History, Art History and Theory, and Visual Culture are three of the most exciting subjects offered at university.
They are offered at undergraduate, honours and postgraduate level.
History is much more than the study of the past: it is the study of how and why the past has meaning in the present.
The study of history helps us to recognise the distinctive forces that have shaped our own society and determined our particular place within it.
In a rapidly changing 21st century, it is more important than ever to understand human diversity, the complexity of cultural and social structures, and the processes of change.
Art History and Theory
Art is an essential part of the human experience. It is seen and made everywhere. Works of art provide us with a means of understanding cultural and ideological changes in society through the ages.
The study of Art History and Theory at Otago helps you to interpret the visual, think about how it communicated to people in the past and present, and what it means to people in various cultures in the past and in the contemporary world.
Visual Culture is a multidisciplinary programme. It seeks both to understand visual artifacts (including, for example, documentary photographs, fashion and cityscapes) and to analyse 'vision' as a social and cultural process.
Visual Culture examines the technologies by which images are produced, circulated and received, as well as the theories of seeing that make the visual world intelligible. It addresses the relationships between images, discourses, societies, and persons.
Much of the research in Visual Culture is concerned with the ways in which images inform our sense of ourselves as subjects, the nature of the society we inhabit, and our imagination of the world.
Resources for History, Art History and Theory and Visual Culture students
In Dunedin students have access to the following resources:
- The Hocken Collections, which holds nationally significant archival, photographic, and art collections
- Archives New Zealand holds government-related records, and has a Dunedin office
- Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is an important resource for local history, photographs, and portraits
- The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand Archives is the national repository for the Presbyterian church
- Dunedin City Council Archives hold records and a photographic collection of importance to the city
- Dunedin Public Library has the McNab Collection specialising in New Zealand material and the Reed Collection specializing in medieval manuscripts and early printed books
- The Dunedin Public Art Gallery is a rich resource for art historians, as are the host of galleries and art spaces within the city
- Special Collections, University of Otago Library, holds rare books and manuscripts from the pre-1800 period, as well as material relating to the 19th and 20th centuries