Art History

Master of Arts in Art History

The Master of Arts in art history program offers a two-year degree that provides a solid foundation in historical and theoretical study of the history of Western Art, from Medieval to Contemporary. The program emphasizes independent exploration and interdisciplinary research.

Art history studies the traditions and techniques of the visual arts. It is an interdisciplinary field, drawing upon philosophy, history, literature, religion, and mythology to examine works of art and their contexts. The history of art provides means to penetrate cultural constructions and their aesthetic and artistic productions. To assist the student in developing skills needed to analyze and understand the object, the course of study includes requirements in academic coursework and research. 

The collection of the Art Museum of West Virginia University provides both first-hand experience with works of significant aesthetic and cultural value and introduces students to curatorial and museum practice. The Laura and Paul Mesaros Galleries in the Creative Arts Center and the Visiting Artist and Scholar program form a crucial link in the course of study, presenting installation and curatorial opportunities. Through the School of Art and Design's association with regional institutions, museum and gallery internships are encouraged.

Degree Requirements

Students must matriculate having attained reading proficiency in a language other than English through course credit or to be demonstrated by passing a proficiency exam.  If incoming students have not yet acquired reading proficiency in a second language, they should plan to obtain it before completing the M.A. degree.    

Completion of the program culminates in the master's thesis, which may take a variety of forms within the context of art's historical and critical practices. The student will select a thesis topic that must be approved by the art history faculty. The thesis consists of a research paper demonstrating critical knowledge of relevant sources, skill in analysis and interpretation, and ability to present the results in a well-organized and intelligent manner. The thesis must be defended in an oral examination.

Applicants for admission to the master’s program are expected to demonstrate competence in the history of art, equivalent to an undergraduate major, as well as reading competence of at least one language other than English (four-semester equivalent), and must submit GRE examination scores. The B.A. degree in an area of substantial humanistic research plus a foreign language may also be considered appropriate preparation.

Degree Requirements

Art History21
Selected from the following:
Independent Study
Native American
Intro Curatorial Practice
Greek and Roman
Medieval
Medieval Architecture
History of Stained Glass
Art Theory
Modern Art Theory
Women in Art
Northern Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
Baroque
American
Nineteenth Century
Modern
Modern Architecture
GPS-Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Print, Propaganda and Art
The Art of Andy Warhol
Contemporary
Advanced Topics
Directed Study
Special Topics
Seminar
Independent Study
Thesis
Advanced Topics
Directed Study
Special Topics
Seminar
Cognate Classes6
ARHS 601Thesis3
Total Hours30

Major Learning Goals

Art History

  • Demonstrate a broad general knowledge of the history of art, as well as specialization in a more limited area.
  • Knowledge of historiography and methods of scholarship and be capable of undertaking independent research.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of at least one foreign language.

Art History Courses

ARHS 501. Independent Study. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit) PR: Consent. Independent research, closely supervised, on topics of student's selection. Proposal must be well-defined and contain historical, critical, and theoretical issues. Contractual course.

ARHS 504. Asian Art. 3 Hours.

ARHS 507. Native American. 3 Hours.

Advance investigation of the visual material culture of the First Peoples of North American north of the Rio Grande, pre-contract to present. Focus on formal analysis with careful contextual studies.

ARHS 510. Intro Curatorial Practice. 3 Hours.

PR: ARHS 120 and ARHS 160. Specifically the role of the curator. The objective is to assess exhibition display and develop a critical perspective on curatorial practice.

ARHS 520. Greek and Roman. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. The architecture, sculpture, and paintings of the Aegean world, c.2000 BCE, Greece and Rome to 400 CE. Critical and historical context of this time period will be considered.

ARHS 531. Medieval. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. The arts of Europe from c. 312 to c. 1350. The theoretical, historical, and literary contexts will be established. Architecture, sculpture, painting, and portable arts will be included.

ARHS 533. Medieval Architecture. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation into the architecture of western Europe and its builders, from 313 through the sixteenth century: monumental buildings, architectural ornament, and the fusion of sacred and secular, in context of medieval world views.

ARHS 538. History of Stained Glass. 3 Hours.

ARHS 541. Art of the Review. 3 Hours.

PR: Grade of C- or higher in ARHS 120 and ARHS 160, Junior or Senior standing, or graduate status. This advanced readings and discussion-based seminar is designed to introduce students to the role of art criticism in the arts professions and to develop skill with writing for the unique format of the short exhibition review.

ARHS 544. Art Theory. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Examination of the development and tradition of the literature of Western art theory and its relationship to artistic practice.

ARHS 545. Modern Art Theory. 1-12 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit.) PR: Consent. Studies in art education and related areas. The development of a master's degree project in conjunction with a faculty committee.

