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Emory Art History Phd Dissertation

Mission / Role / Scope

The Art History Department studies the forms, functions, meanings, and theoretical underpinnings of the visual arts, broadly construed to encompass such activities as performance, construction, and installation as well as painting, sculpture, photography, and architecture.  Our department considers works of art in historically and culturally specific ways, situating them within systems of belief, habits of visual literacy, practices of self-formation, social and political ideologies, patterns of sacred and secular discourse, assumptions about intentionality and authority, and currencies of global and transnational exchange. We comprise four collaborative faculty clusters: Ancient Mediterranean and American; Medieval/Renaissance/Baroque; Modern/Contemporary European, American, and African; and Architectural Studies.  As a department we strive to introduce students to a rich variety of approaches to art and its study, to model for them analytical and critical thinking, and to encourage lucid writing and thoughtful response. At the graduate level, it is our mission to train students in the methods and practices of the field and to prepare them for advanced, artwork-based, interdisciplinary research with a respect for primary evidence and cultural contexts, past and present, so that they can successfully pursue careers in academic or museum work with benefit for the broader community. 


Ancient Mediterranean and American
Gay Robins
Rebecca R. Stone
Eric R. Varner
Bonna Daix Wescoat

Medieval/Renaissance/Baroque
C. Jean Campbell
Sarah McPhee
Walter S. Melion
Elizabeth Carson Pastan

Modern/Contemporary European, American, and African
Christina E. Crawford
Todd Cronan
Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi
Lisa Lee

Architectural Studies
Christina E. Crawford
Sarah McPhee
Bonna Daix Wescoat

Location and History

The Art History Department is housed in Carlos Hall, a building of considerable architectural distinction and one of the original buildings on the campus, designed in 1916 by Beaux Arts architect Henry Hornbostel.  In 1984, Carlos Hall underwent an A.I.A. award-winning renovation by Michael Graves, who later designed the adjacent Michael C. Carlos Museum. After having occupied a house adjacent to the campus since its beginnings, the department moved in 1970 to a temporary World War II-era facility and remained there until November 1984 when it moved into the new facilities. 

The Art History department was founded in 1965 and had three full-time faculty members by 1967-"founding fathers" Thomas Lyman, John Howett, and William Crelly specializing in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Art respectively. Arriving at Emory in 1966, Howett helped develop the Department of Art History and its graduate program, summer-abroad program in Europe, and collection of works of art on paper, which subsequently became part of the University's Michael C. Carlos Museum.  Howett was instrumental in the decision to select Michael Graves as the architect of the Carlos Museum.  In 1991, William Crelly retired, as did John Howett in 1996. All three former colleagues are now deceased: Eheu fugaces labuntur anni.

As the department has grown and added faculty, areas of research have expanded to include the art and archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome; art of the ancient Americas, of Egypt, and of Africa; Northern Renaissance and Baroque art; and modern and contemporary art and architecture.

The first Art History graduate course was offered in 1975, within the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts (ILA).  In the fall of 1977, the department instituted its own two-year M.A. program, consisting mainly of advanced courses and seminars that were also open to undergraduates, with a "fourth hour" offered separately to the M.A. students.  Some of the students who achieved M.A. degrees in Art History during these years went on to earn Ph.D. degrees in the ILA.  The first Ph.D. class was admitted in the fall of 1991, at which point students were no longer accepted for a terminal M.A. degree.  In the spring of 1998, four students comprised our first graduating class with Ph.D.s in Art History.

Download PhD brochure (PDF)

The History Department offers a selective, mid-sized Ph.D. program that combines training in a number of geographic and chronological areas with a stress on cross- cutting comparative, thematic, and interdisciplinary study. We provide rigorous preparation in both historical scholarship and the teaching of history. And we do so within a supportive and collegial academic community--a setting in which students work with leading authorities and are encouraged to learn from one another.

Content of Our Program

Doctoral candidates in History, working in close consultation with the faculty, use our flexible examination structure to shape their specific fields of inquiry, blending concentrations in particular times and places with interests that are more inter-regional and theoretical, and that connect history to other disciplines. The Department's intellectual reach is significantly amplified by strong connections, including joint faculty appointments with such other Emory Departments, Programs, and Schools as African American Studies, African Studies, Art History, the Candler School of Theology, Classics, the Graduate Division of Religion, the Institute of Liberal Arts (including American Studies), Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Law School, Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Among the cross-cutting branches of study in which our faculty have strength and expertise are:

  • Nation and Empire, Colonial and Post-Colonial History

  • Race, Subalternity, and Difference (including differences of gender, ethnicity, and class)

  • Jewish History

  • Slavery, Migration, and Diaspora in Comparative Perspectives

  • Trans-National Histories (including Atlantic World)

  • Religious, Intellectual, and Cultural History

The geographic and chronological areas of faculty strength include: African History, Ancient History, Asian History, Early Modern and Modern European History, Jewish History, Colonial and Modern Latin American History, and the United States.

Support and Intellectual Community

Selected from a pool of 150-200 applicants, the 8-10 students matriculating each year are fully funded with a stipend of at least $24,000, tuition scholarship, and a health insurance subsidy that covers 100% of the cost of Emory's student health insurance for five years, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance. Professional Developlment Support funding from the Laney Graduate School for research, training, and conference attendance is also available. Of particular note are the funds available for research and travel early in a student's career that permit preparation for the dissertation prospectus and facilitate successful application for major external grants.

Besides the financial support they receive, Ph.D. candidates in History benefit from a lively intellectual community. Talks by visiting speakers, locally-based conferences, annual lectureships, and several ongoing colloquium series are all open to graduate students. Acting on their own, History graduate students have formed assorted reading groups and participate in the Graduate History Society. The latter organization serves as liaison between the graduate study body, the Department, and the University. It participates in our student recruitment weekend each spring and maintains an impressive ongoing website.

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