I took this class because I think that a basic knowledge in art history is an important aspect of functioning as an intellectual person. That said, this class gave me nothing. I went to class a few times in the beginning of the semester but stopped showing up shortly thereafter. The class was boring with most students mindlessly writing down every word Higonnet said (which was seemed thoughtless to me). There was nothing about the class that was at all worth showing up for. It was not at all stimulating and seemed to be a complete waste of time. If you want a class where you can spend an hour and 15 minutes hearing Higonnet speak in flowery, insubstantial, repetitive phrases...go for it. I wouldn't exactly recommend wasting your tuition money on that. The class wasn't all bad though. The artworks chosen were interesting and that made it fun studying for the midterm and final. It's a 4 credit class that is an easy A so that's also nice if you need a GPA boost.My TA also happened to be incredible and she made the class 10000000% more thought provoking as did the museum trips. All in all, everything but the lecture was pretty enjoyable. But you can probably gain just as much by making friends with the Art History PHD students in Avery and a trip to the Met.
In comparison to the first semester intro course with Moxey, this class is amazing. I may feel this way because I personally find the subject matter of this course (Renaissance-Modern Urban Planning) to be WAY more intriguing than the first semester subject matter (cave paintings-renaissance). However, most people agree with me. Professor Higonnet is a fine lecturer. She is obviously more knowledgable about some topics than others, but she willingly acknowledges this. The reading is light and really doesn't need to be done when assigned...I usually started out the semester doing all of them and then when life got crazy I skimmed them lightly. As long as you review for the exams you are fine. The exams are very fair. The midterm only consisted of IDs and comparisons, and the final was the same with an essay. The paper topics involve going to museums but it's fun and is a good chance to just leave morningside heights.
Prof Higonnet is actually brilliant. In each of her lectures she is able to flawlessly integrate history, politics, psychology, and even fashion into her interpretations and explanations of various pieces of art. Honestly, I hated having guest lectures, not because they were always terrible (although they sometimes were) but because I enjoyed her lectures so much. Each lesson was intellectually rich and rewarding to attend. Considering that this is a required introductory course, it is incredibly fortunate that Prof Higonnet lends her expertise to the matter. Higonnet builds the curriculum around exhibits occurring throughout the semester, allowing the students to get as much as possible out of the art class. I would highly, highly recommend this course even if you are just looking for an introduction into art of he modern era. Overall a wonderful survey of artwork between the renaissance and modernity.
I took Intro to Art History with Professor Higonnet last semester and I'm in the process of taking 19th- Century Art with her this semester. I think that a lot of the negative reviews can be explained away because the reviewers were probably going to Professor Higonnet with problems and/or questions that they should have taken to their TAs. She's got 5 TAs for a reason. She's quite the notable art historian, and can't really be troubled with petty questions regarding the grade your TA gave you on a paper...you should really go to your TA with questions about your mid-term, final, papers, etc. It's their job. Professor Higonnet is the reason I decided to be an art history major. I was at the Spring 2009 program planning meeting, and she said something to the effect of "Art is the only beautiful thing that people have ever done..." and it melted my heard a little bit. She is eloquent, always prepared, and in a way, it's almost as if she puts on a performance of sorts every lecture. It's highly amusing when she comes up with a new idea or concept while she's lecturing. She's very, very organized. I need structure to perform optimally, and she definitely provides an adequate amount of it. For example, of the three art history professors I have at the moment, she was the first to post a review for the mid-term, and did so almost three weeks before the exam which was really helpful because the others more or less waited until the week before the test. And she does the powerpoints herself and sends out the mass e-mails to the class. I've been in a class in which there has been miscommunication between the professor and the TAs, and even the TAs weren't sure what to tell you what was on the exam, but since she e-mails you her personal expectations, you know just what you're getting into. I definitely like 19th-Century Art better than Intro to Art History and I think it's because Professor Higonnet does all of the lectures. I will readily admit that there are some awful guest lecturers in the Intro course-- this applies to both semesters of Barnard's Intro. Some people might be noted scholars, but they're just not very good at communicating their ideas. Her Intro class in the spring is A LOT better than Moxey's class in the fall, however, so if you're thinking of taking Intro to Art History to fulfill a GER, take it in the spring with Professor Higonnet.
This class comes down to one thing - memorizing. If you are able to memorize a bunch of slides, titles, dates, etc and spit it back out on a test you'll do just fine. The papers are fairly easy and the grading really depends on who your TA is. I had Emily Beeney and she was great, somewhat difficult grader but good overall. The guest lecturers can sometimes be hard to understand and you may find yourself falling asleep during the lectures but try not to. The lectures are the most important thing. I wouldn't bother buying the textbook, you don,t need it and any time you want to consult it you can just look online. The weekly readings are annoying if you actually try to do all of them but its very easy to get away with not doing them. Overall, this class is a good way to fulfill your art requirement if you are good at memorizing. The best thing I did was find someone to trade off attending lectures with so I only had to go once a week.