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From the Roman Forum to the Sistine Chapel to the MAXXI Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome houses countless art treasures that all have an important place in the history of art. Students who pursue this major go beyond textbooks to come face to face with these masterpieces in galleries and museums – many of which are just a stone’s throw from the university – as part of our regular on-site classes. The interactive nature of these classes means that our students gain an in-depth understanding of their subject material through first-hand interaction with it. The curriculum covers a broad range of visual culture, including painting, sculpture and architecture.
The program in Art History combines the comparative method and critical approach typical of American curricula with an intense immersion in one of the greatest art centers in the world: the city of Rome. Coursework at all levels emphasizes on-site observation and analysis and the use of Rome’s unique resources for individual study and research. Each semester, students embark on field trips (which bear credit for their overall grade) that take them to cities across Italy and Europe, where they engage with the artistic heritage of each location and place their subject material in its historical context. Students become adept in visual analysis and oral articulation of visual patterns and phenomena, and the curriculum cultivates both writing skills and research skills, all of which are demonstrated in the thesis in which the program culminates.
Upon completion of the degree, students will find their connoisseurship, critical thinking and cross-cultural understanding to be highly transferable, enabling them to continue to careers in which they can make valuable contributions to the analysis, research and preservation of material heritage from across the ages.
Innovative education in an ancient setting
The Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History at The American University of Rome provides an innovative liberal arts education with the emphasis of the subject material placed on western visual cultures. Through interactive teaching approaches and personalized supervision, our international faculty of esteemed scholars develops each student’s intellectual potential and life-long engagement with cultural heritage while also fostering the skills necessary for the modern workplace.
Students who complete the major in Art History will acquire the following core competencies:
- High-level skills of observation and analysis of a diverse range of art works and architecture from a broad span of historical periods
- Command a range of theoretical tools for analyzing and interpreting visual signs within their cultural context
- Conduct independent research and form persuasive arguments based on the research
- Skillful oral and written communication of theories and ideas
- Proficient use of the specialized sources commanded by the topic
One Alumnus Story - where an Art History degree can take you...
Dana Phelps graduated Cum Laude from AUR in 2008 with departmental honors in Art History and a concentration in Archaeology. She went on to receive an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from UCL in London before working for UNESCO, The Butrint Foundation, Gjirokastra Conservation & Development Organization, and as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. She is currently working on her PhD in Anthropology at Stanford University, where she also has worked for the Stanford Program on Human Rights.
"My current research looks at the impact of conflicting Europeanization and Islamicization processes in Albania through the lens of cultural heritage: within museums, through memorials, and through historic restorations. I examine how competing heritage and cultural development projects such as mosque constructions and Ottoman-period restorations funded by Turkey, opening of communist-era sites, and UNESCO initiatives create tensions in Albania. For example, how do these projects impact religious communities and religious extremism in Albania, given its multi-religious society? How does Albanian society react to the controversial opening of communist-era sites? Or how do strengthened ties between Albania and Turkey impact its international relations with Greece, the E.U., the Vatican, the U.S., and other key international players?"
Course requirements and further course details
For more in-depth information about this program and individual course requirements, please see our full catalog.