History of Art

Loria Center, Rm. 251, 203.432.2668
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Milette Gaifman (Loria 557, 203.432.2687, milette.gaifman@yale.edu)

Director of Graduate Studies
Edward Cooke, Jr. (Loria 654, 203.432.2724, edward.cooke@yale.edu)

Professors Carol Armstrong, Tim Barringer, Marisa Bass, Edward Cooke, Jr., Milette Gaifman, Jacqueline Jung, Pamela Lee, Kishwar Rizvi, Nicola Suthor, Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan

Associate Professors Craig Buckley, Cécile Fromont, Jennifer Raab

Assistant Professors Joanna Fiduccia, Subhashini Kaligotla, Morgan Ng, Quincy Ngan

Fields of Study

African art; African American art; Byzantine art and architecture; Caribbean art; contemporary art; early modern art and architecture; East Asian art; eighteenth-century art; film and media; global modernisms; Greek and Roman art and architecture; history of photography; Indian Ocean art; Indigenous art; Islamic art and architecture; Italian Renaissance art and architecture; Latin American art; material culture and decorative arts; medieval European art and architecture; modern architecture; modern art; Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish art; nineteenth-century art; North American art; Northern Renaissance art; Precolumbian art; South Asian art and architecture; Southern Baroque.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

All students must pass examinations in at least two languages pertinent to their field of study, to be determined and by agreement with the adviser and director of graduate studies (DGS). One examination must be passed during the first year of study, the other not later than the beginning of the third term. During the first two years of study, students typically take twelve term courses. In March of the second year, students submit a qualifying paper that should demonstrate the candidate’s ability successfully to complete a Ph.D. dissertation in art history. During the fall term of the third year, students are expected to take the qualifying examination. Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of their field and related areas, as well as a good grounding in method and bibliography. By the end of the second term of the third year, students are expected to have established a dissertation topic. A prospectus outlining the topic must be approved by a committee at a colloquium by the end of the third year. Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon completion of all predissertation requirements, including the prospectus and qualifying examination. Admission to candidacy must take place by the end of the third year.

The faculty considers teaching to be an important part of the professional preparation of graduate students. Students are required to complete four terms of teaching. This requirement is fulfilled in the second and third years. Students may also serve as a graduate research assistant at either the Yale University Art Gallery or the Yale Center for British Art. This can be accepted in lieu of one or two terms of teaching, but students may accept a graduate research assistant position at any time after the end of their first year. Application for these R.A. positions is competitive.

Combined Ph.D. Programs

History of Art and African American Studies

The Department of the History of Art offers, in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies, a combined Ph.D. in History of Art and African American Studies. Students in the combined-degree program must take five courses in African American Studies as part of the required twelve courses and are subject to the language requirement for the Ph.D. in History of Art. The dissertation prospectus and the dissertation itself must be approved by both History of Art and African American Studies. For further details, see African American Studies.

History of Art and Early Modern Studies

The Department of the History of Art offers, in conjunction with the Early Modern Studies Program, a combined Ph.D. in the History of Art and Early Modern Studies. For further details, see Early Modern Studies.

History of Art and English

The Department of the History of Art also offers, in conjunction with the Department of English Language and Literature, a combined Ph.D. degree in History of Art and English Language and Literature. The requirements are designed to emphasize the interdisciplinarity of the combined degree program.

Course work In years one and two, a student in the combined program will complete sixteen courses: ten seminars in English, including The Teaching of English (ENGL 990) and one course in each of four historical periods (Medieval, Renaissance, eighteenth–nineteenth century, twentieth–twenty-first century), and six in History of Art, including HSAR 500 and one course outside the student’s core area. Up to two cross-listed seminars may count toward the number in both units, reducing the total number of courses to fourteen.

Languages Two languages pertinent to the student’s field of study, to be determined and by agreement with the advisers and directors of graduate studies. Normally the language requirement will be satisfied by passing a translation exam administered by one of Yale’s language departments. One examination must be passed during the first year of study, the other by the end of the third year.

Qualifying paper History of Art requires a qualifying paper in the spring term of the second year. The paper must demonstrate original research, a logical conceptual structure, stylistic lucidity, and the ability to successfully complete a Ph.D. dissertation. The qualifying paper will be evaluated by two professors from History of Art and one professor from English.

