Art History

Degree Types: PhD

The Department of Art History offers a full-time doctoral program that is designed to prepare our graduates for academic research and teaching, work in museums, and other careers in the visual arts. Coursework is for students with a solid undergraduate grounding in the field, and moves from a general, conceptual survey of the discipline to a more specific exploration of the student's chosen field. Graduates are primarily trained for teaching careers, but many alumni have had considerable success in the museum field.

The faculty is renowned for its interdisciplinary scholarship with particular strengths in Black Visual Culture in the United States and African Diaspora, Modern and Contemporary art and architecture across the globe, early modern and 19th-century European art and architecture, and Buddhist art.

The department's comparative and transdisciplinary orientation offers ample opportunity for innovative research, which is amplified by programs and clusters across the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (WCAS) and within The Graduate School (TGS). Students in this program are  encouraged to participate in TGS’s Interdisciplinary Initiative program.

Our highly ranked program is designed to make the most of our local resources, from courses at neighboring universities to holdings in Chicagoland libraries including the Newberry and Ryerson Libraries. The recently established Chicago Objects Study Initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, brings together scholars from Northwestern, the University of Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) via shared programming that includes first-year graduate student coursework, internships and fellowships, and symposia open to a wider Chicago audience. Graduate students also garner experience working within departments at other local museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Northwestern’s own Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art.

Additional resources:

Degrees Offered

Art History Courses

ART_HIST 310-1 Ancient Art: Greece (1 Unit)  

Art and architecture of Greece from the prehistoric Aegean to the Hellenistic periods.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 310-2 Ancient Art (1 Unit)  

Art and architecture of the Roman world from Etruscan forerunners to the High Empire.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 320-2 Medieval Art: Early Medieval (1 Unit)  

Art and architecture of the Europe from late antiquity to the twelfth century.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 329-0 Special Topics in Medieval Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, the early Christian church; history of illuminated manuscripts; pilgrimage and saints' cults; the cathedral; Spain; art and crusade.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 330-1 Renaissance Art c. 1300-1550 (High Renaissance) (1 Unit)  

Painting, sculpture, architecture, and the graphic arts in Europe from c.1300-1550 (High Renaissance).

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 330-2 Renaissance and Mannerism: Southern European Art 1400-1600 (1 Unit)  

Painting, sculpture, architecture, and the graphic arts in Southern Europe from 1400-1600.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 330-3 Renaissance and Mannerism: Northern European Art 1400-1600 (1 Unit)  

Painting, sculpture, architecture, and the graphic arts in Northern Europe from 1400-1600.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 339-0 Special Topics in Renaissance and Mannerist Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, the art of Bosch and Brueghel; the history of collecting; art at court; portraiture; gender and representation.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 340-2 Baroque Art: Northern Europe 1600-1700 (1 Unit)  

Painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts in Northern Europe from 1600-1700.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Historical Studies Distro Area Interdisciplinary Distro - See Rules Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 349-0 Special Topics in Baroque Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, global baroque; early modern prints and drawings; art and science.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 350-1 19th-Century Art 1: Late 18th Century-1848 (1 Unit)  

Survey of European painting and sculpture from the late 18th century to 1848.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 350-2 19Th-Century Art 2: 1848-1900 (1 Unit)  

Survey of European painting and sculpture, 1848-1900.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 359-0 Special Topics in 19Th Century Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, the art of Edouard Manet; orientalism; the spaces of 19th-century art; painting in the south of France.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 360-1 20th Century Art 1 (1 Unit)  

Painting, sculpture, architecture, design, and visual culture of the 20th century. 1900-1945.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 360-2 20th Century European Art (1 Unit)  

Painting, sculpture, architecture, design, and visual culture of the 20th century. Post-World War II.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 365-1 American Art I (1 Unit)  

Survey of the arts and visual culture in the United States, encompassing architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, film, and popular culture from colonial times to the Civil War.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 365-2 American Art II (1 Unit)  

Survey of the arts and visual culture in the United States, encompassing architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, film, and popular culture after the Civil War.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 366-0 Contemporary Art (1 Unit)  

In-depth study of the art of the late 20th and early 21st centuries as seen from a global perspective and with attention to concurrent developments in critical theory.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 367-0 Special Topics in American Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, nationalism and internationalism in American art; the myth of America; the artist in American society; elite and popular visual traditions.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 369-0 Special Topics in 20th Century Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies and may coincide with local exhibitions- for example, art and activism; utopia and dystopia in recent practice; participatory art; video art; art criticism; globalization; visual cultural studies; photography in/as art; installation art; truth and fiction in recent practice.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 370-1 Modern Architecture and Design (1 Unit)  

The history and theory of architecture, especially in relation to cities and landscape. 1800 to present.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 370-2 Modern Architecture and Design (1 Unit)  

