Wayne State University

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Art History

View and download a copy of the Art History Curriculum Guide as a PDF.  Click Here!

Course Descriptions

Art History MA Application Form

Visual Resources Collection

Undergraduate Program Overview

Art History is a rich academic discipline. Students learn about past and present artistic traditions and practices that have shaped our world and gain the critical tools to interpret works of art, architecture, print media, photography and all forms of visual culture. Art History demands analytical, creative thinking and develops a variety of communication and organizational skills, which are ideal preparation for a wide range of career options or further study in art history or the humanities.


Art History courses at Wayne State University are designed for both majors and non-majors. The Art History curriculum offers students courses in Western and African Arts. Some courses explore the art of long-vanished civilizations while others examine current trends in artistic practices and visual culture. Students thus have ample opportunity to pursue individual interests no matter what their previous background.


The Art and Art History Department at Wayne State University taps into the urban richness of Detroit’s midtown University Cultural Center, the Detroit arts community, and world-class arts institutions such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, the fifth largest art museum in the nation, and Cranbrook Art Museum. Department-sponsored trips to regional museums and collections encourage students to view original works of art in the Detroit area. In addition, Directed Study provides an ideal method of tailoring projects to suit individual interests.


Outstanding students looking for a greater challenge may enroll in the Honors program. By completing this program students gain a solid Art History background.


The Art History faculty invites you to consult with the Undergraduate Advisors or to stop in if you think an Art History major is what you are looking for at Wayne State University. A good first step is to take some Art History courses and then see us about tailoring a program to suit your needs.

 Undergraduate Faculty

  • Dora Apel (Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh) Associate Professor of Art History and W. Hawkins Ferry Endowed Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art History
    Research Interests: Contemporary photography, modern and contemporary art and politics, the traumatic image, issues of gender, class, race and national identity.
  • Margaret Franklin (PhD. University of Cambridge), Renaissance and Baroque, Associate Professor of Art History
    Research Interests: Uomini famosi/donne illustri images; humanism and the visual arts in the Italian Renaissance
  • Lisa Homann (Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles), African Arts and African American Art
  • Brian Madigan (Ph.D. University of Minnesota), Classical Art, Associate Professor of Art History 
    Research Interests: Greek sculpture, Classical and Hellenistic; Roman sculpture; the afterlife of Classicism and the history of archaeology.
  • Jennifer Olmsted (Ph.D. Northwestern University), Nineteenth Century European Art, Assistant Professor of Art History
    Research Interests: Imperialism, masculinity, and modernity in 19th-century French art. 

 Part-time Faculty

  • Catherine McCurrach (Ph.D. University of Michigan) Medieval Art  
  • Dennis Nawrocki (MA, Wayne State University) Contemporary Art
  • Diana Marcus (MA, Wayne State University) Survey of Western Art

Visual Resources Library

  • Terry Kerby (MA University of Michigan) Visual Resources Librarian
  • Ian Chapp (BA Wayne State University, MLIS Wayne State University) Systems Integrator

Major in Art History

The Department of Art and Art History undergraduate program in Art History offers a foundation for an understanding of art, artistic practices and cultures as well as the tools necessary to succeed in an array of other academic and professional disciplines. The BA in Art History is intended for students interested in a liberal arts education in the humanities, in museum studies or other arts professions, and for students planning to continue their art history studies in a graduate program.

The undergraduate program in Art History offers introductory, intermediate and advanced courses in art history. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History consists of 33 credits.

In order to declare a major in Art History, students must take any two of the following three introductory courses:

AH 1110: Survey of Western Art: Ancient to Gothic
AH 1120: Survey of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern
AH 1130: Encounters with the Arts of Global Africa

In addition, a major in Art History requires at least one 5000-level course in four of the five core areas: Classical, Medieval, Renaissance-Baroque, Modern-Contemporary, African Arts (12 credits), and AH 5993, a Writing Intensive (0 credits) taken in conjunction with any 5000-level course, and in consultation with the Undergraduate Advisors. All other courses may be elective at the 3000 or 5000-level. All courses must be completed with a minimum grade of ‘C.’In addition to the credits in art history, students are required to complete the university requirement of three semesters of a foreign language, with minimum grades of ‘C.’

Choose two courses (6 credits):

AH 1110: Survey of Western Art: Ancient to Gothic (VP)
AH 1120: Survey of Western Art: Renaissance to Modern (VP)
AH 1130: Encounters with the Arts of Global Africa (VP) (FC)

Advanced courses (27 credits), including at least one course in four of the five core areas at the 5000 level: Classical, Medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, Modern/Contemporary, or African Arts (12 credits):

Complete all (15 credits):

AH 3000 or 5000 level (3 credits)
AH 3000 or 5000 level (3 credits)
AH 3000 or 5000 level (3 credits)
AH 3000 or 5000 level (3 credits)
AH 3000 or 5000 level (3 credits)

Choose four of five (12 credits):

AH 5000 level in Classical art (3 credits)
AH 5000 level in Medieval art (3 credits)
AH 5000 level in Renaissance or Baroque art (3 credits)
AH 5000 level in Modern or Contemporary art (3 credits)
AH 5000 level in African Arts (3 credits)

AH 5993 (WI) (0 credits) This course must be taken as a co-requisite to any 5000-level Art History course to fulfill the University writing intensive requirement. See the Undergraduate Advisors.

Students must fulfill the WSU requirement of three semesters of a foreign language. Majors planning to pursue graduate study in Art History should discuss, with an Art History advisor, the requirements for graduate admission, including graduate language requirements; this should be done during an early semester.

To fulfill the University Writing Intensive requirement for the major, a student must write an 8-10 page research paper and will receive feedback on a draft and/or substantial thesis statement for the paper prior to final submission. In lieu of this paper, a series of shorter writing assignments that would be equal to 8-10 pages of writing may also fulfill the WI requirement. Such writing assignments will also receive feedback.

 Minor in Art History

The minor in Art History offers students the opportunity to study art as our human visual and physical record. Students will investigate the time and circumstances in which works of art were created as a way to understand their cultural meaning and significance.

Minor Requirements: Students pursuing a Minor in Art History must complete fifteen credits, distributed as follows:

ART HISTORY (3 credits)
AH 1110 – Survey of Art History: Ancient through Medieval (3 cr)
AH 1120 – Survey of Art History: Renaissance through Modern (3 cr)
AH 1130 – Global Arts of Africa (3 cr)

ART HISTORY at 3000 Level and Above (12 credits)
In discussion with your art history advisor, design a personalized course of study.

To add your art or art history minor, please contact:

Michele Porter