Art History

Art History (ARTH) at Whitman is an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on histories of and through art and architecture. Working with professors, campus exhibitions and collections, and a range of arts organizations, students investigate the production, circulation, reception, meaning, and impact of images, objects, and built environments. The major and minor programs offer critical study of artistic traditions, museums, and monuments; art histories of the environment, race, religion, and empire; and regional, national, and transnational visual cultures. Graduates are able to work in fields that require cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivity, such as education, museum curation and collections management, conservation and appraisal, law, journalism, and arts administration.

Students taking courses in art history will be able to:

  • Situate artists, movements, institutions, visual images, objects and built environments within appropriate conceptual frameworks.
  • Understand artists, movements, institutions, visual images, objects and built environments within historical contexts.
  • Generate original analyses of artists, movements, institutions, visual images, objects and built environments.
  • Express ideas through oral and written communication.
  • Know how to find and use appropriate sources and apply existing scholarship to analyzing visual images, objects and built environments.

Students majoring in art history will demonstrate proficiency in these areas through the senior assessment (written critical review + oral object analysis).

Distribution: Courses completed in art history apply to the fine arts or humanities distribution areas, and to cultural pluralism as indicated. 

Total credit requirements for an Art History major: A student who enters Whitman without any prior college-level preparation in art history will have to complete 36 credits to fulfill the requirements for the art history major. 

Core Faculty:

Krista H. Gulbransen, Associate Professor of Art History and Department Chair (2022)
South Asian art and architecture; manuscript illustration, portraiture and modes of cultural exchange; historical and contemporary methods of museum display.

Libby Miller, Senior Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History and General Studies
Monuments, memorials and museums; Egyptian art, archeology and fine arts discourse; historical narratives.

Matthew Reynolds, Associate Professor of Art History
Visual culture studies; art and the environment; community-based learning

Lisa Uddin, Associate Professor of Art History, Paul Garett Fellow 
Visual cultures of race and settler colonialism; aesthetic theory and politics; modern architecture

Annotations & Announcements

  • Associate Professor of Art History & Visual Culture Studies Matt Reynolds Moderates Confluence Project Event

    May 20, 2021 • The Maxey Museum has an exciting new exhibition that was recently featured in The New York Times. "Along the Columbia: Maya Lin and the Confluence Project" was curated by Matt Reynolds and students Audrey Mace, Camille Marshall and Melina Waldman. It will be open throughout fall semester and by appointment over the summer. In 2018, the Confluence Project donated their archival materials to Whitman College. These include blueprints, site surveys, models and maquettes, drawings and sketches by Maya Lin and the artists, architects and engineers with whom she collaborated.

  • Lisa Uddin Papers, 2004-2014

    January 1, 2021 • The Lisa Uddin Papers consists of the research materials for Zoo Renewal: White Flight and the Animal Ghetto, adesign history of zoological parks in the United States. The collection spans from approximately 2004-2014, and contains ephemera and research materials from zoos in Detroit, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Rochester, Providence, Baltimore, and Toronto.The collection reflects Uddin's particular interest in the revitalization of the U.S. zoo space and institutional identity in the 1960s and 1970s as it pertains to urbanization, wildlife conservation, and American race relations.

  • Carol Shaeffer's Article 'Hatred in Plain Sight' Published in Smithsonian Magazine

    October 1, 2020 • Carol Shaeffer, a 2010 Whitman art history and visual culture studies major, is a freelance journalist and was a 2019-20 Fulbright scholar to Germany. Her article "Hatred in Plain Sight" appeared in the October 2020 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine. The article explores the continued existence and acceptance of a 700-year-old sculpture that openly denigrates jews. Shaeffer first researched and wrote about anti-Semitism during the middle ages as part of a medieval art history class she took in the AHVCS department at Whitman.

  • Sheehan Gallery Unveils 'Underground Hornship' Sculpture by Wangechi Mutu

    May 15, 2020 • Whitman College and the Sheehan Gallery are pleased to unveil "Underground Hornship," a bronze sculpture by renowned artist Wangechi Mutu. Art History and Visual Cultural Studies Associate Professor Lisa Uddin and Sheehan Gallery Director Daniel Forbes talk about the acquisition and Mutu's work.

  • New Scholarship on South Asian Portraiture

    April 7, 2020 • Professor Gulbransen recently published an essay in postmedieval entitled "Jahāngīrī portrait shasts: Material-discursive practices and visuality at the Mughal court.” This special issue of the journal (“Contact Zones: Fur, Minerals, Milk, and Other Things”) explores the role non-human objects play in constituting human identity. Gulbransen’s article explores the perceived animacy of gifted miniature bust portraits within early seventeenth-century Mughal court culture.