Department of Art and Archaeology
- Rachael Z. DeLue
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Bridget Alsdorf (spring)
- Beatrice E. Kitzinger (fall)
Director of Graduate Studies
- Carolyn Yerkes
- Bridget Alsdorf
- Charlie Barber
- Tina M. Campt
- Rachael Z. DeLue
- Hal Foster
- Thomas D. Kaufmann
- Michael Koortbojian
- Chika O. Okeke-Agulu
- Andrew M. Watsky
- Nathan T. Arrington
- Brigid Doherty
- Anna Arabindan Kesson
- Beatrice E. Kitzinger
- Carolina Mangone
- Irene V. Small
- Cheng-hua Wang
- Carolyn Yerkes
- Basile C. Baudez
- Patricia Blessing
- Samuel Holzman
- Deborah A. Vischak
- Spyros Papapetros, Architecture
- Susan A. Stewart, English
- Ronni Baer
- Katherine A. Bussard
- Caroline I. Harris
- Janet E. Kay
- Lucy Partman
- Veronica M. White
- Bert Smith
Information and Departmental Plan of Study
The Department of Art and Archaeology is devoted to the study of the visual arts and the investigation of material artifacts from a wide range of cultures and periods. Students may pursue a major in the History of Art or the Practice of Art; information on the Certificate in Archaeology is also included below. Studio art courses are taught by faculty in the Program in Visual Arts; History of Art courses also frequently include practical components. It is also where students interested in the practice of art (taught by faculty in the Program in Visual Arts) can pursue a major. Working closely with faculty members in small classes and often dealing directly with original objects and primary sources, students can explore subjects as diverse as Roman or modern city planning, arts of printing and book-making in East Asia or Europe, ancient or medieval archaeology, Early Modern or Islamic architectural history, 19th–21st century photography, and contemporary arts of Africa, Latin America, and the United States.
Students in the Department of Art and Archaeology learn techniques for analyzing and interpreting the visual and material world. They also investigate the factors that influence artistic change (e.g., religious beliefs, economic constraints, patronage demands, and technological changes). Like any humanist or social scientist, they must evaluate evidence, form hypotheses, test data, and draw conclusions. Successful majors master the translation of visual perceptions into linguistic expression, develop visual memory, and make connections among a wide array of historical evidence. Students must have at least a C- average based on courses and independent work in order to graduate from the department.
Students interested in majoring in the Department of Art and Archaeology must choose one of two tracks, each of which has its own admission prerequisites and curricular requirements.
No advanced placement credit is granted for the Art History Advanced Placement Examination.
A sophomore may apply for early concentration through consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.
Study abroad can be a richly rewarding part of any concentration in the Department of Art and Archaeology. Art history courses taken abroad (normally up to two per term or four for a year in a study abroad program) can be preapproved for departmental credit by the director of undergraduate studies. Students generally study abroad during junior year or the first term of senior year. Junior independent work can be completed under the supervision of a departmental faculty member with prior approval and ongoing contact with the faculty adviser. Senior independent work in the fall of senior year may be done overseas, but the spring term work must be done in residence. Students contemplating study abroad should speak with the director of undergraduate studies as early as possible and meet with a study abroad adviser in the Office of International Programs.
Students interested in archaeology may choose to participate in overseas archaeological excavations undertaken by departmental faculty. For further information, contact the program director.
Nonmajors who would like to receive credit for history of art courses taken during a semester or academic year abroad must apply through the Office of International Programs and receive approval for credit from their study abroad adviser. Credit will not be approved for cognates of Princeton's ART100 course at other institutions (i.e., general survey courses in art history), for majors and nonmajors alike.
If students wish to receive credit for history of art courses taken abroad during the summer, they must receive approval from both the Office of international Programs and the director of undergraduate studies. This applies to both majors and nonmajors.
History of Art Track
Concentrators in this track pursue the study and criticism of the visual arts and the investigation of material culture from a wide range of historical periods.
Any two courses offered by the Department of Art and Archaeology.
Program of Study
A total of 10 courses in the Department of Art and Archaeology, including ART 400 (Junior Seminar) and an additional two seminars at the 400- or 500-level. Seven of the 10 courses must be taught by Art and Archaeology faculty. Students must take at least one course in each of the following three distribution areas: Group 1 (ancient), Group 2 (medieval/early modern), and Group 3 (19th century to the present). ART 100, ART 400, and ART 401 count as departmentals but not as distribution courses. In choosing courses to satisfy requirements, students are encouraged to explore a range of geographies and a range of media, e.g., architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, works on paper, film.
