Theory and Method in History of Art


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;
4. To grasp the relation between those core theoretical and methodological approaches and specific developments in art history writing (both national and internationally);
5. To ponder course contents over a written essay.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Mariana de Lemos Pinto dos Santos


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language





1. The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology (ed. D. Preziosi). - Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1998
2. Critical Terms for Art History (ed. Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff). – Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996
3 A Companion to Art Theory (ed. Paul Smith and Carolyn Wilde). - Oxford & Malden: Blackwell, 2002
4. Didi-Huberman, Devant l’image. – Paris: Minuit, 1990
5. Is Art History Global? (ed. J. Elkins) – New York: Routledge, 2007
6.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 followed by analysis and discussion of key texts (pre-appointed and made available through FCSH’s digital platform) prepared by the students, and by the final presentation of the  thematic essay written by each student based on syllabus contents (5/7 pags).

Evaluation method

Evaluation Method - a written test (40%), presentation and discussion of pre-appointed texts(20%), 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.


Programs where the course is taught: