History of Art and Architecture

The concentration in History of Art and Architecture introduces students to the history of art, architecture, and visual culture. Students in HIAA explore Western and non-Western areas ranging over a wide period of time (Ancient, Medieval, Islamic, East Asian, Latin American, Early Modern, Modern/ Contemporary). Concentrators often focus on a particular period (e.g. ancient, modern architecture), a particular branch of the field (e.g. urbanism), or a methodology (e.g. semiotics, critical interpretation, archaeology), but students may choose to create their own program of study. Concentrators will receive essential training in perceptual, historical, and critical analysis. Concentrators often study abroad for first-hand knowledge of works of art and monuments as well as for exposure to foreign languages and cultures. Because foreign language skills are essential for pursuing art historical studies in a professional environment or in graduate school, HIAA requires two years of foreign language study.

History of Art and Architecture Requirements

To complete the concentration, you will be expected to take a minimum of ten courses (11 for honors). Our goal in setting out these requirements is to welcome students into a lively and diverse department that also shares a cohesive and strong commitment to the field. We as a faculty want students to cultivate their special interests and also to venture into areas that may not be so familiar but that will open new and exciting possibilities for them. Ten courses are only the minimum requirement. Beyond that students are encouraged to take courses at RISD, participate in study abroad programs, and take courses in other Brown departments. As we are a truly interdisciplinary department, you will also find that our faculty collaborates with members of other departments to teach courses that bring together the strengths of different disciplines. We encourage both experimentation and concentration.

Our general survey in history of art and architecture (HIAA 0010) is an excellent foundation for the concentration. It is not a prerequisite for taking other lecture courses but you can count it as one of the 4 non-core courses required for the concentration (see below for core and non-core courses).

Since the history of art and architecture addresses issues of practice within specific historical contexts, concentrators are encouraged to take at least 1 studio art course. Courses in history also train students in methods and approaches that are highly relevant to the history of art and architecture. Study abroad can be a valuable enrichment of the academic work available on campus, in that it offers opportunities for first-hand knowledge of works of art and monuments as well as providing exposure to foreign languages and cultures. Study abroad should be planned in consultation with the concentration advisor in order to make sure that foreign course work will relate meaningfully to the concentrator's program of study.

Four core general lecture courses, numbered HIAA 0020 - HIAA 0940. The courses should be distributed between three of the seven available areas of the discipline: Ancient; Medieval; Islamic; East Asian; Latin American; Early Modern (ca. 1400-1800); Modern, Contemporary 14
Two core seminar courses, numbered between HIAA 1040 and HIAA 1890 12
Four elective courses. These can include courses taught in the department, cross-listed courses from other departments, or courses in other departments approved by the concentration advisor. HIAA 0010 may count as one of these courses but cannot count as one of the four core lecture courses. Students are encouraged to take a studio class as part of this requirement. 24
Total Credits10
1

 The six core lecture and seminar courses must be taken in the History of Art and Architecture department and cannot be replaced with independent study, honors thesis or classes taken in other departments, universities, or high schools.

2

 A maximum of two (2) credits may be allowed for courses taken at other universities (transfer credits or from study abroad) or courses that also count toward a second concentration. No concentration credit will be granted for AP/A-level scores, or for language classes. 

Architectural Studies Track

The Optional Architectural Studies track within the History of Art and Architecture concentration blends a variety of disciplines toward the study of buildings and the built environment. The concentration prepares students for the continued study of architecture and the history of architecture in graduate school as well as careers in related areas such as urban studies.

Because the architectural studies program was especially designed for students wishing to gain greater experience in the practical skills necessary for a career in architecture or a related field, concentrators are required to take a course in design from the Visual Arts Department, the Rhode Island School of Design or an introduction to architectural design, theatre set design at Brown University.

Four lecture courses. These courses will be numbered between HIAA 0020 and HIAA 0940 and will be marked with an "A" in the course description. The courses must be distributed over three of seven areas in architectural history: Ancient; Medieval; Islamic; East Asian; Latin American; Early Modern (ca. 1400-1800); Modern/Contemporary.4
One seminar or independent study in architectural history, numbered between HIAA 1100 and HIAA 1890, and marked with an "A" in the course description. 11
A project seminar from the HIAA 1910 series. This must be taken in the junior or senior year. 1, 21
One studio art course in design 31
Three elective courses. These can include other courses taught in the History of Art and Architecture department and cross-listed courses in other departments that are petinent to architectural studies. They may also include a select number of non-cross-listed courses approved by the concentration advisor. 4, 53
Total Credits10
1

 The two seminars cannot be replaced with independent study, honors thesis, or classes taken in other departments or universities. 

2

 In years where no project seminar is offered, any seminar that qualifies for architectural studies can become the starting point for a senior project.

3

 The studio course may be taken at Brown, RISD, Harvard Career Discovery and similar six week + summer programs.

4

 The non-cross-listed courses include but are not limited to MATH 0090, MATH 0100, PHYS 0030, PHYS 0040, ENGN 0030, Urban Studies and Engineering courses, and scenic design and technical production courses offered by the department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. 

5

 A maximum of two credits may be awarded for courses taken at other universities or for courses that count toward a second concentration.  No concentration credit is awarded for high school AP/A-level courses or for language courses.