Qualifying examination Written exam: addressing a question or questions having to do with a broad state-of-the-field or historiographic topic. Three hours, closed book, written by hand or on a non-networked computer. Oral exam: given one week after the written exam, covering six fields, including three in English (question periods of twenty minutes each, covering thirty texts each, representing three distinct fields of literary history) and three in History of Art (twenty-five minutes each, fields to be agreed on in advance with advisers and DGS). Exam lists will be developed by the student in consultation with faculty examiners.

Teaching Two years of teaching—one course per term in years three and four—are required: two in English (up to two sections per course) and two in History of Art.

Prospectus The dissertation prospectus must be approved by both English and History of Art. The colloquium will take place in the spring term of the third year of study. The committee will include at least one faculty member from each department. As is implied by its title, the colloquium is not an examination, but a meeting during which the student can present ideas to a faculty committee and receive advice from its members. The colloquium should be jointly chaired by the directors of graduate studies of both departments.

First chapter reading Students will participate in a first chapter reading (also known as a first chapter conference) normally within a year of advancing to candidacy (spring term of year four). The dissertation committee, including faculty members from both programs, will discuss the progress of the student’s work in a seminar-style format.

Dissertation defense The hour-long defense is a serious intellectual conversation between the student and the committee. Present at the defense will be the student’s advisers, committee, and the directors of graduate studies in both English and History of Art; others may be invited to comment after the committee’s questioning is completed.

History of Art and Film and Media Studies

The Department of the History of Art offers, in conjunction with the Film and Media Studies Program, a combined Ph.D. in the History of Art and Film and Media Studies. Students are required to meet all departmental requirements, but many courses may count toward completing both degrees at the discretion of the directors of graduate studies in History of Art and Film and Media Studies. For further details, see Film and Media Studies.

The Center for the Study of American Art and Material Culture

The Center for the Study of American Art and Material Culture provides a programmatic link among the Yale faculty, museum professionals, and graduate students who maintain a scholarly interest in the study, analysis, and interpretation of American art and material culture. It brings together colleagues from a variety of disciplines—from History of Art and American Studies to Anthropology, Archaeological Studies, and Earth and Planetary Sciences—and from some of Yale’s remarkable museum collections, from the Art Gallery and Peabody Museum to Beinecke Library. Center activities will focus upon one particular theme each year and will include hosting one or more visiting American Art and Material Culture Fellows to teach a course each term and interact with Yale colleagues; weekly lunch meetings in which a member makes a short presentation centered on an artifact or group of artifacts followed by lively discussion about methodology, interpretation, and context; and an annual three-day Yale-Smithsonian Seminar on Material Culture.

Master’s Degrees

M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.

M.A. Students who withdraw from the Ph.D. program may be eligible to receive the M.A. degree if they have met the requirements and have not already received the M.Phil. degree. For the M.A., students must successfully complete eight term courses and have proficiency in one required foreign language. Candidates in combined programs will be awarded the M.A. only when the master’s degree requirements for both programs have been met.

Program materials are available online at http://arthistory.yale.edu.


HSAR 500a, First-Year ColloquiumCecile Fromont

The focus of the first-year colloquium is to analyze and critique the history of art history and its methodology from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The seminar discusses foundational texts as well as new methods relevant to the study of the history of art and architecture today, notably those concerned with issues of race, gender, and representation. It also engages with debates about museums and the ethics of collecting and display. The seminar is structured around selected readings and includes workshops with guest speakers. It also includes an option to conduct in-person research in the Yale University Art Gallery.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 529a / AMST 630a / RLST 819a, Museums and Religion: the Politics of Preservation and DisplaySally Promey

This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on the tangled relations of religion and museums, historically and in the present. What does it mean to “exhibit religion” in the institutional context of the museum? What practices of display might one encounter for this subject? What kinds of museums most frequently invite religious display? How is religion suited (or not) for museum exhibition and museum education? Permission of the instructor required; qualified undergraduates are welcome.  
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 536a, ScaleJoanna Fiduccia

Art history has conventionally maintained a curious “scale blindness”—a cultivated insensibility to the influence of scale on the operations of perception and the work of interpretation. We are often similarly blind when it comes to scaling technologies woven into art history’s basic practices, from the slide lecture to the textbook’s reproductions. This course brings the subject into focus by examining theories of scale alongside recent art historical writing. We ask: Is an artwork’s relation to scale different from other objects’? How have technologies of scaling, from photography to GIS mapping, confronted the materiality of artworks? How have theories of scale in other disciplines informed our descriptions of the scale of artworks? And how does the attempt to conduct art history at a “global scale” expose the cultural and ideological specificity of scale?
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 542b, Global Materiality of ColorQuincy Ngan