No more than two cognate courses taken in other departments (including the Program in Visual Arts) may be counted toward the 10 departmentals. This includes summer courses. Students participating in the Study Abroad Program may be allowed to count more than two courses taken overseas as departmentals. All cognate courses must be approved prior to enrollment by the director of undergraduate studies based on the submission of a syllabus and course description. Courses cross-listed with the Department of Art and Archaeology automatically count as departmentals, but do not count toward the departmental honors GPA.
During the fall of junior year, all majors must take the junior seminar (ART 400). The course introduces students to various methods used by art historians and archaeologists, and many assignments relate directly to their junior independent work. Students who are abroad during the fall of junior year can complete the junior seminar during the fall term of their senior year.
Junior Independent Work
Junior independent work begins in the fall, in the context of the junior seminar (ART 400), and continues into the spring with a faculty adviser whom the student selects. It consists of a research paper of approximately 30–40 pages (7,500–10,000 words) on any topic related to visual and material culture. Assignments in ART 400 help students conceptualize and implement their research agendas. The Junior Independent Work requirement in History of Art includes two colloquia with the Practice of Art cohort, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Senior Independent Work
The senior independent work consists of a year-long research project of approximately 60–80 pages (15,000–20,000 words). The student selects a faculty adviser in the spring of their junior year and submits a progress report to the director of undergraduate studies by mid-November of their senior year. For further deadlines see the Undergraduate Handbook. The thesis grade is the average of the grades given by the faculty adviser and a second faculty reader. The Senior Independent Work requirement in History of Art includes two colloquia with the Practice of Art cohort, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Senior Departmental Examination
The senior comprehensive departmental examination ("Comps") consists of a one-hour oral examination discussing the senior thesis and also covering material from departmental courses. It is attended by three faculty members, consisting of the adviser of the senior thesis, the second reader, and one additional faculty member. The exam grade is the average of the grades given by the three examiners.
Practice of Art Track
Concentrators in this track explore the traditions, thought processes, and methods of making visual art in connection with a liberal arts education. Studio courses are offered in painting, drawing, printmaking, graphic design, media, sculpture, photography, film and video production. Students also study art history and theory.
Two courses in the Program in Visual Arts and one course in the Department of Art and Archaeology. By the first Wednesday following spring break, sophomores submit an application and a portfolio of creative work to the Lewis Center for the Arts administrative office. The admissions committee for the Program in Visual Arts will notify students accepted into the program by early April. No AP credit is accepted toward the Practice of Art concentration.
Program of Study
A total of 10 courses, of which at least six must be from the Program in Visual Arts and four must be from the Department of Art and Archaeology and taught by Art and Archaeology faculty.
The visual arts courses must include: two studio courses in at least two different media; two studio courses at the 300 or 400 level; VIS 392 Issues in Contemporary Art; and VIS 416 Exhibition Issues and Methods or VIS 417 Film Seminar. The Department of Art and Archaeology courses must include one course from Group 1 (ancient) or Group 2 (medieval/early modern) and one course from Group 3 (19th century to the present). The remaining two courses may come from any group. When multiple courses are selected from the same group, breadth in chronological and geographic focus among them is encouraged.
Courses for film students must include: two studio courses at any level in two different media (screenwriting courses are accepted as a different medium from film production courses); two studio courses at the 300 or 400 level; VIS 392; VIS 419 (taken in the spring of junior year). The Department of Art and Archaeology courses must include: one course from Group 1 (ancient) or Group 2 (medieval/early modern); one course from Group 3 (19th century to the present); and two from any group. For two ART courses, film students may substitute film courses cross-listed with ART.
Practice of Art students are strongly encouraged to enroll in ART 400. The course does not carry a Group designation, but counts toward the total of four ART courses for Practice of Art students.
Up to two courses in studio art or art history may be taken at other institutions during the summers with prior approval by the director of undergraduate studies (for History of Art courses) or the director of the Program in Visual Arts (for Practice of Art courses). Courses taken as part of the Study Abroad Program may be allowed to count as departmentals with prior approval from the director of undergraduate studies and the director of the Program in Visual Arts.
