About

Founded in 1931, the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies has taken its present shape within the last 20 years and, as its name implies, has three distinct parts:

  1. Visual Arts is devoted to all aspects of the practice of the arts,
  2. History of Art, with its emphasis on the historical and theoretical study of art, and our most recent addition
  3. Visual & Media Studies, which enables students to study the increasing complexity of the visual age at the interface of the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences.

Our faculty and students, undergraduate and graduate, are committed to international research, interdisciplinary courses, and the study of visual culture across geographic and historical categories. Since 1986, we have broadened our perspective by

  • introducing courses in theory, methodology, and criticism;
  • by attracting faculty specialists in African and African Diaspora, East Asian, and Latin American art histories in addition to our still-growing strengths in European and North American art, from ancient times to our contemporary world;
  • and by interacting through interdisciplinary teaching, collaborative research and symposia with other departments and programs, such as African and African-American Studies, Economics, English, Women's Studies, the Center for Documentary Studies and the Center for French and Francophone Studies. Duke University is one of the only research universities with a Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies, who fosters and facilitates such projects.

Our PhD Program in Art History, designed to be small and highly selective, has graduates who are currently working as university teachers, program coordinators, museum professionals, and postdoctoral fellows. Our graduate students, in various stages of their studies, have also distinguished themselves through publications, public lectures and internationally competitive fellowships; they comprise an intrinsic part of the Department's intellectual life, most notably in our annual Graduate Student Symposium.

We are very excited to be soliciting applications for the new Master of Fine Arts in Experimental & Documentary Arts (MFAEDA), which welcomed its first class of students in 2011. MFAEDA is a joint program of the Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, the Center for Documentary Studies, and the Arts of the Moving Image Program.