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The study of visual culture encompasses the production, use, form, and reception of images past and present. 

It incorporates the painting, sculpture, and architecture traditionally defined as art history and extends throughout the field of visual imagery beyond the conventional boundaries formerly drawn by the academy. 

The History of Art and Visual Culture Department (HAVC) offers courses covering a wide variety of representations from the cultures of Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Islands including areas as diverse as ritual, performative expression, bodily adornment, landscape painting, installation art and video games.

Students of the history of art and visual culture at UC Santa Cruz investigate complex questions concerning the social, political, economic, religious, and psychological impact of images from the perspective of their producers, users, and viewers.  Images play a central role in the formation of values and beliefs, including the perception of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and class.  Through attentive historical study and close analysis, students are taught to recognize and assess these systems of value and are introduced to theoretical and methodological frameworks for future research.  The history of art and visual culture curriculum guides students in acquiring skills in critical thinking about visual culture leading to a baccalaureate of arts (B.A.) degree.  Each student who chooses to major or minor in visual culture devises an individual study plan with a faculty advisor.



• B.A.

• Undergraduate Minor

• Concentration in Religion and Visual Culture



Faculty Advisors

Faculty are the best resource for learning about the philosophies and foundations of history of art and visual culture. Faculty advisors work individually with students to develop a specific course of study, recommend additional courses of interest, and discuss long-term career goals, including education beyond the baccalaureate. A faculty advisor is assigned to each student by the undergraduate adviser during the declaration of major meeting.


Combining HAVC with other programs

The HAVC major is flexible, can be easily completed within 4 years, and works well when combined with other programs offered at UCSC. Many students choose to combine HAVC with other major/minor programs such as Anthropology, Art, Education, History, Psychology, Businesss and Management Economics, and Classical/Italian Studies.


Study Abroad

The flexibility of the HAVC programs allow many students to partake in Programs Abroad through UCSC or other institutions.  To learn more about studying abroad as a HAVC student, please visit the department's programs abroad page as well as the UCSC Programs Abroad website.


Career Options

The preparation students receive from the baccalaureate of arts degree in history of art and visual culture provides skills that can lead to successful careers in education, law, business, and social services, in addition to a more specific focus on museum curating, art restoration, studies in architecture, and studies in art history leading to a graduate degree.

For a complete list of career options related to HAVC click here.  Students can also visit the Career Center for more information.

For internships related to HAVC, click here.



Professor Martin Berger was awarded the Archie K. Davis Fellowship at the National Humanities Center (2015-16) , and was a Lecturer at the Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel Aviv University (December 2015).

Associate Professor Elisabeth L. Cameron was appointed the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in History of Art and Visual Culture (2008-2013). Dr. Cameron also received an American Council of Learned Societies grant for 2009-2010.

Professor Carolyn Dean was awarded the Franklin Pease G. Y. Memorial Prize (2006) for the best article published in Colonial Latin American Review in 2003-04. Arvey Book Award for the best book on Latin American Art (2012)

Assistant Professor Albert Narath was the recipient of a Getty Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2016-17-.

Associate Professor Jennifer González (MIT Press, 2008) was a finalist for the CAA Charles Rufus Morey book award.

Associate Professor Stacy Kamehiro received the Office of the President Research Fellowship for academic year 2007-08.