During the fall of junior year, all concentrators must take the junior seminar, VIS 392 Issues in Contemporary Art. Beginning with the Class of 2023, film students will also be required to take VIS 392. VIS 392 coincides with admission to the junior studios and investigates the history, challenges, and rewards of studio practice. Through readings, discussions, studio critiques, and a culminating exhibition of works in progress, VIS 392 provides the foundation for students' independent creative development, as well as the impetus for beginning to be able to articulate the historical precedents and ambitions of their work. Students are also strongly encouraged to take ART 400, the junior methods seminar in the Art and Archaeology Department.
Junior Independent Work
Junior independent work begins in the fall, in the context of the junior seminar and in partnership with two faculty advisers, one from VIS and one from ART, and continues into the spring. Students are provided with studio space and prepare independent work over the course of the year, culminating in an exhibition as part of the Spring Junior Group Thesis Show. Film students work throughout their junior year to create a junior film.
All Practice of Art juniors assemble a writing portfolio consisting of multiple short essays amounting to approximately 10 pages (2,500 words). The essays reflect on the making process and discuss the relation of the work to the student’s broader studies, especially in art history. The essays should include a bibliography. The grade for independent work is the average of the grade from the VIS and ART adviser.
The Junior Independent Work requirement in Practice of Art includes two colloquia with the History of Art cohort, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Senior Independent Work
By the end of the second week of the fall term of senior year, students must have three advisers, including one from the Department of Art and Archaeology faculty. The senior independent work is a major studio project completed by the end of the spring term, which is done in consultation with the student’s advisers, and a writing portfolio consisting of multiple short essays amounting to approximately 20 pages (5,000 words). The essays reflect on the making process and discuss the relation of the work to the student's broader studies, especially in art history. The essays should include a bibliography. Students are assigned semiprivate studios on the second floor of 185 Nassau. Students present their work in an exhibition at the end of the year at the Lewis Center. An “Advisers' Thesis Critique” is performed by the AA and VIS advisers in the presence of the exhibit. The grade for the senior independent work is the average of the grade given by the AA and VIS advisers during the Thesis Critique and for the written component.
The Senior Independent Work requirement in Practice of Art includes two colloquia with the History of Art cohort, one in the fall and one in the spring.
Senior Departmental Examination
The senior departmental examination in the Practice of Arts has two parts. (1) A one-hour critical discussion (the “Crit”) of the senior thesis exhibition in the latter half of the spring term, in the presence of each student's exhibition. The discussion is open to all Program in Visual Arts faculty and Practice of Art/Certificate students. All Visual Arts faculty who attend the Crit will grade it, and those grades will be averaged. (2) Practice of Art students participate in the same comprehensive exam ("Comps") as the History of Art students (see above). The VIS primary adviser and the A&A adviser will be two of the three faculty present at the comprehensive exam; the three grades will be averaged for the Comps grade. The final grade on the transcript for the departmental examination is the average of the Crit grade and the Comps grade.
Resources for Research
Outstanding resources are available for students concentrating in art and archaeology. These include the Marquand Library, a noncirculating research library with over 400,000 books; the Princeton University Art Museum; the Index of Medieval Art; the Visual Resources Collection; and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art. Firestone Library also houses extensive holdings of illuminated manuscripts, prints, and photographs in departments including the Manuscripts Division, Graphic Arts Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections, the Cotsen Children's Library, and the Western Americana Collection. Staff members in the University Art Museum and the Index of Medieval Art regularly offer courses or otherwise participate in the department's teaching activities. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the proximity of major museum collections in New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.
Honors are awarded by a vote of the faculty to students having the highest, weighted grade point average based on grades achieved in departmental courses, junior independent work, senior independent work, the senior oral examination, and participation colloquia. Honors are only awarded to students who are members of the graduating class.
Preparation for Graduate Study
Students who are contemplating graduate work in the history of art and archaeology are reminded that most graduate programs require a reading knowledge of two or more languages. In some fields German is particularly important. Consult regularly with your field advisers and the director of undergraduate study if you intend to pursue a graduate application.
Certificate in Archaeology
The Department of Art and Archaeology offers students the opportunity to earn a certificate in archaeology while pursuing the History of Art or Practice of Art tracks or while concentrating in another department. The Program in Archaeology aims to provide a broad introduction to the field of archaeology and to allow students to pursue archaeological interests that complement their research in other areas.
Undergraduate students may apply for formal admission to the program during their sophomore year after taking any one of the courses offered by the program. A freshman seminar or other alternative may be approved by the program director.
Certificate in Visual Arts
For certificate requirements, see the description under the Program in Visual Arts.