What do you appreciate most about study in the field? (art history or architecture)
I love studying art history because I feel it's a field that, contrary to popular opinion, is quite open. There's always more to say about art, no matter what your background is academically. I also love how I can study something in class and then see what I'm studying at a museum with family and friends; it's not a field that's very restricted. Anyone can walk into a museum, and art history seems especially relevant given how visual our world has become.
What do you appreciate most about the HAA department?
The HAA department is always excited about what you're studying. Whether it's totally aligned with their work or not, in my experience, no matter whom I've spoken to about my classes or interests, the faculty are always looking to learn about what you're doing and wonderfully generous with offers to help. This shows how the department is truly academically curious; as I said, there's always more to be said about art, and the department embodies that.
How did you come to join this concentration?
I've been interested in art history since the ninth grade, but coming into Harvard, I was deciding between a biology track and HAA (I know, opposite ends of the spectrum). I joined the HAA concentration because I felt that there was greater access to faculty and the courses were always changing. Art history is a relatively recent-but truly broad-field, and the HAA concentration at Harvard takes advantage of that. There are always new courses, and many faculty are open to altering the way their courses are taught to suit particular student interest. I've had more than a few faculty genuinely ask for student feedback and then use it in a later semester.
A thought on a notable: course / faculty member / opportunity?
I must answer this question with the sophomore excursion course/trip. Second semester, all HAA sophomores can take a course with four faculty members on the art/architecture history of a country and then spend ten days there once classes end in May. My year, it was Spain. The concentration's close-knit quality is owed at least in part to this trip. This is an incredible opportunity to learn not only about art and architecture, but also a fantastic way to get to know faculty members beyond the classroom. One of the great parts about studying art history is that it's a subject that requires fieldwork…you can read and look at photos of art as much as you want, but ultimately, seeing the works in real life, especially with professors, is the best way to learn. In all the HAA classes I've taken, professors have engaged the world beyond the classroom, from the Harvard Art Museums and their archives to museums in Boston to the Prado.