» Bachelor of Arts in Art History

Regardless of time and geography, art and architecture have been used to explore, express, and shape private selves and public lives. In an increasingly disposable world and even after centuries, some works of art have maintained their fascination. They continue to speak to us, although what they say may change. Understanding how visual and material choices create meaning, and how those meanings express and affect the world, is the pursuit of art history.

The B.A. in Art History provides students with the practical, conceptual and methodological skills required to understand this visual communication. The act of viewing is neither passive nor naïve, but rather an active and intentional series of choices meant to create meaning: it is an act of visual intelligence. The study of art history allows students to develop and mature their visual intelligence by focusing on both visual and verbal thinking.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to write both descriptively and analytically about works of art in a variety of media.
  2. Students will be able to write an independent research paper that uses visual analysis and scholarly research to develop and support a thesis.
  3. Students will be able to conduct advanced art historical research using the full range of scholarly resources.
  4. Students will be able to recognize the theoretical concerns of art history and its allied disciplines and apply specific theoretical perspectives to their research projects.
Current students, please contact the Department of Art for information at art@chapman.edu

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Visual Thinker Lecture Series
Art StudentsThe Department of Art presents lectures each semester designed to explore visual culture from a wide range of art professionals across disciplines offering opportunities to learn, be inspired, and network.

College Art Association: Artists and art historians are encouraged to join this national organization for academic and professional development. The College Art Association hosts an annual conference and publishes the renowned, Art Bulletin.

The 2020 symposium will mark the tenth anniversary of this event
The Undergraduate Art History Symposium is designed to offer students an opportunity to experience the professional format of conferences in the discipline to better prepare them for graduate school.


Junior Seminar and Senior Thesis
Junior Seminar is for students to participate in Chapman's annual Student Scholar Symposium, presenting posters, which display their research projects. During senior year, Art History majors work independently on a Senior Thesis, a focused project. See below under Student Research for more information.

Art History majors are encouraged to intern as often as they are able. The students partner with the Career and Professional Development and an art history faculty member as they work. Internship locations include auction houses, galleries, and museums. Take a look at some past internships our majors have worked at.


For information on other fellowships, please contact the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs.

Graduate School

The following guidelines and links provide a simple step-by-step approach to applying to graduate school. Please speak with your academic advisor for more information.


Interdisciplinary Opportunities

Liberal Arts Core
Students have the opportunity and freedom to explore a range of topics, concerns, and methodologies from historical culture, formal analysis and iconography to material culture, social history and gender studies within their General Education core.

Students are encouraged to minor in Arts and Humanities, Social Cultural Studies, Area Studies and Communication Studies to supplement their major and round out their research.

Research Opportunities and SURF
Our students have taken advantage of many opportunities to travel to conduct their own original research at institutions such as Stanford University Libraries and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Some students have also participated in the competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, a 10-week opportunity to develop a large project with a faculty mentor.

Seminars and Thematic Courses
Art History seminars are topical — organized around thematic and theoretical issues related to faculty research — allowing small groups of students (including non-art history majors) to work intensively with faculty in analyzing visual and material culture. We also offer thematic courses at the upper-division level that engage in a focused manner on particular cities, genres of art, or current cultural issues, enabling students to understand art in its broader context, while transcending the traditional model of the survey lecture course. 

International Opportunities

Global Studies
Students are encouraged to participate in study abroad programs in almost every part of the world. Studying overseas provides a unique opportunity which can open up fresh perspectives on international political, economic and social issues, interpersonal relationships and ultimate career choices. Students may study overseas for a semester or an academic year. They may also join Professor Justin Walsh in working on his excavation in the south of Spain during the summer.

Chapman is the university of record for a program in Greece and a Cooperating Institute of the American School of Classical Study at Athens.

Travel Courses
Students have the opportunity to travel to Italy to explore the complexity, innovation, and magnificence of centuries of Italian history through its visual production. Future travel courses are also planned for art history in other parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Turkey.

More about Italy!

Art 379: Rome: The Development of the City
Students spend four weeks exploring the city of Rome: its urban plan, its architecture, its art, and its history. No other city presents the same wealth of evidence for continuous occupation of a single site over a 3000-year period. Students investigate Rome from the days of its earliest settlement of the Capitoline and Palantine Hills, ca. 1000 BCE, up through construction of the city's latest major cultural attraction, Museo di Arte del XXI Secolo also known as MAXXI, completed in 2010. Along the way they will examine the city's expansion under the Roman Empire, its decline in the Medieval period, the rebirth of the Renaissance and massive elaboration in the Baroque period, and finally the effects of Modernism, Fascism, and the post-modern developments of the 19th and 21st centuries.

Student Research

Art History Major Tayler Bonfert, explains her research poster to Anthropology Professor, Stephanie TakaragawaJunior Seminar

Students in the Junior Seminar participate in the annual Chapman University Student Research Day, creating posters that display their research and networking with students from across the university. Throughout the academic year, students get involved in exhibitions and events around campus, getting hands-on experience with art world logistics.