This seminar explores a global phenomenon wherein color makes meaning beyond sheer coloration and complements the function and meaning of artworks, inseparable from their conceptual properties. The seminar has two fundamentally different but reciprocal inquiries. The first is to study how pigments and dyes entangle with the wider world, reconstructing the history of their production and circulation along with the worldview of minerals and dyes in a given civilization. This inquiry leads to a better understanding of the history of trade, economy, science, medicine, chemistry, technology, and culture. The second inquiry, which fundamentally concerns art historians, studies how the production and circulation of pigments and dyes, as well as views on the material, permeate the conceptual property of artworks, such as paintings and murals, and colored objects, such as textiles and sculptures. Together, we explore the multivalent significance of colors—cochineal, indigo, Maya blue, malachite, azurite, lapis lazuli, and gold—across cultures. For the final paper, students write about the materiality of color in their own field. Major texts include Pigments and Power in the Andes (2011), Colors Between Two Worlds (2011), The Materiality of Color (2012), Colour, Art, and Empire (2013), A Red Like No Other (2015), Color in Ancient and Medieval East Asia (2015), Color in the Age of Impressionism (2017), and Colour and Light in Ancient and Medieval Art (2018).
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 551b, Art. Race. Violence.Cecile Fromont

This seminar investigates the many entanglements between art, race, and violence in the early modern Atlantic world and the long shadow these entanglements have cast on the contemporary era. Readings, class discussions, assignments, and invited speakers address topics such as racial construction in colonial Latin America; the visual culture of slavery; race and the advent of photography; the memorialization of slavery and colonialism; and race, piety, and aesthetics.
M 9:25am-11:15am

HSAR 553a, Embodied Artisanal KnowledgeEdward Cooke

The development and transmission of knowledge during the early modern European world has lately been a dynamic subject of scholarly inquiry. Much of this work has focused upon the work of royal academies’ explorations of natural philosophy and the mechanical arts. This seminar seeks to move beyond that narrow geographic focus and descriptive taxonomies to consider embodied artisanal knowledge throughout the world in the period from 1500 to 1800. As Tim Ingold reminds us, embodied knowledge is a skilled, socially generated practice distinct from the innate talents of mechanical execution. It is a cognitive skill that prizes resourcefulness; efficiency of effort; and informed, intensive use of tools. This tacit knowledge, the intellect of the hand, is experienced and felt rather than written about and illustrated. Making things depends upon constant attention to the transmission of ideas from brain to hand and from tool to material, with feedback channeled back through the tool to the body and mind of the maker. This seminar  combines reading, object-driven inquiry, and hands-on exercises to explore the role of materials, techniques, and human agency in the making of objects. Students expand their own approaches to the study of artisans and objects from many periods and places.
W 9:25am-11:15am

HSAR 565b, The Media of Architecture and the Architecture of MediaCraig Buckley

Architecture’s capacity to represent a world and to intervene in the world has historically depended on techniques of visualization. This seminar draws on a range of media theoretical approaches to examine the complex and historically layered repertoire of visual techniques within which architecture operates. We approach architecture not as an autonomous entity reproduced by media, but as a cultural practice advanced and debated through media and mediations of various kinds (visual, social, material, and financial). If questions of media have played a key role in architectural theory and history over the past three decades, recent scholarship in the field of media theory has insisted on the architectural, infrastructural, and environmental dimensions of media. The seminar is organized around nine operations whose technical and historical status will be examined through concrete examples. To do so, the seminar presents a range of differing approaches to media and reflects on their implications for architectural and spatial practices today. Key authors include Giuliana Bruno, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Beatriz Colomina, Robin Evans, Friedrich Kittler, Bruno Latour, Reinhold Martin, Shannon Mattern, Marshall McLuhan, Felicity Scott, and Bernhard Siegert, among others.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 584a / MDVL 955a, The Cult of Saints in Early Christianity and the Middle AgesVasileios Marinis and Felicity Harley

