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The art history survey, past, present, and future 
Symposium and round table

As part of the 150th anniversary of Art History at Mount Holyoke, this symposium will address the changing role of the art history survey course and textbook. In recent years, these disciplinary teaching staples have been subject to major and ongoing revisions, along with the whole western canon that they long served. The larger trend is prompted by fraught questions. How do we approach and teach cultural history? Whose history do we teach? Which objects, individuals, or moments are elevated to an elite sphere, which ones excluded? Whose interests are served? These questions have taken on particular urgency in the wake of movements like Black Lives Matter, and they have been caught up in the current polarized political climate that frames curricular matters in light of “cancel culture” and liberal vs. conservative values. In reality, however, art history—like other fields, particularly in the humanities—must engage in a constant and often controversial process of self-evaluation and renewal in order to stay relevant. The larger goal of this symposium is to situate the teaching of art and its histories at Mount Holyoke, and beyond, as a window onto sea changes in teaching methods, definitions of art, and even matters of social justice.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor in the History of Art, Yale University
  • Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank, Dean of Content and Strategy & General Editor of Reframing Art History at Smarthistory
  • Elena FitzPatrick Sifford, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Muhlenberg College

Sponsored by the Art History & Architectural Studies Department, the Art Studio Department, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives 

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