The history of art serves as a central feature of a liberal arts curriculum as it examines the complex relationship between visual representation and culture and investigates the processes by which an art historical object acquires meaning within particular historical circumstances. Faculty members teach a wide range of courses from the Western and non-Western traditions.
The Art History curriculum provides both breadth and depth. Majors typically take two semesters of introductory courses, six intermediate-level courses, one advanced seminar, and the Senior Seminar. There is some flexibility explained below. The Senior Seminar is required of all majors and is recommended for the minors. Reading competence in a foreign language (completion of beginning-level language courses) is required by the college.
The survey courses, the history of western art (in two semesters), Introduction to Asian Art, Introduction to Islamic Art, and Survey of Architecture, provide a broad overview of art history and teach fundamental skills of the discipline, such as formal analysis and iconographic interpretation, as well as basic research and writing skills. Two surveys required for the major, usually ARHS 110 and 111. If students have AP scores of 4 or 5, they may enroll in intermediate level courses without the Survey prerequisite.
Intermediate-level courses presuppose an awareness of key monuments, an overall knowledge of the general concerns of particular historical periods, and a familiarity with the basic skills of the discipline. The relation of art and artists to society, to the history of events and ideas, and to the culture of the preceding periods and neighboring areas are examined and a growing sophistication with art historical methodology. There is an added emphasis on discussion and individual research in these courses. Six intermediate courses are required for the major.
Topics of advanced seminars vary from year to year. They are more specific in scope and allow students the opportunity to research a particular topic in depth. The Senior Seminar serves as a capstone course in which students study the foundations of the discipline, explore the variety of methodological approaches employed by art historians, and assess the current theoretical issues that have redefined the field. Two seminars are required for the major.
Art History majors are required to enroll in two studio art courses. In so doing, art history majors participate in creative activity to gain insight into the complex process of creativity as it demands intellectual acuity, manual dexterity, and emotional expression.
The Senior Capstone is a comprehensive examination, designed to measure the student's ability to treat significant concerns of the history of art with reference to traditional and contemporary literature. The exam, administered on two days, consists of a slide and an essay portion.
Most Art History majors and minors study off campus for all or part of their junior year. Students have studied in other cities in the United States-Washington, and Chicago, in many European capitals-Rome, Paris and London, and throughout the world-in Africa and Asia. With the opportunity to view and study works of art first hand, off-campus study programs significantly enhance Kenyon's art history curriculum.
Students also have the opportunity to study abroad during the Fall semesters as part of the Kenyon-Rome Program.