Elisabeth Findlay 0

Stop the Cuts: Save Art History at La Trobe University

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Art History at La Trobe University has been axed in the first round of savage job cuts in the Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe, amounting to the loss of two permanent lecturing positions, as well as casual teaching staff. This is despite the fact that the Art History program has healthy numbers, is cost-effective and is being taught by staff with high research outputs. La Trobe’s scholarly art historians have made a significant contribution to the intellectual life of this country and overseas since the 1970s. Students have benefited from outstanding teaching to establish professional careers in universities, art galleries and the media both in Australia, Europe and in the USA. These are graduates of whom Australia can be proud. We believe that art history is a not a specialist subject which belongs to the few, but is a foundational subject that should be taught throughout the humanities. We live in a visual world, a world mediated by images, and art history provides a means of understanding those images. Art history equips students with techniques for analysing and interpreting both historical and contemporary images and the theoretical approaches that inform them. This visual literacy is increasingly important for all disciplines in universities, not simply the humanities, and there are fruitful interdisciplinary collaborations between art history, the sciences, education, architecture and other disciplines in other universities. La Trobe University has an important art museum with rich collections, and art history is fundamental to their interpretation. Other universities have understood the importance of the nexus between the study of art history and their art museums. Within our region these include the University of Melbourne (which has recently appointed a position to liaise between art history and the art museum), Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney, University of Adelaide, Australian National University, University of Canterbury, University of Auckland, Victoria University Wellington, University of Otago, University of Queensland, Griffith University, QUT and the University of Western Australia. These institutions understand the importance of art history as part of their cultural capital and include it in their strategic plan for the future. To eliminate art history would be a short-sighted action that would deprive students of visual and interpretive skills that they increasingly need in our media-centred world. Please sign this petition to protest the cancellation of Art History at La Trobe. We need your support.

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