History of Art and Architecture

Professor Jennifer Roberts, Director of Undergraduate Studies

The History of Art and Architecture concentration offers training in the historical interpretation and critical analysis of the visual arts and architecture. It develops the skills of visual discrimination and verbal expression fundamental to art historical analysis.
Encompassing material from the widest range of geographic and historical origins, art history is itself a multifaceted discipline embracing many different methods, perspectives and interests. Sometimes it deduces from works of art the time and place of their making, or the identity of their makers. Sometimes it examines how concepts, ideals, and sensibilities of people of the past are expressed in their art, and further, how that art influenced wider aspects of their culture.  Sometimes it explores within large-scale fabrications (buildings, towns, cities) the dynamic between human and natural worlds. These and other approaches are reflected in the teaching and scholarship of the History of Art and Architecture faculty.

Training in the critical analysis of art seeks to clarify the perception—and understanding—of how artworks relate to the techniques and materials used in their making, and to the environment in which they are seen. It also fosters the ability to make and explain judgments of quality and value. Instruction in critical analysis is aided by the history of art and architecture department’s partnership with one of the world’s greatest teaching museums, comprising the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler Museums. This offers students a unique opportunity of first-hand study of original works of art in many media.

Concentration requirements insure that students are well versed in both the historical and critical facets of the field. Generally, course work offers coverage of the history of art, while a sequence of small-group tutorials develop critical skills.  For students with a special interest in architecture, the concentration offers courses on architectural history and urban planning, while also helping to advise in, and coordinate, relevant coursework undertaken beyond the department.  Courses in the History of Art and Architecture undergraduate curriculum are structured as a three-tier system, consisting of a sequence of entry-level and field-specific introductory courses, upper-level courses, and tutorials.

History of Art and Architecture (HAA) 1, HAA 10, and HAA 11 are general, conceptual introductions (to world art from pre-history to the present, history of later western art, and history of world architecture, respectively) each of which could serve as a point of entry into the courses and concentration of History of Art and Architecture.

Tutorials are small-group seminars which discuss the methodology of the discipline or examine a specific research topic in the discipline. These are intended to provide increasing expertise in critical and analytical thinking, and serve as a basis for independent senior research projects. The senior thesis offers a student the opportunity to apply in greater depth one or more of the methods and aims developed in courses and tutorials, although, of course, theses often deal with subjects not included in class work.

The concentration in History of Art and Architecture can be pursued in conjunction with several other concentrations, most commonly Visual and Environmental Studies, English, Anthropology, Literature, area studies, or Romance Languages. Together with the Departments of the Classics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Anthropology, the Department of History of Art and Architecture initiates students in the study of archaeology.

Students wishing to pursue specific interests, such as architecture, may receive advising from appropriate faculty as arranged by the director of undergraduate studies.

Requirements for all concentrators, joint and full, provide exposure to a variety of areas within art history, as well as allow for the selection of a major field focus from among the following: African, Ancient (Egypt, Ancient Near East, Greece, Rome), Architecture, Baroque and Rococo, Byzantine, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Islamic, Latin American/Pre-Columbian, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary, and Renaissance.

A History of Art and Architecture concentration is an effective core to a liberal arts education, and not merely pre-professional training for future art historians. The history of art and architecture is virtually unique among academic disciplines in studying the products of societies in every part of the world over the entire span of history, from the Paleolithic cave paintings to the works of our closest contemporaries.

Students concerned with joint concentration, credit for work done elsewhere, and late transfer into History of Art and Architecture should consult with the director of undergraduate studies. All concentrators should arrange advising appointments with the director of undergraduate studies at the start of each term.

REQUIREMENTS
Basic Requirements: 12 half-courses

  1. Required courses:

    1. Four half-courses from offered introductory courses, numbered History of Art and Architecture 1–89. (Freshmen considering the concentration should normally take at least one of these in their freshman year, although this is not a prerequisite for the concentration.)

    2. Three half-courses in a major field chosen from the list in item 5c.

    3. Two half-courses in two different areas outside the major field to be chosen from courses with two or three-digit numeration or offerings in the Core Curriculum and Program in General Education.

    4. One half-course of History of Art and Architecture 97r (see item 2a).

    5. One half-course of History of Art and Architecture 98ar (see item 2b).

    6. One half-course of History of Art and Architecture 98br (see item 2b).
      Note: Of the twelve half-courses required, a distribution requirement must be fulfilled as follows:

      1. One half-course in items 1a, 1b, 1c, or 1d must be in Asian, Islamic, African, or Latin American/Pre-Columbian if the major field is in any area of European or North American art or architecture; or one half-course in European or North American art or architecture if the major field is Asian, Islamic, African, or Latin American/Pre-Columbian.

      2. Two half-courses in two different periods other than that of the major field.

        No more than five of the series of courses numbered History of Art and Architecture 10-89 may be taken for concentration credit, except with the approval of the director of undergraduate studies. The balance should be tutorials and upper-level courses.

  2. Tutorials:

    1. Sophomore year: History of Art and Architecture 97r (one term) required. Letter-graded. Group tutorial, offers concentrators the choice of several study groups investigating a particular field of art history.

    2. Junior year: History of Art and Architecture 98ar (one term) and History of Art and Architecture 98br (one term) required. Letter-graded. History of Art and Architecture 98ar, faculty tutorial, consists of weekly meetings with designated faculty, where regular reading and writing assignments are focused on a topic of mutual interest. History of Art and Architecture 98br is an introduction to the methods and research skills of art history. History of Art and Architecture 98ar and 98br need not be taken in sequential order.

