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This handbook is designed to accompany the major textbooks used in the art history survey, presenting various methods for analysis of art as well as extensive tips on writing about art.
(NOTE: Each Chapter ends with a Conclusion)
1. Introducing Art History
What do art historians do? The object of art history.
What is “art”? / A working definition of art / What is “history”?
Why is art history important? Art history and related disciplines
Art criticism / Sociology / Anthropology / Aesthetics / Cultural studies / Visual culture studies / Connoisseurship
Art history’s toolbox: formal and contextual analysis
2. Formal Analysis
Formal analysis Formal elements
Color / Line / Space and mass / Scale / Composition
Two-dimensional art: painting, graphic arts, photography 31
Wölfflin and formal analysis
Textile and decorative arts
3. Contextual Analysis
Art and context
Art out of context? Museums and art history.
A very brief history of museums / Museums and the experience of art
The process of interpretation: confronting your assumptions.
The challenges of cross-cultural interpretation / The challenges of historical interpretation
Is African art anonymous?
Art and its controversies
Style and meaning
4. Writing Art-History Papers
Structuring art-historical arguments: interpretation vs. opinion
Taking notes / Structuring your paper / The comparison paper
Developing a topic and starting your research / Keeping notes
How many sources should I use?
Resources for research
Books / Periodicals / Websites / Reference works
Critical moments in art-history writing
Developing a thesis / Writing an introductory paragraph / Sustaining the argument / Dealing with intentions /
The conclusion / Editing
Citations and bibliographies
MLA citations / Chicago citations / Bibliography or Works Cited / Plagiarism’s gray zone
If you experience writer’s block
Common stylistic pitfalls of art-history writing / Finding a voice
Putting together illustrations
5. Navigating Art-History Examinations
Slide identifications and short-answer questions
Why are slide identifications important? / Why are slide identifications so hard? / How to succeed at slide identifications /
Three-step slide memorization / Memory aids / Unknowns
Test-taking strategies for art-history exams
Studying for essay tests / Types of essay questions
Taking good notes in class / Developing a consistent shorthand / Taking notes on readings
Class participation — why bother?
6. Art History’s Own History
Excerpt from Pliny’s Natural History
Excerpt from Vasari’s Lives of the Artists
Age of Enlightenment
Winckelmann on the Laocoön
The nineteenth-century: foundations of modern art history
Twentieth-century formalists, iconographers, and social historians
After 1970: the “new” art history
The feminist art-history revolution
Do other cultures practice art history?
China / West Africa
Early art history in China