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Theory + History of Art + Design

Open to both undergraduate and graduate students, Theory + History of Art + Design courses (courses with an "HAVC" prefix) are rich and varied, taught by faculty scholars with fabulously diverse interests ranging from ethnomusicology to landscape in American film, the role of femme fatales in Western art, contemporary African artists, French surrealism and much more. Behind-the-scenes access to the RISD Museum’s extraordinary collection of 85,000 works of art – from early Egyptian relics to 21st-century experimental light sculptures – provides students and faculty with unparalleled opportunities for in-depth research. HAVC faculty work to provide access to actual works of art – both at the RISD Museum and elsewhere – image reproductions of works in books or on screen.

Students who wish to focus their Liberal Arts study in Theory + History of Art + Design (THAD) may opt to complete a concentration.

Undergraduation Concentration in Theory + History of Art + Design

Students can pursue a concentration (like a minor) in addition to their studio major. Concentrations are offered by each of the departments in the Division of Liberal Arts: History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences (HPSS); Literary Arts and Studies (LAS) and Theory + History of Art + Design (THAD). Information, including requirements, on undergraduate and graduate concentrations in Theory + History of Art + Design can be found below.

Undergraduate Concentration in Theory + History of Art + Design
RISD offers art history courses that span a wide range of cultures, media and time periods. The College offers a 27-credit undergraduate concentration in Theory + History of Art + Design designed for students who wish to complement their studio major with in-depth studies in art history, theory, criticism and museum studies. The undergraduate THAD concentration can be completed within a 4 or 5-year degree program. All RISD BFA candidates are eligible to add this concentration to their program of study. Interested students should contact the Theory + History of Art + Design Concentration Coordinator, Foad Torshizi ( 401 277-4976 / torshizi@risd.edu), or complete and submit the THAD Concentration Form.

Typically, concentrators meet or communicate with the concentration coordinator once or twice a year to discuss course options and to update their records. As part of the process, THAD concentrators may pre-register for Theory + History of Art + Design ("HAVC" prefix) courses that will be used for the concentration. The concentration coordinator will contact all concentrators with the relevant instructions shortly before the official registration period; this option is offered in the fall and spring semesters only.

Curriculum Requirements for an Undergraduate Concentration in Theory + History of Art + Design
(9 courses = 27 credits)

I. History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC-H101) - 3 credits
History of Art and Visual Culture 2 (HAVC-H102) - 3 credits

II. Methodology/Historiography/Theory
(Choose 1 HAVC course in this topic area) - 3 credits

III. HAVC Seminars (2 courses) - 6 credits

IV. HAVC Electives (4 courses) - 12 credits
Total: 9 courses (27 credits)

Note:

  • All Theory + History of Art + Design courses are labeled “HAVC.”
  • Concentrators may need to take two courses in at least two Wintersessions to complete concentration requirements.
  • Certain HPSS and Literary Arts and Studies courses may fulfill concentration requirements. If used for that purpose, they may not also be counted for HPSS or LAS credits.
  • Liberal Arts electives may be applied towards the concentration.
  • Enrollment in the EHP (European Honors Program) in Rome fulfills one Theory + History of Art + Design course in prehistory through 18th century.

​Graduate Concentration in Theory + History of Art + Design

The Theory + History of Art + Design graduate concentration offers the opportunity to augment an MFA with a 15-credit art history concentration. Knowledge of the histories and theories of art and visual culture is increasingly demanded of artists and designers, and THAD has designed this concentration in recognition of this phenomenon and that MFA, MLA, MAT and MID recipients often enter teaching careers in which they are expected to teach history and theory as well as studio classes. The concentration offers a structured curriculum in the history, theory and criticism of Western art, as well as that of cultures throughout the world. These studies are enriched by ready access to the collections of the RISD Museum of Art and the experience of its curatorial staff. Through the concentration, you may choose to focus on the history and theory of your particular studio discipline, or any other area that interests you.

Any Liberal Arts graduate degree requirements and certain graduate courses offered within the individual programs may be incorporated in the credits necessary to complete the concentration. All master’s degree candidates are eligible to add this concentration to their program of study. Interested students should contact the Theory + History of Art + Design Concentration Coordinator, Foad Torshizi (401 277-4976 / torshizi@risd.edu), or complete and submit the THAD Grad Concentration Form. Typically, concentrators meet or communicate with the concentration coordinator at least twice a year to discuss course options and to update their records. As part of the process, THAD concentrators may preregister for Theory + History of Art + Design ("HAVC" prefix) courses that will be used for the concentration. The concentration coordinator will contact all concentrators with the relevant instructions shortly before the official registration period; this option is offered in the fall and spring semesters only.

Curriculum Requirements for a Graduate Concentration in Theory + History of Art + Design
(5 courses = 15 credits)

I. Methodology/Art Historiography/Aesthetics/Anthropology of Art
2 courses (6 credits) to be completed at the beginning of the concentration program. (One of these is the Open Seminar in History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC-H750).)

II. Specialization
3 courses (9 credits) to be selected based on a study plan to be discussed and developed with the THAD concentration coordinator. At least 6 credits of the 9 to be taken as Theory + History of Art + Design seminars for which concentrators will be pre-registered.

Total: 5 courses (15 credits)