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Professors of Art: John Frazer, David Schorr, J. Seeley

Professors of Art History: Jonathan Best, Clark Maines, Peter Mark, John Paoletti, Joseph Siry (Chair)

Associate Professor: Carla Antonaccio (Classical Studies), Christopher Parslow (Classical Studies)

Associate Professors of Art: Jeffrey Schiff, Tula Telfair

Associate Professors of Art History: Elizabeth Milroy, Phillip Wagoner

Assistant Professor of Art: Martha Añez

Adjunct Lecturer in Art History: Stephanie Wiles (Curator, Davison Art Center)

Luther Gregg Sullivan Scholar in Art History: Marni Kessler

Visiting Artist: Keiji Shinohara

Major programs. The Department of Art and Art History is the administrative umbrella for two distinct major programs: art and art history. Majors within the department can be pursued in both areas. Students majoring in one area are allowed to count toward the 34 courses required for graduation up to 18 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. Intradepartmental double majors may take up to 20 courses within the department if necessary to fulfill requirements of both majors.) In addition to listed courses, a limited number of tutorials, internships, and teaching apprenticeships are available under specific 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 course work.


The discipline of art history is object-based cultural history. It is founded on the premise that artifacts embody and reflect the beliefs and values of the persons who made, commissioned, and used them. Unlike text-based historical disciplines, the history of art documents and interprets changes in human society by taking works of art and other objects of material culture as its primary sources. The history of art further requires the critical analysis and interpretation of written texts to help document and illuminate the contexts—social, economic, political, religious—in which artifacts are produced and used. Art history, therefore, is inherently interdisciplinary.

Course requirements. The art history major has two distinct programs of concentration: (1) the histories of European, American, and African art, and (2) the histories of different traditions in Asian art. All majors are normally required to take Introduction to the Practice of Art History (ARHA101) and nine semester-length courses numbered 200 or above, including a minimum of two seminars. Since ARHA101 will not be offered in 1999-2000, majors and prospective majors may take ARHA151, European Architecture to 1750, as their introductory course. When students elect a seminar (courses numbered 300-399), they should previously have taken a lower-1evel course devoted to the art history of the period to be studied in the seminar.

Majors must take at least five of their nine upper-level courses in the history of art at Wesleyan. 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. Majors who wish to transfer course credits from other universities or who wish to have other Wesleyan courses count toward their major in art history must have prior written approval of their faculty advisor for placement in their departmental file. All art history majors are encouraged to take at least one course in archaeology as part of the major.

Concentration in the history of European, American, or African art. The nine upper-level courses required of the major must include at least one course in each of the following historical periods: classical, medieval, Renaissance, and modern. In addition, majors must take at least one course in the areas of Asian or African art; this course may be a 100-level course.

Concentration in the history of Asian art. Students must take at least four Asian art courses; two courses in the European, American, or African traditions; and at least one departmental seminar treating Asian art. With the permission of the faculty advisor, either Great Traditions of Asian Art (ARHA180) or Great Moments of Asian Architecture (ARHA185) may be counted as one of the four required Asian courses. 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.

Language requirement. Proficiency is required in at least one foreign language for completion of the major in the history of art. Proficiency is normally defined as successful completion of the Wesleyan intermediate-level course in the language. German, French, and Italian are normally considered the most valuable for study in the history of art. Majors considering graduate study in art history should plan to acquire a reading knowledge of two of these languages before entering graduate school. Students planning to pursue graduate study in Asian art should begin the study of an Asian language as soon as possible.

Honors. Honors in the history of art may be awarded by the program’s faculty to those students whose course work in the major has been of consistently high quality and who have completed one of the following individual projects:

1. A senior thesis: a two-term project involving substantial research and writing on a topic agreed upon by the student in consultation with a faculty member who will serve as tutor for the thesis. Approval of the specific topic and approach must be accomplished during the summer before the senior year to produce both a preliminary bibliography and an outline by the first day of classes of the fall term of the senior year. No one who fails to meet these minimal requirements will be allowed to pursue the thesis. The senior thesis courses in the major are ARHA409 (fall) and ARHA410 (spring).

