The A level in art history serves at least two main audiences: students who wish to go on to take further art history, curatorial, and/or studio courses, and those who might only take this single course but who want fundamental knowledge and tools to enhance a life-long interest in visual art. VPHA46 Ways of Seeing: Introduction to Art Histories is constructed and taught with this dual audience in mind.
B-level art history courses provide basic knowledge of artists and works of art, and of the social and cultural contexts that enable artistic production and reception. A number of these courses have no prerequisites, and are designed to accommodate students from other programs as well as art history program students. The B-level courses offer opportunities to see the diverse ways in which the discipline breaks its subjects down into fields, issues, themes, and methodologies. Faculty may introduce students to the specific areas and practices of research in which they themselves are engaged, and since these areas and practices are partly defined by the larger practices of art history, the dynamics by which art history sees itself are revealed. Some B-level courses have a strong gallery and museum focus, providing a window onto institution practices and more importantly, offering many opportunities to spend time with original works of art.
C-level art history courses often operate as seminars, and students learn quickly that their own level of participation will help determine how well they do and how much they gain from their experience. Usually these courses have small class sizes with tightly focused topics and intensive research opportunities. Students really begin here to develop their theoretical knowledge, competence at independent research, and ways of communicating results. Some C-level courses are based on work in galleries and museums.
D-levels: these courses are research-intensive and writing-intensive, and may also have a strong gallery and museum component. While the C-level courses help students to build competence in independent research, the D-levels offer them opportunities to hone these skills, possibly in preparation for graduate work. D-level courses are critical for students interested in graduate study or employment in an art history-related field.