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The Relationship of Art History to Other Areas of Study

The Relationship of Art History to Other Areas of Study

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will explore the relationship between art history and other fields of study.

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Tutorial

Art History and other areas of study

A look at how Art History borrows from, and contributes to, other areas of study.

Video Transcription

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello. I'd like to welcome you to this episode of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell, and today's lesson is about the relationship between art history and other areas of study. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as many times you feel is necessary. And as soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives are the things you're going to learn today are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you'll be able to identify and define today's key terms, explain how art history relates to other areas of study such as archaeology, anthropology history, sociology, and cultural studies, and explain the possible advantage that art historians have in evaluating visual evidence.

Key terms as always are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is archaeology-- the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and analysis of artifacts. Anthropology is the study of humans and their ancestors in different time periods and locations, with emphasis on adaptation to physical environment, culture, and interpersonal relationships. Cultural studies-- the study of all aspects of cultural production, in particular, popular culture or everyday life.

History is the study of the past, particularly through the analysis of written documents. Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.

And the big idea is the common theme or thread that runs throughout this lesson. Today it's a big one. Art history is an area of study that focuses on how the visual arts relate to human history and cultural development. It often crosses over into other areas of study associated with human history and cultural development.

So art history is just one of many fields of study that are concerned with human history and cultural development. I've shown you a few here. Cultural studies, sociology, and of course, art history. So why do we care?

Well, there are often areas of crossover between disciplines, and that's important to remember that art history does not standalone. That there's often crossover into other areas that are concerned with human history and development. So the distinctions are blurry at times, and it's best to think of art history, for the most part, as interdisciplinary. It's going to be borrowing from and contributing to other areas of study.

One of the first is archaeology. We'll take a look at this, and a shortened explanation of archaeology is that it's the study of human history through artifact analysis. So when I think of archaeology, I think of Indiana Jones. And aside from his tendency to battle the Nazis and shoot things, and about 50 other important errors. His depiction as a scholar who seeks artifacts is pretty accurate.

Archaeologists who study human history and analyze physical artifacts, which are things made by humans, and sites, which are places where humans lived, to learn more about a culture and its history. An archaeologists usually spends time in the field collecting data, so field work is a part of archaeology.

Anthropology is a study of humans and their ancestors, and why we care? Well, due to the fact that we're all humans, anthropology considers time and location, but also how did humans adapt to their environment? So they look at evolution and problem solving, and significant breakthroughs like agriculture and how that helped establish people in a certain area. And helped with population growth, or the wheel. Imagine where we'd be without it.

What was the culture like? What role did religion play, or what was the morality and ethics of that society? Relationships among people within the culture and between cultures, and other social values. And comparisons between modern and ancient cultures are one of the things that anthropologists look at when comparing how does modern day society compared to ancient society, for example.

Art history to put it briefly is a study of the past. And why do we care? Well aside from the fact that those that don't learn history are doomed to repeat it as the old saying goes. We learned about where we come from, and there's an emphasis on written accounts and documents.

Now the art history advantage I mentioned before-- and I starred this because this is one of our learning objectives-- is in how art historians deal with further approach to evaluating visual images. Other areas of study have a tendency to look at visual imagery as only a reflection of culture where they were produced rather than actually producing culture itself.

This is an important distinction, and a good example is Japanese anime, which are Japanese stylized cartoons. They were originally conceived as a stylistic departure from American cartoons like Mickey Mouse during the mid-20th century, but anime has gone on and created an entire subculture of entertainment among people, particularly teenagers, as it spread across the globe. And it's an example of art influencing culture versus culture simply influencing art.

Sociology is a scientific study of social behavior, and the science part of it is very important. Because they emphasize the science behind social behavior. And they use scientific studies to analyze data, and to better understand human behavior and social dynamics. Cultural studies is an emerging area of academics that looks at aspects of cultural production particularly emphasizing popular culture in everyday life.

An example might be looking at the different ways in which Elvis Presley has been depicted through time and how it relates to cultural changes in preferences, and I immediately think of the string of terrible Elvis movies where he's in the military. That's important to note that this is an area that's still controversial to some scholars, which is why I have this star next to it. Because it's an emerging field, and some scholars may not view it as a legitimate area of academic focus.

And tying it all together-- go back to one of my original points at the beginning of this-- is that there are often areas of crossover between disciplines. Distinctions are blurry. And art history is interdisciplinary, which means it draws from other areas and contributes to other areas of academic or other academic disciplines.

So let's take a look at our job objectives and see how we did. Now that we've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms? Can you explain how art history relates to other areas of study, such as archaeology, anthropology, history, sociology, and cultural studies? And explain the possible advantage that art historians have in evaluating visual evidence?

The big idea is big. Art history is an area of study that focuses on how the visual arts relate to human history and cultural development. It often crosses over into other areas of study associated with human history and cultural development. So that's the end of the lesson today. I'd like to thank you for joining me. I'll see you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Archaeology

    The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and analysis of artifacts.

  • Anthropology

    The study of humans and their ancestors, in different time periods and locations, with emphasis on adaptation to physical environment, culture, and interpersonal relationships.

  • Cultural Studies

    The study of all aspects of cultural production, in particular, popular culture or everyday life.

  • History

    The study of the past, particularly through the analysis of written documents.

  • Sociology

    The study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.