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Areas of Study


Visual Culture and Literature of the African World

The track offers an interdisciplinary approach to visual and spatial production of transnational networks in the African world. Students may focus on African and African diaspora arts, literatures, or studies of space, including built form and urban geography. The courses needed to complete a student’s primary or secondary area may be taken with a range of other Africanist professors across the College of Fine Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences, in the Schools of Art + Design and Music, and the Divisions of Dance, Film, and Theater, and the Departments of Anthropology, Classics and World Religions, English, Geography, History, Linguistics, Modern Languages, Political Science, and the African Studies Program.

Art and Architectural History

This area concerns the history of the visual arts and architecture and is based largely (although not exclusively) in the West from Antiquity through Modernity. Courses in the department focus on cultural history, are object-oriented, and address interdisciplinary arts concepts like word and image, art and performance, iconology, and art and power. Students are encouraged to pursue their interdisciplinary interests, and can engage with additional traditions, periods, and methodological approaches in the Art History program in the School Art + Design and across the university. 


This area concerns the intellectual history and research methods of ethnomusicology and musicology. PhD candidates in this area take courses that focus on how ethnomusicologists and musicologists have written about musical forms in various cultural, transnational, and historical contexts. PhD candidates in this area are also challenged to make use of their secondary area so that it complements their area of expertise and informs their dissertation research. 

Film Studies/Comparative Literature

This area provides students with modes of reading global history and culture through national and translational literary and filmic texts. In particular, this entails an address of theoretical, historical, and critical methodological approaches. Furthermore, students are encouraged to pursue the Film Studies and Comparative Literature area with an understanding of the fundamentally interdisciplinary consideration of all other disciplines that take an epistemological tact in their respective focus on literary and visual art and culture.

Philosophy of Art

This area focuses on the philosophical study of the fine arts and the deep relations among them, as well as with history, world-views, belief-systems, religious practices, and mythological traditions. It is open to all historical periods and regions of the world. Combining philosophy of art with philosophy of culture and history of ideas, this approach leaves behind the framework of Western vs. non-Western arts and philosophies, and encourages students to study them as dynamically connected, historically conditioned, and continually interacting parts of the global circulation of concepts and symbols, as well as ritual and artistic practices.

Theater/Performance Studies

Students in this area have the opportunity to study a wide range of topics in theater, drama and performance studies.  Students create a course of study that draws on relevant courses in the arts, humanities, communication studies and social sciences. The study of performance encompasses theater, dance, performance art, music and everyday life. The focus is primarily in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but courses are also available on aspects of Classical, Elizabethan, Restoration, and eighteenth-century performance. In addition, students can learn about performance worldwide, for example, with courses from experts in Southeast Asian puppetry, African dance and music, and contemporary German performance.


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