Art & Design

History of Art, Design and Visual Culture

Students at the National Gallery of Canada

The Department of Art & Design at the University of Alberta offers students exciting and rigorous programs leading to Masters and Doctoral degrees in the History of Art, Design and Visual Culture. This dissertation-based program emphasizes critical thinking about how the world is mediated by technologies of vision, images and material objects. We offer a range of courses on modern (nineteenth and twentieth-century) and contemporary art and theory, design, new media, the graphic arts, and museum practices.

This program focuses on the history of art, design, and visual culture in Europe, the Americas and East Asia. Our faculty members are engaged in active research programs that are closely integrated into teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Past research topics:

  • personal and national identity in early 20th century Irish art;
  • revisiting the display of installation art in the 21st century;
  • viewing Argentine portraiture in an age of Peronism;
  • art and activism during the “obesity epidemic”;
  • discovering surrealism in Polish modern art; and
  • the aesthetics of distortion in Chinese landscape painting.

Faculty in the History of Art, Design and Visual Culture specialize in the study of Europe, the Americas and Asia, and focus on three areas of study: 1) Modern and Contemporary Visual Art and Theory; 2) Modern and Contemporary Design and Design Theory; and 3) The Visual and Material Cultures of Asia.  These three areas of focus are linked by their interrogation of various forms of modernity, attention to critical theory, and emphasis on the international exchange of material goods and ideas.  The study of art, design and visual culture at the University of Alberta is fostered by excellent collections, among them the Mactaggart Collection of rare Chinese paintings and textiles, the Print Study Centre, the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library, and the Rawlinson Rare Medical Books Collection. 

A new PhD program in the History of Art, Design and Visual Culture was approved by the province of Alberta in the fall of 2011. This program offers an exciting opportunity for graduate students to pursue advanced studies in the History of Art, Design and Visual Culture under the supervision of our faculty.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact individual professors before applying to learn more about the particular strengths of the department. Please consult individual faculty web pages for more information about faculty specializations and research interests.

Professors in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture are committed to supporting MA and PhD students, offering workshops on applying for grants, building a curriculum vita, and giving conference or artist talks. Financial support is also available to many students in the form of scholarships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships.

Image from keynote lecture for New Maternalisms