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Abstract

This essay stems from our concern that art historians still conceive of “The” Survey in terms that privilege Western artistic traditions. In this article, we offer an alternative that we designate as the multi-survey model (MSM) or approach. “The survey” becomes “the surveys” that introduce students to Western arts and the art forms of often underrepresented regions. Twenty-one percent of the schools surveyed in our peer review employ similar models, and yet the MSM has yet to attract critical scholarly attention. This essay addresses a void in present scholarship and elaborates upon three main goals of the MSM, all of which help to de-center the survey from Western origins and to challenge the discourse that positions Western art as normative. First, the MSM creates opportunities for students to delve into the particularities of a specific region and its narratives of art, which often exist outside Western art historical discourse. Second, the MSM produces a productive dialogue between the Western survey and the regional surveys of Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, Pacific Cultures, and other regions. Last, students investigate agency of representation, and in particular how the arts of Asia and the Americas are presented in the Western world. The MSM deliberately concedes global coverage in favor of capitalizing upon the strengths of faculty members in small art history departments. The MSM ensures that students engage with a variety of cultural perspectives early in their art history careers and bolsters our efforts to create a more globally aware citizenry at the college level.

 

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