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 six 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 but are encouraged to take two or more. The preponderance of studio major requirements should be completed prior to beginning a studio thesis. Studio majors must complete at least two related courses in one medium 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) One of the six studio courses should be a Short Term course. Among the six studio courses, studio majors must take one of the following, though are strongly encouraged to take both:
AVC 350. Visual Meaning, which may be taken before or during the senior thesis.
AVC s34. Building a Studio Practice, which must be taken before the senior thesis.

A student may apply two studio Short Term courses to the major, only if one of them is AVC s34, Building a Studio Practice. Otherwise they may only apply one Short Term studio course toward the major.

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. One of these courses may be a Short Term course.

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

Majors emphasizing the history and criticism of art and visual culture must take ten courses and write a thesis. These courses must include:

1) One course in studio art. Students should to take this course before their senior year.

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

3) Six additional courses on the history and criticism or art and visual culture, including the following areas, identified with attributes in parentheses in the course descriptions:
a) at least one course on premodern art and visual culture (Premodern);
b) at least one course focusing on art and visual culture outside the canon of Western European and American art and visual culture (Non-Western Canon);
c) at least one course focused on the study of race, sexuality, and/or gender in visual culture (Race, Sexuality, Gender).

Some designated Short Term courses may be counted among these six courses with the permission of the department. Adequate distribution is determined in conjunction with the student's departmental advisor, who must approve the student's course of study.

4) Two courses outside the department, to be approved by the advisor, which focus on visual culture or theorize culture, communication, and representation, or do both. One of these two courses must focus on screen studies such as film, video, television, and new media.

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:
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 seminar may be counted toward the major in art and visual culture:
FYS 177. Sex and Sexualities.

5) 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.

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.