Requirements: Art and Art History

Fine Arts Division

The goal of the Department of Art and Art History is to provide instruction in and experience with the visual arts in the context of the liberal arts. The department offers two majors: studio art and art history. A major in studio art is intended to make the student particularly qualified to communicate ideas in visual form. A major in art history is intended to prepare the student to interpret and contextualize ideas presented in visual form throughout the past.

The Kenyon College faculty voted to change from Kenyon units to semester hours. This change will go into effect for all students who start at the College in the fall of 2024. Both systems will be used throughout the course catalog with the Kenyon units being listed first.


Studio Art

Introductory Courses

In each course, students confront the intellectual and aesthetic components that go into making personally meaningful artwork, guided by demonstrations, slide examples, lectures and critiques. Course content and approach differ among the sections and courses, but in each the goal is to introduce students to the ideas, techniques and vocabularies of contemporary artistic practice.

Requirements for the Studio Art Major

Students majoring in studio art must complete:

  • Three courses of introductory work, which should be completed by the end of the sophomore year
    • ARTS 101: Color and Design
    • ARTS 102: Drawing I
    • ARTS 103: Sculpture I
    • ARTS 106: Photography I
    • ARTS 107: Digital Imaging
    • ARTS 108: Back to the Drawing Board
    • ARTS 109: Creative Coding (QR)
    • ARTS 191: Special Topic
  • Four courses of intermediate work
    • ARTS 221: Photography II
    • ARTS 222: Film and Darkroom Photography
    • ARTS 226: Photography of Invention
    • ARTS 230: Figure Drawing
    • ARTS 240: Writing Pictures and Drawing Words: The Art of Making Cartoons, Comics, Zines and Graphic Novels
    • ARTS 250: Fundamentals of Painting
    • ARTS 251: Painterly Prints
    • ARTS 264: Still/Moving: Stop-Motion Animation
    • ARTS 291: Special Topic
    • ARTS 310: Sculpture II: Materiality and Methodology
    • ARTS 320: Color Photography
    • ARTS 321: Digital Photography
    • ARTS 322: Film and Darkroom Photography II
    • ARTS 329: Contemporary Photographic Practice
    • ARTS 345: Printmaking
    • ARTS 351: Contemporary Painting Practices
    • ARTS 360: Installation Art
    • ARTS 365: The Art of Experimental Film and Video
    • ARTS 370: Web Media
    • ARTS 381: Contemporary Art for Artists: Theory and Practice
    • ARTS 391 Special Topic
  • Two courses of advanced work with two different members of the studio art faculty, one each semester of the senior year
    • ARTS 480: Advanced Studio
    • ARTS 481: Advanced Studio
  • Two courses of art history should be taken by the end of the sophomore year, if possible.

Students majoring in studio art may not take a required course as pass/D/fail or as an individual study.

The Senior Capstone in Studio Art

The Senior Capstone in studio art consists of a public exhibition of a cohesive body of work in Kenyon College's Gund Gallery, a written artist's statement and an oral defense and presentation with each member of the studio faculty. Detailed guidelines are available to download on the studio art department website.

Requirements for the Studio Art Minor

Students minoring in studio art must complete:

  • Two courses of introductory work (ARTS 101–108)
  • Three courses of intermediate work (ARTS 210–391)
  • One course of art history 

Students minoring in studio art may not take a required course as pass/D/fail or as an individual study.

Transfer and Off-Campus Study Credit Policy

A maximum of two studio art courses taken off-campus may be applied to the major. A maximum of one studio art course taken off-campus may be applied to the minor.

Art History


Art historians analyze the complex relationship between visual representation and culture. This is achieved by examining the connection between objects, artists, and society on a global scale. Art history students use interdisciplinary methods to consider a range of art and architecture within broad cultural, geographic and historical contexts. 100-level introductory courses are designed for students who have had little or no experience with art history. These courses, which may be taken in any sequence, introduce students to the concepts, vocabulary and methods of the discipline. Most intermediate courses (200-levels) and seminars (300-levels) require a 100-level course as a prerequisite. No AP credit or advanced placement is offered through art history. AP credit cannot be used to satisfy any requirements of the art history major or minor.

