The aesthetics program teaches insight into the nature of artistic expression, the role of criticism in the arts, and the place of the arts in society. These are particularly significant issues in the current social climate in which the arts increasingly have been asked to justify themselves as government funding, both for the arts and for public education in the arts, has dwindled.

The program offers an interdisciplinary minor.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in aesthetics or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

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Requirements for the Minor

interdisciplinary, 5 courses

There is one required course: PHIL 230 Aesthetics. In addition, from the following list of six artistic disciplines (art, creative writing, film, dance, music, and theatre), the student must choose two artistic disciplines and take two courses in each one. The two courses in each artistic discipline must involve both studio and theory work, according to one of the following combinations: a) one studio course and one theory course; b) two combined studio-theory courses; c) one combined studio-theory course and either one studio course or one theory course. The following list specifies the courses within each of the six artistic disciplines that are studio courses, theory courses, and combined studio-theory courses. New courses, studio courses, or occasionally offered studio courses may qualify for the minor with approval of the adviser.


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to provide students with strong critical thinking and analytical skills.

Below you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making aesthetics a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

PHIL 230 Aesthetics


Explore questions such as: What is the nature of artistic creativity? What is the purpose of the arts? Is there a way for us to determine aesthetic value? Is there truth in art? How are emotions related to the arts? What role should art critics play? How are interpretations and evaluations of art influenced by factors such as culture, time period, race, gender, and class? Next, dig deeper by taking ARTH 100 Issues in Art.

ARTS 209 Watercolor


Explore the fundamentals of painting with translucent color media, and investigate Western and Eastern traditions as well as more experimental approaches. Enjoy excursions to rural and urban settings while delving into subject matter involving still life, figure, and landscape. Then, try different painting techniques in ARTS 305 Painting Workshop.

ENG 394 Story and History


To what extent is history fiction? Examine the evolution of the relationship between history writing and fiction, moments of crossover such as falsified documents and hoaxes, and the way contemporary writers wrestle with the murky territory between the two. Then, delve into ENG 375 Science Fiction Film.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.