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Art history is the study of visual and material culture. From Neanderthal cave paintings to contemporary street art, from monumental architecture to photography and performance art, it addresses the history of visual expression across geographies, media, and technologies.

About the Major

The transdisciplinary nature of art history means that students draw upon a broad range of subjects and approaches that span the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Hamilton is just one of those places that is really special. Everyone there is just so motivated and into their own thing, and they get you excited about it as well.

Teddy Altman ’15 — art history major

Courses encourage students to explore an expansive understanding of the field of art history, including not only visual art and architectural history, but also popular imagery, new media, and material culture. Our students learn to bring a diverse range of interdisciplinary practices and critical interests to bear upon the interpretation of their visual environment.

 

Careers After Hamilton

  • 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

Contact Information


Art History Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4380 315-859-4464 arthistory@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Introduction to Visual Studies 130FS


Our world is saturated by images, from the screens that surround us to retinal projection, yet most of us struggle to interpret what we see. We are immersed in visual technologies that shape our behavior, from computer games to AR, yet few of us know how such technologies are created. The course introduces students to a critical examination of images both by tracing current visual technologies to their historical origins and by working with emerging technologies to produce such applied examples as: logo design, digital mapping, and 3-D modeling within the context of a Digital Studio component. Proseminar.

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Intersections in Global Art 152F


In this course we will look closely at 32 objects (roughly one per day) that embody significant intersections among different cultures and/or periods. The objects range from a prehistoric African axe to contemporary street art in Athens, Greece. We will be learning about how to look at works of art and how to effectively express our thoughts about them in spoken and written words. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar). Open to first- and second-year students only. Maximum enrollment, 16. McEnroe. Writing-intensive. Proseminar.

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The Portrait from Pharaoh to Facebook 230S


The course is both a chronological study of portraiture and an exploration of the complex strategies by which individuals and groups have deployed visual forms to construct representations of their identities. We will explore the myriad purposes to which such representations have been put, including tomb effigies and commemoration, state-certified identification, mug shots, and the digital construction of self. Ultimately, we will try to better understand the power and persistence of the portrait genre, from self-portraits to wax seals, from selfies to statues, and from pharaoh to Facebook.

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Political Power and Cultural Authority: The Arts of China 258F


Historical examination of the ethico-aesthetic, religio-philosophical and socio-political values expressed in the indigenous arts associated with the imperial court, the scholar's studio, the marketplace and the subtle art of dissent. Chinese material culture, including painting, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, jade, ritual bronzes, architecture and silk robes.

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Greece, Rome, and the Mediterranean 262S


Traditionally we have studied ancient Greece and Rome in isolation from the surrounding world, as places that shaped the beginnings of “western” civilization. This course takes a broader view. We shall explore the ancient Mediterranean as a place of dynamic interaction from the Levant though Egypt, North Africa, Greece, Italy, and the islands in between. Far from standing in isolation, the arts of ancient Greece and Rome participated in these transnational cultural networks. Writing-intensive.

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Avant Garde: Cinema as Theory and Critique 301F


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.

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