The below pertains to ALL concentrators in the department:

Language Requirement

You will be expected to demonstrate reading proficiency in a language other than English. By learning the language of another culture you will gain a deeper understanding of its art, literature and history. Aside from this, knowledge of a foreign language will equip you with a skill essential skill for pursuing art historical studies in a professional environment or graduate school. The requirement can be fulfilled by either passing an 0500 level language course at Brown or by demonstrating an 0500 level reading ability in a placement test administered by Brown University language department (Students who declared their concentration before August 2013 are expected to demonstrate proficiency at the 0400 level). 

Self Assesment

All concentrators are required to write an essay when they file for the concentration that lays out what they expect to gain from the course of study they propose.  All second semester seniors will be required to write a final essay that takes measure of what they have learned from the concentration, including their capstone and other experiences relating to their study of the history of art and architecture. For students doing a capstone, their capstone director will read this essay. A department subcommittee will read essays written by students not electing to do a capstone.  The self-assessment should be turned in with a revised list of courses actually taken and the final paperwork for concentration approval.

Capstone Project

At the beginning of your senior year you will be actively encouraged to propose and undertake a Capstone Project. The Capstone Project is intended to challenge you with an opportunity to synthesize at a high level of achievement the knowledge and understanding you have gained by concentrating in the History of Art and Architecture or Architectural Studies. To propose and work on a Capstone Project you will need the support of a faculty sponsor. Capstone Projects embrace many possibilities. You can perfect a seminar paper in which you have developed a strong interest. You can participate in a graduate seminar to which the instructor has admitted you. You can serve as an undergraduate TA. You can work as an intern in museums and auction houses such as Christie's. You might work on an archaeological excavation. You can participate in the Honors Program. Beyond these opportunities, the Department is open to other approaches. You should work with a faculty sponsor and with the Undergraduate Concentration Advisor to decide what will work best for you.

Honors

The Honors program in History of Art & Architecture and Architectural Studies will be administered as follows: accepted students will sign up for HIAA 1990  in the Fall and in the Spring. In the Fall, students will meet regularly with the whole Honors group and HIAA faculty to discuss methodology and general research and writing questions. In the Spring, students will continue to meet to present their research in progress to each other for comment and feedback. They will also be meeting regularly with their advisors and second readers throughout the year. Finished drafts of the thesis (which will generally be no more than 30-35 pages in length (exceptions to be determined in consultation with the instructor), not counting bibliography and visual materials) will be due to the advisor and second reader on April 1 of the Spring semester. Comments will be returned to the students for final corrections at that point. There will be a public presentation of the Honors work at the end of the Spring semester.

Students wishing to write an honors thesis should have an 'A' average in the concentration. It is advisable for them to have taken at least one seminar in the department and written a research paper before choosing to undertake a thesis. While acceptance into the Honors program depends on the persuasiveness of the thesis topic as well as the number of students applying, students may refine their proposals by speaking in advance with potential advisors. No honors student may take more than four classes either semester of their senior year-- being considered one of your four classes. Students who are expecting to graduate in the middle of the year are encouraged to discuss a different capstone project with individual advisors or the concentration advisor.

Honors Application Process

During the second semester of the junior year all concentrators will be invited to apply for admission to the Honor Program in History of Art and Architecture and Architectural Studies.

Admission to the Honors Program

  1. To be admitted to the Honors Program you should have produced consistently excellent work and maintained a high level of achievement in all your concentration course. You should have earned an A grade in most of your concentration courses.
  2. The key project for honors is to write an honors thesis. When you apply for admission you will be asked to submit a proposal of no more than two double-spaced pages that states the topic (subject and argument) of the research to be undertaken as clearly as possible, and add a one-page bibliography of the most relevant books and major articles to be consulted for the project. This three page application should be submitted, along with a resumé and a printout of the student's most recent available transcript and submitted to the Department with a short cover letter stating who you feel the most appropriate advisor and second readers are for the thesis and why, and what your preparation is for this project. Clarity and brevity are considered persuasive virtues in this process. Applicants will be notified about the success of their applications at the end of the semester.
  3. For admission to the Honor Program you must include with your proposal a letter of support from a faculty member of the History of Art and Architecture Department who has agreed to serve as your thesis advisor. You should discuss the thesis topic with your advisor before you submit your proposal. During the process of researching and writing you will meet regularly with your advisor to discuss your work.

Writing the Honors Thesis

  1. If you are accepted into the Honors Program you will register for HIAA 1990 during the two semesters when you are working on a thesis. This is a seminar led by the Department Undergraduate Concentration Advisor in which all honors students meet once a month to present the current progress of their work. It is a valuable opportunity to share ideas and receive feedback from your fellow honors students and faculty alike. The honors seminar also offers a practical framework around which you can organize the progress of your work.
  2. You will meet regularly with your thesis advisor and with a second reader to develop your ideas and writing.
  3. Finished drafts of the thesis, which will generally be no more than 30-35 pages in length (exceptions to be determined in consultation with the instructor), not counting bibliography and visual materials, will be due to the advisor and second reader by April 1 of the Spring semester or by November 1 of the Fall semester if you plan on graduating in December. Comments will be returned to the students for final corrections at that point. There will be a public presentation of the Honors work at the end of the Spring semester.