Introduction to the Major

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, 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 adviser.


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.




Undergraduate Minor

Concentration in Religion and Visual Culture