The Residential College
Arts and Ideas Concentration at the University of
Michigan offers students the ability to construct an interdisciplinary
major in the arts and humanities. Concentrators can combine either
two humanities disciplines or a humanities discipline with an artistic
practice. To major in the Arts and Ideas Concentration, students combine
history and theory courses with visual studies, performance, and studio
arts courses. To complete the concentration, students then construct
a program of specialized study in two areas of focus. In the specialized
study portion of the Arts and Ideas Concentration, different area
combinations are possible, depending on the interests of the individual
student. Possible combinations include: sculpture and film theory;
art history and English literature; drama and psychology; musicology
and South East Asian studies; history and creative writing; or African-
American studies and photography.
Arts and Ideas Concentration courses stress interdisciplinary
and comparative methodologies. Students investigate how different
forms of art relate and respond to one another: how they argue or
agree, how they overlap or diverge in form and content. Concentration
courses often focus on a specific historical moment or context, encouraging
students to examine a particular culture through a broad range of
different media. In addition, by combining theory with practice, certain
Arts and Ideas courses encourage students to reflect on the origins
of art and to engage in its contexts, whether productive or historical.
Unlike a traditional humanities major, the Arts and Ideas major asks
humanities students to construct an interdisciplinary specialization.
Unlike a traditional arts major, the Arts and Ideas major expects
students to undertake more research in the histories, theories and
geographies of the various arts.
Twin goals of the concentration are to train students
in close reading and analysis of different expressive media (whether
textual, visual, or acoustic) and to combine the study of art with
its practice. Through intensive discussion, writing and production,
students become more sophisticated analysts, critical producers and
historians of culture.