Art History

The Department of Art and Art History offers an A.B. degree in Art History and a minor in Art History.  

For information on the major and minor in ART please go to the Art page of this bulletin. 

Major in Art History

A major in Art History consists of ten courses (30 credits): nine courses in Art History and one course in Studio Art. No more than three courses taken outside the Department of Art and Art History (e.g., cross-listed courses, study abroad courses, and courses transferred from other institutions) may count toward the major in Art History.

Requirements for the A.B. in Art History

  • 2 Introductory courses, ARTH 101 and 102 (majors with an AP score of 4 or 5 in Art History will receive three credits/one course and be excused from taking ARTH 101 and 102; students with AP credit would be required to take an additional nine courses to complete the major).
  • 4 Intermediate (ARTH 103-399) courses from at least three of the following groups: Ancient/Medieval; Renaissance/Baroque; Modern/Contemporary; and Non-European/American art.
  • 1 Studio Art course
  • 3 Advanced (ARTH 400 level) courses. At least two courses must be art history seminars. ARTH 470 (Museum Internship) or ARTH 490 (Senior Thesis) or an approved AMUS or cross-listed seminar may replace the third art history seminar with prior permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Integrated Writing

Writing is central to the discipline of art history. While images, objects, and structures have infinitely diverse origins and afterlives, writing about them gives shape and meaning in ways that can be shared, interpreted, debated, and preserved. As in so many pursuits and professions, in art history writing is an essential way of thinking. All Art History courses at Georgetown include writing. At the introductory (101-102) level, these often include variations on the “formal analysis”: a concentrated, selective account of the prime visual characteristics of an individual work studied in person, not reproduction. This reveals how much writing can be a powerful tool not only of communication, but also of observation itself; one cannot effectively describe and analyze without taking time to see and think.

Courses at the intermediate (103-399) level typically include longer papers requiring deeper and broader analysis of art within historical contexts. Matters of production, patronage, functions, interpretation, markets, and much more come variously into play. While working with an array of sources (often combining primary texts and secondary scholarship), students are encouraged to research and write in ways that also recognize works of art themselves as primary sources ripe with information of many kinds.

In addition to papers and other formal writing assignments, most exams in courses at the introductory and intermediate levels include written components (comparisons, essays) that develop synthesis and critical analysis.

Advanced (400-) level courses in art history consist chiefly of seminars, which are dedicated to advanced, collaborative inquiry. Immersion in a topic (historical period, artist, theme, etc.) combines with sustained attention to methodology-the varied means and ends of research and writing within the discipline. With shorter papers cultivating analysis in any number of concentrated directions, most seminars culminate in a term paper developed from several weeks or more of research, discussion, revision, oral presentation, and final writing.

The Integrated Writing Requirement for the Art History major is fulfilled by completion of three courses at the advanced level.

Minor in Art History

A minor in Art History consists of six courses in that discipline. It is possible to major in Art and minor in Art History or vice versa. Minors who are not majors in either Art or Art History may take one course in the other discipline for credit toward the minor, with approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. For Art History minors, at least four courses must be taken within the department.

Requirements for the Minor

6 Art History courses:

  • 1 course dealing mainly with art before 1600
  • 1 course dealing mainly with art after 1600
  • 4 other art history or approved cross-listed courses. One elective may be an art course, with approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

For course listings for Art and Art History see Schedule of Classes.