The history of design, 1850 to today.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 378-0 Architecture and Urbanism of the Global City in the 20th Century (1 Unit)  

Critical examination of the modern city as a socioeconomic system.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 379-0 Topics in Modern Architecture (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, Chicago architecture, including the work of Sullivan and Wright; Beaux Arts architecture in Europe and America; modernism in architecture; American architecture from Thomas Jefferson to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 380-1 Tibetan Buddhist Art 1 (1 Unit)  

Focused study of Buddhist art made in Tibet and neighboring countries. Art of the Imperial period (7th-9th centuries) through the end of the 14th century, including regional developments in western Tibet.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 380-2 Tibetan Buddhist Art 2 (1 Unit)  

Focused study of Buddhist art made in Tibet and neighboring countries. Art of the 15th-19th centuries, including regional developments in eastern and northeastern Tibet.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 382-1 Chinese Painting (1 Unit)  

In-depth study of painting in China with consideration of formal and historical developments.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history class.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 384-0 African American Art (1 Unit)  

Art of the African-descended cultures of North and South America and the Caribbean.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

Literature Fine Arts Distro Area

ART_HIST 389-0 Special Topics: Arts of Asia and the Middle East (1 Unit)  

Content varies-for example, aspects of painting in the Indian subcontinent: Mughal and Rajput; issues of gender and sexuality in Japan and China from the 18th through 20th century; art in/about the Middle East.

Prerequisite: 200-level art history course.

ART_HIST 401-1 Methods and Historiography of Art History (1 Unit)  

1. Required introduction to approaches in the discipline of art history; for students in the fall quarter of the first year. 2. Investigation of philosophical or methodological approaches of current interest in art history.

ART_HIST 402-0 Studies in Writing (1 Unit)  

Required second-year writing seminar for Art History students preparing their Qualifying Papers.

ART_HIST 403-0 Mellon Objects and Material Seminar (1 Unit)  

Team-taught with the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Chicago: Required of (and limited to) students in the winter quarter of the first year. Material-based, close engagement with art objects in the AIC collection and the methods such activity requires.

ART_HIST 405-0 Art Historical Research (1 Unit)  

On-site summer course required of first year students and open to others across the Humanities. Introduces students to various tools necessary to conduct on-site research through focused study in sites relevant to faculty expertise, for example, e.g., Paris, London, Shanghai, Kingston, Moscow, Madrid, Capetown, Beirut, etc.

ART_HIST 406-0 Dissertation Proposal Writing (1 Unit)  

Required of (and limited to) students in the spring quarter of the 1st year. Walks the student through the mechanics of a dissertation proposal and designing a dissertation.

ART_HIST 410-0 Studies in Ancient Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include aniconism; ornament; and the reception of antiquity.

ART_HIST 420-0 Studies in Medieval Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include the global turn; cultural exchange in Medieval Europe; and the patron's part.

ART_HIST 430-0 Studies in Renaissance Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include art & technology in the Renaissance (at the Newberry Library); maps and the early modern translatlantic world; Aby Warburg/Atlas; thinking with stones in early modern Europe (at the Newberry Library).

ART_HIST 440-0 Studies in Baroque Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include Caravaggio (at the Art Institute of Chicago); print revolutions; architecture and space in the Spanish Habsburg world; and art and science.

ART_HIST 450-0 Studies in 19th Century Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include world's fairs; William Morris: Art, Design, Politics, Ecology; William Blake and abolitionism; and art and technology.

ART_HIST 460-0 Studies in 20th & 21st Century Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include Picasso; shadow histories of photography; futures we will have loved; appropriation; aesthetics of socialist realism; black ontologies; speculation and the speculative; the Russian avant-garde, and art of the global 1960s.

ART_HIST 470-0 Studies in Modern Architecture (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Recent offerings include Louis Sullivan and Chicago architecture, architecture in America (1890-1930), the World City c. 1900, and French architecture (1830-1870).

ART_HIST 480-0 Studies in Asian Art (1 Unit)  

Content varies. Offerings include: the role of sketching in the Chinese artists' practice, collecting Asian art under colonialism, Buddhist painting, and gender issues in East Asian prints.

ART_HIST 496-0 Internship in the Arts (1 Unit)  

Direct participation in the regular activities of an established arts organization in the Evanston/Chicago area under the supervision of a faculty member. By petition to instructor, on a limited basis.

ART_HIST 498-0 Graduate Tutorial (1 Unit)  

Supervised studies in the history of art. Content and course requirements vary. Pass/no-credit permitted at the discretion of the graduate advisor.

ART_HIST 499-0 Independent Study (1 Unit)  

Permission of instructor and department required. May be repeated for credit.

ART_HIST 590-0 Research (1-3 Units)  

Independent investigation of selected problems pertaining to thesis or dissertation. May be repeated for credit.