Academic program

The department offers courses in studio practice and in the study of the intersecting categories of art, architecture, visual culture, and material culture, from the distant past to the present. This study also provides insights into intellectual currents, religious doctrines and practices, and social institutions, with attention to issues of class, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Studio art involves the integration of traditional disciplines and methods with contemporary practices and the study of visual culture.

The major offers two tracks: one, in history and criticism; the other, in studio art. Students intending to study abroad must discuss fulfillment of major requirements with their advisor and the department chair in advance. Students planning graduate study in architecture, landscape architecture, or design are advised to confer with the department chair early in their college career in order to plan appropriate undergraduate programs.

More information on the Department of Art and Visual Culture is available on the website (

Major Requirements for Studio Art. Prospective majors should meet with the art and visual culture faculty as first-year students. The major in studio art includes eleven courses:

1) A minimum of five studio courses, though majors are encouraged to take at least one studio course each semester. Studio majors must take at least one studio course in their junior year. The preponderance of studio major requirements should be completed prior to beginning a studio thesis. Where available, studio majors must complete at least two sequential courses in one medium (e.g., Photography I and II) before their senior year.

Students may take some courses for a second time with permission of the instructor by enrolling in the B/II section of a course with the same number (e.g., AVC 214B, Painting: Pictorial Structure II).

2) At least one studio Short Term course.

Among the five courses and the Short term course, studio majors must take one of the following, though are strongly encouraged to take both:
AVC 350. Visual Meaning I, which may be taken before or during the senior thesis.
AVC s34A. Building a Studio Practice I, which must be taken before the senior thesis.

3) A minimum of three courses in the history of art and visual culture, distributed across a variety of cultures and time periods and including one course in recent art and visual culture.

4) Both of the following:
AVC 457A. Senior Thesis: Studio Art (fall).
AVC 458A. Senior Thesis: Studio Art (winter).
The senior thesis must be undertaken in consecutive semesters during the senior year.

Study Abroad/Studio Art. Studio majors intending to study abroad must consult with the department well in advance. In most cases, the department advises students who wish to study abroad to do so for only one semester. Students usually apply one studio course and one course in the history of art and visual culture taken abroad toward the major requirements. Studio courses taken abroad in fulfillment of major requirements should correspond to the studio curriculum offered at Bates.

The [W3] Requirement. Though in most disciplines, the senior thesis fulfills the third-level [W3] writing requirement for General Education, the senior thesis for the studio track in art and visual culture does not fulfill this requirement. Majors in the studio track fulfill their [W3] requirement by completing a [W2] course in any department or program during their senior year, which may include one of the three art history and criticism courses required for the studio major. Most studio majors who double major fulfill the [W3]
requirement by completing the senior thesis in the second major.

Major Requirements for the History and Criticism of Art and Visual Culture. The major in the history andcriticism of art and visual culture includes a minimum of eleven courses:

1) AVC 374. Methods in the Study of Art and Visual Culture, which should be taken no later than the fall of junior year.

2) Eight additional courses in history and criticism of art and visual culture. The courses must be distributed across a variety of cultures and time periods. Adequate distribution is determined in conjunction with the student's departmental advisor, who must approve the student's course of study.

Some designated Short Term courses in the history and criticism of art and visual culture may be counted among these ten courses with the permission of the department.

Students who wish to continue in the history and criticism of art and/or visual culture studies at the graduate level and are strongly advised to enroll in upper-level seminars such as:
AVC 375. Issues of Sexuality and the Study of Visual Culture.
AVC 376. Seminar in Medieval and Renaissance Art.
AVC 377. Seminar in Architectural History.
AVC 390. Seminar in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Art.

Upon petition to the department, courses taught in other departments and programs and the following first-year seminars may be counted toward the major in art and visual culture:
FYS 135. Women in Art.
FYS 177. Sex and Sexualities.
FYS 266. Fakers, Forgers, Looters, Thieves.

3) One studio course; history and criticism majors are advised to take their studio course before their senior year.

4) AVC 457 or 458. Senior Thesis: History and Criticism. Topics for theses are subject to departmental approval. The opportunity to undertake an honors thesis is completely at the discretion of the departmental faculty.

Students who plan graduate study in the history and criticism of art and/or visual culture should develop a reading knowledge of French and German.

Study Abroad/ History and Criticism. The department advises history and criticism majors who wish to study abroad to do so for only one semester. Generally only two courses taken abroad can be applied toward fulfilling the requirements for the major.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may be elected for courses applied toward the major except for AVC 360, 361, 374, 457, and 458.