This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Craig Burdett

Molly Finkelstein ’08: Art 105 At Long Last

While my friends were spending their last days of the semester hidden away in their library basement cubbies, finishing up their theses, I was sitting in my living room making art history flash cards. Art 105–106, Introduction to the History of Art, is the Vassar class, and I couldn’t let myself graduate without having taken it. The course has a long history at Vassar, this year marking its 80th anniversary, and I wanted to be part of it—which is how I ended up one of a handful of seniors in this predominantly freshman lecture course.

Looking around at all the dorky freshmen in class, all the girls from California bundled up in sweaters to fight off the 60-degree weather, the kids who have “always known they wanted to be art majors,” the students who think no one knows they’re sleeping just because they’re wearing hoodies, I was a little hesitant about whether or not I really belonged there. After all, I was cooler (read: older); I was smarter (three class years above them), and more worldly (I’d spent a semester abroad). But then I realized that I was just jealous of them, jealous that they get to learn the history of art, one of the tenets of the liberal arts, at the start of their Vassar careers, allowing them to integrate this knowledge into their studies for the next three years. And, of course, they’ll be able to make intelligent-sounding comments at museums for their entire college careers. 

But then I realized that I am probably gaining more from this course than these new matriculates. By taking Art 105 now, after three years of liberal arts education, I benefit from having a greater context in which to place this art. In a question on the final about ancient Roman influence on art and architecture of other time periods, I was able to draw on my Ancient History correlate to expound on Roman culture and society and the Greek influence on Roman society probably a bit more than was necessary or required—or wanted.

Another perk of seniority in the course is the study abroad factor. Having spent last semester in London and traveling around Europe, I get the added bonus of being able to brag to my freshmen neighbors, turning to them and whispering “I totally saw that at the Louvre.”

January 2008

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