How to Study Art History | LittleArtTalks

So you’ve taken the plunge and signed up for your very first art history course. Yayyy! Whether its the Spanish Golden Age, Japanese Meji Era, or Contemporary African Art – there’s a lot of work to do. There’s a bunch of dates, titles, names with difficult, foreign spelling (Does spelling even count?) But don’t worry, because here are my top tips to help you study for your Art History class. 1. Attend all of your classes. And yes, i’m talking
about. every single one of them! Even if your class is really early, don’t
hit that snooze button because lectures can be really jam-packed with a lot of
information and they usually go in a chronological order so it can be hard to keep up if you missed 1 of them. Your professor may also have themes or overarching idea is to
organize the material so if you miss a crucial part, like their thesis, you might be really lost about how everything ties together. And that can
really kick you in the butt later on when that same idea shows up on your final and
number two is to do your reading. Now text books can be
really expensive which but there’s a lot of alternatives
that can help if you can afford it, that’s great
because having your own copy means you can write it in, you can underline and highlight
important passages but if you can’t afford it you should look
for other alternatives and not just give up on reading. Sometimes it can help if you ask your
professor. Maybe they know there’s a PDF version online that you can get for free or there’s a copy in the library that
you can check out. Look for used copies, rent a book, or look
online for cheaper deals, or as an ebook which is usually cheaper.
If you have a friend in the class, maybe you can split the cost and alternate weeks. Buy or borrow the book off of
someone who took the class last semester. And if you do end up
buying the book you can always sell it to another student so you can get some more
money for you next semester. And, actually read it! I know it can be
long and tedious and dry, but it really helps and
here’s my tips of how to read your reading. 1. Read
through it quickly and get an idea of what it’s about. What’s the thesis? Can you summarize it succinctly? 2. Write
down any questions you have What makes it strong? What makes it weak?
And what do you not understand? 3. Read it again but this time more slowly
and more critically. Can you answer all the questions that
you listed? Highlight and underline key points, right down notes or questions
that would be good to bring out during discussion. 3. Is to
ask lots of questions. Now this is something
I definitely struggled with but if you’re going to class, paying
attention to lecture, do your reading, and you still find yourself lost, that’s a
strong indication that some idea was lost upon you. Maybe the
professor glossed over an idea too quickly or they didn’t explain it well enough. Asking a question at this point can not only help you, but likely your classmates as they’re probably lost as well. And
a lot of people are too shy or don’t care enough to bring it up. Asking questions will demonstrate that you’re
paying attention and you’re engaged, and I’m sure your professor will
appreciate that. That’s also why it’s important to do your readings before class, because it’s really difficult to
have a discussion without doing your readings. It’ll become
really obvious that you have no idea what you’re talking about and that will have the opposite effect of
what you want. 4. Take lots of notes. Not just on your lecture
but also during discussion and during your readings. People have different ways of taking
notes that they prefer or work best for them. Some prefer to work
on paper, while others like to bring their laptops to class.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to just balance getting everything down verses having a somewhat organized, coherent set of notes that you can study from
later on. And organizing your notes will actually help you understand
lectures better. Instead of just transcribing
word-for-word with the professors saying, it’ll probably help to actually think
about what they’re trying to convey, and understanding how to break that up
into smaller bits so you can visually organize the
information in your notes. This can take a bit of trial and error, but
when you get a good system down, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with an easier studying time at the end of the
semester. While taking notes, it also helps to underline or star important ideas. If your
professors spending long time on a particular art piece, you should
definitely star it or highlight it in some way so that you know
maybe it’ll show up as an essay or in a final. Now you’ve gone to
all your classes done all you’re readings, taken really good
notes, midterms and finals are fast approaching
and you need to study to pass your test. Make sure you know the
format your final beforehand so that you can strategize how to
study for the test. This is more of a general test-taking strategy, but if
you know that sixty percent of your grade will be an in class essay with an open prompt with
20 percent being slide IDs and 20 percent being compare
and contrast should allocate your time so you could
study proportionally. Because identifying artworks is really
important for an art history class, I suggest making flashcards. Now you
can make digital or paper flashcards, whichever fits your
studying habits. If you do go with paper flashcards make
sure to print them in color since color can really help you identify certain
works, and important in general for a piece of artwork. If
you’re a person who’s really attached your smartphone, maybe download an app with
digital flash cards to help study on the go. I use a program called
Anki, which you can use on your phone or your computer and you basically mark cards as you
flip through them: whether you remember it, or you don’t
remember it, and they have this algorithm that will shuffle you cards that you
have to trouble with more often so you get a little bit more
practice. And you could do this same thing with paper flash cards by making decks of what is easy to remember, difficult
to remember, or a more moderate pile, and then you can shuffle through the ones you have trouble
with more often. For essays figure out what the format
will be is it an open prompt, where you provide
examples relevant to the idea or will it be a compare and contrast essay?
Take a look at all the artworks that your professor has gone over: what are the overarching themes and
what do they have in common? What has the progression look like throughout this
course? Put yourself in the shoes in your professor:
what kind of information are you trying to convey and what kind of prompt wall demonstrate
that knowledge? You can also ask your professor for example
prompts. These won’t be the ones on the actual test, but it’ll give
you an idea of what the format will be and help you prepare. It can also help
you look the class rubrick look at what the titles are for each
week what are the topics and what would your imaginary essay for
each week be? So that when you study you cover
each topic. You’re basically casting a wider net so that you don’t miss any huge chunks
information. Try to think artworks that would be good to
demonstrate certain ideas so that if you have an essay asking you to provide
examples of work that demonstrate royalty, you’ll know
which three would be your go-to answers. Lastly
don’t feel pressured to stick with only the material provided by your class the
library has a ton of free resources for you and you can also look online you might
not want to put too much weight on a 2001 blog has never been updated but hey I think
Wikipedia’s citations are a great place to start. Try
Google Scholar or Google Books for more resources online. The more you absorb the more familiar
you are with it, and that repetition really helps when you’re stressing out
trying to recall details during in class timed essay. All you got
to do now is to actually study! Figure out what’s the best way for you to
study. Does the background chatter at a cafe help you focus? Or do you find it really
distracting? Do you need to hole up in your room? Do you need to have a snacks? Do you need to ban social medias from your laptop or phone for a couple hours? Or
maybe you need to set up a system where you reward yourself with a pastry after a thousand words or
something. maybe verbalizing ideas really help you
study, in which case you might want to form a
study group. Or maybe you need to write everything down Draw out a map or a timeline. Finally try
to make it fun for yourself. I know it’s hard when you’re
stressing out about a grade but remember that you signed up for the
class in the first place because you found something interesting about it. Try to find pieces that you really like
and identify with so that you can incorporate them into
your essays, and I’ll make it a lot easier for you to enjoy it. Don’t spend all your time trying to
memorize every single word about it, but actually enjoy the work itself.
Look at the art! Every single word you’re reading came
from someone looking at the art itself. Most of the time. So you can also get a
lot out it just looking at the artwork itself. I hope you guys found my tips useful, and let me know what is your best studying tip in the comment section
below. If you’re interested in art history please subscribe! I make a bunch of art related videos every
week and I share my favorite art related
movies, books, and podcasts every month. If you have any more questions about
studying art history, please leave them in the comments section below and I’ll try
my best to answer them. Best of luck with all your studying, And I’ll see you guys
next time! whether the Spanish Golden Age,
japanese-Meji era or the (incorrect) meso-petamia, meopetamian, mesopetamian art.. Why did I pick such a hard word to say? And….. (sigh) why?????


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