Requirements for the Art History Major

The art history major requires 12 courses: 11 courses in art history and one in studio art. Certain courses in related disciplines, such as American studies and classics, count toward the 11 art history courses required for the major (see note below). The core art history requirements are distributed across the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. The major requirements:

  • At least two 100-level ARHS courses (up to three count toward the major)
  • At least five 200-level ARHS courses (up to seven count toward the major)
  • At least one 300-level ARHS course (up to two count toward the major)
  • ARHS 480 (Senior Seminar)
  • One ARTS course

Students may therefore choose one of the following four options to meet the required 12 courses for the art history major:

  • Two 100-levels + six 200-levels + two 300-levels + ARHS 480 + one ARTS course
  • Two 100-levels + seven 200-levels + one 300-level + ARHS 480 + one ARTS course
  • Three 100-levels + six 200-levels + one 300-level + ARHS 480 + one ARTS course
  • Three 100-levels + five 200-levels + two 300-levels + ARHS 480 + one ARTS course

Distribution Requirements for the Major: Our distribution requirements are organized into two categories: place and time. Classes at the 100, 200 and 300 level may fulfill the time and place requirements. 

To complete the place requirement, majors take at least one course from each of three geographical areas:

  • Asia
  • Europe and the Americas
  • Africa and the Middle East

To complete the time requirement, majors take at least one course from each of three temporal categories:

  • Before 600 C.E.
  • 600-1800
  • After 1800

Students can use a single course to fulfill up to two distribution requirements. For example, ARHS 224 (High Renaissance Art) fulfills the "Europe and the Americas" place requirement and the "600-1800" time requirement; ARHS 238 (Modern Chinese Art) fulfills the "Asia" place requirement and the "after 1800" time requirement. 

For a complete list of which classes fulfill what requirements, please see the Department of Art History's webpage

Course substitutions

Art history students may substitute two predetermined courses from other departments to fulfill intermediate (200-level) curricular requirements. CLAS 121, 122, 220, or 221 and specific Special Topics courses approved by the chair can fulfill the “before 600 C.E.” time requirement and the “Europe and the Americas” place requirement. ENGL 315: History of the Book may count as one of the 200-level electives. AMST 209 can fulfill the “after 1800” time requirement and the “Europe and the Americas” place requirement. These substitutions apply to majors and minors.

Transfer Credit and AP Course Policies

Students who want transfer credit to count toward the art history major or minor must petition the department with a copy of the syllabus of the course and a copy of their transfer transcript to verify the grade received. The department decides on a case-by-case basis whether transfer credit is counted toward the major or minor. Credit is not given for AP art history.

Off-Campus Credit Policy

With pre-approval, students studying abroad may count up to three courses of coursework for each semester of the OCS program. Art history is a global discipline and competence, including reading, in foreign languages is highly encouraged, as is study abroad. 

Joint Majors

For information on the joint major in art history and Asian and Middle East studies, please see the Asian and Middle East studies webpage

The Senior Capstone in Art History

The Senior Capstone requires students to deliver a research-based oral presentation, complete with slides, followed by a question-and-answer session. This public event requires students to demonstrate their knowledge of a specific area of art history. Honors students use this exercise to highlight a specific component of their larger project.

Process for the Senior Capstone

Students identify a preliminary thesis topic during the fall of their senior year. This process requires the preparation of a research proposal that includes a (double-spaced) prospectus (approximately 1,000 words) outlining the goals of the project. This text must address which methodologies the student intends to use, the primary objects under investigation and how the project relates to current scholarship. This document also includes a bibliography and a list of courses (ARHS and otherwise) that have contributed to the proposal’s formation. It is expected, though not necessarily required, that the proposal has originated in a 200- or 300-level course.

