Understanding the art-historical canon as socially embedded and historically negotiated is a threshold concept for art history but there is a paucity of research on how to position students to examine the formation of the academic disciplines and negotiate the performance of their canons in academic and public space. Art history has an advantage over other disciplines in this regard due to the close relationship it enjoys with art museums, which make the discipline and its history present in space. This article presents two case studies in support of partnering with museums to move histories of the discipline to the forefront of students’ art-historical investigations. Drawing on Community Based Learning (CBL) with critical perspectives based in critical pedagogy and institutional critique, the article shares findings from two courses developed in partnership with a local public art museum that successfully promoted students’ “canonical critical consciousness” and empowered them to develop original, research-based interpretations of individual artworks with that perspective. One course focused on black arts and the other course drew on a European masterpiece collection and a larger collection of African art. In these courses students demonstrated increased awareness of the canon as a social construct, the ability to evaluate its value propositions, and applied ethical judgment to their interpretive choices.
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Kingsley, Jennifer P.. 2019. "The Canon as Provocation: Partnering with Museums for the Future of Art History." Art History Pedagogy & Practice 4, (1). https://academicworks.cuny.edu/ahpp/vol4/iss1/3