Theory, Methods and Debates in Art History


1. To understand the foundations and the development of Art History as a discipline;
2. To acquire a thorough knowledge on Art History’s core theoretical and
methodological approaches;
3. To understand the main debates that these approaches have been raising (both
within the discipline and in the broader field of human and social sciences);
4. To grasp the relation between those debates on core theoretical and
methodological approaches and specific developments in art history writing (both
national and internationally);
5. To master theoretical and methodological references and debates in order to be
able to conceive a critically informed in-depth research project in Art History;
6. To ponder course contents over a written essay.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Joana Esteves da Cunha Leal


Weekly - 3

Total - 280

Teaching language





The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology (ed. D. Preziosi). - Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Critical Terms for Art History (ed. Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff). – Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
A Companion to Art Theory (ed. Paul Smith and Carolyn Wilde). - Oxford & Malden: Blackwell, 2002.
Davis, Withney, A general theory of visual culture. – Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011.
Didi-Huberman, Devant l’image. – Paris: Minuit, 1990.
Iversen, M., Melville, S., Writing art history: disciplinary departures. – Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
Is Art History Global? (ed. J. Elkins) – New York: Routledge, 2007.
Marxism and the History of Art. From William Morris to the New Left (ed. Andrew Hemingway). London: Pluto Press, 2006.
The Subjects of Art History: historical Objects in Contemporary Perspectives (ed. M.A. Cheetham, M.A. Holly and K. Moxey). - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Teaching method

Lectures given by the teacher and invited researchers, followed by analysis and
discussion of key texts (pre-appointed) prepared by the students, and by the final
presentation of the thematic essay written by each student (15-18 pags).

Evaluation method

3) seminar discussion on classes and presentation and discussion of the final essay(30%), 1) a written test(30%), 2) the final written essay(40%)

Subject matter

1. The foundations of Art History (Vasari, Winckelmann and Hegel). The
requirements of a scientific discourse versus the autonomy of the artistic sphere.
2. First theoretical and methodological approaches: a) from Burckardt cultural
history to the Viena School; b) the Warburgian roots of the Bildwissenschaft and
Panoksky's iconology; c) maxist aesthetics and the social history of art; Psychology
of art.
3. Structuralism and the developments of semiotics.
4. Art and society: critical theory, sociology of art and reception aesthetics.
5. From the idea of “crises” in/of the discipline to new theorical and methodological
debates: feminist art history (Pollock) and the new art history (T.J. Clark); R. Krauss'
writing and the October project; the raising of the visual studies and its reception.
6. Current art history writing.