A Colloquium in the Visual Arts

, University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums
A large hefty Rhinoceros at side view stands on the ground facing right with head lowered looking straight ahead.

Albrecht Dürer, Rhinoceros, 1515. Woodcut. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of William Gray from the collection of Francis Calley Gray, G1141. Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

University Teaching Gallery, Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard course A Colloquium in the Visual Arts (Humanities 20) is an introduction to the study of the humanities through major works of art and architecture from around the world: everything from ancient Persian sculpture to modern stop-motion photography. The course is taught by five members of the Harvard faculty: Jinah Kim, Joseph Koerner, Yukio Lippit, Jennifer Roberts, and David Roxburgh, with guest lectures by Sarah Lewis and Robin Kelsey.

Each week, the students immerse themselves in the cultural and imaginary world of a single artwork. Following an expansive lecture on the work, the students gather in this gallery and other locations on campus for “looking labs,” in which they develop skills of close observation, description, and visual analysis.

The course teaches students what it means to engage deeply with an artwork, and how to think through an artwork about big questions in human culture: social justice, gender, modernity, religious belief, cross-cultural encounter, the nature of time, the relationship between art and science, and how different cultures have thought about life and death and the beginning and end of the world.

The University Teaching Gallery serves faculty and students affiliated with Harvard’s Department of History of Art and Architecture. Semester-long installations are mounted here in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate courses, supporting instruction in the critical analysis of art and making unique selections from the museums’ collections available to all visitors.

This installation is made possible by funding from the Gurel Student Exhibition Fund.