The art history curriculum provides both breadth and depth. Majors typically take two semesters of introductory courses, six intermediate-level courses, one advanced seminar and the senior seminar. There is some flexibility explained below. The senior seminar is required of all majors and is recommended for the minors. Reading competence in a foreign language (completion of beginning-level language courses) is required by the college.
Six different introductory courses, as well as first-year seminars with rotating special topics, provide a broad overview of key subjects, questions, and methods in art history. Students can take introductory courses on African, Asian, Islamic, or Western art or the Survey of Architecture course. Fundamental art historical skills, such as formal analysis and iconographic interpretation, as well as college-level research and writing skills, are also taught in these classes. Two introductory courses are required for the major, and students may take up to three introductory courses for major credit See courses in the catalog.
Building on the foundational subjects, questions, and methods introduced in our 100-level courses, intermediate courses further focus students’ attention on a specific style, period, region, material, or thematic topic. Lectures and class discussions explore the relation of art and artists to society, to the history of events and ideas, and to networks of influence and exchange. Students engage a variety of art historical methodologies and theories to propose and execute research projects. Six intermediate courses are required for the major. See courses in the catalog.
Topics of advanced seminars vary from year to year. They are more specific in scope and allow students the opportunity to research a particular topic in depth. The Senior Seminar serves as a capstone course in which students study the foundations of the discipline, explore the variety of methodological approaches employed by art historians, and assess the current theoretical issues that have redefined the field. Every major must take ARHS 480 + any ARHS 300 course, equaling two seminars. Students are welcome to take more than these two and can substitute one seminar for an intermediate course. See courses in the catalog.
Studio Art Courses
Art history majors are required to enroll in two studio art courses. In so doing, art history majors participate in creative activity to gain insight into the complex process of creativity as it demands intellectual acuity, manual dexterity, and emotional expression. See studio art courses in the catalog.
The senior capstone in art history consists of three parts. Part 1 is a slide identification exam that assesses students’ comprehensive knowledge of historically important works of art and architecture. This exam is administered each year on a Friday in late February. Part 2 is a thematic essay exam that assesses the students’ broad knowledge of art history in the western tradition. Students receive the writing prompt following the completion of Part 1, prepare their essay over the weekend, and compose their responses on the following Monday during a closed-note session. Part 3 assesses the student’s knowledge of their specific art-historical area of expertise. It consists of a revised and expanded version of the Senior Seminar paper that is submitted at the end of the fall semester. Students are expected to respond to the feedback that they receive from faculty in December, and re-submit a revised and expanded version of the paper on the Friday before Spring Break. They are also required to attach a cover letter that explains the ways in which faculty feedback has been addressed in the final paper. Each part of the capstone will be graded by faculty consensus with the designation ‘distinction,’ ‘pass,’ or ‘fail.’ For a student to receive the honor of distinction, the faculty must unanimously agree that distinction has been earned on all three parts of the capstone Students who do not pass Part 1 or Part 2 will be required to re-take alternate versions of these parts until they pass those sections. Students who do not pass Part 3 will be required to revise their paper under the close supervision of a faculty member until they pass.
The Honors Program is an opportunity for students with demonstrated ability to work on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member. Permission of the art history faculty is required. The Honors Program is described in the course catalog.
Most art history majors and minors study off campus for all or part of their junior year. Students have studied in other cities in the United States — Washington, Chicago — in many European capitals — Rome, Paris, London — and throughout the world-in Africa and Asia. With the opportunity to view and study works of art first hand, off-campus study programs significantly enhance Kenyon's art history curriculum.
Students also have the opportunity to study abroad during the fall semesters as part of the Kenyon-Rome Program.
Visit the Center for Global Engagement to learn more about off-campus study opportunities.