Actually, the Open House involved many of the departments at the University of Washington, but I went because (1) I could visit the University's Henry Art Gallery for free, and (2) there were supposed to be some interesting activities at the School of Art where I did my undergraduate work.
Let's look at some photos I took to set the scene, and then I'll do some follow-up commentary.
An event at the School of Art that I wanted to attend was a set of lectures by Art History majors. Unfortunately, I was about to leave for Florida and didn't have the time. Here is a list of the lecture topics taken from a handout:
"Constructing a Colonial Identity: Eighteenth Century Paintings of Indigenous Families in New Spain"
"Magic and the Miracle - Working Image: The Interplay of Art and the Supernatural in Fifteenth Century Italy"
"Enduring Disassociation: Mixed Racial Identities and Historical Interpretations"
"Modernity and Artistic License: Neo-Victorianism as Other"
"Classicizing Proximity: The African in Seventeenth-century Rome"
Okay, let's unpack those lecture titles that with one exception are likely related to Masters theses and PhD dissertations of the presenters. Race/ethnicity? Three of the five seem to deal with that, an obsession of a certain line of politics common to most colleges and univerities.
The title mentioning "the Supernatural" is harder to puzzle out. Could it have to do with religion? That would make sense where Italy in the 1400s is concerned. I can't think of many (any?) paintings featuring ghosts from that era, but I'm no expert and could easily be wrong.
Wikipedia indicates that the term "Neo-Victorianism" has to do with a number of things including people doing dress-up in 1880s clothing and the Steampunk literary genre. The term "Other" has been used to refer to racial/ethnic/subcultural groups that are ignored by the mainstream, yet pose some kind of ominous threat or other to it. Well, that's my superficial impression. So where do Modernity, Artistic License and a possibly sinister Neo-Victorianism intersect? Beats me, so I'm sorry I couldn't get to that lecture.
What strikes me is that none of the titles suggests serious study of the history of art. I'll accept that MA theses aren't expected to be much more than dry runs for further scholarly exercises. But every subject listed above (the last two by PhD students) is trivial and to my mind greatly off-topic if the topic is art history. Where current academicians see scholarship, I find strong evidence of politically induced intellectual rot. If I were running the university I would fire the Art History faculty to ensure that no other students waste precious years of their lives on the study of the irrelevant.