Courses of Study 2015-2016 
    Mar 25, 2019  
Courses of Study 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

History of Art

In the College of Arts and Sciences .

Course Offerings  

The Department of the History of Art provides a broad range of introductory and advanced courses in art of Europe and the Americas, East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Native American art and Indigenous Studies from antiquity to the present.



C. Robinson, chair; A. Alexandridis, B. Anderson, J. E. Bernstock, A. Cohen Suarez, M. I. Dadi, M. Fernández, C. Finley, S. Hassan, C. Lazzaro, K. McGowan, L. L. Meixner, A. Pan, L. Pincus, V. Platt, J. Rickard, S. Samuels.

The Major

Department majors acquire a broad understanding of the history of art in several chronological and geographical areas: ancient, medieval, Renaissance, modern (Europe and the Americas), Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Latin America, and Africa. Additionally, majors practice a range of art historical methods and interpretive strategies, including connoisseurship, dendrochronology, feminism, iconography, semiotics, critical theory, and social history. Majors are encouraged to locate the history of art within allied humanities fields and the applied arts by taking courses in history, literature, history of architecture, and fine arts. The study of foreign languages is strongly encouraged.

Major Requirements for Students who Matriculate as Cornell Freshman prior to July 1, 2015

Prospective majors should consult the director of undergraduate studies. Students wishing to declare a major in the history of art should have completed any two courses above the 1000- level at Cornell in the department by the end of their sophomore year and have received a grade of B or above in both. Courses must be taken for a letter grade and must be at least a B– to count toward the major. These courses count toward the total 44 credits. The major in the history of art requires 44 credits, 30 at the 3000-level or above. The core requirements are: proseminar; another seminar at the 4000-level or above; two courses on art from the following time periods: Ancient Europe, Medieval/Islamic, or Renaissance/Baroque (one course per time period); two courses on art from the three following geographical areas: Africa, Asia, or Latin America (one course per region); and two courses on modern/contemporary art in Europe and North America, including art from outside the Anglo-American tradition. In addition to the 44 credits, majors are required to take two courses, approved by their advisors, in areas related to the history of art.

Major Requirements for Students who Matriculate as Cornell Freshman after July 1, 2015

The major in the history of art requires 40 credits, 26 of which must be at the 3000-level or above. For admission into the major, students are required to have completed the 1000-level gateway class,  ARTH 1100 - Art Histories: An Introduction , and to have received at least a grade of B. If declaring the major at the end of the sophomore year students who have not attended the gateway class will have to complete a 3900-level tutorial. Here too, the grade received must be at least a B. These courses count toward the total 40 credits. A grade of B- is required to receive credit toward the major for all other history of art courses. The major program requires at least one 2000-level introductory class, at least one 3000-level lecture class, VISST 2000 - Introduction to Visual Studies  Proseminar and two other seminars at the 4000-level or above.

The Minor

The History of Art minor is designed to attract majors in related departments, such as American Studies, Anthropology, Art, English, History, Near Eastern Studies, Religious Studies, and Romance Studies. It consists of no fewer than 20 credit hours, including a total of five courses at the 2000 and 3000 levels, one of which must be at the 2000 level and two of which must be at the 3000 level or above. There are no prerequisites or distribution requirements in order to give students maximum flexibility in combining a selection of courses tailored to complement their majors. Students interested in pursuing the minor should visit the front desk at the History of Art department (GM08 Goldwin Smith Hall) to request the minor form.


To become a candidate for the degree of bachelor of arts with honors in the history of art, a student must have a cumulative average of A– for all courses taken in the department and B+ in all arts and sciences courses. Application to write an honors thesis should be made to the director of undergraduate studies during the second semester of the junior year. The application must include a summary of the proposed project, an endorsement by a faculty sponsor, and a copy of the student’s transcript. In the senior year the honors candidate will include ARTH 4998 - Honors Work I  and ARTH 4999 - Honors Work II  in his or her course load. These courses address the research and writing of the senior thesis under the direction of the student’s project advisor. Students must present their research at the Undergraduate History of Art Honors Symposium which takes place the first or second Friday in February.

First-Year Writing Seminars

Consult the John S. Knight Institute website for times, instructors, and descriptions. These courses may not be used to satisfy the distribution requirement or the major.