Since Paul Wingert expanded the Department's curriculum in the 1930s, coursework in the study of the arts of Africa, Oceania, Native America, the Near East, and East Asia has been a staple of the Columbia University curriculum, and like Columbia's great teachers of the past—Meyer Schapiro, Rudolf Wittkower, Robert Branner, Howard McP. Davis, Julius Held, Howard Hibbard, Edith Porada, and William Bell Dinsmoor—today's faculty continue to apply art historical methods to illuminate particular works of art, even as they place their works in the broadest cultural context.
Moderate autonomism stands in opposition to 'Moderate moralism': "[Moderate moralism] contends that some works of art may be evaluated morally (contra radical autonomism) and that sometimes the moral defects and/or merits of a work may figure in the aesthetic evaluation of the work." (p. 236) The crucial difference between moderate autonomism and moderate moralism, then, is that while both agree that moral judgments can be legitimately made about certain artworks, moderate moralists contend that sometimes such judgments are aesthetic evaluations, while moderate autonomists hold that moral judgments about works of art are always outside the realm of the aesthetic. On the one hand, Anderson and Dean say, "some of the knowledge that art brings home to us may be moral knowledge. All this is granted when we agree that art is properly subject to moral evaluation. But why is this value aesthetic value? " (Anderson & Dean p. 160) On the other hand, Carroll says, "Moderate autonomists overlook the degree to which moral presuppositions play a structural role in the design of many artworks."(Carroll 1996 p. 233) Carroll does not suggest that this is the only way in which moral features may contribute to a work's aesthetic value; a more general account of this is described in the following section.