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.


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 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. 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.

Student Learning Goals

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

  • Intercultural literacy, including knowledge of at least one foreign language and knowledge of artistic production in more than one world region.
  • Visual analysis, including knowledge of a broad range of objects, as well as the ability to analyze the form of one work in depth.
  • Textual analysis.
  • Historical awareness, or an understanding of how a given object or set of objects relates to a culture, its history, religion, politics, and social structure.
  • Methodological sophistication, including experience with more than one art historical methodology and an ability to distinguish methodological differences.
  • Expository writing, or the ability to articulate and substantiate a complex argument in writing.
  • Research, including the ability to identify and use primary and secondary documents.
  • Originality, or the ability to define and carry out a substantial, original research project. 
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). Tutorials for honors theses—ARHA409 and ARHA410do 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.

For planning an art history major, please consult the Course Projections and Planning Worksheet for New Majors under Course Planning Documents on the art history program website.

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 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

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 chair’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
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.

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 2. 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. Students who fail to meet these minimum requirements will not 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,” also available in the department office.

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
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 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

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.


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.