Pictured above: Art History Major Tayler Bonfert, explains her research poster to Anthropology Professor, Stephanie Takaragawa.

Senior Thesis

The senior thesis is an advanced research and writing project for qualified senior art history majors on any topic of special interest within the discipline of art history. The student identifies a research problem and constructs an original argument based on research and visual evidence. The final project should show a command of the relevant scholarship, a clear grasp of visual analysis and the ability to construct and defend an original thesis on the basis of these skills. Each student chooses a faculty member of his/her choice to supervise the thesis.

Art History Senior Thesis 2019

  • Maguy Michelman: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum: Remembering Victims of Racial Violence and Changing Narratives of Race in America."
  • Ellen Joo: The Globalism of Nam June Paik and Lee Ufan
  • Loralynn Ingreso: The 1734 Murillo Velarde Map: A Jesuit Construction of Truth from the Eighteenth Century
  • Caitlin Teoman: California Impressionism: The Final Frontier
  • Melissa Gutierrez: Embodied Politics in 1970s Brazil: The Art of Leticia Parente & Cildo Meireles.
  • Grace Jones: Pliable Planes: The Intersectional Realities of Anni Albers' Weavings

Art History Senior Thesis 2018

  • Madeline Anderson: Alphonse Mucha’s Forgotten Career: Czech Nationalism, Pan-Slavism, and the Story of The Slav Epic
  • Brooke Fessler: Trauma and Experience: The Art of the Holocaust and Beyond 
  • Manon Wogahn: Power and Piety: Examining the Papal Tiara in the Context of the Modern Church.
  • Jessica Bocinski: 'A Vision Rather than a Dream': The Revolutionary Foundations of William Morris' Pattern Designs 
  • Jessee Stoddard: Measuring Moonlight: Astronomic Influences in Symbolist Art
  • Lauren Ogie: Sulamani Temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site: The Bagan Buddha in an Active Buddhist Site

Art History Senior Thesis 2017

  • Kelsey Anderson. “Ia Orana Maria: The Quintessence of Contentment”
  • Tayler Bonfert. “Creating a Third Body: The Relation Works of Marina Abramović and Ulay”
  • Mckenna Robbie. “Internal Dialogue: An Examination of Piet Mondrian’s Evolution as Painter and Philosopher”

Art History Senior Thesis 2016

  • Asia Adamshick: Ruth Asawa and Heritage
  • Alex Allen: Chi Siamo: Italy’s National Identity and the Fight for Museums in the New Millennium
  • Alanna Carnahan: Erasing Communist Ties: Tatlin’s Tower Reconstructed
  • Clarissa Hampton: Absence as Subject in Félix González Torres’ “Untitled”
  • Areni Nuyujukian:Ed Ruscha’s Films: “Premium” and “Miracle”
  • Dani Planto: Richard Serra: Exploring Outdoor Space in Southern California
  • Adelaide Saucier: Title
  • Jessica Yi: Power and the Personal in the Work of Leonid Sokov

 Art History Senior Thesis 2015

 Art History Senior Thesis 2014

  • 2014 Art History Senior Thesis Presentations
  • Kendyll Bieze: “A Romantic Redefinition of Genius: The Art and Persona of Henry Fuseli”
  • Hannah Brockway: An Investigation of American Federal and Anti-Federal Architecture
  • Charlotte Hughes: Visionary Experiences in The Rothschild Canticles: The Body as a Vessel for the Divine Encounters
  • Nicole Tominaga: “Untitled (A Senior Thesis Research Project on Barbara Kruger)”

 Art History Senior Thesis 2013

  • Gretchen Kunze: Don’t Sit on the Picasso: An analysis of the growth in the use of fine art in textiles and the impact on fashion and home decoration in the post-war period

  Art History Senior Thesis 2012

  • Madeline Roth: An Imagined Englishman: Prince Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707 - 1751)
  • Margo Kosin: The Jewelry and Artifacts of Mycenaean Greece & New Kingdom Egypt's Burials: A Wealthier Egypt by Religious Practice and Society
  • Kourtney Drake: Pablo Picasso. Artist or Politician?
  • Katie Friesen: The Penguin Paradigm: Transatlantic Paperback Design, 1939-1948
  • Ayanna Dozier: She Plays Alone: The Performative and Personal use of the Doll in the Self-Portrait Me and My Doll by Frida Kahlo
  • Laura Bjorstad: Art Authentication: A Matter of Science versus “The Eye"
  • Lily Munson: Cindy Sherman: The Omission of Clowns
  • Jane Pittluck: Tiffany at the Met: The Role of the Museum as an Intermediary between Viewer and Object
  • Hilary Leath: Caravaggio's First Inspiration of Saint Matthew and the Angel Reconsidered
  • Amry Landsberg: Visual Rivals: The Artistic Representations of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers
  • Hannah Karsen: Understanding the Progression of Alexander Rodchenko’s Art Practice
  • Alyssa Najafi: Hannah Wilke and Marcel Duchamp: Playmates

  Art History Senior Thesis 2011

  Art History Senior Thesis 2010

  Art History Senior Thesis 2009