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. Majors emphasizing studio art must take a minimum of three courses in the history of art and visual culture distributed across a variety of cultures and time periods, including one course in recent art and visual culture. Studio majors are encouraged to enroll in at least one studio course each semester, and are required to take a minimum of five studio courses and one Short Term studio course. 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 (for example, Photography I and II) before their senior year. Studio majors are required to take either AVC 350 (Visual Meaning I) or AVC s34A (Building a Studio Practice I). Visual Meaning must be taken before or during the senior thesis, but students should take Building a Studio Practice before the senior thesis. Studio majors are required to take AVC 457A and 458A (Senior Thesis) consecutively in the fall and winter semesters of their senior year, for a minimum total of eleven courses. 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. 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, for example AVC 214B (Painting: Pictorial Structure II).

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. Majors emphasizing the history and criticism of art and visual culture must take one studio course (any studio course is acceptable; students are advised to take their studio course before their senior year); AVC 374 (history and criticism majors are advised to take 374 no later than the fall of junior year if possible); and eight additional courses in history and criticism of art and visual culture for a total of at least ten courses. 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. The department advises students 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. 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. In addition, students are required to write a senior thesis (457B or 458B). 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 wish to continue in the history and criticism of art and/or visual culture studies at the graduate level should obtain a reading knowledge of French and German, and are strongly advised to enroll in upper-level seminars such as 375, 376, 377, 380, or 390. Upon petition to the department, FYS 135, 177, and 266 and courses taught in other departments and programs may be counted toward the major in art and visual culture.

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.

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