For all its reputed (and professed) disdain of the corporeal and earthly, Christianity lavished considerable attention and wealth on the material dimension of sainthood and the “holy” during its formative periods in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Already in the second century Christian communities accorded special status to a select few “friends of God,” primarily martyrs put to death during Roman persecutions. Subsequently the public and private veneration of saints and their earthly remains proliferated, intensified, and became an intrinsic aspect of Christian spirituality and life in both East and West until the Reformation. To do so, it had to gradually develop a theology to accommodate everything from fingers of saints to controversial and miracle-working images. This course investigates the theology, origins, and development of the cult of saints in early Christianity and the Middle Ages with special attention to its material manifestations. The class combines the examination of thematic issues, such as pilgrimage and the use and function of reliquaries (both portable and architectural), with a focus on such specific cases as the evolution of the cult of the Virgin Mary.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 646a, Readings in Art and EmpireTim Barringer

This course encourages students to engage with recent thinking on questions of art and empire and to mobilize decolonial methodologies in a research project relating to a specific object in Yale’s collections. The first half of the term is spent discussing key texts, beginning with Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s Potential History (2019), John Giblin et al “Dismantling the Master’s House” (2019), and “Decolonizing Art and Empire” by Charlene Villaseñor Black and Tim Barringer (2022). It looks at the possibilities for new studies of art and empire that undermine, rather than replicating imperial structures of power and knowledge. Issues under discussion include slavery and representation, indigeneity and art history, orientalism, theories of hybridity, the colonial uncanny, the representation of landscape and the body in the colony, and science and visual representation. Particular attention is paid to recent work on the British Empire as manifest in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art. The curriculum is shaped to accommodate the research interests of the seminar’s members (to include any and all empires across space and time); in the second half of the term students develop a research paper, generating a methodological approach for the analysis of a single object in Yale’s collections.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 678b / ENGL 830b, Portraiture and Character from Hogarth to WoolfRuth Yeazell

Case studies in the visual and verbal representation of persons in Anglo-American painting and fiction, with particular attention to novels that themselves include portraits or address relations between the two media. Novelists tentatively include Henry Fielding, Jane Austen, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf. Painters include William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Lawrence, James McNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Vanessa Bell. Selected readings in recent theories of fictional character and in the history and theory of portraiture. Whenever possible, we draw on paintings in Yale’s collections.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 716b / AMST 716b / ANTH 769b / ARCG 769b, Landscapes of Meaning: Museums and Their ObjectsAnne Underhill

This seminar explores how museums convey various meanings about ethnographic, art, and archaeological objects through the processes of collecting, preparing exhibitions, and conducting research. Participants also discuss broader theoretical and methodological issues such as the roles of museums in society, relationships with source communities, management of cultural heritage, and various specializations valuable for careers in art, natural history, anthropology, history, and other museums.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 746a, Research Seminar in the Art of the AmericasAllison Caplan

This graduate seminar provides a forum for participants to workshop issues surrounding research and publishing, particularly as they relate to art historical research on the Americas. Topics covered are shaped by participants’ specific interests but may include archival and museum-based research, early modern paleography, and approaches to publishing scholarly articles and books.
T 9:25am-11:15am

HSAR 783a / EMST 748a, Circa 1600Kishwar Rizvi

This seminar focuses on the art , architecture, and urbanism of early modern empires across West, Central and South Asia, namely, the Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal, and Shibanid, and their political and economic ties across the world. The year 1600 is an important temporal hinge, at the height of socio-political migrations and before the realization of full-scale European colonial ambitions. It is also the period of absolutism and millenarian activity, of slavery and the novel, and the institution of new religious and ethnic allegiances. In this manner art and architectural history served at the nexus of commensurability and competition, where artists, merchants, and missionaries crossed geographic and disciplinary borders in order to imagine a new world and their place within it.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

HSAR 841a and HSAR 842b / ANTH 963a and ANTH 964b / HIST 963a and HIST 964b / HSHM 691a and HSHM 692b, Topics in the Environmental HumanitiesPaul Sabin and Sunil Amrith

This is the required workshop for the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Humanities. The workshop meets six times per term to explore concepts, methods, and pedagogy in the environmental humanities, and to share student and faculty research. Each student pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Humanities must complete both a fall term and a spring term of the workshop, but the two terms of student participation need not be consecutive. The fall term each year emphasizes key concepts and major intellectual currents. The spring term each year emphasizes pedagogy, methods, and public practice. Specific topics vary each year. Students who have previously enrolled in the course may audit the course in a subsequent year. This course does not count toward the coursework requirement in history. Open only to students pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Environmental Humanities.  ½ Course cr per term
T 5:30pm-7:20pm