Innovative and Flexible Curriculum

As an art history student, you will embark on a rigorous, challenging course of study that focuses on images and objects from the world’s history. Art history students at Elon benefit from the university’s subscription to ArtStor, a digital library encompassing more than a million images from the breadth of human history. Rather than memorize lists of artists, artworks, and historical dates, you will study what these artworks mean, the contexts in which their artists produced them and how those issues relate to the way history has been constructed. You will explore the ideological biases that have informed your understanding of art to this point, and you will practice articulating a more knowledgeable position.

Introductory courses consider themes of power, identity, artistic exchange, and collection and display, across time and from a global context. Upper-level courses cover specialized areas of analysis, including those defined by geographical region, time period, stylistic category, conceptual theme and/or ideology. An art historian’s primary sources include visual objects themselves in addition to more typical historical resources, so specialized training in formal analysis is also vital to our studies. Art history majors complete their academic training with a senior seminar in which they research, write, and present a significant project founded in their own interests. These projects may result in term papers, exhibitions, symposia, or alternative ventures developed under the guidance of the faculty.

The art history program is flexible, allowing students to select a double major or minor in other fields. You will be encouraged to expand your academic experience in order to gain a wide range of skills that can be useful to any career path.

As a first-year investment team analyst at a venture capital firm, I know that Art History helped me hone the critical thinking skills I use daily at work. Similar to writing art history research papers and a thesis, investment memos require diligent research and concisely synthesizing information. Strong writing skills, the ability to conduct thorough research, and the ability to self-advocate are the skills that I developed as an Art History major that have served me well on the job!

Alyssa Caffrey ’20 (Art History. & Finance)

Engaged faculty

The art history faculty are active researchers who believe in the importance of student responsibility. Art history majors will be challenged to build intellectual muscles in classrooms led by professionals who are up-to-date in their knowledge and pedagogies.

Dr. Kirstin Ringelberg, Professor, specializes in modern and contemporary art and visual culture. Ringelberg’s book Redefining Gender in American Impressionist Studio Painting: Work Place/Domestic Space was recently reprinted in paperback, and they have published journal articles and book chapters in art history, cultural studies, visual studies, and feminist venues. In 2020, Ringelberg co-edited a special themed issue New Work in Transgender Art and Visual Culture Studies for the Journal of Visual Culture, in which they also co-authored the introduction “Prismatic views: a look at the growing field of transgender art and visual culture studies”. They have also published and presented nationally and internationally on 19th-century and contemporary American, French, and Japanese art and art historiography. In 2008, Ringelberg received the Elon College Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2013, Ringelberg received the Elon College Excellence in Service/Leadership award. They also received the university’s only full-year, full-pay sabbatical for 2016-2017.

Dr. Evan A. Gatti, associate professor, specializes in medieval art with a focus on 11th-century art commissioned by bishops during the Ottonian and Salian Empires. Gatti is the president of EPISCOPUS: The Society for the Study of Bishops and the Secular Clergy in the Middle Ages. She was the co-editor for Envisioning the Bishop: Images and the Episcopacy in the Middle Ages with Sigrid Danielson (Brepols 2014). Gatti and Danielson also co-authored a bibliography on Art in Italy for Oxford Bibliographies Online (2012). Gatti has two book chapters under review, one (with Eliza Garrison) on the Quedlinburg Casket and another on “Diplomatic Gestures: Art and Ambivalence among the Italian Episcopacy”, to be included in the third volume of essays to be published from a conference organized by the Power of the Bishop. Gatti’s current work is centered on the Rotolus con Atti degli Apostoli (ACVc, 5) held in the Museo del Tesoro del Duomo e Archivio Capitolare. At Elon, Gatti served as the Associate Director of the Elon Core Curriculum from 2014-2019. In 2009, Gatti received the Elon College Excellence in Service/Leadership Award. In 2012, she received the Student Government Association’s Gerald F. Francis Award for Outstanding Faculty Member, and in 2019, she was awarded Elon College Excellence in Mentoring Award.

Speaker Series

Since 2003, Elon’s art history program sponsors a speaker series that has brought world-renowned art historians to campus. With four talks scheduled per year, the series gives students an opportunity to interact with the major scholars in the field. The upcoming speaker for Spring 2018 is La Tanya Autry, “Reform or Revolution: Centering Social Justice in Museums.” Past speakers include Timon Screech, Norman Bryson, Terry Smith, Carol Duncan, Barbara Abou-el-Haj, Frank K. Lord, esq., Rebecca Brown, Carol Mattusch, John Neff, Gennifer Weisenfeld, Rebecca Martin Nagy, Dorothy Verkerk, Judith Rodenbeck, Rachael Ziady DeLue, David M. Lubin, Mary D. Sheriff, James Elkins, and Jaroslav Folda.

Being a double major in Art History and History has allowed me to discover a passion for museum studies and public history. History and Art History professors both have been instrumental in supporting my undergraduate research in history museums, which allowed me to independently explore my interest in museums and develop my knowledge further.

DeLayne Jolly ’20 (Art History & History)

The Elon University Art Collection

This collection includes a wide variety of visual objects from around the world; notable is the African art collection, which includes more than 300 pieces. The university collection is a living part of the Elon campus. Revolving exhibitions from the collection are housed in the library, academic classrooms and department suites. Art history majors and minors can choose to curate exhibitions on campus or research and document the collection under the supervision of a faculty mentor as part of their academic curriculum or as a work-study opportunity.

The World as Your Classroom

Art history majors and minors benefit from a variety of opportunities outside of our dynamic classrooms. University faculty lead study abroad programs that emphasize art historical study in countries such as France, Japan, and Italy. Majors and minors are also encouraged to take semester-long studies at universities outside of the United States, so they can experience the diverse contexts for art first-hand.

Many art history majors and minors have received course credit for internships at galleries and museums in the United States and abroad, including:

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY)
  • Christie’s Art Auction House (New York, NY)
  • Pace Prints Gallery (New York, NY)
  • The Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC)
  • The Archives of American Art (Washington, DC)
  • The High Museum (Atlanta, GA)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
  • The Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC)
  • The North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC)
  • The Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, AZ)
  • The Museum of Tolerance (Los Angeles, CA)

After Graduation

When students graduate with an art history degree from Elon, they are well-prepared for an array of postgraduate opportunities. Art history alumni have gone on to work in the fields of art practice, visual culture, museum studies, international studies, and history, among others. Recent graduates also have attended prestigious graduate programs in art history and other disciplines at:

  • Université Paris-Sorbonne
  • Chatham University
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Riverside
  • American University
  • Sotheby’s Institute of Art
  • Florida State University
  • George Washington University
  • Drexel University
  • Stony Brook University
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Virginia Commonwealth University