Methods and Theories of Art History

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Doel vak

This course aims at familiarizing students with the heterogeneous array
of methods and theories used in the (international) discipline of art
history, including their historiography. Students will be enabled to
identify and compare various approaches as to their usefulness with
respect to various research questions and the paradigms underlying them.
Thus they will also critically reflect on the theoretical foundations of
the discipline and arm themselves for future research. At the end of
this course, the student is expected:
1) to be able to recognize and characterize various methods, theories,
perspectives and approaches that are common in the discipline of art
2) to be familiar with the history of these methods and theories as well
as with the discipline’s historiography at large,
3) to be able to compare and reflect on the pro’s and con’s of various
methods and approaches with respect to various research questions,
4) to understand how to critically and effectively use various methods,
theories, perspectives and/or approaches in concrete research cases,
5) to be conscious of his or her own theoretical and methodological
inclinations in the field of art history.

Inhoud vak

Art historians don’t have fixed formulae for their research, but the
discipline is based on a rich history of theoretical and methodological
perspectives which shape what we term art history today. Very often,
research draws on a combination of various methodological or theoretical
concepts to do justice to the concrete object of interest or research
question at hand. In the class Methods and Theories of Art History, we
will first discuss various approaches and perspectives, including
connoisseurship, style analysis, iconography, and ‘new art history’.
Participants are then asked to reflect on their own ‘use’ of approaches
and methods in the past (assignment 1). Subsequently there will be
lectures and seminars (with discussions of key texts) organized around
central themes such as technical or object-oriented art history,
theories of authorship, theories of spectatorship, and issues of
canonization. Each of these themes will be introduced by and discussed
with staff members with special expertise in these fields (based on
preparatory literature), followed by student presentations: Participants
are asked to choose a topic or case study relating to one of the central
themes, to be presented and discussed in class and resulting in a
written paper focusing on (the value of) various methodological
approaches and/or the fundamentals of the debate at hand.


lectures and seminars


active participation; 2 presentations (20%); 2 written papers (40%);
oral exam (40%). All assignments have to be graded with a 6.0 or higher
in order to pass for this course.

Active participation during the seminars is expected. Students must have
read the texts to be prepared and be able to relate them to the theme at
hand and to each other.
Students will be assessed on the basis of:
(1) a reflection presented as a short paper as well as in class (to be
judged sufficient), testing students’ familiarity with questions of
theory and methodology,
(2) a presentation on the chosen research subject (20%), to test
students’ ability to compare, reflect on and discuss various methods,
theories and approaches,
(3) a paper of 2500 words on the chosen research subject (40%, to be
graded 6.0 or higher to get credit for this course), to test the
students’ ability to compare and reflect on various methods, theories
and approaches in writing on an academic level, and
(4) an oral exam on all course material (40%, also to be graded 6.0 or
higher to get credit for this course), to test students’ grasp of the
history of the discipline, of its various theories and methodologies,
and of their own inclinations in this.


Margaret Iversen & Stephen Melville, Writing Art History: Disciplinary
Departures, Chicago (The University of Chicago Press) 2010, will be used
as introductory literature. Further literature will be announced on


Mandatory for MA students Art & Culture, specialization Kunst, Markt en
Connaisseurschap and Contemporary Art History; open to MA students
Curating Art and Cultures, ReMA students Critical Studies in Art &
Culture, and MA students Art & Culture, specialization Comparative Art
and Media Studies (CAMS)

Algemene informatie

Vakcode L_KAMAKGS403
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P1
Vakniveau 400
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. J.P. ten Berge
Examinator dr. J.P. ten Berge
Docenten dr. J.P. ten Berge
dr. S. Lutticken
prof. dr. K. Kwastek
dr. D. Meuwissen

Praktische informatie

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