The Florida State University Art History directors and staff welcome you to the 2023–24 academic year! Whether you are a new or returning student or faculty member, a current or prospective member of our community of scholars, we have exciting news and plans to share with you, new faculty members and students to introduce, and many opportunities to meet with your FSU Art History community.
We are delighted to introduce two new faculty members in Art History: Dr. Mora Beauchamp-Byrd, Associate Professor of Art History and Director of Museum & Cultural Heritage Studies, and Dr. Brendan Weaver, Visiting Assistant Professor, visual and material cultures of Latin America. We also welcome thirteen new MA students to our graduate programs this year, and three new doctoral students. The graduate and undergraduate student organizations are planning the year’s events and holding elections for open posts; we will post updates on our committees page in the coming weeks.
The Symposium Committee is pleased to announce the keynote speaker for our 40th annual Art History Graduate Symposium in the spring: Dr. Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Distinguished Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University. The committee is busy now planning events and preparing the call for papers for this milestone Symposium, which will be held on March 1–2, 2024, and preparing to publish papers from the previous Symposium in Athanor in October. Elections are in progress for two positions on the 2023–24 Symposium Committee, to join Brooke Belcher, Hudson Kauffman, Tanya Pattison, Madison Gilmore-Duffey (Athanor Co-editor), and Emma Huston (Athanor Editor).
On September 7, we hosted the second annual BA Fair for students majoring or interested in Art History. This event, initiated by Director of Undergraduate Studies Tenley Bick, featured representatives of the College of Fine Arts recruitment office, University Libraries (Leah Sherman), the Honors Program, Career Center (Anissa Ford), and the Museum of Fine Arts (Annie Booth), as well as department faculty, staff, graduate students, and student organization officers. Students in all levels of study and various majors enjoyed the opportunity to socialize with professors and staff outside the classroom and offices.
We’ll have many opportunities for gathering this semester, starting with the Museum of Fine Arts exhibition opening at 6pm on Thursday evening, September 14, of Intertwined: Labor and Technology in Contemporary Textile Arts, curated by Art History alumni Keidra Daniels Navaroli and Annie Booth. The Undergraduate Art History Association (UAHA) will host Coffee Hour in the Rose Library (WJB 2020) on Tuesday, September 19, from 8 to 11 am. UAHA will also host a guided tour of the Museum of Fine Arts on October 5. The graduate Art History Association (AHA) hosts monthly Friday social gatherings and is planning a variety of other community events. Follow UAHA (@uahafsu) and the department (@arthistoryfsu) on Instagram for the latest news and events!
In his Metaphysics, the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 BC) remarked: “It is through wonder that men [and women] now begin and originally began to philosophize; wondering in the first place at obvious perplexities, and then by gradual progression raising questions about the greater matters.”
For Aristotle, the wonder that leads to philosophy, and more generally, to knowledge, was evidence that we ask questions––we wonder––in order to satisfy not our bodily needs and instincts, but a spiritual (or intellectual) urge within us. This wonder we commonly define as curiosity, and it is the drive that pushes us not only to find reasons for the unknown, but also to challenge ourselves: our fear to think critically and to lose our certainties. If you are in our department, we expect you to be animated by insatiable curiosity. We want you to push us all, the faculty, not only to provide you with the tools for answering your questions, but also to fill you with renewed curiosity. Without your thirst for knowledge, our teaching would be of little value.
This year, we have introduced a new format for our two surveys. Through the theme of “encounters” in art history, from prehistory to the contemporary world, we aim to arouse your curiosity, and to make you wonder at the endless ways in which works of art and artifacts convey historical meaning, synthesize differing and sometimes antagonistic cultures, and propose change.
We are also introducing changes in our graduate program this year. For the first time in many years, we are again offering our MA students in art history the possibility of compiling a thesis as a capstone project. In this way, we now allow students curious about the feats and challenges of research to explore this possible pathway to their future.
This year, two new faculty members have joined our ranks: Dr. Mora Beauchamp-Byrd and Dr. Brendan Weaver. Having straddled a career between museums and universities, Dr. Beauchamp-Byrd, an expert in the history of the arts of the African diaspora in North America and England, will be directing our prestigious Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies program. An anthropologist and an archaeologist, Dr. Weaver has a unique knowledge of the visual culture and everyday life of the numerous enslaved Africans working in Jesuit haciendas in Peru. Thanks to these two new colleagues, we will be able to expand our Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies program.
Stay tuned, share your curiosity with us, and we will make sure that “by gradual progression” you will be able in a near future to fuel your own wonder through an independent and critically-grounded wondering.