Major in Art History
Courses in the Department of Art History
- 2 200-level courses
- 10 300-level courses, including:
- Art History 391: Art Historical Methods Seminar, ideally taken in junior year, especially by students who want to write an honors thesis;
- at least 1 Art History 390 or 395 seminar;
- at least 1 Art History course in each of the following three art historical periods: 1) pre-1400 CE; 2) 1400 CE-1800 CE; and 3) post-1800 CE.
- At least 2 Art History courses in Non-Euro-American art
- 1 course in art making, design, or other arts course focused on practice approved by the director of undergraduate studies. The following courses have been pre-approved:
- ART 210 Introduction to Drawing
- ART 220 Introduction to Painting
- ART 230 Introduction to Time-Based Arts
- ART 240 Introduction to Sculpture
- ART 250 Introduction to Photography
- ART 260 Studio Practice
- DSGN 320 Introduction to Industrial Design Methods
- RTVF 190 Media Construction
- RTVF 372 Editing
Minor in Art History
- 8 Art History Department courses, of which 2 (and no more than 2) must be at the 200-level and 6 courses at the 300 level. At least 1 300-level course must be in a non-Euro-American area of art historical enquiry.
GENERAL Grading Guidelines
Assignments vary in their criteria of assessment; students should consult the class syllabus for details concerning the expectations of individual assignments and overall course performance assessment.
"A" work shows a consistently excellent performance in all aspects. 94 to 100 on a 100-point scale.
"A-" work is near excellent. It has most, but not all, of the positive qualities of "A" work. 90-93.99 on a 100-point scale.
"B+" work is very good and fulfills the requirements well, but without special distinction. 87-89.99 on a 100-point scale.
“B” work is good work that fulfills nearly all requirements, but without distinction. 84-86.99 on a 100-point scale.
"B-" work fulfills most requirements, but shows significant problems in one or two areas. 80-83.99 on a 100-point scale.
"C" work fulfills some requirements but shows significant weakness in multiple areas. 70-79.99 on a 100-point scale.
"D" work fulfills fewer requirements than "C" work and shows significant weakness in most areas. 60-69.99 on a 100-point scale.
“F” work is inadequate in all areas. Individual instructors may have attendance policies under which a certain number of unexcused absences result in an automatic “F” for the course as a whole regardless of performance in other assessment areas. Below 60 on a 100-point scale.
Honors in Art History
Students may be nominated for honors in art history upon:
- Demonstrating a distinguished record in the major, including maintaining a grade point average of 3.5 within the major
- Completing a senior honors thesis, prepared during two quarters of Independent Study during the fall and winter quarters of the senior year. Normally, these courses are regular AH 399s and are supervised by the thesis advisor. Permission codes to register for these classes are administered by the department office. In some instance, one of these courses may be substituted by a 399 in another department (for students considering interdisciplinary honors) or by an AH 390 seminar (if the thesis develops specifically from the 390 seminar). Please note that only one of the 2 required 399 courses counts towards the major course requirements. The honors thesis is due in mid-late April of the senior year. Late submissions will not be accepted for consideration.
- Participating in the honors colloquium, which meets several times over the course of the senior year.
Students who wish to be considered for honors in art history must apply to write an honors thesis in the spring of their junior year (in some cases, the DUS may allow for a late application in the very early fall of the senior year). Each applicant submits to the DUS an "Application to Write an Honors Thesis Form," which details the topic of the thesis and the name of the faculty who has agreed to serve as advisor to the project. This application must be signed by the thesis advisor and accompanied by proof of a 3.5 GPA within the major.
The Thesis: Writing, Advising, and Finished Form
The senior honors thesis takes the form of a major research paper, normally 25-30 pages long. The goal of the thesis is to make an original intervention into a field of art historical study. This intervention can involve research that uncovers new knowledge, yields a new critical or theoretical interpretation, or, ideally, presents a combination of the two ambitions. Advisors work with individual thesis writers to formulate viable projects that adhere to the parameters of the writer's subfield and area of enquiry.
Starting in the fall of senior year, the thesis writer meets regularly with his or her advisor to structure, discuss, and evaluate his or her progress. The advisor sets guidelines and deadlines for writing, although it must be remembered that each 399 course is graded so the expectation is that students will turn in work that can be evaluated by the end of each quarter. Normally, the thesis writer submits at least one substantial portion of the thesis draft by the end of fall quarter, and a full draft before spring break.
In addition to meeting weekly or bi-weekly with the advisor, the thesis writer must also participate in the honors colloquium. This is not a course, but a series of required meetings of all art history thesis writers convened by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The colloquium meets several times during the fall and winter quarters and may meet in the spring. The purpose of these meetings is to bring thesis writers together into a community so that writers may learn about the various forms a thesis can take and can engage in the important project of peer-review.
The finished thesis manuscript is handed in by the designated due date, which is normally in April. Four bound copies are submitted to the department office. Each must be bound, double-spaced, and paginated. Students are strongly encouraged to make an additional copy for their advisor.
Preceding the manuscript must be:
- a title page with the author's name, the title of the thesis, the date, the advisor's name, and the phrase "A Senior Honors Thesis Submitted to the Department of Art History, Northwestern University, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Honors Degree in Art History"
- a brief abstract (no more than one page)
- a table of contents, as necessary
- acknowledgments, as necessary
- a list of illustrations, which includes artist name, title, and date
Following the manuscript must be:
- full footnotes and bibliography, preferably following the format of The Chicago Manual of Style (footnotes may be in endnote or footnote form)
- numbered illustrations (in black-and-white or color), captioned with full title, artist's name, date, dimensions (as available and relevant), location (as available and relevant), and medium (as available or relevant)
- any necessary or relevant appendices
Senior honors theses are evaluated on the originality and scope of the research they present, as well as the clarity of the manner in which they are written, organized, and argued. All honors theses are evaluated as passing or not-passing by an ad-hoc department faculty committee. This committee forwards its recommendations to the Weinberg College Honors Committee, which makes the final decision regarding the award of honors. The Departmental Honors Committee also decides which theses might be awarded a Carson Webster Prize, the department award for best honors thesis. On occasion, this award is shared by more than one thesis.
Dual Honors and Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies
Students who are interested in pursuing Honors in Interdisciplinary Studies, or in two departments, should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Jesús Escobar (firstname.lastname@example.org) and consult the following links: