Professors of Art: Jeffrey Schiff, Chair; David Schorr; Tula Telfair

Professors of Art History: Clark Maines; Peter A. Mark; Joseph M. Siry; Phillip B. Wagoner

Associate Professors of Art History: Nadja Aksamija; Katherine Kuenzli

Associate Professors of Art: Elijah Huge; Julia Randall

Assistant Professor of Art History: Claire Grace

Assistant Professor of Art: Sasha Rudensky

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History: Clare Rogan, Curator, Davison Art Center

Artist-in-Residence: Keiji Shinohara

Departmental Advising Experts for Art Studio: Elijah Huge (Architecture), Julia Randall (Drawing), Jeffrey Schiff (Sculpture and Design), David Schorr (Printmaking and Graphics), Keiji Shinohara (Japanese Style Woodcuts and Ink Painting), Tula Telfair (Painting)

Departmental Advising Experts for Art History: Nadja Aksamija (Renaissance Art History), Katherine Kuenzli (Modern European Art History), Clark Maines (Medieval Art History and Archaeology), Peter Mark (African and African American Art History), Clare Rogan (History of Prints and Photography, Museum and Curatorial Studies), Joseph Siry (Modern Architectural History), Phillip Wagoner (South Asian and Islamic Art History)

Department/Program Home Page

Department/Program Description.

The Department of Art and Art History is the administrative umbrella for two distinct major programs: art history and art studio. Majors within the department can be pursued in both areas. Students majoring in one area are allowed to count toward the 32 courses required for graduation up to 16 courses in the department. (University regulations regarding the maximum number of courses allowed in a department should be applied to the major itself: art history or art studio. Thus, majors in either program may count toward their graduation requirements no more than 16 credits in their major program [of which no more than 3 may be 100-level courses and no more than 13 may be 200-level and above. These 16 would include 2 credits of thesis in the case of students majoring in art studio or writing a senior thesis in art history.]) Students double-majoring in both programs of the department are permitted to take up to 20 credits in the department, providing that 2 of these credits are for senior thesis tutorials. In addition to listed courses, a limited number of tutorials, internships, and teaching apprenticeships are available under special conditions. Prior approval must be obtained to transfer credit from another institution. Review and approval by a faculty member in the area of study must also be made after completion of such course work.

General Education.

Candidates for honors in Art History are required to be compliant with the University’s general education expectations (through Stage II).

Major Description.


The discipline of art history is object-based cultural history. It is founded on the premise that artifacts embody, reflect, and shape the beliefs and values of the persons who made, commissioned, and used them. Unlike exclusively text-based historical disciplines, art history documents and interprets changes in human society by taking works of art and other objects of material culture as its primary sources. But since these objects can only be fully understood within the social, economic, political, and religious contexts in which they were produced and used, art history further requires the critical analysis and interpretation of other historical sources to illuminate these contexts. These other sources can include written texts, archival documents, archaeology, and oral history, as well as other art forms such as music and dance. Art history, therefore, is inherently interdisciplinary.

Admission to the Major.

By the end of the sophomore year, a prospective major should plan to have taken one 100-level introductory course and at least two other courses in art history. For admission to the major, the student must have at least a B average in courses taken in art history and a B average overall.

Major Requirements.

 To complete the major in art history, you must:

  • Take one introductory course (numbered 100-199) and nine courses numbered 200 or above. The nine upper-level courses must include at least two seminars (numbered 300-399). (N.B. Tutorials for honors essays and theses—403, 404, 409, and 410—do not count toward the nine required courses.)
  • Satisfy the requirements for your area of concentration. The art history major offers two distinct areas of concentration:
    • Concentration in the history of European, American, or African art. For this concentration, the nine upper-level courses must include at least one course in each of the four historical periods–classical, medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, and modern–and at least one course in the areas of either African or Asian art.
    • Concentration in the history of Asian art. For this concentration, the nine upper-level courses must include five Asian art history courses–one of which must be a seminar–and at least one course in the European, American, or African traditions.

Additional recommendations. All art history majors are strongly urged to take at least one course in archaeology as part of the major. Students who concentrate in the history of Asian art are strongly urged to take at least one course outside the department dealing with the history or culture of premodern Asia.

One or two of the required nine upper-level courses may be relevant courses taught at Wesleyan outside the art history program in such departments as History, Religion, Classics, or Anthropology. These courses must be preapproved by your major advisor.

Admission to the Minor.

The art history minor is intended to reach students who would like to incorporate the study of artworks and architecture into their work in other disciplines and/or who discover art history later in their college career. The art history minor maintains the geographical breadth, historical depth, and academic rigor that is characteristic of the major but comprises fewer art history courses and does not require study of a foreign language. Art history minors may not write honors theses.  For admission to minor, students must have taken a minimum of three art history courses and have a B average in art history, as well as a B average overall.

The Art History Program Director will admit students to the minor and certify them upon its completion. To sign up for the minor, students need to complete a minor declaration form found in the portfolio via EP>Student>Academic Career>Major/Minor/Cert Declaration.

Upon completing the minor, students must submit a completed minor certification form (

Students will not be required to declare an official minor advisor, but they are encouraged to meet with the art history faculty on an as-needed basis and to take part in program events.

Minor Requirements.

To complete a minor, students need to take six credits with the following requirements:

  • Completion of a 100-level course. Students may choose from any of the 100-level courses  offered in any given semester or year.
  • Completion of five courses numbered 200 or above. These courses must include study in four of the following five areas: classical, medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, modern, and non-Western. One of these five courses must be a seminar (numbered in the 300 range).
  • All of the courses offered by or cross-listed with the Art History Program are eligible for the minor.
  • No courses numbered 401 or higher may count toward the minor.
  • No courses in other departments may count toward the minor, except for courses cross-listed with art history.
  • One course in art history taken elsewhere may count toward the minor, subject to the program director’s approval.  If preapproved, this course would serve as the fifth 200-level course and would not count toward the geographical and/or chronological distributional requirements.
  • All courses that count toward the minor must be taken for a letter grade. Exceptions will be made for COL and CSS majors.

There is no prescribed sequence of courses, though it is recommended that students begin with a 100-level course and proceed upward through the curriculum.

For a listing of active art history courses and the distributional requirements each fulfills, please see:

Study Abroad.

All study abroad must be preapproved by the Office of Study Abroad (to receive Wesleyan credit) and by the student's major advisor (to receive credit toward the major requirements). Study at other educational institutions in the United States must also be preapproved by the student's major advisor. In both cases, transfer of major credit will be awarded only if the student submits a course description and/or syllabus in advance of taking the course. Preapproved study abroad credits can be used to satisfy the 200-level electives for the major but may not count toward the geographical and/or chronological distributional requirements.


The Honors Program in art history is designed to meet the needs of art history majors who wish to pursue a long-term, scholarly research project in an area of particular interest. The research project takes the form of a yearlong senior thesis. Candidates for honors are required to earn a minimum GPA of B+ for their major coursework and to be compliant with the University’s general education expectations (through Stage II). The senior thesis does not replace the two required seminar courses. Students wishing to consider an honors project must discuss their research interests with a member of the art history faculty and secure the professor’s agreement to serve as tutor for the project by the last day of classes of the student’s junior year. After consulting with the tutor, the student is expected to carry out preliminary research during the summer and is required to submit a detailed proposal and preliminary bibliography for the project by the first day of classes of the fall term of the senior year. No one who fails to meet these minimum requirements will be allowed to pursue honors. The senior thesis courses for honors in the major are ARHA409 (fall) and ARHA410 (spring).

Senior theses must conform to the University’s general requirements and deadlines for honors in the senior year, as administered through the honors coordinator. Each year’s honors candidates will present 20-minute public talks based on their theses. These talks will normally be held in April of the senior year and will be developed in consultation with the students’ faculty tutors. For more information and an application form, see the document Honors in Art History: Regulations and Procedures, available in the department office.

Advanced Placement.

A student who has completed an Advanced Placement art history course or its equivalent while in secondary school and who has achieved a grade of 5 in the art history AP examination will be granted one AP course credit, but only after completing an intermediate-level course in art history at Wesleyan and receiving a grade of B+ or higher. Credit is not awarded for an AP score of less than 5. AP credit may not be counted toward the completion of major requirements.

Language Requirement.

Because English represents a minority language in art history, majors are required to demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language. Proficiency is defined as a minimum of two full years of study at the college level, or the equivalent, as measured by a placement test administered by the language department in question. German, French, and Italian are normally considered the most valuable for study in the discipline. Students concentrating in the history of Asian art may use a relevant Asian language to satisfy the language requirement.


Alumni Prize in Art History: Awarded to a senior who has demonstrated special aptitude in the history of art and who has made a substantive contribution to the major.

Beulah Friedman Prize: This prize recognizes work of outstanding achievement by a student in the history of art. The prize is awarded to seniors.

John T. Paoletti Travel Research Fellowships in Art History: Funds are available to support student research and travel in the summer following the junior year that will result in a senior thesis project. Paoletti Research Travel Fellowships are intended for advanced students who have demonstrated a commitment to art historical study and a strong aptitude for writing and research.