Students submit their proposal to the department chair, who collects and distributes each document to the faculty. Faculty approve or reject each proposal based on whether the topic is reasonable in scope and clear in methodology. A student whose proposal is rejected must resubmit the document based on faculty recommendations. Students who receive faculty approval expand the project over the course of the fall semester and during winter break. Students are encouraged to consult with appropriate faculty to develop the project. 

The Public Presentation

By fall break, the faculty announces a date for the public presentations, normally a Saturday in mid-February. Each presentation is a 15-minute, conference-style presentation delivered to a public audience. Students are placed into thematic panels of three or four students each to facilitate a spirited discussion after each group of talks. These question-and-answer sessions last 10-15 minutes per panel. Honors students are required to participate with the same level of engagement as their peers. Faculty serve as moderators for each panel.

Evaluating the Presentations

Faculty evaluate each presentation based on the following criteria. A successful presentation must:

  • Defend a clear, substantive thesis
  • Effectively use appropriate evidence (primary and secondary sources)
  • Show an awareness of current trends in the field
  • Demonstrate a high level of preparedness (i.e., the talk does not exceed the time limit; slides are used strategically to support the thesis; questions are answered thoughtfully, etc.)

Faculty assign a score of high pass, pass or fail to each presentation based on these criteria. These scores are delivered to students in writing by the department chair. Students who demonstrate excellence in each of the criteria listed above may be awarded distinction. This designation requires a unanimous “high pass” evaluation from all permanent members of the art history faculty.

Students may fail the presentation if their talk is exceptionally short or shows an effort that is lacking; an obvious regurgitation of a previously delivered presentation that shows no development of the earlier thesis; characterized by obvious plagiarism; far beyond the scope of the original proposal; or clearly beyond the boundaries of art historical practice/methods.

Students who fail work with at least one art history faculty member — likely their advisor — to compose a research essay based on their original topic. That essay includes 12-15 pages of text plus notes, images and a bibliography. The deadline for this essay is 5 p.m. on the second Friday after the return from spring break. Faculty then read this essay and agree to either pass or fail the student. A student who fails a second time revises and re-submits the paper until it is deemed acceptable by the faculty.


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. To qualify for the Honors Program, the following are required:

  • A minimum 3.33 cumulative GPA for all courses
  • A minimum 3.5 GPA for all art history courses
  • At least one (and preferably two) intermediate or advanced courses at Kenyon in the topic area
  • Endorsement of the project by the proposed thesis advisor

Previous completion of a research paper in art history (preferably in the area of honors specialization) is essential. Meeting the minimum GPA does not automatically qualify a student for the Honors Program. Typically, if a student has written an exceptionally well-researched and well-written art history paper and meets the other criteria for acceptance into the Honors Program, a professor might suggest that the student undertake a related topic as an honors thesis. Alternately, students can discuss pursuing an honors thesis with their academic advisor and a potential thesis advisor. The project must be supervised by an art history professor who agrees and is available to serve as the honors thesis advisor, and whose interests and expertise coincide with the proposed project. In either case, the student then works closely with the thesis advisor to develop a project proposal to be submitted to the art history faculty. Departmental approval must be obtained during the spring semester preceding work on the thesis. Please see the art history departmental webpage for more information.

Requirements for the Art History Minor

The art history minor consists of six courses. The requirements:

  • Two courses at the introductory 100 level
  • Three courses at the intermediate 200 level. (Students may substitute CLAS 121, 122, 220, 221, AMST 209, ENGL 315 and Special Topics courses approved by the Chair to fulfill this requirement.)
  • Advanced seminar at the 300 level

Students may substitute one 200-level class for one of the 100-level requirements, thus finishing the minor with one 100-level, four 200-evel, and one 300-level class. Minors may take ARHS 480 (Senior Seminar) but are not required to do so.