Bachelor of Arts Art History

Bachelor of Arts, Art History

The Bachelor of Arts, BA, is a liberal arts degree consisting of 120 hours.
View the Catalog of Studies for the BA in Art History

Statement of purpose:

The discipline of Art History focuses on the study of visual objects. In Art History classes, the activity is not the creation of art works, but rather the analysis of art forms that have been created from prehistory to the present and produced in a variety of cultures. Art History examines all kinds of visual production. Art History focused upon not just painting, sculpture, and architecture, but also (among others) drawing, photography, printmaking, crafts, decorative arts, furniture, digital art, performance art--virtually any artistic expressions that have a visual component.

Art historians analyze art works in many different ways. Traditionally, Art History was associated with close visual examination of the art work--what we call “formal” analysis--and with attribution and connoisseurship, that is, the determination of which artist made a particular work. But Modern Art History examines art works from a very wide and often interdisciplinary point of view, considering questions such as: What iconographic meanings are communicated by the works? How do art works relate to their religious contexts and functions? How are art works shaped by their social, political, and economic environment or by the patrons who commissioned them? How are various ideologies communicated via art?

Our program strengths include top-notch faculty members with national and international reputations, trained at the top Art History programs in the country, who have established, or are in the process of establishing, distinguished research records. Faculty members have received national book awards as well as national fellowship awards. The ARHS faculty members are all gifted teachers as well, with some receiving major teaching awards.

List courses and sections required for completion of:

ARHS 2913 Art History Survey I
ARHS 2923 Art History Survey II
2 Courses (6 hrs)  Two seminar courses in Art History
1 Course (3 hrs) One elective course in either Studio Art or Art History
6 Courses (18 hrs) Upper-level courses in Art History

Include at least two (2) upper-level courses selected from each of the following groups:

 Group I

ARHS 4563 Pre-Columbian Art
ARHS 4573 Artists of New Spain
ARHS 4733 St. Peter’s and the Vatican
ARHS 4734 Medieval Architecture
ARHS 4753 Renaissance and Baroque Arch.
ARHS 4833 Ancient Art
ARHS 4843 Medieval Art
ARHS 4853 Italian Renaissance Art
ARHS 4863 Northern Renaissance Art
ARHS 4873 Baroque Art
ARHS 4983 Special Topics in Art History

Group II

ARHS 4763 Seminar in Critical Theory
ARHS 4813 History of Photography
ARHS 4823 History of Graphic Design
ARHS 4883 18th&19th Century European Art 
ARHS 4893 20th Century European Art
ARHS 4913 American Art to 1860
ARHS 4923 American Art 1860-1960
ARHS 4933 Contemporary Art
ARHS 4993 Special Topics in Modern Art

Through the 2-semester required survey (ARHS 2913, 2923) and the required 18 hours of period courses, students are given general knowledge of the monuments of all major periods of the past. The required 6 hours in the Group 2 area of Modern Art give students a broad understanding of art of the 20th century. Courses in Pre-Columbian Art (ARHS 4563) and Artists of New Spain (ARHS 4573) offer acquaintanceship with the art history of non-European/North American cultures; in addition, some faculty include non-Western content in their survey classes (but not all). The requirement for 6 hours of seminar in Art History meets the standard for more in-depth study at the seminar-level. The upper-division courses and seminars typically include theory, analysis, and criticism, and we offer as well a Seminar in Critical Theory (ARHS 4763).

The study of the context of art works in all our Art History offerings develops a general knowledge of world history. All of our upper-division classes require analytical and/or research papers, each of at least 10 pages in length; most of these classes include specific training in research methods and in analytical writing. We also require short analytical papers in our survey classes.

Our ARHS major requires the completion of one foreign language to the level of Intermediate 2 (fourth semester) competence and hence meets standards for adequate mastery of a foreign language to support research.

In addition, the success of our program is evident through the following signs of student success in recent years. Students have been successful in obtaining admission to graduate schools, museum internships, and art history research conferences:

  • graduate school admissions to Art History programs: Boston University (Ph.D); Williams College (M.A.); Northumbria University at Newcastle upon Tyne (England, M.A. in Conservation of Fine Art); University of Utah (M.A); Florida State University (Ph.D)
  • major fellowship: Fulbright scholarship to support study at Northumbria University at Newcastle upon Tyne
  • presentation of papers at Arkansas Undergraduate Art History Symposium: 2016 (Rom, Hollis); 2015 (Eagan); 2013 (Volkroth); 2012 (Owen)
  • presentation of paper at Oklahoma Conference of Art Historians 2012 (Owen)
  • presentation of paper at Mid-America Humanities Conference at the University of Kansas, Lawrence 2013 (Owen)
  • internships: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art;  Dallas Museum of Art