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About the Major

Art History encompasses the study of visual and material culture, performance, and the built environment across geographies, media, and technologies. The transdisciplinary nature of art and architectural history allows students to draw upon a broad range of subjects and approaches that span the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Concentrators hone skills in visual literacy, critical thinking, written and oral communication, and engage with innovative digital technologies. Many of our courses provide students with opportunities for experiential and project-based learning, from working with collections at the Wellin Museum and Burke Library, to field trips to regional museums and historical sites, to creating virtual exhibitions and digital visual narratives.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Analyze material and visual culture and/or the built environment as a form of visual literacy
  • Apply art historical and interdisciplinary methods of analysis to the study of material and visual culture and/or the built environment
  • Draw connections between the past and present to illuminate the relevance of both
  • Identify how particular scholarly discourses and practices have contributed to social, structural, and institutional hierarchies in art history’s own history

A Sampling of Courses

9. U.S. bombing airplane over enemy territory, 1918

Ways of Seeing: Vision, Technology, Media

This course provides students with a historical and theoretical foundation for understanding how contemporary visual media informs, persuades, and shapes our experience. Our starting points will often be the types of images that surround us today: social media news feeds and advertisements, infographics, selfies, stock photos, and CAPTCHA tests. Students will engage with foundational texts in visual and media studies and develop tools to critically analyze, discuss, and write about the images that come to us through physical and virtual networks.

Explore these select courses:

This class involves the study of the formless divine and the corporeal nature of the body in South and Southeast Asian art. We will examine representations of the Buddha, the Jina, gods and goddesses, queens and kings, and an array of apotropaic motifs in sacred art and architecture from India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Case studies are chosen from a period spanning over two thousand years, beginning with the third century BCE and ending with portrayals of the divine in contemporary art.

This course surveys the art and architecture of Europe during the Middle Ages from ca. 500-1400. We will focus on key artworks and monuments made and built in Europe from the Visigoths and Vikings to the Valois court, as well as examine cross-cultural interactions across religious and political boundaries in medieval Africa, the Arctic, and the Mediterranean. Students will develop an awareness of the production, function, and social context of medieval visual culture through the close study of architecture, manuscript, metalwork, mosaic, painting, sculpture, and textile. Despite our historical distance from the Middle Ages, we will also consider how medieval imagery remains relevant to our current visual world.  

Art & Social Change explores the history of artistic production as political activism. From the early efforts of painters, sculptors, and photographers in the nineteenth century to more recent developments in experimental media, artists have offered not only social critique but also attempted direct political intervention. Whether addressed to issues of race, class, gender, globalization, or ecological precarity, this course grapples with art’s ability to affect social change.

A history of alternatives to commercial movies, focusing on surrealist and dadaist film, visual music, psychodrama, direct cinema, the film society movement, personal cinema, the New American Cinema, structuralism, Queer cinema, feminist cinema, minor cinema, recycled cinema and devotional cinema. While conventional entertainment films use the novel, the short story and the stage drama as their primary instigations, experimental and avant-garde films are analogous to music, poetry, painting, sculpture and collage.

This course examines architecture’s historical relationship with the environment by engaging with broad Anthropocene questions. We will trace changing conceptions of "nature" through the study of the co-production of architecture and the environment, and the ways in which designers continually reconceive the human-nature relationship. Topics include colonial land management, materiality, infrastructure and resource extraction (eg. Erie Canal, dams, solar farms), waste, architecture of logistics (eg. Walmart and Amazon), eco-cities and sustainable urbanism, and landscapes of food production.

Meet Our Faculty

Nadya Bair

Assistant Professor of Art History

history of photography; modern and contemporary visual culture; media studies; digital humanities

Susan Jarosi

Associate Professor of Art History

art and visual culture since 1950; performance art; trauma studies; gender in visual studies; economic histories of the arts

Ruth Lo

Assistant Professor of Art History

modern and contemporary architecture; history of urbanism; architecture and politics; environmental humanities; food studies

Arathi Menon

Assistant Professor of Art History

South Asian art; visual culture of Indian Ocean trade; churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples in Kerala; syncretism; religious iconography; artistic agency; digital art history

Laura Tillery

Assistant Professor of Art History

Medieval and early modern art in Northern Europe; Scandinavian studies; economics and trade; religious iconography; history and methods of art history

Explore Hamilton Stories

Laura Tillery

Meet the New Faculty: Laura Tillery, Art History

Next up in our series of chats with new tenure track faculty is Laura Tillery, assistant professor of art history. See what she has to say about her use of object-based learning and the advantages of having the Wellin Museum as a resource.

Yashua Klos mural Wellin

Rare Opportunity for Students at the Wellin

Jane Taylor ’22, an art history and biology double-major, was among students who worked with artist Yashua Klos on his upcoming exhibition at the Wellin Museum. See what she has to say about the experience.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in art history are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Account Manager, Sotheby’s
  • Vice President and Real Estate Counsel, Lehman Brothers
  • Cataloguer, Lang Antiques
  • President, McGraw-Hill Professional
  • Sales Manager, NBC News
  • Senior Vice President, William Doyle Galleries
  • Tour Coordinator, Academic Arrangements Abroad
  • Presidential Innovation Fellow, The White House
  • President, Nye & Co. Auctioneers


Department Name

Art History Department

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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