Degree Requirements

Information presented from the 2021 - 2022 Academic Catalog.

Departmental Guidelines

We strongly urge students to declare their intention to major in Art History and Visual Culture before the end of their sophomore year. We also urge students to choose an academic advisor from among AHVC faculty. Requirements for Art History and Visual Culture Major: 10 four-credit courses, 1 one-credit course (AHVC 409 - Art History and Visual Culture Senior Seminar: Writing), participation in Junior Day, completion of the Senior Thesis (25-30 pages) and presentation of the Senior Thesis at the Annual Senior Symposium (AHVC 409 - Art History and Visual Culture Senior Seminar: Writing). The Senior Thesis must be submitted to the Art History and Visual Culture faculty in order to graduate.

Mission Statement

The Art History and Visual Culture program engages art and visual culture from global perspectives. We interrogate ways in which visual images and objects are powerful agents in society and can be used either to support or undermine the status quo, to frame our understanding of class, culture, politics, and society, and to create, conceal, or contest perceptions of reality, time, and space. We offer different perspectives on the study of visual culture around the globe, engage different fields of research and combine diverse teaching practices and experiences. Our classes look at artists, visual and material objects and environments from the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, and from ancient to contemporary times. We value listening to a multiplicity of voices and encourage students to make connections between different art practices and critical approaches, but also learn that these connections may not always be simple or direct. As a program, we pursue a richer, more critical, and global visual outlook on the discipline of art history and visual culture.

Students of art history and visual culture explore the agency of images and objects by thinking independently, critically, and creatively. They learn to analyze visual images, objects, and environments and their relations to specific historical and cultural contexts. Students learn to build compelling interpretative arguments about art and visual culture and present their ideas in effective ways and in a variety of settings. At the end four years, Art History and Visual Culture majors choose a unique research project, conduct serious research in primary and secondary materials, and apply relevant analytical methods and critical approaches to their study.

Art History and Visual Culture Major

  1. Requirements for Art History and Visual Culture Major:
    1. 10 four-credit courses,
    2. 1 one-credit course (AHVC 409 - Art History and Visual Culture Senior Seminar: Writing),
    3. participation in Junior Day,
    4. completion of Senior Thesis (25-30 pages) and Presentation of Senior Thesis at the Annual Senior Symposium (AHVC 409 - Art History and Visual Culture Senior Seminar: Writing). The Senior Thesis must be submitted to the Art History and Visual Culture faculty in order to graduate.
  2. Required Core Courses Include: One 100-level, 4-credit course of student’s choice:
AHVC 101The Western World: Ancient to Baroque
AHVC 131Asian Art and Visual Culture
AHVC 141Latin American Art and Visual Culture

3. Three Required Core Courses for Juniors/Seniors:

AHVC 380Methods of Art History and Visual Culture (this course to be taken in the junior year - 4 credits)
AHVC 408Art History and Visual Culture Senior Seminar: Research (this course to be taken in the senior year - 4 credits)
AHVC 409Art History and Visual Culture Senior Seminar: Writing (1 credit)

Elective Courses & Distribution Requirements

Seven courses from the following 4-credit, 200- and 300-level options. At least 3 of the 7 courses must be at the 300 level (this requirement is apart from that for AHVC 380, listed above). You must take at least 1 course in each of the areas listed below (Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Art in the Mediterranean and Europe; Pre-modern to Modern and Contemporary Art from China, Japan, and South Asia; Modern and Contemporary Art from Latin American and the U.S.) at either the 200 or 300 level.

The sole 100-level course you take (at top of list, above) may also be used to satisfy one of the areas in this distribution, in lieu of one of the 200- or 300-level elective courses listed below.

Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Art in the Mediterranean and Europe

AHVC 201Classical Art and Architecture
AHVC 203Early Renaissance Art and Architecture
AHVC 204High Renaissance and Baroque Art & Architecture
AHVC 302Medieval Art and Architecture

Pre-modern to Modern and Contemporary Art from China, Japan, and South Asia

AHVC 231Art of Japan
AHVC 232Art of China
AHVC 263World Views: Spatial Imagination in East Asia
AHVC 333Art and Revolution in 20th Century China

Modern and Contemporary Art from Latin American and the U.S.

AHVC 240Special Topics in Art History and Visual Culture (Chicano/a/x Art)
AHVC 240Special Topics in Art History and Visual Culture (Mexican Art Across Borders)
AHVC 213Women Artists in the Movement
AHVC 310History of Radical Printmaking

Courses in Latin American and U.S. Art will continue to develop.  The most up-to-date checklist will be available in the department office. 

Note well: no more than two courses taken at institutions other than Denison (including off-campus programs) can count toward the AHVC major or minor. We encourage students to take these courses from 2 of the areas listed above, or from others in consultation with your advisor.

We urge students to consult the ‘Criteria for Transfer Credit in AHVC’ sheet available in the AHVC office, and to work with your advisor and the current program chair before going off campus, in order to insure successful transfer of courses back to Denison for AHVC major credit. The current program chair must approve any transfer course for AHVC major credit before students go off-campus, or immediately after if needed because of changes in course of study or other factors.

Art History and Visual Culture Minor

A minimum of six courses in Art History and Visual Culture of the student's choice.

Additional Points of Interest

Students in Art History and Visual Culture learn writing skills that are integral to the discipline and the liberal arts. Working closely with faculty, students learn to translate visual observation and evaluation into written language; articulate questions for research; communicate the results of their research discoveries in writing; and develop an informed, critical, and independent written voice. Our courses emphasize the sequential, graduated development of writing skills. These culminate in our required senior thesis and symposium.

Art History and Visual Culture seniors also make a formal presentation of their research to an invited audience at the AHVC Senior Symposium. All juniors in Art History and Visual Culture also are required to make a formal presentation of current work or research. The presentation is made to the faculty and to the student's peers as part of the AHVC Symposium annually. 

Denison University works to make study abroad possible for all students. In Art History and Visual Culture, we encourage students to study abroad during their junior year. Most students who major in Art History and Visual Culture and study off-campus transfer up to two classes for the major, satisfy GE requirements, and/or gain general credits towards graduation. Quite a few students also do independent research or internships as part of their study abroad experience. We encourage students to visit the Center for Global Programs/Off-Campus Study office to explore their options.

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