Department of Fine Arts

Guidelines for Honors in Art History

Honors in Art History

Honors in Art History provides the opportunity to do independent work on a topic of your choosing and to shape the culmination of your academic experience. To complete honors, you will write an honors thesis, a multiple chapter study that grows out of researching, analyzing, thinking, and writing about art you love and questions you decide are most important. After having taken courses designed by the art history faculty, the honors experience is your chance to take control, to explore issues you deem important and art that you care about. The process starts toward the end of your junior year, when you select a general subject area and an advisor. At that point, you create a plan to do primary research in archives, on-site, and in-person. With the bulk of this research completed as senior year begins, you start to write, crafting a focused argument and a substantial piece of art historical scholarship from your previously completed research. Throughout your year, you meet regularly with a primary advisor and check in with secondary advisors as you work through your ideas and develop your own writing and research practice. At the end of the process, the thesis is presented to three readers who ask questions and engage you in a serious conversation about your work.

Honors Thesis Guidelines

  1. Three semesters before graduation, decide if you would like to pursue writing a thesis. Initiate discussions with the faculty member whose subfields most interests you to generate a topic and to request that they serve as principal advisor for the thesis. At the end of this semester, usually the spring of junior year, you begin your primary research.
  2. At the start of the final year at Brandeis, you prepare a proposal consisting of an abstract detailing the thesis topic, an outline projecting the chapters and subsections of the thesis, and an initial bibliography indicating primary and secondary sources that will provide the foundation of the research. The thesis advisor will present the proposal to the full department and upon satisfactory review you enroll in FA96. At this point, a thesis committee of the thesis advisor and two additional readers will be formed.
  3. Throughout the first semester of FA96, you develop with your thesis advisor a working plan for completing the thesis. You begin writing, revising, and refining the outline and further developing the bibliography. By the end of the first semester of FA96, you submit a bibliography, detailed outline of thesis, and one or more chapters depending on the student's individualized working plan. These materials as well as the writing process throughout the semester will be reviewed by the thesis advisor to determine semester one grade.
  4. At the end of FA96, the thesis advisor in consultation with the thesis committee and the Art History Chair will determine if you continue into the second semester of the honors program. If the decision is made to stop the project at this point, FA96 will stand as an Independent Study and you will not receive honors.
  5. In the final semester of honors, the remaining chapters are written, to be completed in draft form by the halfway point of the semester. A final draft of the thesis is due to the thesis advisor roughly 5 weeks before the end of the semester.
  6. Oral presentation (defense) of the thesis before the honors committee takes place at the beginning of finals week. At the close of the presentation, the committee meets and makes a recommendation for and level of honors (Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors). You are told at the defense whether they will be receiving honors and the level is announced at graduation.

Check out the schedule for art history honors this year!