(HA) The Role of The Guest Speaker in an Art History Undergraduate Course

This blog post analyses the role of the guest speaker in an art history undergraduate course context.

Guest Speaker Lecture

The guest speaker starts off the lecture by explaining their practice(s), research and what they do. This one in particular works at the National Gallery which is a rather louse job giving quite a lot of free time to the guest speaker.

What was discussed in the lecture was what she had experienced after finishing their BA which resulted in them exploring and researching topics that had interested them during their BA. When you leave things off during a bachelor’s degree- it gives you time afterwards to consider looking into it more once you graduate.

Anyhow the role of this guest speaker was to encourage students taking a bachelor’s degree in art history about the subjects and areas they can go into after they graduate. What they can do during their degree and what opportunities they can create. The guest speaker had only recently graduated with their Masters’s Degree once and they had written articles for a magazine. Their practice revolves around interception, social activism and how their time studying art history has ended up in those topics. Building upon those topics, writing for magazines has only encouraged them to further develop that practice.

She explained that when you think of the history of art – you usually think of curation and what you’ll do afterwards. This leads to her explaining the stereotype of what people think of art historian students;

Oh, you’re gonna be a curator?

Instead, the speaker explains that you can also go into research- that it’s not all about curation and there’s more than just curating in the art history world. There are also some areas of jobs that you may not be interested in but volunteering or working for a short time on some projects brings you to understand what you like and don’t like. Getting work experience and volunteering is explained as a way to open up avenues and opportunities that you could miss during or after your course.

The opportunities from these also open up your degree- showing that there’s more than the stereotype of what you can do with your degree. Her practice is working as someone who leads the development up to the exhibition staged in a museum while adding an intersectional feminist view on the exhibitions and galleries.

My views on the guest speaker lectures

Analysing the points and ideas explained about where you can go after an art history degree I would like to say that there are much more areas that are being created. Though controversial, there are many meta-verse blockchain exhibitions being taken place on many digital platforms. There is a large market for art historians growing for these platforms to curate the new digital culture that is being created presently. Some are NFT and some not- which curators or other art history-based jobs can fill the roles.

It would really depend on your views on NFTs and meta-verse to which jobs you would take- but you can entirely avoid NFTs if you don’t agree with their concepts through the new digital world of art.

With the digital revolution taking place; I believe that if we merge both what the guest speaker talks about research with this- we are in the prime time of creating primary research on new art forms happening in the meta-space. I describe the word ‘meta-space’ as an art or social space in our present period of meta-modernism; or “post”-post-modernism.

Back to the highlights of the guest speaker lecture!

She explains how people need a job in the art world and that it’s not good. Though doing things you don’t like gives you self-reflection on what you know you won’t do again. You have to sell yourself as something valuable and know yourself to do this. This section of the guest lecture goes into an alphabet activity where we go through every job that we can do.

My analysis and views on the guest speaker’s lecture

I very much disagree with the point about people needing a job in the art world and it not being good- we must have a job in this world to help the economy flow. If there is too much unemployment because people don’t work and don’t want to work then where do people get their money from? We simply cannot take from the government if nobody works as money runs out eventually. Art jobs exist for a reason- if there are no art jobs then artists and art-based practices are not in demand. How do you find out what you like if you don’t experience a job first-hand in a multitude of subjects?

We have jobs and some of them we love because we absolutely love doing them!

The second section of the guest speaker lecture

The guest speaker explains what she does; she feels that with all the experience that she’s gained that she’s quite lucky to be in that position. You don’t have to feel obliged to take any job in the art world as long as you’ve got a job. Just find something that’s relevant to your skill and interests. As long as you’re getting money and financially stable you can go into what you want to do instead of going for the first opportunity.

She does diversity and inclusion and that’s something that she wanted to do and found the job. You’ve got to take your time and wait for a job that comes for you with what you want. She says that different companies have different styles of jobs so what job you didn’t like might be different say if you worked at a different company. As long as you learn something that’s all that matters. You can also do freelance work, especially with blogging- applying creativity to the art historian practice you can do many jobs that you really don’t think about.


Key topics that were covered by the guest speaker were mostly jobs and work experiences or areas that an art historian can delve into after graduating from their course.

I think that this lecturer has well challenged the stereotype of the idea that people think artists and art-based jobs get really terrible jobs. How many different types of jobs you would enjoy if you simply just go out there and explore the world of art jobs. There is just a plethora of all kinds of work you can do as an art historian and their practice shows this.

Check out the interview I did with Dr Emma Roberts on her exhibition!