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Liberal Arts through the AGES: Interdisciplinary Art Historical Inquiry

Catherine Carter Goebel, Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts, Professor of Art History, Editor

Welcome to Liberal Arts through the AGES! This publication offers immediate access to primary documents — works of art — dating from various periods, cultures and disciplines through the history of civilization. These offer an ideal historical and multidisciplinary lens through which we might examine the past as it relates to the various eras and themes under investigation.

Eugène Boudin - Beach of Trouville
Eugène Boudin, Beach of Trouville

Diverse scholarly approaches are used to explicate artwork, including stylistic analysis, iconographic language, sociological and psychological interpretation, as well as scientific and technical consideration. We can thus make rich connections through art historical comparisons as noted in sample student essays. Exploring the past through such juxtapositions enables us to recognize significant links that deepen our understanding of the human condition. 

Art historians increasingly account for the context in which works of art were created and the manner in which such accomplishments mirror their time periods. While we often think our view of the world is one that has always been common, the works of art in this web gallery and their related essays help us realize that our contemporary worldview has actually evolved over time. Learning about the past enables us to better discern our present. It is also an integral step toward becoming fully educated in the liberal arts. By studying artwork from a given epoch, we can learn more about that time. Furthermore, as we trace the development of art along a timeline (editor's essay), we may note places where traditions and past styles have impacted the present as well as innovations that occur that are particular to a specific period. 

This teaching collection has been carefully developed through the Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts along with generous donors noted in the acknowledgments. It ranges historically from ancient through contemporary periods, representing cultures across six continents, establishing a relevant visual education resource. Faculty and students from academic programs across the curriculum, as well as administrators including the President and Provost, are published alongside students and alumni from the classes of 1987-2018. All have benefited from the opportunity to study original works of art in person. And the benefit increases, as their writing further informs as others utilize this resource for their own research. This dynamic creates an ongoing dialogue with the work of art and with others who interpret it. 

In order to navigate the web gallery and its related essays and bibliography, you may scroll across works of art from left to right in chronological order. Click on the work you’d like to further investigate. You can then scroll downward to its related essay. Explore and enjoy! Thank you. 

-Errin Copple, Thomas James Goebel and Katherine Elizabeth Goebel, assistant editors. Beth Ducey, graphic designer. Trevor Warner, web gallery designer. 

Unless otherwise indicated, copyrighted artworks in this collection are used pursuant to fair use. 

Liberal Arts through the AGES © 2015 Catherine Carter Goebel