), Graphic Design Student Association, Photography Association, Object Association, South Paw Press - Printmaking Student Organization, Oracle Fine Arts Review, and Student Art Association.

 

Internships

Students can have internships at the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile Art Council, Alabama Contemporary, History Museum of Mobile, Pensacola Museum of Art and Oakleigh House.

 

Community Service

The Visual Arts Department and its student associations are actively involved in the Mobile community. The Art History Student Organization has volunteered at the Mobile Museum of Art, Art Soup (a benefit for the homeless), and The Bragg-Mitchel Mansion, among others. They are also frequent attendees of Mobile’s Art Walk. The Visual Arts Department offers a variety of art demonstrations and lectures both to the university and Mobile communities.

 

Study Abroad Opportunities

The Department of Visual Arts at the University of South Alabama hosts a study abroad experience in Spain. The program is based in the medieval city of Toledo, a world heritage site, with excursions to Madrid to visit the Prado, Reina Sophia, Palacio Real, and Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums, an excursion to El Escorial to tour the palace, monastery and museum, and to Segovia to tour the Alcazar and cathedral, and a two day excursion to the cities of Granada and Cordoba visiting the Alhambra and the Mesquita. The program is guided and courses taught by USA Visual Arts professors. Up to six credit hours may be earned in studio art and/or art history courses with some work required prior to and after the trip. 

 

Academic Plan

Following an academic plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years. 

To see a sample academic plan for the BA in Art History, please click here.  To see a sample academic plan for the BFA in Art History, please click here. Degree plans provide only a suggested schedule; make sure to meet with your academic advisor to find the actual schedule that is right for you.

For additional degree information, visit the undergraduate bulletin.

 

For More Information

For more information on these programs, contact the department of Visual Arts chair, Jason Guynes, at (251) 461-1441 or jguynes@southalabama.edu

You can find us on campus at:

Visual Arts Department
Visual Arts Building (VAB), Room 172
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 461-1438

Department website

 

*The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other majors, please refer to the USA bulletin or contact the department/College directly.