  3. Thesis: None.

  4. General Examinations: None.

  5. Other information:

    1. History of art and architecture courses may include: Core and General Education courses given by members of the Department of History of Art and Architecture; all historical courses in visual and environmental studies; classical archaeology; selected courses in the Core Curriculum and Program in General Education, the humanities, anthropology, and African and African American studies; certain offerings of the Graduate School of Design; and certain Freshman Seminars. The designation of any course taken outside the Department of History of Art and Architecture as a concentration course is subject to the approval of the director of undergraduate studies. No more than two half-courses may be “imported” into the concentration by petition over and above those which are already cross-listed; exceptions for coursework done as part of study abroad programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    2. Pass/Fail: Normally, no work taken Pass/Fail will be accepted as part of the concentration; however, the director of undergraduate studies may make an exception for not more than one half-course in studio arts, or a Freshman Seminar (graded SAT/UNS).

    3. Major fields: Students elect one of the categories below as an area of focus.

      African
      Ancient
      Architecture
      Baroque and Rococo
      Byzantine
      Chinese
      Indian
      Islamic
      Japanese
      Latin American/Pre-Columbian
      Medieval
      Modern and Contemporary
      Renaissance

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 14 half-courses

  1. Required courses: Same as Basic Requirements.

  2. Tutorials:

         a-b. Same as Basic Requirements.

    1. Senior Year: History of Art and Architecture 99 (two terms) required. Graded SAT/UNS. In the fall term, History of Art and Architecture 99 includes several group tutorial meetings with the senior honors adviser, where assignments are aimed at facilitating the writing of a senior thesis (See item 3).

  3. Thesis: Required, ordinarily written as part of History of Art and Architecture 99. A student who does not complete the thesis but wishes to receive full- or half-course credit for History of Art and Architecture 99 must submit a paper or other substantial piece of work. Only students with a minimum grade point average of 3.00 within the concentration are eligible to write a thesis.

  4. General Examination: None.

  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.

Joint Concentration Requirements: 8 half-courses and thesis

Students applying for a joint concentration must confer with the director of undergraduate studies to establish a well-conceived three-year plan.

  1. Required courses (six): Two courses chosen from the introductory course offerings numbered History of Art and Architecture 1-89, two upper-level courses in the major field, and two in other fields.

  2. Tutorials (two): History of Art and Architecture 98ar, and History of Art and Architecture 98br.

  3. Thesis: Required. Full course (2 terms). Should be registered in the primary concentration, with the approval of the allied concentration.

  4. General Examination: None.

ADVISING

Departmental academic advising is provided by the faculty, and by the director of undergraduate studies, who meets individually with concentrators to discuss course selection, tutorials, and thesis topics (usually at the beginning of each term and by appointment at other times).  Students are reminded, however, that they are each ultimately responsible for the fulfillment of concentration requirements, and should check regularly on the current status of their progress. Procedural information and advice is available throughout the year in the Undergraduate Office. Please contact the undergraduate coordinator, Thomas Batchelder (Sackler Museum, Room 208, 617-495-2310), who is available on a walk-in basis during most regular office hours.

For up-to-date information on advising in History of Art and Architecture, please see the Advising Programs Office website.

RESOURCES

History of Art and Architecture concentrators benefit from the unusually rich University collections of Harvard’s five museums: the Fogg, Sackler, Busch-Reisinger, Semitic, and Peabody museums containing Western, Asian, and ethnographic art. (Please note that the Fogg Art Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum will be closed to the public for a renovation project which is expected to last approximately 5 years. During the renovation, selected works from the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler collections will be on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum beginning in Fall 2008.) Concentrators often have an opportunity to be involved in aspects of museum operations, working with curators and museum staff to research pieces in the collection and/or share in the mounting of exhibitions. Harvard’s library holdings in art and archaeology include more than 250,000 books and more than 1,500,000 photographs and slides.

The Museum of Fine Arts ,the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Arts are three of Boston’s great cultural resources.  Entrance to these institutions is free to undergraduates who show their Harvard ID cards at the door.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

For further information regarding the concentration contact the undergraduate office, Sackler Museum Room 208, 617-495-2310. Office hours: Monday through Friday, 9–5.

CORE AND GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

Non-exempt areas:

Exempt areas:

†Foreign Cultures

Historical Study A

†Historical Study B

Literature and Arts B

Literature and Arts A

Literature and Arts B

Moral Reasoning

ONE of the areas marked †.

Quantitative Reasoning

 

Science A

 

Science B

 

Social Analysis

 

For more information on fulfilling the Core requirement, see the Core Curriculum Requirement.

All students—regardless of concentration—planning to graduate under the requirements of the Program in General Education must complete one letter-graded course in each of the eight categories in General Education. The Class of 2013 is the first to enter the College under these requirements. Students who entered Harvard College in September 2008 or earlier are expected to fulfill the requirements of the Core Curriculum, but will be permitted to switch to the Program in General Education if such a change is possible and advisable given their overall schedule and plan of study. For more information on the requirements of the Program in General Education and the possibility of switching to it, please see The Program in General Education in Chapter 2 and the General Education website.

 ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

History of Art & Architecture

50

51

47

48

62

History of Art & Architecture + another field

4

4

3

4

4

Another field + History of Art & Architecture

7

7

5

5

6