The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Learning Objectives

History of Art and Architecture Department Undergraduate Learning Objectives

1. Art History majors will acquire visual literacy, mastering visual analysis of works of art in all of its components – formal elements, style, materials and techniques, iconography, cultural and historical context. They will be able to accurately and clearly describe, in both writing and speaking, how the formal or visual characteristics of works of art as well as mass culture representations communicate meaning.

2. Art History majors will be able to recognize how specific works or representations relate to identifiable movements, styles, cultures, historical periods, and patterns of linguistic, visual, or gestural rhetoric. They will also understand how art expresses ideas and values specific to diverse cultures and time periods.

3. Majors will use their practical mastery of current knowledge, methodology and research techniques to work with original documents and works of art, to develop a sophisticated command of traditional print and photographic resources, and to make professional use of the newest developments in digital techniques and resources.

4. Art History majors will consider visual representations critically, integrating complex historical trends and philosophical concepts into the analysis of artistic production, and evaluating the historical continuity between past and present in art and visual culture.

5. Majors will recognize the fundamental relevance of the visual arts as significant expressions of complex and often conflicting social and political values in contemporary as well as historical cultures. They will be able to identify and comprehensively defend the significance of the visual arts in documenting and expressing diversity of human values and beliefs, societies and cultures, economic status and social class, and technological change in past and present. 

6. Majors will be able to creatively organize key art works and historical developments from a range of different cultures into comprehensible narratives, timelines, exhibitions, and/or visual or digital schemas, to communicate the ways that historical visual culture shapes our broader understanding and perception of the world in the present and future.

7. Art History Majors will apply the wide spectrum of practical skills gained through visual analysis, course work, independent research, internships, museum visits, and other hands-on elements of an art historical education, in practical ways that will contribute to innovative thinking for a successful career in many different fields. This comprehension of art and its history will foster their continued intellectual development, personal fulfillment, and beneficial contributions to their cultural and social environment for a lifetime.