2. A senior essay: a one-term project of carefully directed research and writing on a topic agreed upon by a student with a faculty tutor. If a student wishes to write a senior essay, then he or she is strongly advised to do so in the fall, not in the spring, semester. The senior essay course in the major is thus normally ARHA401 (fall).

Both senior theses and senior essays must conform to the University’s general requirements and deadlines for honors in the senior year, as administered through Honors College.

The faculty of the art history program will select three or four honors candidates each year to present 20-minute public talks based on their theses or essays. These talks will normally be in April of the senior year and will be developed in consultation with the students’ faculty tutors.

Courses taken outside of Wesleyan. Students who are unusually well-prepared seek reputable foreign study as an adjunct to the major. The Sweet Briar College Junior Year in France provides opportunities for study in art history at the University of Paris IV and at the Ecole du Louvre. The Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome is also recommended to those students concentrating on European and American tradition. Students whose area of concentration is Asian art are encouraged to consider the Kyoto program in Japan, the University of Wisconsin College Year in India, or comparable programs in China (see East Asian Studies). Students planning study in architectural history may wish to consider Columbia University’s Shape of Two Cities program in architecture, urban planning, and historic preservation held in New York and Paris.

All study abroad must be preapproved by the Office of International Studies and by a faculty member in the art history program. Transfer of credit will be awarded only if the student:

1. receives a grade of B+ or higher;

2. presents to the faculty person who originally approved the course an example of one written assignment for each course for which s/he wishes credit.

Advanced Placement credit. In general, University regulations applying to Advanced Placement credits pertain to the major in art history. Only one course credit will be awarded for students who have received a grade of 5 on the AP art history exam and who have received a grade of B+ of higher in the intermediate course in art history taken at Wesleyan. AP credit does not exempt majors from ARHA101.

Requirements for acceptance to the major. Students interested in the major should consult with the faculty person they would like to have serve as their advisor, or with the director of the art history program if their prospective advisor is on sabbatical or leave. Students must complete an application (available from the faculty in the program) for major status in the art history program and present it with a recent transcript to the prospective advisor or to the director of the program. By the end of the sophomore year, a prospective major should plan to have taken an introductory course (ARHA180 or 185 for the Asian concentration, ARHA101 or ARHA151 for all others) and at least two other courses in art history. For admission to the major, the student must have a B average in courses taken in the history of art and a B average overall.


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

The art 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 the 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.

Students majoring in art must satisfactorily complete Introduction to the Practice of Art History (ARHA101) and Drawing I (ARST131) as early as possible, and, in addition, at least seven other courses numbered 200 or higher, to include two art history courses, at least one of which must be non-Western; four art courses, of which at least one must be in either of the three-dimensional areas (sculpture or architecture); and at least one semester of Senior Thesis Tutorial. Further course study in art and particularly in art history or film studies, as well as a second semester of Senior Thesis Tutorial, are strongly recommended. Majors are expected to elect a balanced general education program consistent with University guidelines.

In the final year of study, each student will develop a focused body of work and mount a solo exhibition. The exhibition is usually, though not necessarily, the culmination of a one- or two-semester thesis tutorial; the work 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 vote of the art department faculty. 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.

At the time of application for major status, the prospective major consults with an art faculty member (usually in the proposed area of study) who is willing to serve as advisor. Together they devise a program of study for the final two years. Admission to the department requires 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 program. 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. Course work taken outside of Wesleyan by a matriculated student must be approved in advance by an art faculty member, and a portfolio review is required to transfer credit. Students transferring to Wesleyan who wish to receive credit toward the major for art courses taken at another institution should seek approval from the department prior to enrollment. A portfolio review is required—transfer of course credit is not automatic. Advanced Placement credits in art are not accepted.

Last Update 8/99

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