Transfer Credit.

A minimum of five courses within the major must be taken at Wesleyan. All study abroad must be preapproved by the Office of International Studies (to receive Wesleyan credit) and by the student’s major advisor (to receive credit toward the major requirements). Study at other educational institutions in the United States must also be preapproved by the student’s major advisor. In both cases, transfer of major credit will be awarded only if the student submits a course description and /or syllabus in advance of taking the course.

Additional Information.

Students interested in pursuing museum internships may apply for education-in-the-field credit. To be approved, the internship must involve work that is the equivalent in intellectual content and rigor to a Wesleyan art history course, as demonstrated in substantive research and writing. Students are expected to provide a description of the project(s) they will be working on and the name of their supervisor who will coordinate the project with an on-campus advisor. Students also must provide examples of the work they did when they return to campus before credit is given. Note, too, that the University charges additional tuition for education-in-the field credits taken in the summer or while on an authorized leave of absence during the academic year.

General Education.

Art studio majors are required to fulfill their general education requirements as described by the University guidelines, since all are required to complete a senior thesis for honors.

Major Description.


Architecture, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Typography

The Art Studio Program enables students to become fluent in visual language—its analytical and critical vocabulary and the rigors of its technique and method—as a means to explore intellectual issues and human experience. To this end, students learn technique while searching for a personal vision, beginning with basic studies in drawing and introductory art history, proceeding through study of various media, and working toward the successful completion of the major's comprehensive requirement—the presentation of a one-person exhibition in the spring of their senior year. The program seeks to reflect the diversity of technical and intellectual approaches practiced in the field of visual art and is open to interdisciplinary experimentation as well as traditionally focused studies.

Admission to the Major.

At the time of application for major status, a student is expected to have completed Drawing I ARST131 and one art history course, and another art studio course. The prospective major must consult with an art studio faculty member (in the proposed area of study) who is willing to serve as advisor. Some faculty may expect the student to have completed outstanding work in a second-level course within a particular medium (for example, ARST452 Photography II, or ARST440 Painting II) before agreeing to support a major applicant. Together, student and major advisor devise a program of study for the final two years. Admission to the major requires a review by the art studio faculty and a minimum academic average of B and an average of B+ for at least three courses in the department, two of which must be in the art studio program.

Major Requirements.

Students majoring in art studio must satisfactorily complete 11 courses in the department:

  • Drawing I (ARST131)
  • At least 8 courses numbered 200 or higher:
    • 4 art studio courses—at least one of which must be in either of the three-dimensional areas of sculpture or architecture
    • 4 art history courses
      • 1 post-Renaissance (ARHA110 preferred)
      • 1 Classical through Renaissance
      • 1 non-Western
      • 1 additional course from the offerings
  • Two semesters of senior thesis*

That breaks down to five art studio courses, four art history courses, and two semesters of thesis. Further course study in art studio and art history is recommended. On occasion, 100-level art history courses may be substituted for the requirement of 200-level courses. Majors are required to fulfill their general education as described by the University guidelines, since all are required to complete a senior thesis for honors. Teaching apprentice tutorials in the department will not be counted toward the major.

In the final year of study, each student will develop a focused body of work and mount a solo exhibition. That exhibition is the culmination of a two-semester thesis tutorial and is developed in close critical dialogue with a faculty advisor. The exhibition is critiqued by the faculty advisor and a second critic and must be passed by a vote of the faculty of the Art Studio Program. The senior thesis exhibition provides a rare opportunity for the student to engage in a rigorous, self-directed, creative investigation and in a public dialogue about his/her work.

*In the rare case a student finishes all of his/her graduation requirements in January of the senior year, he/she may complete the major with only one semester of thesis tutorial, still exhibiting in the Spring.

Advanced Placement.

No Advanced Placement credit is accepted in art studio.

Transfer Credit.

A major is obliged to consult with his/her advisor and receive approval for off-campus study, leaves, or addition of a second major. Off-campus study in the senior year is not encouraged and requires additional approval of the program director. Students should also consult carefully when planning off-campus study before they have been accepted to the major. An art studio faculty member must approve coursework taken outside of Wesleyan in advance, and a portfolio review is required after the course is completed to transfer credit toward the major. Transfer of course credit toward the major is not automatic, even from a Wesleyan-approved program. A student may count no more than three art studio and art history courses taken outside the Wesleyan department toward the major without specific permission of the faculty. Students transferring to Wesleyan who wish to receive credit toward the major for art studio courses taken at another institution should seek approval from the department prior to enrollment; portfolio review is required, transfer of course credit is not automatic.