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Art, Art History and Film

Major in Art History

art, art history, and film

Student and Professor looking at a book.

For the Art History major, a minimum of 11 courses for 33 credits must be earned in the following way:

  • ARTH 1101 and ARTH 1102 – Introduction to Art History (six credits)
  • ARTH 1103 or ARTH 1104 – Art History Workshop (three credits)

These three courses should normally be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

The Art History major must also take eight additional courses, of which three must have ARTH numbers at or above the 2000 level; three must have ARTH numbers at or above the 3000 level; and two (one of which must be ARTH 4401 – see below) must have ARTH numbers at or above the 4000 level. At least one course must be chosen from each of the following periods:

  • Ancient Art
  • Medieval Art
  • Renaissance through Eighteenth Century Art
  • Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art
  • Non-Western Art

ARTH 4401 – Seminar in Art Historical Research (three credits), is required and must be taken during the junior or senior year. This course is counted as one of the required 11 courses discussed above and counts as one of the two required at the 4000 level. Please note: This course is offered only in the fall semester of each year. 

Students having earned a score of five on the AP exam may have the option of waiving the ARTH 1101 and ARTH 1102 requirement, although the same overall number of courses (11) for the major remains unchanged. Students having earned a score of four on the AP exam may waive either ARTH 1101 or ARTH 1102, but not both.

Students interested in majoring in Art History should contact Professor in Devlin 424 (617-552-3153).

Art History Major: Non-Western Track

The Art department also offers students the option of choosing a non-Western track for the major.  The requirements are identical to the Western track (see above) in terms of the number and level of courses, except for these distribution requirements:

  • Two courses must be in the area of Islamic art
  • Two courses in the area of East Asian art
  • At least one course in another non-Western field, such as African, Pre-Columbian, or ancient Near Eastern art.

Those students choosing this option are encouraged to select Aurelia Campbell, Sheila Blair, or Jonathan Bloom as their advisor.


Undergraduate Art History Major: Learning Goals

The art history faculty has determined the following goals for our program:

  • General familiarity with the history of art in its entirety from pre-history to the present.
  • Ability to identify the medium, chronological period, geographical origin, religious and  cultural-historical context of works of art.
  • Ability to analyze the formal, technical, stylistic, compositional characteristics of works of art—the time periods when these were introduced—and the potential influences that contribute to a work’s overall visual appearance or organization.
  • Ability to identify the subject matter of works of art, their potential meaning and significance, and the larger intellectual, historical, or political trends—and patronage practices—that impact their production.
  • Ability to connect works of art to cultural manifestations in other disciplines in the liberal arts (literature, theology, music, dance, philosophy) and to apply methods from the sciences (economics, psychology, physics, chemistry) to their study.
  • Familiarity with the history of the history of art, and critical self-consciousness of how an interpretive approach relates to others practiced in the discipline.
  • Ability to do advanced research in the field: knowledge of the important resources in terms of scholarly books, peer-reviewed journals, on-line databases, image archives, etc.
  • Ability to distill the above knowledge and adduce evidence in the construction of logical, clearly reasoned arguments.
  • Ability to present these arguments in the form both of oral presentations and written papers modeled on the professional standards presently applied in the discipline.
  • For those considering graduate school, the Ability to conduct research in foreign languages, is essential. This is facilitated by junior-abroad programs, in which many of our students participate, largely prompted by a desire to study works of art in their specialty first-hand and on site.

Art History Assessment

Assessment of written work submitted by an undergraduate art history senior in ARTH 4401: Seminar in Art Historical Research fall, a course required for all majors.

Rated on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest

  1. Has student compiled an appropriate bibliography?
  2. Has student demonstrated an appropriate mastery of sources, and an ability to document them effectively?
  3. Has student employed discipline specific terminology?
  4. Has student addressed issues of formal analysis, and how these issues pertain to the meaning of the objects under discussion?
  5. Has student demonstrated ability to engage multiple approaches?
  6. Has student constructed a persuasive argument?
  7. Has student conducted original research?