History and Art History

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Graduate Art History Seminar

All courses for the Art History M.A. are taught as seminars, the most common course format for graduate study in the Humanities. Seminars limit enrollment to eighteen students, thereby facilitating extensive group discussion of the topic at hand. Each week students read extensively (various articles or the equivalent of one book per week). In class, students, with the guidance of the professor, debate the merits and arguments presented in the readings, covering methodology, presentation of evidence, and the author’s perspective or biases. Individual students also lead the discussion. Writing assignments may complement the readings throughout the semester. These courses do not follow the typical lecture format, where students are presented with historical and visual information and are expected to demonstrate a mastery of this information via tests or exams; instead students usually write a substantial research paper that engages closely with the literature and major arguments in the field. The course usually culminates with oral presentations of research findings in a format that emulates a professional talk at an Art History conference. The seminar format allows for a deep engagement with art historical arguments, trains students in research methods and reveals through close analysis the structural and theoretical questions that shape the field. The goal is to teach students the writing and critical thinking skills necessary for scholarship in the field.

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