The B.A. degree in art history trains students to negotiate a world saturated with images. It challenges students to confront critically the issues posed by the visual culture that mediates their understanding of the past, present and future. Built on the fertile exchange between the arts and the humanities, art history at SMU subscribes to an interdisciplinary and intercultural approach to learning. Students are taught to think across current categories and boundaries and practice a socially responsible art history.
In addition to developing acute visual sensibilities, students acquire the ability to evaluate and organize information, conduct scholarly research and articulate their ideas in both written and spoken language. Students completing this course of study are prepared for advanced training in the field of art history; museum and gallery professions; or work in a broad range of other fields, including publishing, arts administration, teaching and public policy.
Foundation Courses. Foundations courses include the three-part introductory survey sequence (ARHS 1300 , ARHS 1301 , and ARHS 1302 ), which provide an overview of major art historical developments from prehistory to the present. Students are required to take one of the survey courses (ARHS 1300 , ARHS 1301 , or ARHS 1302 ) to fulfill 3 credit hours of the Foundations requirement. This requirement can also be fulfilled with ARHS 1303 or ARHS 1304 (which are used for AP or transfer credit).
In addition to 3 credit hours of Foundations fulfilled by the survey, any 1000 level ARHS course (including, but not limited to, the other two parts of the survey sequence) can be used to fulfill the other 3 credit hours of Foundations.
Temporalities/Global Perspectives Courses. Temporalities courses are upper-level (3000, 4000, or 5000 level) art history courses that offer frameworks for a broad understanding of temporal dimensions: a duration of time, the power of some areas over others, the telescoping of past into present and vice versa, or questions of recurrence across time. The global perspectives designation is used for courses that are structured around distinctive spatial dimensions: a geographic feature like an ocean, territorial boundaries, colonial expansion, national imaginaries, subcultures or other social spaces of artistic production.
Research and Methods. All Art History majors are required to take ARHS 4399 - Research and Methods in Art History . Students are encouraged to take this course before enrolling in another advanced (4000 or 5000 level) Art History course.
Required Seminar. These small, advanced (4000 or 5000 level) art history classes are reading and writing intensive and offer the occasion to think critically and carefully about the dynamics of historical change and to engage with issues and debates in art history.
Minimum required grade: Only courses passed with a grade of C or better will count toward the major in art history. Courses passed with a grade of C- or less may count toward other, elective requirements in a student’s degree plan.
Many art history majors use free elective hours to complete minors or second majors in fields such as anthropology, chemistry (for conservation), English, history, international business, international studies, languages and psychology.
The Art History Honors Program is available to majors with exceptional academic records who seek a greater intellectual challenge. It is conducted as a two-term sequence (fall: ARHS 4391 and spring: ARHS 4392 ) during senior year, culminating with a 30-page thesis and faculty review. Students should contact the art history undergraduate adviser for more information.