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.

Past iterations of ARTH 699 (seminar exclusively for graduate students):


The Ancient World--The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome

Classical Bronzes

Pompeii: Rediscovery and Recreation



Mediterranean Cities and Trade

Ottoman Empire

Asian Art:

Art of Colonial South Asia

Art of Gandhara

Hindu Art and Tradition

Renaissance and Baroque:

Creating Value: Making and Consuming Art in Early Modern Europe

American Art:

Art and Myth of the Old South

Gender and American Artists 1880-1940

Gender & Material Culture Study

The Gilded Age

U.S. Mural Painting from 1890 to 1940

VA Plantations: Then & Now

Modern Art:

Latin American Vanguards

Transnational Surrealism

Past iterations of ARTH 599 (mixed graduate/undergraduate seminar):



Roman Sculpture: Imperial Monuments and Portraiture

Visualizing the Pax Augusta: Art in the Age of the Emperor Augustus

Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome


Art of the Christian/Muslim Frontier

Medieval Iberia

Medieval Literature as Primary Source 

The Norse

Textiles and Trade

Asian Art:

Art of Pre-Modern South Asia

Monuments and Memory in Asian Art

Renaissance and Baroque:

Sexuality, Gender and Art in Early Modern Europe

Creating Value: Making and Consuming Art in Early Modern Europe

Originals, Imitations, Fakes: Rethinking Authorship in Early Modern Art

Home, Tavern, Bordello: Dutch Genre Painting

The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Dutch Visual Culture of the Seventeenth Century

Modern and Contemporary Art:

Curating an Exhibition

Monuments and Memorializing in U.S. Art from 1870 to the Present

Modernity & Body Politics

Mexican Muralism

Transatlantic Encounters in Twentieth-Century European and Latin American Art

Redefining Sculpture


Art of the 1960s

Beyond Objects