Liberal Arts through the AGES: Interdisciplinary Art Historical Inquiry


Liberal Arts through the AGES:
Interdisciplinary Art Historical Inquiry

Welcome to the Liberal Arts through the AGES web gallery! This project is an important part of your first-year learning experience and offers immediate access to primary documents—original texts—dating from various periods, cultures and disciplines through the history of civilization. The texts that are included present a wide perspective on human thought and come from many different disciplines. Works of art—also original texts—offer an ideal historical and multidisciplinary lens through which we might examine the past as it relates to the various eras and themes under investigation. Diverse scholarly approaches are used to explicate artwork, including stylistic analysis, iconographic (symbolic) language, sociological and psychological interpretation, as well as scientific and technical consideration. Liberal Studies students can make connections through art historical comparisons. Exploring the past through such juxtapositions enables students to recognize significant links that deepen our understanding of the human condition.

Art historians increasingly account for the context in which works of art were created and the manner in which such accomplishments mirror their time periods. While we often think our view of the world is one that has always been common, the works of art in this web gallery help us realize that our contemporary worldview has actually evolved over time. Reading words, some dating back to oral traditions, written by great thinkers of the past, enables us to better discern our present. It is also an integral step toward becoming fully educated in the liberal arts. By studying artwork from a given epoch, we can learn more about that time. Furthermore, as we trace the development of art along a timeline, we may note places where traditions and past styles have impacted the present as well as innovations that occur that are particular to a specific period.

Augustana’s pedagogical art history collection has been carefully developed in order to effectively complement the liberal arts curriculum of the college. It therefore establishes an important visual education resource for students and faculty. As evidenced by the accompanying catalogue, professors and administrators, as well as undergraduates and alumni, ranging from the first through senior years, and the classes of 1987-2014, with a multitude of majors and minors, have benefited from the opportunity of directly studying these works of art through past LS books and in person in the Augustana College Art Museum. And the benefit increases, as their writing further informs as you utilize the book for your own research. This dynamic creates an ongoing dialogue with the work of art and with others who interpret it. Enjoy this year--your historic first at Augustana College!

—Catherine Carter Goebel, Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts, Professor and Chair of Art History  

This is a unique integration of an art collection into the curriculum, conceived and orchestrated by Dr. Goebel. With the assistance of the Advancement Office and generous donors and dealers, and most particularly with Dr. Goebel’s Paul A. Anderson Chair in the Arts endowment purchases as well as gifts she has overseen for over 25 years, we have established an art history teaching collection as an active study resource and an integral part of the curriculum. Our top priority is to engage students with a collection that offers primary and authentic encounters which begin conversations that lead to further connections.        

Sherry C. Maurer, Director, Augustana College Art Museum

Web Gallery designed by Megan MacCall, Director of Digital Archives and Visual Resources, Department of Art History. If you would like higher resolution images for classroom instruction, you may email your requests to

Catalogue numbers correspond to the book: Liberal Arts through the AGES:

Interdisciplinary Art Historical Inquiry  (Rock Island, IL: Augustana College, 2011).

Copyright restrictions apply to the use of images and artwork not in the public domain and to purposes outside of internal educational fair-use.

Liberal Arts through the AGES web gallery © 2011 Augustana College Art Museum.