Ashley Lynn Busby, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor | Art History
I believe that art history is incredibly relevant in today’s world. It trains a student in a type of analysis that is increasingly significant in every field of work. It also prepares you to understand the visual world around you, and teaches you a level of focus on detail that you might not find in other courses.
My own education started at a small liberal arts college much like Susquehanna. After doing graduate work at a large research institution, I was delighted to return to my roots and teach at the kind of place that helped shape me as both an individual and a scholar.
One of my favorite assignments is to have freshmen write a one- or two-page paper that is a detailed description of an object, leaving aside any subjective impressions or interpretations. I ask them to explain the details so that a blind person could imagine and understand the object. It makes them think about the value of detailed observation. To me, this is a supreme skill!
Yes, students write in every one of my classes! I want to ensure that everyone comes away from here with the ability to express themselves. They get a lot of practice that culminates with their senior thesis. It allows them to closely explore a topic and to make connections between something they’ve learned and something new. It’s very intensive scholarly work that is comparable to a graduate school project.
Sometimes these projects morph into career choices. I’m always open to meeting with students about their work, or discussing possible internships and job opportunities.
I love the little ‘a-ha!’ moments with students. It’s so rewarding to see them make connections between the art we’re studying and other fields of study. Students are often surprised when they come in to an art history course and learn about an artist who was deeply interested in X-ray technologies, for example. They realize that art history isn’t just about art. It’s a means to understanding a whole range of cultural interests, social values, religious beliefs and political motivations at any given moment throughout history. After all, we’re all part of a cultural moment.
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