Skip to main content

The Theory and History of Art and Design (THAD) department offers thought-provoking courses focused on a wide range of media, spanning time periods from ancient to contemporary and embracing diverse critical perspectives. Generally based on reading, close examination of actual works and small group discussions, courses emphasize critical thinking and analysis, clarity of written and verbal communication, and an understanding of the value of artistic expression across cultures and throughout time.

Theory + History of Art + Design Concentration

THAD
a focused liberal arts "minor"

In (and out of) the Classroom

Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, THAD courses are rich and varied, taught by faculty scholars with fabulously diverse interests ranging from ethnomusicology to landscape in American film, the role of femme fatales in Western art, contemporary African artists, French surrealism and much more. Behind-the-scenes access to the RISD Museum’s extraordinary collection of 85,000 works of art – from early Egyptian relics to 21st-century experimental light sculptures – provides students and faculty with unparalleled opportunities for in-depth research. THAD faculty work to provide access to actual works of art – both at the RISD Museum and elsewhere – image reproductions of works in books or on screen.

10/09/2020

Legacies of the Slave Trade

SEI Research Fellow Christopher Roberts examines Providence’s historical connections to slavery and colonialism and their impact on the present day.

03/02/2020

A World without America

Visiting artist Dread Scott shares his vision for change with RISD students.

12/09/2019

Art Moves

In a new book capping years of research, art historian Pascale Rihouet probes the meaning of materials in Renaissance processions.

In addition to its strong disciplinary focus, THAD offers comparative examinations of the critical dialogue among art historians representing various cultural traditions. Interdisciplinary approaches also invite further exploration of the artistic traditions of the world, critical theory and visual culture, art historiography, aesthetics, object conservation, and the histories of art and design in various media, among other broad topics.