ART AND ART HISTORY
2019-2020

ART AND ART HISTORY FACULTY

Departmental Advising Experts for Art Studio

Elijah Huge, Architecture; Julia Randall, Drawing; Sasha Rudensky, Photography; Jeffrey Schiff, Sculpture; 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 and Baroque Art History; Talia Andrei, East Asian Art History; Claire Grace, Modern and Contemporary Art History; Katherine Kuenzli, Modern European Art History; 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.

ART HISTORY

General Education
Candidates for honors in art history are required to be compliant with the University’s General Education Expectations (through Stage 2).
Major Description

The Art History program aims to provide student majors with a strong historical and theoretical understanding of the visual and material environment created by humankind. Art history is founded on the premise that artifacts embody, engage, and shape the beliefs and values of the persons, groups, and societies who made, commissioned, and used them. Students will learn to document and interpret changes in human society by taking works of art and other objects of material culture as their primary sources. They will also critically analyze and interpret written texts to help reconstruct and illuminate the contexts—social, economic, political, philosophical, and religious—in which artifacts were produced, used, and understood.

The study of art history around the world requires knowledge of both objects and languages, including foreign languages and traditional and recent theoretical languages pertaining to cultural production. To this end, courses in the program present students with a wide variety of analytical tools that span established methods of formal, stylistic, historical, and iconographical analysis as well as newer post-structuralist approaches and critical theories of race, gender, and socioeconomic relations. Students also have opportunities to cultivate skills in archaeological and spatial approaches to the discipline, including such digital platforms as GIS.

A major in art history prepares students to pursue a variety of professional goals. Our graduates have built successful careers in higher education, museum work, the art market, architectural history and practice, urban planning, landscape architecture, historic preservation, publishing, cultural property law, and other fields.

Student Learning Goals

Art history majors acquire the following skills, which will serve them in their coursework as well as in their careers beyond Wesleyan:

  • Visual analysis, including knowledge of a broad range of objects and places, as well as the ability to analyze in-depth the form, materials, and meanings of specific works, buildings, and sites.
  • Textual analysis, including close reading of primary and secondary sources in both historical and theoretical genres.
  • Historical awareness, or an understanding of how a given object, building, or site relates to the culture(s) that produced them, including their history, religion, politics, philosophies, and social structures.
  • Intercultural literacy, including proficiency in at least one foreign language and knowledge of artistic production in several world regions.
  • Methodological sophistication, including experience with more than one art historical methodology and knowledge of critical theories.
  • Expository writing, or the ability to articulate and substantiate a complex argument in writing.
  • Research, including how to formulate a research question and relevant methodology as well as to locate, read, and evaluate appropriate sources.
  • Originality, or the ability to think independently and create new knowledge.
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

For the graduating classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021, click on the following link for ARHA major requirements [https://www.wesleyan.edu/art/arthist/form/MAJOR_REQUIREMENTS_for_2019-2020-2021.pdf].

For the classes of 2022 onward, please see the requirements below.

A minimum of 10 credits is required for the art history major. These include a one-credit introductory course (numbered in the 100 range), seven intermediate and advanced courses (numbered in the 200 and 300 ranges, distributed as outlined below), and two elective courses. The design of the major’s requirements ensures that students gain geographic breadth and historical depth, while having the opportunity to define their own interests and to chart their own path through the major.

Students complete an introductory course (numbered in the 100 range). There are two ways to satisfy this requirement: a survey course that introduces a broad range of artworks over an extended time span, or a writing-intensive course whose topic is more focused. The following link provides a list of introductory course offerings [https://www.wesleyan.edu/art/arthist/form/ACTIVE_ARHA_2022.pdf]

Student majors complete seven intermediate and advanced courses (numbered in the 200- and 300 range, respectively) that together fulfill the following geographic and historical requirements:

Students complete courses in four of the five geographic areas:

  • The Americas
  • Europe
  • East Asia
  • South Asia
  • Africa

 And they elect courses in three of the four following historical periods and categories:

  • Ancient 
  • Medieval
  • Early Modern
  • Modern

Any single course may be counted toward only one of these area or period requirements. The following link provides a list of courses currently offered and the categories they may fulfill [https://www.wesleyan.edu/art/arthist/form/ACTIVE_ARHA_2022.pdf]

Two of these seven courses must be seminars (numbered 300 or above), which foster more advanced skills in reading, writing, and independent research. These courses often include some mix of regular presentations, collaborative learning, and/or a substantial research paper. 

The introductory course and all seven of the courses satisfying historical period and geographic area requirements must be taken at Wesleyan.

The remaining major course requirement is two electives, which allows students to pursue their own commitments within art history. Electives may be drawn from additional art history courses or those cross-listed with art history; art history courses taken abroad or classes in cognate fields, such as anthropology, archaeology, art studio, CEAS, FGSS, film, foreign languages, history, music, religion; social, cultural, or critical theory; sociology; and/or urban studies. Students carefully select these elective courses in consultation with their major advisor. In order for these electives to count as credits towards the art history major, they must be petitioned—ideally prior to enrollment—and approved by the major advisor.

In order to become conversant in art history as a global practice, students must 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. Up to two courses in a foreign language may count as electives towards the art history major. German, French, and Italian are normally considered the most useful for the study of European art. Students concentrating in the history of Asian art are encouraged to study a relevant Asian language. Other languages may be relevant depending on a student’s course of study. For those languages not formally taught at Wesleyan, there are alternative ways of studying them, developed through the Center for Global Studies. See wesleyan.edu/cgs/.

For knowledge of critical theories, students are encouraged to consider ARHA courses as well as those in other disciplines linked to Wesleyan’s Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate.  See wesleyan.edu/theory/.

