I do enjoy these discussions. I learn a lot from them.
I don't have a art history library or the knowledge to go with it, but I do know what I like and I fear if I had a certain level of education in this area I'd miss out.. or rather lose out on whatever fresh perspectives I'm personally capable of producing.
I write some short pieces for my site on the subject, not the 'educated' view you're knowledgeable with, but areas of art I think many miss out on for one reason or the other.
For instance, I regularly 'preach' (for lack of a better word), that when everyone climbs off the bus and points their camera at a popular scene, that perhaps it would be better to take just one or two snaps to say you've been there, but then to look around for what they're not pointing their cameras out. To look for what the others aren't seeing, or paying attention to. If a new landscape is to be had, chances are it will be had this way.
Also, weather was mentioned. I write a lot about using weather as a compositional element. When most people are home staying dry during monsoon season I'm loading up the truck in search of those few moments when the sun shines through a cloud break from behind or the side and produces a scene rarely seen. Weather to me, is just as important as the actual subject.
A loose analogy would be writing styles. Way too many 'decent' authors I know dedicate an inordinate amount of time following rules and guidelines by several writing greats. I think this is great for them. But if you're so consumed with following what those before you profess to be 'good writing', are you really leaving yourself free to discover and develop your own style of writing which 'may', talent providing, turn out every bit as good or better. Or perhaps turn out a fresh perspective that many others will enjoy reading on a regular basis more than just another rendition of the "same old thing."
I think there is no right or wrong between the two, well.. not unless someone insists. But I do think there is "interesting" reading and "not so interesting" reading.. as evidenced by the raw numbers.
Samuel Clemens was no slouch as a writer, and he was surely schooled in the classics. So was Edgar Rice Burroughs (some considered him a hack). Yet, when they set themselves free to look the other way from where everyone else was pointing their cameras.. their fresh perspectives produces novels I've never tired of reading. They became forever memorable to me.
What has any of this to do with your original point? Granted, not much at all. I just think "art history" has it's place and it's valuable knowledge and I thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. I just think there is more for the modern audience. I'll never find a place amongst the classic landscape photographers of yesterday. But just maybe, with a bit of luck and a free mind.. I might find a small niche with a modern audience. And knowledge such as yours is immensely helpful in my getting there. If I'm ever to get there.. ;o)
Thank you for the discussion.