ARHS 546. Medieval Painting. 3 Hours.

ARHS 547. Romantic Painting. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation into artistic movements and the underlying cultural and intellectual factors that inspire painters to use imagination and appeal to the emotions, reflecting the complexity of both the world and the self.

ARHS 548. Women in Art. 3 Hours.

Graduate-level study and research on the art of female artist and of women as subjects in art. There will be an historical view along with a strong theoretical component.

ARHS 550. Northern Renaissance. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. The arts of Northern Europe from 1350 to 1560 will be studied in an historical and theoretical context. Painting and sculpture will be the focus of study.

ARHS 554. Italian Renaissance. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Early Renaissance through Mannerism. The course will emphasize both the historical context and theoretical foundation of 15th-and 16th-century Italian art and architecture.

ARHS 560. Baroque. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Art of the late 16th through the early 18th centuries, of both Northern and Southern Europe. Issues of historical context and theoretical interpretation will be emphasized.

ARHS 570. American. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. The arts in the United States from the Colonial to the Modern era placed upon factors which define American art and the critical foundations for the works.

ARHS 575. Nineteenth Century. 3 Hours.

PR: ARHS 120 and ARHS 160. The course focuses upon European and American art from the late 18th century through 1900. Issues of theory, historical context, and literary foundation will be considered.

ARHS 580. Modern. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. The revolutionary experience of visual art, from its foundation in 19th century European movements through the modern era. Critical theory and historical context will be stressed.

ARHS 581. Modern Architecture. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation of architecture from the industrial revolution to the present. Theoretical consideration of style, form, technique, material, and meaning in the architecture of the modern and contemporary periods.

ARHS 582. GPS-Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation of the life and work of America's most noted and controversial architect. Close examination of his work in the context of the development of modern architecture.

ARHS 585. Print, Propaganda and Art. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation of the history and theoretical implications of printing, printmaking, and other forms of imaging in the western world from the earliest printed materials to present.

ARHS 588. The Art of Andy Warhol. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation of the ground-breaking and controversial art of Andy Warhol. Examination of his work in the context of 1960's Pop Art movement and recent contemporary art.

ARHS 589. Contemporary. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Exploration of the various artistic movements from World War II to the present. Emphasis will be given to the change from modern to postmodern. Familiarity with images and critical texts will be expected.

ARHS 591A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation in advanced topics that are not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ARHS 592A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

ARHS 593A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ARHS 594A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ARHS 595. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ARHS 601. Thesis. 3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Topic selected by student in consultation with art history faculty. Research must indicate familiarity with primary and secondary sources and regard for evidence of art historical research, methodology, and criticism.

ARHS 602. History of Chinese Ceramics. 3 Hours.

Advanced investigation of pre-history to present with emphasis on historical development of ceramics and culture of important dynasties in Jingdenzhen, China. Students will visit historical archaeological sites, traditional production centers, and museums.

ARHS 605. Chinese Language and Cultural History. 3 Hours.

Covers basic cultural and written Chinese, an introduction to China's many cultures and customs, and a brief history of China. Field trips offer experiential learning at sites discussed in class.

ARHS 691A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation in advanced topics that are not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ARHS 692A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

ARHS 693A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ARHS 694A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ARHS 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty-supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ARHS 696. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

ARHS 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

ARHS 698. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision is needed during the writing of student reports (698). theses (698), or dissertations (798). (Grading is Normal.).

ARHS 699. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium, to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is Normal; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.

Art Courses

ART 513. Graduate Painting. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit) PR: Consent. Encompasses the significant issues and developments of contemporary painting, including visual resources, critical and pictorial structures, and technical proficiency to establish a coherent aesthetic vision in the medium.

ART 515. Arts Administration. 3 Hours.

This course provides a practical approach to understanding arts management in not-for-profit organizations. Topics include facilities management, leadership, programming, audience development, board relations, and fundraising.

ART 523. Graduate Graphic Design. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit.) PR: Consent. Integration of current and historic resources leading to the development of design projects while working within the independent and existing courses. Areas of special interest include the book arts and electronic multimedia.

ART 524. Graduate Graphic Design/Professional Practice. 1-6 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit) PR: Consent. Students assist and work on projects in a model studio setting, helping to coordinate and manage communication with clients, printers, and undergraduate students in graphic design studio.

ART 526. Graduate Sculpture. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit.) PR: Consent. Encompasses the significant issues and developments of contemporary three-dimensional form, including visual resources, critical theory, historic foundations and technical proficiency to establish a coherent comprehension of the media.

