Graduate Program in Art History

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Art History Faculty
Left to right: Professors Joni Kinsey, Daniel Wallace Maze, Barbara Mooney, Dorothy Johnson, Robert Bork, Brenda Longfellow, Amy Huang, and Björn Anderson. 

Art History in its essence is interdisciplinary and we welcome applicants from across disciplines. The graduate program in Art History is designed to prepare students for academic and museum careers as well as other professional positions related to the visual arts.  92% of our students who graduated between 2000 and 2013 obtained positions at colleges, universities, museums, and auction houses. Our high job placement success rate can be attributed in part to the course distribution requirements of the program and to the teaching opportunities available while in the program. These ensure that our graduates are able to teach classes and curate shows on a variety of subjects beyond their major area of study. 

Other reasons for the success of our graduates include the selective nature of the program and the engagement of the faculty in fostering a supportive environment for emerging scholars. In addition to the one-on-one mentoring received from the faculty advisor, all students and faculty members meet five times each semester to discuss professional development issues, from writing fellowship proposals to giving a job talk. Students also have the opportunity to interact with the world-renowned scholars invited to campus as part of the art history visiting speakers program.

Students teaching the Museum of Art
Graduate student Alycia Reed teaching at the University of Iowa Museum of Art.

All faculty members in art history have tenured or tenure-track positions. They possess a broad range of historical and geographic expertise, and students pursue a M.A. or a Ph.D. in one of the following areas: Architecture, African, Asian, Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century European, American, or Modern/Contemporary. Graduate-level classes range in size from 6 to 25 students. In addition to classes in the subject areas listed above, students also take classes in theory and methodology and have the opportunity to learn cutting-edge digital practices in art history. 

Here are some highlights of the resources available for different areas of specialization:

Modern studies constitute a significant strength of the program, with four faculty members offering courses and seminars in 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century American and European art and contemporary art and architecture. Students also have opportunities to participate in a variety of interdisciplinary programs in American and European history, literature, and politics.

Study of 18th- and 19th-century French and European art is greatly enriched by the De Caso collection of rare books and archives housed in the Art Library. Rare visual materials that are part of this collection have been digitized by the Office of Visual Materials.

A major resource for 20th-century art is the International Dada Archive. Founded in 1979, it remains an invaluable resource for students and faculty at The University of Iowa as well as for Dada scholars throughout the world. Moreover, the University of Iowa Special Collections has a number of archives related to twentieth-century artists and artistic movements, from the Fluxus West Collection to the papers of Buster Cleveland. Moreover, the University of Iowa Museum of Art has an extensive collection of art from this period, the centerpiece of which is Jackson Pollock's Mural. In addition to the permanent collection, the UIMA hosts exciting rotating exhibitions such as "Napoleon and the Art of Propaganda" (2012) and “New Forms: The Avant-Garde Meets the American Scene, 1934-1949” (2013).

Another major strength of the department is African art. The Stanley Collection of African Art at the Stanley Museum of Art is one of the country’s most well-respected collections of African art and provides an invaluable resource for graduate students. The Project for Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa (PASALA) is among the school's major assets, an interdisciplinary program of fellowships, scholarships, conferences, and publications on the visual arts in Africa. Among other things, it helped support the late Professor Christopher Roy's Art and Life in Africa Project, which is a website designed to provide textual and video resources for people interested in learning about various communities in Africa

Erin Peters graduate student in Art History
Graduate student Erin Peters in front of the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
where she is a 2013-2014 Chester Dale Fellow.

Ancient and Medieval studies is another key strength of the program, with three faculty members offering courses and seminars in Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, Roman, and Medieval art. Students also have the opportunity to study in a variety of related programs in ancient or medieval history, literature, and religion. They are encouraged to participate in the activities of the local chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America as well as the Medieval Studies Program and Iowa Forum of Graduate Medievalists. The University of Iowa Museum of Art provides a unique opportunity to handle Etruscan and South Italian vases while casts of bronze objects from Pompeii are available for close study on campus, and the nearby Cedar Rapids Museum of Art features a number of ancient portraits, from Alexander the Great to Marcus Aurelius. The University of Iowa Special Collections is home to a number of medieval manuscripts, and classes offered by the world-renowned Center for the Book complement these holdings.

For all areas, the University Iowa Museum of Art is a valuable resource where students have an opportunity to gain experience and expertise. 

Graduate students are provided with quiet research space, library facilities, and computer access in the bright and airy Art Building West, an award-winning building designed by Steven Holl. Also located in this building is a communal space where teaching assistants meet with undergraduate students as well as with each other. The Art Library located in Art Building West contains more than 91,000 volumes.  Students also have access to over 565,000 digital images for teaching and research through the Office of Visual Materials.   

We strive to support all of our students who are making good progress toward the degree. The University provides teaching, research, and museum assistantships to support graduate study, and a variety of fellowships are available to support summer and dissertation research. In addition, the School of Art & Art History offers academic scholarships for qualified graduate students as well as funding for advanced graduate students to present their research at scholarly conferences. 

Faculty by Areas of Specialty

Ancient Mediterranean: Björn Anderson, Brenda Longfellow
American: Joni Kinsey
Asian: Amy Huang
Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century European: Dorothy Johnson
Renaissance: Daniel Maze
Medieval: Robert Bork
Modern/Contemporary: Craig Adcock

Graduate Program Coordinator
Laura Jorgensen