Why Study Art History at USC?

Bachelor of Arts in Art History

Art history combines the study of art with the study of culture. The undergraduate major provides general knowledge of the history of art and, through upper-division courses, specialized knowledge in a variety of areas. Majors are exposed to a diversity of theoretical approaches and encouraged to sharpen their critical and conceptual thinking skills. This foundation has enabled many art history graduates to pursue advanced degrees in nationally recognized programs, to enter diverse fields, and to pursue careers in the arts.

Minor in Art History

The art history minor offers a concentrated course of study that includes a variety of objects from different historical periods and cultures in relation to their makers, patrons, viewers and critics. Students in the minor are trained to analyze visual images and information through a process of intensive looking, reading, research and writing.

Minor in Visual Culture

A critical approach to art history is the departure point for the minor in visual culture, which is dedicated to the analysis of the visual arts, broadly defined to include fine art, film and television, photography and video, illustrated books, advertising, architecture, and design. Students in the visual culture minor elect from one of three concentrations: photography, film, and the reproduction of images; popular culture; or gender and sexuality.

Study Abroad

Students that study abroad gain a special perspective on the world beyond their own borders, which will benefit them throughout the rest of their lives. Studying abroad for a semester or year is one of the best ways to understand a different culture in a meaningful way. It is an experience that can have a profound impact on a student academically, personally, and professionally. USC College and the Art History Department encourages students to consider including studying abroad in their undergraduate experience. To further explore overseas studies, please visit the following website: http://www.college.usc.edu//overseas-studies/


Doctorate of Philosophy in Art History

The Ph.D. program in art history at USC draws its strength from a dynamic and productive faculty in the fields of American, European, British, Mediterranean, Latin American, and Asian art.  Studying objects in their complex physical, cultural and intellectual contexts, our program is committed to a historically situated, materially engaged, and theoretically nuanced approach to art history and visual culture. USC's program takes great advantage of our location within the vibrant cultural environment of Los Angeles. Graduate seminars are regularly held on site or work with collections in area museums including the including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Getty Center, the Getty Villa and the USC Fisher Museum of Art among others. We do not accept applicants for a terminal Master of Arts degree in art history, although students may be eligible for the MA if they do not complete the doctoral program. Many of our Ph.D. students also enroll in the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate (VSGC) program.  Students in Art History and the VSGC have a spectacular record of achievement which has translated into an outstanding recent placement record in tenure-track, post-doctoral and curatorial positions.

USC Department of Art History welcomes Senior Fulbright Scholar, Pawel Leszkowicz



Joining us in Fall 2015! The Department of Art History welcomes Professor Jennifer Greenhill

Jennifer Greenhill joins USC from the University of Illinois, where she taught since 2007 in the Art History program and in the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory.  Trained at Williams College and Yale University, she specializes in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American art and visual culture, with an emphasis on intermedial and intercultural objects, race and the politics of visuality, and intersections between elite and popular forms of expression.  In 2014 she served as the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, France, an experience that reinforced her commitment to thinking about “American” art from a broad range of perspectives.  Greenhill’s first book, Playing It Straight: Art and Humor in the Gilded Age (University of California Press, 2012), investigates the strategies artists devised to simultaneously conform to and humorously undermine “serious” culture during the late nineteenth century, when calls for a new cultural sophistication ran headlong into a growing public appetite for humor. Exploring paintings, sculpture, and architectural projects that play it straight in various ways, the book offers a new look at well-known artists (such as Winslow Homer and Augustus Saint-Gaudens) and revises existing conceptions of how the period’s visual humor works. Greenhill maintains an active interest in the mechanisms and social effects of humorous expression, particularly at the nexus of cultures and media.  She explored these concerns in “Humor in cold dead type: performing Artemus Ward’s London panorama lecture in print” Word & Image (2012), and she is currently undertaking preliminary research for an essay on the deadpan object lessons of the contemporary artist Eric Duyckaerts. Greenhill’s most recent book, A Companion to American Art (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015), is a co-edited collection of 35 essays by leading scholars who debate the geographic, historiographic, material and conceptual borders of the field. Her essay for the book, a dialogue with Martin Berger, examines the politics of “close looking” and argues for an expansive and diffuse conception of the visual in writing about race. An article underway, on the photographic and filmic techniques of Gordon Parks, further develops these ideas.  Greenhill’s current book project, The Commercial Imagination, focuses on mass-market illustration in the early twentieth century, extending her ongoing interest in how “art” can register in diverse sites, such as the pages of a magazine, where it shapes both public experience and individual subjectivities.  Several institutions have supported Greenhill’s work on these various projects, including the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the Huntington Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.