A Survival Guide for Art History Students

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9780131401976: A Survival Guide for Art History Students

Designed to guide learners through the often disorienting experience of taking a first art history class, this book addresses all aspectsof that total experience. KEY TOPICS Specific chapter topics cover note-taking during lecture, studying for and taking slide exams, writing response papers, methodology, how to critique secondary scholarship, and what to do with an art history degree. For individuals with little or no experience in art history, and an interest in the powerful images that can provide a rich perspective on social, political, and cultural history.

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From the Back Cover:

A Survival Guide for Art History Students is designed to help students succeed in art history courses. The art history classroom is a unique learning environment that most students first experience in college. Survival Guide is sympathetic to this, offering practical instruction and guidance for every moment in students' coursework, from the initial disorientation of their first art history class ("art in the dark") to the challenge of the slide exam.

Survival Guide gives practical guidance on how to take notes, write paper assignments, as well as how to study for and take exams. It deals with the kinds of questions that students commonly ask but professors seem hesitant to write about: "Isrit art history a gut course?", "What in the world do you do with a degree in art history?", "Is 500 BC later or earlier than 190 AD?", and "How can I take notes and look up at slides at the same time?" Designed for student readers, Survival Guide is written in a familiar and engaging tone.

The images discussed and illustrated are primarily those of western art from the ancient to modern eras. By focusing on images that are taught in standard art history survey courses, Survival Guide reinforces and builds upon course materials.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

TO THE STUDENT

This book is written for you, the college student, who has had little or no experience with courses in art history. While you are familiar with how English classes are run, and feel comfortable with the format of science labs, what you will experience in an art history class is entirely new. As the class begins, the lights go down, and slides are projected on screens in pairs. Certainly, you have been to slide lectures before, but in those cases only one slide was projected at a time. And not only is the visual format new, but now your professor is actually talking about the slides. You had always thought that art was meant to be admired in silence. How are you, a student, supposed to put your own words to great works of art? In the upcoming weeks, you will be asked to do just that—to speak about images, to write about them, to remember them, to prioritize information about them—in sum, to engage with them visually in a way that has never been asked from you before. This book is designed to guide you through the process, assisting you with art history papers, exams, and note-taking. It will also help you with two frequently asked questions: "Why take an art history course?" and "What in the world do I do with a major in art history?" Finally, knowing that you are already saddled with tedious reading assignments, I have written the book in a style that is conversational and humorous.

TO THE TEACHER

As teachers, we often forget the profound disorientation that first-time art history students can experience. Yet as I have learned from numerous conversations with my, students, the transition from other courses to art history is not a natural one. It often takes weeks for students to become acclimatized; some, particularly in large lecture classes, never do. "This is my first art history class," I am told after lecture. "I don't know what I am doing." Those who have previously taken a course or two are regarded with awe, as though they are members of some secret society.

This book will accompany the student through the adjustment process. It is intended to be read either straight through, in tandem with, or prior to your lectures, or as a reference text. Its organization reflects what I believe are the standard components of the introductory art history class as taught in colleges and universities in the United States. Hence it focuses on the traditional canon. I admit that African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art are not covered here, nor are newer forms of art, such as video and film.

Each chapter will address a different aspect of the course. Chapter One emphasizes the value of art history as a discipline. Chapter Two is devoted to note-taking and listening in lectures. Chapter Three covers the process of writing response essays. In Chapter Four we deal with taking art history exams, and Chapter Five explores research projects. Although many existing guidebooks define basic terms and concepts used in the discipline, this book also explains how to take art history: how to listen to a lecture, how to discuss images, and how to study. Chapters will include strong (and weak) examples of exam answers and paper extracts. They will also address some of the usual worries of art history students: "How can I possibly write a five-page paper describing one work of art?" The concluding chapter focuses on career options in the field.

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