Students who wish to become candidates for the degree with honors must show prior evidence of superior performance in the major as well as research capabilities to carry out the proposed project.
To graduate with honors in art history, students are to enroll in the Senior Honors Seminar (ArtH 494) during the Spring semester of their senior year, where they will develop an original research paper (completed in a prior course or an independent study). To be admitted to the seminar, students must submit their original research paper to the Art Department’s Administrative Assistant in Spencer no later than the end of the exam period of the Fall semester. The paper must be properly formatted and include both illustrations and bibliography. It must additionally include an abstract of not more than 250 words.
Students must also secure an academic advisor for their project and complete the advising Agreement Form (available from the Art Department’s Administrative Assistant) by the end of the exam period of the Fall semester. This form serves to verify: a) your advisor’s support of your project, and b) your advisor’s approval of your plans for Winter Study. Students should plan to dedicate Winter Study to work on their thesis project and, to this end, they should enroll in ARTH 31 immediately after (but not before) notification of admission into ARTH 494. (To avoid problems should they not be admitted to ARTH 494, students should pre-register in another Winter Study course). Because faculty are not usually available during this period, it is very important for students to plan, together with their advisors, a work schedule for Winter Study with concrete goals.
Admission to the Senior Honors Seminar will be determined by the instructor of the seminar, in consultation with the Art Department faculty. The important criteria for admission are: 1) the quality, originality, and potential of the research pa per on which the thesis project will be based; 2) the availability of a suitable advisor for the project, and the commitment of that advisor to supervise the work during the Spring term; 3) strong past performance in the art history route to the Major; 4) completion of ARTH 301 by the time of the application (exceptions to this rule must be granted beforehand by the chair of the Department).
In early January, the instructor will notify students of their admission to the Honors Seminar. Since enrollment is by invitation only, students should pre-register for four classes in the Spring semester. If invited to join the seminar, students should then drop one of those courses and add the Honors Seminar during drop-add period. The Honors Seminar is to be taken in addition to the nine required courses for the art history route to the Major. Once in the seminar, students will revise, refine, and expand on previous research and produce a paper of approximately 25 pages. At the end of the semester, they will present a shortened version of the paper to the faculty and public at the Williams College Museum of Art.
Studio Art majors who wish to be candidates for honors are required to take an extra Studio course, of their choosing, for a total of ten courses. One of those courses must be the Senior Seminar (ARTS 418). Students must also take the Honors Independent Study course during Winter Study of their senior year. Feedback on the progress of the honors project will be provided by the Studio Art faculty at the end of Winter Study.
Honors candidates enrolled in the Senior Seminar must demonstrate prior experience in the media chosen for the honors work. This may consist of one or more 200-level courses in the media, course work at the 300-level, and/or a portfolio demonstrating the student’s proficiency in the media chosen. This work is presented to the instructor of the senior Seminar at the start of the spring semester. At the end of the spring semester of senior year, honors candidates will orally defend their work in the senior exhibition at WCMA. The entire Studio Art faculty will attend each defense. Based on the work and the oral defense, the Studio Art faculty, as a whole, will designate honors, high honors, or no honors.
History and Studio
History & Studio majors may pursue either the Studio Art or Art History route to honors, or, alternatively, pursue honors through an Independent Study project. At the end of fall term, senior year, a candidate for honors in History & Studio makes a proposal to two faculty members, one faculty advisor from each wing of the department. If both advisors agree to supervise the project, the candidate with an Art History research paper applies to participate in ARTH 494, the Senior Honors Seminar (also known as the “Thesis Seminar”). If accepted, the student researches and writes the thesis during Winter Study and Spring semester of the senior year. History and Studio students whose honors projects have a Studio emphasis have the opportunity to take the Senior Tutorial (ARTS 418), with permission of the instructor, and to participate in the senior Studio exhibition. Alternatively, a student may propose an Independent Study honors project to be pursued during Winter Study and the Spring semester under the guidance of the two advisors.
The review process for the honors candidates in the senior seminars will proceed according to the regular honors process for the respective wing of the Art Department and will include both advisors. If the honors project is conducted via an Independent Study, the final project is submitted to the two advisors who will determine whether or not it will receive honors.