Art History Comps

The Art History comps project requires a substantial research paper, between about 8,000 and 10,000 words (including footnotes) in the style of a journal essay. This essay is an opportunity for students to engage in focused art historical research into topics of their own choosing. Through this process, students demonstrate their ability to craft a compelling art historical question and pursue it via a strong thesis using appropriate art historical methods. Keen analyses of chosen art works and texts, graceful prose, and an effective organizing structure are all key components to a strong art history comps essay. In addition to the essay, students are required to present the results of their research in a 15–20 minute presentation in the style of a conference talk during the department’s colloquium in the Spring Term. This is an opportunity for students to introduce their research to a broader public, and in so doing students will demonstrate their ability to communicate sophisticated art historical arguments to a more general audience in an organized and professional fashion.

Standard Timeline for the Art History Comps

Proposals for papers will be due by the end of the first week of classes in the Fall term for students wishing to take any comps credits in the fall. Students who take no comps credits in the fall may submit their proposals as late as the last day of classes before midterm break of the Fall term. Proposals will be accepted as early as spring term of the junior year; this may prove useful for students intending to work on projects over the summer. Students will formulate and write sample proposals, as well as practice and discuss research techniques, in ARTH 298 (Junior Seminar), which is usually offered in the winter term. In those rare instances when majors take ARTH 298 as seniors, for reasons such as OCS programs in the winter as juniors, students will work with the department chair or another delegated faculty member to prepare their comps proposals. Incomplete or problematic proposals will be returned to students for revision and resubmission. Please refer to the section “Guidelines for Art History Comps Proposals” for specific details regarding what should be included in the final proposal.

Students will be assigned comps advisers after their proposals have been approved. The department will assign advisers based upon workload balance as well as faculty areas of specialization. Each student will devise a series of deadlines in consultation with their adviser based upon their respective schedules and the distribution of their comps credits, but in all cases a final draft of the essay will be required by the end of ninth week in the Winter term. Late submissions will not be eligible for distinction and will also be marked down. The final draft will then be read and graded by both the comps adviser as well as a second reader in the department. Based on comments from both their advisers and second readers, students will revise their essays by Week Four of Spring term before their final drafts are deposited in the library comps archive.

During the Spring term the department will arrange a colloquium consisting of one or more panels of student comps presentations. This will occur around sixth week, depending on faculty commitments and other college-wide events. Students will each give talks, 15–20 minutes in length, which contextualize their projects and summarize the arguments of their essays. Students preparing their comps presentations will continue to consult with their advisers on how to craft an effective oral presentation.