History of Art and Architecture

Constellations

In 2011-12, the Department recast itself by adopting its Constellations model. This approach aims to foster, in the work that faculty and students produce, idea-driven research of broad significance. While HAA continues to emphasize expertise in specific historical areas and types of material objects—all our students leave the program as specialists in well-defined historical fields—it also wants the research its students produce to have more general interpretative and analytic value. As much as art history dissertations need to credential students as experts in nineteenth-century French painting or twelfth-century Japanese hand scrolls, the research our students produce also must concern larger conceptual questions, ranging from relations between pictures and theoretical knowledge, to the ways in which material objects function as agents within cultures, to the manner in which visual styles, objects, and ways of looking operate and circulate between cultures.

In order to foster this kind of research, the department modified its internal divisions and grouped the faculty under six Constellations that concern interpretative approaches and lines of inquiry (these currently are Visual Knowledge, Agency, Identity, Environment, Mobility/Exchange, and Contemporaneity). Students now assemble their dissertation committees and take their comprehensive exams in relation to these research Constellations. This new approach better positions our students for the rapidly changing environment in higher education, in the curatorial field, in academic publishing, and in the digital realm where the ability to communicate and collaborate across subfields and disciplines grows more imperative by the day.  Faculty members also benefit from this new organization, with the opportunities for collaborative and interdisciplinary work that it offers.

Courses in the Constellations

For information on the specific courses that we have developed as part of implementing constellations, click here.

Working Groups in the Constellations

As of Spring, 2013, individual constellations have begun meeting regularly within their own working groups. Click on each constellation description below for an account of what its associated working group has been doing. The working groups see faculty and graduate students, united by common research interests, discuss agreed upon readings, critique each other’s work, organize exhibitions, contribute to one another’s pedagogy, jointly produce scholarship, and converse with outside scholars who have contributed to the constellation in question. 

Colloquia in the Constellations

Additionally, the department colloquium, which takes place Wednesdays at noon, provides faculty and students the opportunity to showcase recent research in the constellations.  

VISUAL 
KNOWLEDGE

image/text relations, representational theory, historiography, museums, media

Faculty: Drew Armstrong, Isabelle Chartier, Josh Ellenbogen, Shirin Fozi, Alison Langmead, Chris Nygren, Kirk Savage, Terry Smith, Frank Toker

More about Visual Knowledge

AGENCY

ritual, cult objects, idolatry and iconoclasm, patronage, collecting, propaganda

Faculty: Gretchen Bender, Isabelle Chartier, Josh Ellenbogen, Karen Gerhart, Jennifer Josten, Barbara McCloskey, Chris Nygren, Kirk Savage

More about Agency

IDENTITY

monuments and memory, communities and polities, publics, gender, ethnicity, class, race

Faculty: Drew Armstrong, Gretchen Bender, Shirin Fozi, Jennifer Josten, Kirk Savage, Terry Smith, Alex Taylor

More about Identity

MOBILITY/
EXCHANGE

migration, pilgrimage, exploration, tourism, frontiers, contact zones, trade and consumerism

Faculty: Drew Armstrong, Gretchen Bender, Isabelle Chartier, Jennifer Josten, Alison Langmead, Barbara McCloskey, Chris Nygren, Kirk Savage, Terry Smith, Alex Taylor

More about Mobility/Exchange

CONTEMPORANEITY

world picturing, cosmopolitanism, temporality, tradition and modernity

Faculty: Isabelle Chartier, Josh Ellenbogen, Shirin Fozi, Jennifer Josten, Alison Langmead, Barbara McCloskey, Gao Minglu, Kirk Savage, Terry Smith

More about Contemporaneity

ENVIRONMENT

landscape, urbanism, gardens, ecocriticism, historic preservation, architectural history and theory

Faculty: Drew Armstrong, Gretchen Bender, Mina Rajagopalan, Kirk Savage, Terry Smith, Alex Taylor, Frank Toker

More about Environment

Collaboration

The Constellations program has a collaborative web space. Please click here to learn more