This course is particularly focused on helping you develop visual literacy skills, but all the college courses you take are to some degree about information literacy. Visual literacy is really just a specialized type of information literacy. The skills you acquire in this course will help you become an effective researcher in other fields, as well.
MLA style is important because it gives you—and all those engaged in scholarly activities on topics within the humanities—a conventional way to cite resources so that they can be corroborated. It takes the guesswork out of demonstrating you did thorough research, and it lends integrity to your work.
Provenance is also about a kind of integrity. It refers to the history of an object—in particular, the object’s origin and chain of ownership—and, in art, it can be used to identify and authenticate real (as opposed to fake) works of art. Knowing a work’s provenance can also help in the recovery of stolen works of art. Today, there are many new methods of establishing provenance that use chemical analysis. As you heard in the podcast, matters of provenance still haunt Nazi-era artworks suspected of being looted during World War Two. The recent movie Woman in Gold is a story about the return of artwork stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families during the war. The case was a shocking victory for Adele Bloch-Bauer’s family, who sued the Austrian government and won. As Steve Schlackman of Art Law Journal explained, “At the very least, it will make foreign states think twice when receiving works without the proper provenance.” You can read more about the court case here.
Schlackman, Steve. The Story Behind the “Women in Gold”. Art Law Journal. 2015. Web. 7 June 2015.