Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



Through an extensive review of the literature of the history and methodology of art history and visual resources, this thesis charts the effect of the use of slides for the discipline of art history.

The three chapters examine the conjunction between slides and art history. Chapter one gives an account of the pedagogical and practical reasons for the current predominance of the slide as the reproduction of choice in art history, concluding with a discussion of the relative importance of the text and image for art history. The second chapter briefly traces the evolution of magic lantern to 35mm format for slides and projectors. Consideration will be given to the slide as an object itself, including those aspects which are unique to the slide, as well as qualities it shares with photography in general. The final chapter considers the question of the nature of the relationship between the reproduction and original. After a discussion of the variety of words used in place of "reproduction," I will note how the most appropriate choices for art history are those terms which imply replacement.

This study concludes that the use of the slide has created a paradox in art history. Use of the photographic reproduction may be seen to heighten the awareness of the original, especially when the user or viewer is aware of the slide as an object with peculiar properties itself, and not just as a "neutral" tool or visual referent. Yet, by loosening the absolute hold of the original as the sole appropriate subject of study, art history has become a highly theoretical discipline, with a literary tradition, rather than restricting itself to critical commentary on objects and their creators.



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

David Craven

Second Committee Member

Geoffrey Batchen

Third Committee Member

Thomas Barrow