ART 530. Graduate Printmaking. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit) PR: Consent. Encompasses the germane aspects of contemporary printmaking including visual resources, theoretical and historic structures, and comprehension technical processes, designed to establish a rigorous comprehension of the medium. Areas of specialization include lithography, intaglio, relief, serigraphy, and electronic media.

ART 532. Graduate Photography. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit) PR: Consent. Engages the essential issues and developments of contemporary photography, from traditional to digital photo processes, theoretical and pictorial foundations, and technical proficiency designed to afford a coherent aesthetic vision in the medium.

ART 534. Alternative Media. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit.) PR: Consent. Engages the primary issues and developments of alternative and interdisciplinary media such as installation, video, performance art, or other media along with the critical foundation and technical proficiency to establish a comprehensive utilization of chosen forms.

ART 540. Graduate Ceramics. 1-15 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit.) PR: Consent. Involves the essential concerns and developments of contemporary ceramics, including traditional and current practices. Emphasis is on technical processes designed to provide a rigorous comprehension and expression in clay. Area of specialization include both functional and sculptural ceramics.

ART 565. Graduate Studies: Art Education. 1-12 Hours.

(May be repeated for credit.) PR: Consent. Studies in art education and related areas. The development of a master's degree project in conjunction with a faculty committee.

ART 580. Art and Environment. 3 Hours.

PR: Registered graduate student. Interdisciplinary studio/seminar course investigating art's relationship to the environment through readings, field trips, presentations, and studio practice.

ART 590. Teaching Practicum/Professional Practice. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. This course is designed to develop aspects of college teaching experience such as writing a syllabus, organizing a classroom, or improvising with materials or topical issues. Preparation for establishing professional practice as a studio artist will be addressed.

ART 591A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ART 592A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

ART 593A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ART 594A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ART 595. Independent Study: Graduate Studio. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. (May be repeated for credit.) Intensive, self-directed research involving special projects in studio production. Areas of study include, but are not limited to painting, drawing, intermedia, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and design.

ART 600. Graduate Exhibition and Thesis. 3-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. (May be repeated for credit.) Research will be directed towards the production of a solo exhibition and a written thesis which documents the processes and philosophical principles of the artwork.

ART 602. Master's in Art Education Project. 3-9 Hours.

PR: Consent. This course is designed to develop the master's project in art education. The in-depth project must be approved by the advising committee.

ART 610. Introduction to Ethics of Visual Arts Therapy. 3 Hours.

Introduces students to basic approaches of visual arts therapy and the professional ethics involved with its applicability in school settings. Provides overview of how art educators face numerous ethical dilemmas beginning with ownership and exposure of treatment records and artwork.

ART 611. Theory of Art Education & Art Therapy. 3 Hours.

PR: Graduate standing. Introduces students to the historical, theoretical and philosophical foundations of visual arts therapy. Provides students with an overall understanding of how visual arts therapy relates to practice in art education. Specific theories relating to creativity development and visual literacy are explored.

ART 612. Art Methods/Materials for Special Populations. 3 Hours.

PR: ART 611. Provides students with in-depth understanding of art methods and materials used in artistic development of children, adolescents and adults, while using creative process of art making to enhance the physical, mental and emotional well being of individuals of all ages. Research, assigned readings, online discussions, and hands-on projects and critiques. On-campus art-making seminar is required.

ART 613. Art Assessments and Evaluations with Special Populations. 3 Hours.

PR: ART 611. Explores the assessment and evaluative practices of techniques, tools and concepts used in Visual Arts Therapy projects. Course consists of research, assigned readings, online discussions, written essays and visual explorations. A one day off-campus practicum is required.

ART 620. Advanced Problems in Art Making. 3 Hours.

PR: ART 611 and ART 612 or students who have completed an MFA or an MA in Art Studio may waive this course per the consent of the instructor. Provides students with an in-depth understanding of advanced studio art experiences and practices used to enhance learning outcomes for students with physical, emotional or social disabilities. Students will teach individual lessons to a select population using the modified lesson plan developed in this course. On-campus seminar and off-campus practicum is required.

ART 690. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of art. Note: This course is intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepared and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It also provides a mechanism for students not on assistantships to gain teaching experience. (Grading will be P/F.).

ART 691A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation in advanced topics that are not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ART 692A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and or research.

ART 693A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ART 694A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ART 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ART 696. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

ART 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper, or equivalent scholarly project, or dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

ART 698. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision is needed during the writing of student reports (698). theses (698), or dissertations (798). (Grading is Normal.).

ART 699. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.

ART 930. Professional Development. 1-6 Hours.

Professional development courses provide skill renewal or enhancement in a professional field or content area (e.g., education, community health, geology). These tuition-waived continuing education courses are graded on a pass/fail grading scale and do not apply as graduate credit toward a degree program.