Film, Visual and Performing Arts (FVPA)


In this course, you will be introduced to key theories and methodologies in the areas of Film, Theatre and Performance, Music, Digital and Visual Arts, and to a range of case studies from these different disciplines. The first semester of the course is arranged according to two overarching themes, namely representation and symbolic forms and genres, conventions and contexts. The second semester of the course is also arranged according to two overarching and connected themes, namely stereotypes and power and the body, sex and race. Through engaging with the material presented in this course you will gain a broad understanding of theories and practices in the field of film, visual and performing arts, a sphere which extends beyond the narrow confines of specialist studies, into our everyday lives, and our understanding of the world. Increasingly in the arts, discipline boundaries are being challenged and re-drawn. The course is taught by leading artists and academics from the Wits School of Arts.

History of Art II A

Landscape // Figure // Portrait


This course examines art from different societies. Working from the position that art-making is never a neutral practice for aesthetic reasons alone and that artworks are never simply objective documents modelled directly from reality, this course explores artists’ relationship to various forms of power through three major genres: ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, and ‘figure’. In this course we explore the three genres through a long time span and wide geographic area and breadth of definition, tracking their specificities, boundaries and overlaps across time and place. Through a critical examination of these conventions, the course locates the production, use and understanding of visual arts in particular historical, cultural and material contexts.



History of Art II B

Modernisms // Modernities


In an attempt to complicate the ways in which modernity and modernism has been “written”, this course aims to consider “modernity as embodied sensation”, using a series of exhibition case studies that may begin to create a layered sense of the complexity of modernities from our own particular perspective and beyond, starting in Johannesburg, broadening out to South Africa, and finally into Africa. Using a series of case studies as models, students enact and reflect upon curatorial decisions that enable an accumulative and layered engagement with a network of modernities. Key concepts include postcolonialism, globalisation, diaspora and nationalism.



History of Art III A

Art Historical Methodologies

This course introduces different art historical methods of interpretation and analysis through an exploration of Renaissance art in Europe between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The course aims to enable critical and situated analyses of selected altarpieces, fresco programmes, and independent religious and secular artworks using a range of methods including formal analysis, iconographic interpretation, and contextual methods of analysis and meaning making. The course addresses issues that have had a lasting legacy in the disciplines of art making and art history: patronage, power relations, self-fashioning and impression management.


History of Art III B

Contexts // Display

Contexts // Display

Focusing primarily on the circulation and reception of art in different art historical periods, this course examines the different contexts and politics of the display of art. It explores the form of the exhibition and site-specific intervention in relation to different social and political contexts, and how these contexts enable various kinds of artistic and institutional critique. Through a consideration of concepts such as contextualization, intervention and subversion, this course not only investigates the workings of context, but also how art speak to issues of power and the construction of ‘art history’.



History of Art III C


This course explores ways in which Africa has been framed and constructed at different historical moments from the deep past to the contemporary. The African continent is home to the greatest human antiquity and the oldest ‘art’ as well as a vibrant postcolonial present: to negotiate these vast expanses in both time, space and disciplinary perspective, the course examines artworks from different contexts to better understand the complex processes of artistic production and reception of art from the continent. Students are encouraged to explore the ways in which human experience in Africa has been and is represented in the form of artefacts, artworks and ideas as well as the ways in which people have expressed particular constructs of their own ‘being in the world’ through time. This course aims to enable critical and situated analyses of artworks and their production in terms of shifting historical and contemporary readings.

History of Art III D

Reading the Contemporary

This course examines contemporary art practice in the context of postmodern and postcolonial theory. It considers the relationship between contemporary art and its historical influences and contexts. The course includes an introduction to critical concepts, methodologies and theories in contemporary art practice since the 1970s, the mechanisms and institutions of the contemporary art world, and an overview of influential contemporary artists practising in Europe, the Americas (including the African Diaspora), Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Find out more about

Undergraduate Practice

Find out more about

Undergraduate Excursions

Admission Requirements

To apply to study undergraduate History of Art at Wits, please contact out Student Liaison Officer:

Charlotte Fraser
Telephone: +27 (11) 717 4656
Email: charlotte.fraser@wits.ac.za


Undergraduate applications for 2015 close on 30 September 2014.

Find out more about application requirements and download application forms.