The Department of Art and Archaeology is devoted to the study and criticism of the visual arts and the investigation of material artifacts from a wide range of cultures and historical periods. It is also where students interested in the practice of art (taught by faculty in the Program in Visual Arts) can pursue a major. Current faculty members explore subjects as diverse as Roman city planning, Islamic archaeology, Chinese cinema, and contemporary painting, but are united in their belief that the visual arts offer key insights into the past and stimulate ideas and personal growth in the present.
In a world that seems to be taking a "visual turn," understanding the history and workings of visual culture has assumed an increasing importance. Students in the Department of Art and Archaeology learn techniques for analyzing visual materials and locating them within time and place. They also investigate the factors that influence the form and direction of stylistic change (such as religious beliefs, economic constraints, patronage demands, technological change, and so forth). And as studio artists, they engage in the creative transformation of these observations and experiences into works of art. Like any social scientists or humanists, they must evaluate evidence (documentary, textual, or pictorial), form hypotheses, test their data, and draw conclusions. Successful majors master the translation of visual perceptions into linguistic or material expression, develop their visual memory, and make connections with a wide array of other historical evidence.
A major in the Department of Art & Archaeology prepares students for a variety of careers and a range of graduate programs. Our majors have earned graduate degrees in art history, fine arts, art education, museum studies, architecture, archaeology, comparative literature, area studies (such as Classics, Asian Studies, African American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, European Studies), languages, and history. In addition, majors regularly enter medical, law, public policy, and business schools. The skills developed in the Department also can form the bases for future careers in teaching, journalism, publishing, communication and media, museum work, not-for-profit organizations, architecture, design, advertising, and marketing.