This chart shows the range of art history courses on offer at our sample of 15 Canadian universities at 5 moments in time. This chart is more informative about both the ideal and actual shape of an education in art history – often in part carried by sessional faculty – than our tenure-stream faculty charts. The data is based on undergraduate course offerings, which are usually broader in scope than graduate course offerings.

Our 21 subject icons represent a comprehensive spectrum of faculty positions and course offerings in art history at Canadian universities over time. They capture shifts in the designation of positions as art history changed (theory, visual culture, feminism/gender), chart the teaching of a global art history curriculum, and capture regional specialities in Canadian universities (Quebec, patrimony). Particular attention was paid to the emergence of positions in Canadian and Indigenous-First Nations arts in departments of art history.

How we assigned the specializations to our faculty data

We asked departments to designate a single specialization for each appointment from an institutional perspective. While every appointment satisfies multiple curricular desiderata, we asked if, for example, you hired a historian of Canadian Photography studied from a feminist perspective, what was the first non-negotiable criterion in that search: photography? Canadian art? Feminism/Gender studies? For each and every faculty member we designated this way (we often ended up making the choice based on the faculty profile) this choice significantly reduces a more varied and nuanced research and teaching profile. When we made the designations ourselves we operated with a few biases: we were looking for positions that prioritized Canadian art, Quebec art, Indigenous art and tended to use these designations over others. We were also looking for departments that hired a global art history faculty and tended to designate by region (i.e. we chose African art over modernism for scholars working on global modernity). Inevitably strong theoretical allegiances reflected in our categories were obscured by period or geographic designations. Visual Culture was difficult category to assign as we felt universities probably prioritized geographical diversity or period coverage over the approach. For all of the acknowledged problems with this approach, the reduction to one subfield nonetheless enabled us to get a general overview of the priorities and curricular range of departments while leaving it to the departments to add nuance to this blunt set of categories in their narrative accounts.

Call to Art Historians to Write the History of their Specialization

We invite specialists to collaborate with colleagues an account of their specialization in Canada.

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