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Visual Cultures of the Americas

Published September 17, 2012

The Visual Cultures of the Americas is new field of study within the Department of Art History. Taking advantage of the primary and secondary specialty areas of a majority of the department’s faculty, it is a hemispheric, interdisciplinary investigation into the art and visual cultures of the Americas.  These in turn have been generated through the dynamic and complex exchange between indigenous, European, African, and Asian societies from the Precolumbian periods to the present. Critical for an understanding of the colonial period, the rise of global modernity, and the contemporary world, the study of the Visual Cultures of the Americas highlights the richness of America’s indigenous, colonial, and modern contributions to the visual arts broadly conceived, while also foregrounding the pivotal place of the Americas in early modern world developments and their consequent dialogue with global cultures to the present.

Our program is unique in the country in that we have faculty specialists in the full extent of the Americas, including Canada. Areas currently covered in the program include: Precolumbian and Mesoamerican art, archaeology, and culture; Spanish Colonial arts and architecture; the arts of the African Diaspora in the Americas; modern and contemporary US and Canadian art, architecture, photography, and film cultures. In addition to covering the history of visual culture in these areas, inclusive of mass culture, faculty deal with such issues as globalization, epigraphy, visual semiotics, propaganda, gender and identity. Given the wide scope of this field of study, students are expected to focus on a specific topic or area to build expertise. Nevertheless, all are expected to explore the larger issues that the visual cultures of the Americas raise.

For details on the field and its faculty, visit Fields of Study: Visual Cultures of the Americas on our department website.