Go for gold—consider pursuing an independent study or honors project in a topic that interests you.
Art history majors and minors may pursue independent projects for regular course credit. Working with a faculty member, students have designed courses of study that allow them to read widely in an area not covered in the current curriculum or to pursue a topic from their formal coursework in greater depth. Independent work can sometimes form the basis for an honors thesis.
Who May Apply?
Permission to try for honors in art history is reserved for students with distinguished academic records in the department. To earn honors, a student must produce a substantial paper that reflects serious scholarship and makes an original contribution to knowledge in the field.
Students who seek honors should be working in an area previously studied in a course, and with an art history faculty advisor with whom the student has already worked. The advisor should have a background in the chosen area of study strong enough to oversee the proposed project.
Students who may need some financial assistance in completing the honors thesis should make this need known to the faculty member supervising the honors project.
Recent honors theses have included studies of a Renaissance book of hours in the Bowdoin College Special Collections, avant-garde Japanese calligraphy, Berthe Morisot's portraits, Yves Tanguy's late work, and Orozco's murals.
Honors projects must be approved by the full art history faculty and carried out according to the following schedule:
On or before the last day of the third week of classes in the fall semester, the student must submit to all art history faculty a formal proposal including:
a written description of the project which specifies both the topic to be addressed and the approach to be used
a preliminary bibliography
the name of an advisor.
Proposals will be reviewed for preliminary approval. Submission of a proposal does not automatically lead to admission to the Honors Program. Students whose proposals are approved may continue to the next stage.
On or before the last day of classes in the fall semester the student must submit to all art history faculty:
an abstract of his/her thesis
a detailed outline of the paper
a draft of a substantive section (or a chapter) of the essay
an annotated bibliography
any other work required by the advisor
After having read and commented on this material, the art history faculty will meet with the student. They will then make a recommendation by the end of the semester as to whether the project should continue into the second semester as a projected Honors Project. Alternatively, the faculty may suggest that the project proceed as an independent study.
A student who fails to meet the fall semester deadlines will no longer be eligible for honors.
An honors student should be prepared to devote considerable time during the entire spring semester to writing and revising the honors paper. The student will be expected to meet a series of firm deadlines (to be determined by the advisor) for the submission of draft sections or chapters throughout the month of February. By the third week in March, the student is required to submit a completed, revised draft of the entire project to the advisor. In April, the student will revise the project a final time.
The deadline for submission of a completed honors thesis is three weeks before the last day of classes in the term in which the student expects to graduate. At that time, the student should make available to the faculty at least two copies of the thesis, each copy fully illustrated. Illustrations may be in the form of photographs or machine-made copies of good quality. The proper form of the thesis is described in a memo from the Office of Student Records and the Library.
Once the honors thesis has been submitted to the department, the student's advisor will schedule a final honors conference, at which the student and members of the faculty will have the opportunity to review the honors project and discuss the thesis.
The writing of an honors thesis does not automatically lead to the granting of honors. An honors designation at Commencement will be based on the department's evaluation of the quality of the honors thesis and on the student's overall performance in courses in art history. Art history awards only one level of honors for successful projects.