The session I attended this afternoon focused on a thematic approach to Ar History. It’s an interesting concept and one that has been thrown around in the the fields of broad history topics (World, European, Asian, etc) as well as other social topics – including Art History (my focus at this conference).
The section was presented by David Blumberg, an educator at the Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts in Laredo, Texas. Thematic approaches to Art History are helpful for a variety of reasons – namely that it can help students to make cross-cultural and temporal connections to themes and ideas in arts. Additionally, when teaching a broader spectrum of a topic, it keeps you from having to play the jumping around chronology game – e.g. When teaching Medieval Europe (4th – 14th century C.E.), at what point do I jump over to say civilizations of the Americas or dynastic splits in Asia? The chronological themes are not the same and the matching is awkward.
He provided a number of resources and material that we could use (including a series of slides and imagery to use in our classes if we so choose). While I’m not sure that I will go the thematic route – especially my first year out – it is definitely a concept that I will incorporate in areas.