Graduate Program Description
The Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University currently offers an interdisciplinary PhD Program in the History of Art, a MFA in Experimental & Documentary Arts, and a JD/MA in Law and History of Art. We invite applications from highly qualified students interested in careers in research, teaching, and criticism.
The PhD Program is committed to preparing students for advanced research in the global visual cultures of the past and present. The Department recognizes that visual literacy plays an increasingly important role in negotiating contemporary society. Art, architecture, mass media (television, video, film, internet), and urbanism all work through reference to visual and spatial conventions. We strive to provide our graduate students not only with the necessary tools to understand objects and archives, but also the skills to interpret visual and material culture for the benefit of the broader community.
Duke University is in the forefront of academic institutions supporting interdisciplinary and theoretical initiatives in the Humanities. Art History makes a unique contribution to these ventures. All members of the Art History faculty are engaged in innovative teaching or research projects involving faculty from other departments and programs. Courses that have been team-taught include "Mercantile Culture and the Art in the Netherlands" (Art History and Economics), "Late Ancient Christian Culture" (Art History and Religion), "Introduction to Medieval/ Renaissance Studies" (Art History, English, and History), and “Visualizing Empire and Nation in Asia” (Art History and History). Three faculty members of the Department have received Women's Studies mainstreaming awards, allowing them to explore feminist issues in courses on Modern and Postmodern Architecture, Gothic Architecture and Modern Women Artists. The interdisciplinary character of many of the Department's courses is indicated by their cross-listing in other programs' offerings: “History of Photography” (Film/Video/Digital and Documentary Studies), "The Blues Aesthetic: African-American Art in the Twentieth Century" (African and African-American Studies), "History of Netherlandish Art and Visual Culture in a European Context" (International Comparative Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies), “Mercantile Culture and Art in the Netherlands” (Economics), “Japanese Architecture” (International Comparative Studies), and “Early Christian Culture” (Religion).
The Research Triangle area provides a culturally rich setting for Duke University. In addition to Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, with which the Department is closely affiliated, students have access to the nearby Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. A large number of other arts institutions are located in the area, including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem and Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro.
Students may take courses for full credit toward their degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, which has a distinguished Art History faculty, and North Carolina State University at Raleigh, which is well-known for its School of Design.