Ten courses is the minimum number required for the art history major. To take full advantage of the program, students are encouraged to take more than the 10 required courses and/or to pursue honors projects in art history.

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 the 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 their WesPortal.

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

For the graduating classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021, click on the following link for ARHA minor requirements. [wesleyan.edu/art/arthist/form/MINOR_REQUIREMENTS_for_2019-2020-2021.pdf] For the classes of 2022 onward, please see the requirements below.

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 three of the following five geographical areas: The Americas, Europe, East Asia, South Asia, and Africa. The five courses must also include study in two of the following four historical areas: ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern. 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 preapproval.
  • All courses for the minor must be taken on a graded basis. Exceptions will be made for COL and CSS majors.
Study Abroad
A significant number of art history majors study abroad, most commonly during the fall or spring semester of their junior year. Study abroad can be a very constructive component of an art history major especially, as it enables students to visit collections and museums in other parts of the world and to apply and deepen foreign language skills. When selecting a study abroad location, students should take into consideration their language abilities and the requirements of programs of interest. Many programs that involve language immersion require the completion of a minimum of two years of language study at the college level prior to studying abroad. While abroad, advanced students may want to use their time to identify artworks or collections that could serve as the basis for an honors thesis during their senior year. Beyond semester-long study abroad programs, students may wish to consider going abroad in the summer months, whether on a shorter-length study abroad program or to undertake independent research (juniors may apply for John T. Paoletti Summer Travel Fellowships).
Capstone Experience
The honors program in art history serves as the capstone experience for the major.
Honors

Students seeking honors in art history undertake an independent, two-semester research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor, which results in a senior thesis. This project offers qualified students a unique experience to formulate a research question, master the relevant literature, and make an original contribution to the field, all under the guidance of a faculty tutor who has expertise in the topic. Students pursuing senior theses enroll in a two-semester tutorial (ARHA 409/410).

A successfully completed honors thesis demonstrates an ability to identify an original question, propose a research methodology, and work independently to achieve a significant outcome. These are skills that are very much in demand across a variety of professions. An honors thesis is particularly suited to students who are considering graduate studies in the humanities or related fields. The demonstrated ability to successfully complete a yearlong independent research project comprises the single most important component of an application to an MA or PhD program. Our graduates who have gone on to pursue postgraduate degrees in fields distant from art history (whether in law, medicine, or business) have found an honors thesis to be the most meaningful and significant part of their academic career.

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 2).

Students wishing to consider an honors project must discuss their research interests with a member of the art history faculty during the spring semester of their junior year and secure the professor's agreement to serve as tutor for the project. Paperwork must be finalized by the last day of classes.

Juniors who have research projects that necessitate travel may apply for a Paoletti Research Travel Grant in March of their junior year to fund thesis research and travel over the summer before their senior year. See wesleyan.edu/art/arthist/travel_fellowships.html.

After consulting with their tutor, thesis writers are expected to carry out preliminary research during the summer after their junior year and are required to submit a detailed proposal and preliminary bibliography for the project by the first Monday after classes start during the fall term of the senior year.

In addition to conforming to the University's general requirements and deadlines for honors, candidates in art history participate in a senior colloquium that meets in October and February and culminates in April in “senior talks,” 20-minute public presentations based on students’ completed theses.

For more information and an application form, see the document "Honors in Art History: Regulations and Procedures," available in the department office and via download:

Honors in Art History: Regulations and Procedures

Honors Evaluation Procedures

Honors Application

Advanced Placement
A student who has completed an Advanced Placement (AP) 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
In order to become conversant in art history as a global practice, students must 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. Up to two courses in a foreign language may count as electives towards the art history major. German, French, and Italian are normally considered the most useful for the study of European art. Students concentrating in the history of Asian art are encouraged to study a relevant Asian language. Other languages may be relevant depending on a student’s course of study. For those languages not formally taught at Wesleyan, there are alternative ways of studying them, developed through the Center for Global Studies. See wesleyan.edu/cgs/.
Prizes

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 Travel Research 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 Study Abroad (to receive Wesleyan credit) and by the student’s major advisor (to receive credit toward the major requirements). Courses 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 detailed syllabus in advance of taking the course. Preapproved credits for study abroad or courses taken at other U.S. institutions can be used to satisfy the 200-level electives for the major but may not count toward the geographical and/or chronological distributional requirements. Transfer students should consult with the art history program director for further information.
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

ART STUDIO: Architecture, Digital Art, Drawing, Graphic Design, 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.

Student Learning Goals

The art studio program faculty has set the following goals for student achievement or success in the major:

  • Exploration of and proficiency with a wide range of media and technique, at the introductory level and beyond 
  • Honing observational skill
  • Fluency in visual language
  • The development of technical facility enabling students to explore their personal visions through making art
  • Broad awareness of current and historical art and its theoretical and historical context
  • Critique methodologies, and the ability to analyze art from diverse intellectual traditions and technical approaches
  • Development of independent studio practice, ideation, and methodology, culminating in a one-person exhibition senior year
Admission to the Major

At the time of application for major status, a student is expected to have completed ARST131 and one art history course, along with 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, ARST352 or ARST340) 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:

  • ARST131
  • At least eight courses numbered 200 or higher:
    • four art studio courses—at least one of which must be in either of the three-dimensional areas of sculpture or architecture
    • four art history courses
      • one Classical through Renaissance
      • one post-Renaissance (ARHA110 preferred) 
      • one non-Western
      • one additional course from the offerings
  • two semesters of senior thesis1
1

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.

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.

Honors

All art studio majors are required to complete an honors thesis, the senior thesis exhibition. The studio faculty vote to determine high honors, honors, pass, or fail, on the criteria of originality, mastery of medium, depth and range of investigation, and coherence of the exhibition.

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.