Historians of art and architecture study visual communication. In Carleton’s History and Theory of Architecture program, we study the great monuments of Western culture—painting, sculpture and buildings—as well as Asian and Islamic art, North American Indigenous art, photography, printmaking and popular culture. We also examine the institutions of art itself: museums, galleries and exhibitions.
Our material ranges from the prehistoric period to the present day. Our students come away from the program with direct experience of collections of art here in the National Capital Region and a historical framework for understanding imagery, as well as an awareness of the multiple possibilities for interpreting art, architecture and other visual phenomena.
Specifically, we examine how representations work. We analyze the products of the human imagination and the visual expressions of different societies. Such analyses produce a historical awareness as well as an understanding of modes of expression in different cultures. This knowledge provides students with the intellectual tools that allow them to function as informed and thoughtful individuals in and increasingly visual and globalized society.