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Introduction to the Major

Students researching
Visual objects play a central role in the formation of values and beliefs, including the perception of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and class.

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. 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.

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.

See the HAVC annual planning guide.

Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Graduates from the History of Art and Visual Culture B.A. program will have demonstrated the following:

PLO 1- Breadth of Cultural Knowledge

Students will be able to demonstrate an appreciation for, and foundation in, visual studies grounded in a range of historical, social, cultural, and ideological perspectives. 

PLO 2- Critical Thinking

Students will be able to apply critical thinking skills that will enable them to analyze and solve problems through observation, experience, reflection, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and/or explanation of visual, material, and historical cultural forms and values.  Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills through oral and/or written communication.

PLO 3- Research Proficiency

Students will be able to formulate research questions that expand their knowledge of art and visual culture.  Students will be able to apply research methods to answer these questions by consulting the current literature and developing independent results through archival, library, or field research.

PLO 4- Written Communication

Students will be able to present clear visual and historical analysis and interpretation in writing.  Students will be able to demonstrate standard writing conventions in visual studies appropriate to purpose and context.

Study and Research Opportunities

• B.A.

• Undergraduate Minor

• Concentration in Religion and Visual Culture

Faculty Recognition 

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).

Professor Raoul Birnbaum was named a residential research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton NJ (2016). He also was a member of a research team at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) that worked for three years on studies of a wide range of 17th-century Chinese paintings; the project culminated in an exhibition at LACMA (“Alternative Dreams," August-December, 2016) and the book 17th-Century Chinese Painting from the Tsao Family Collection, which received the 38th annual George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award.

Professor Carolyn Dean was awarded the Getty Scholars Fellowship at the J. Paul Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2016-17), and was named a UCSC Arts Division Dean Eminent Professor (2014-19). Professor Dean and Professor Dana Leibsohn (Smith College) were awarded a two-year Collaborative Research Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies.

Associate Professor Stacy Kamehiro was part of a team of faculty from UCSD, UCSC, UCLA, and UCB that was awarded a University of California Humanities Research Institute grant for the "University of California Pacific Worlds Initiative, 2017-18." 

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