By Audrey White, Staff Writer
Professor Nicholas Miller, a visiting professor at Gettysburg College for the past two years, has now joined the art history faculty on the tenure track. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his undergraduate degree in 2008 and earned his Ph.D. in 2016 from Northwestern University.
Some of the classes Professor Miller is teaching this semester are Arts of the African Diaspora (ARTH-240), European Painting 1700-1900 (ARTH-204), and Art After 1945 (ARTH-318). These are fitting topics since his research mainly focuses on African American art and the African Diaspora. Professor Miller’s class discussions revolve around race, colonialism, and transnationalism. On these topics, he notes, “[Our] reluctance to talk about these issues is why we should talk about them.”
Miller got his start in art history in a place where many students’ interests are piqued: high school. Miller was impressed that “a great AP Art teacher made a lot of kids from rural Wisconsin interested in the arts.”
While taking Intro to African American Art History in college, Miller admitted, “[There was] something about the class that showed me the power of the visual to enforce power.” He understood how society is extremely influenced by what they see in the media and it controls our deepest thoughts.
His senior year of college fused the cold reality of race and media studies with the beauty of art history. Although he knew what direction he was working towards, he did not truly have a passion for art history until graduate school.
Professor Miller is a big proponent of the benefits of art history as a career path.
“There are a lot of civil benefits to being a critical thinker and a global citizen,” he said.
Professor Miller has had a fulfilling experience teaching at this college loves the intimate community Gettysburg offers. Speaking on the faculty’s role in the community, Miller notes, “Gettysburg brings out the best in your teachers, we are held more accountable for techniques and ways we teach.”
Professor Miller’s own undergraduate experience consisted of classes with around 400 students. In this setting, it took a lot of effort to maintain a relationship with professors. In this new setting at Gettysburg, Miller notes his enjoyment at the close community, “[I have] the opportunity to know the names of my students I had three years ago and [get] to know professors in other departments.”
Professor Miller speaks highly of Gettysburg’s students: “[They] are fantastic, interested in thinking about the world and conceptualizing the world.” He understands and respects his students’ maturity and desire to learn.
Miller shared some of his plans in the coming years at Gettysburg: “[I’ll take] the old courses that have been very Eurocentric and find ways to introduce a newer and complex narrative.” This includes engaging students in the works of African American artists that are in the college’s permanent collection. He would also like students to become more knowledgeable about the art found all around campus and conduct first-hand research.
Speaking from experience, Professor Miller gives important advice that he hopes all students take into consideration: “Always take a course you have to justify to your parents. Find a class that speaks to something you’re curious about and know nothing about and go for it.”