About the PhD Program

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Why Our Program is Different

Ohio State’s Department of History of Art features world-class research and teaching in a wide variety of regions and periods. It is especially noted for its programs in East Asian, Latin American, and Western art, where faculty expertise embraces the Classical, Medieval, and Early Modern traditions. Its strength in Modern and Contemporary art, areas where it has wide-ranging expertise (painting, sculpture, new media, film), places it among the most cutting-edge departments anywhere. 

Graduate teaching at Ohio State emphasizes research seminars where faculty work side-by-side with small groups of students to conceive and develop innovative art historical thinking and research. Graduate seminars are generally taught thematically in order to develop students’ methodological and historiographical sophistication in ways valuable across the entire discipline. In many cases, faculty design seminars and graduate lectures around a specific graduate student’s interests and needs, making for a remarkably collaborative learning environment. Indeed, the faculty prides itself on the quality of its graduate teaching and mentoring, which is reflected in the superb job placement rate of the department’s students.

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The Fine Arts Library, with approximately 200,000 volumes covering all areas of the visual arts, is part of a University library system that contains over 6,000,000 volumes. The Ohio State University library system is among the largest research libraries in the country. In addition, the OSU libraries participate in OhioLINK, a computer network of state university libraries, private research universities, and other information resources throughout Ohio. OhioLINK provides easy access to information and rapid delivery of library materials from more than 75 library locations in the state. OSU students can borrow materials, search numerous online databases, and take advantage of document delivery through OhioLINK. Also included in the library system is the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, which contains, in addition to its massive collection of printed cartoon and cartoon-related materials, substantial collections of film posters and stills, and significant collections of 19th- and 20th-century photographs, daguerreotypes, and tintypes.

The Wexner Center for the Arts opened in November 1989. Conceived as a research laboratory for all the arts, it has emphasized commissions for new work and artist residencies since its inception. The building itself was Peter Eisenman’s first major commission in the United States. The Wexner Center’s multidisciplinary programs encompass performing arts, exhibitions, and media arts (film/video) and have focused on cutting-edge culture from around the globe.

The Columbus Museum of Art also offers curatorial internships to graduate students in the department, as well as an active exhibition program. With its Howald, Schiller, Sirak, and Photo League Collections, the Museum is particularly strong in its holdings of American and modern European art. The rich holdings of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Cleveland Museum of Art, Dayton Art Institute, Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, and Toledo Museum of Art are all within a few hours travel.

The Resource Center for Medieval Slavic Studies, together with the Hilandar Research Library, contains 4,000 Slavic manuscripts, and is the largest collection of medieval manuscripts on microform in the Western Hemisphere. Of special interest are more than 1,200 manuscripts from different monasteries on Mount Athos, Greece, including the entire Slavic collection of Hilandar Monastery. The HRL, the largest repository of medieval Slavic Cyrillic texts on microform in the world, includes the holdings of 71 monastic, private, museum and library collections from 21 countries. There are over 4,000 Cyrillic manuscripts (more than a million pages), as well as over 700 Cyrillic printed books from prior to 1800 on microfilm. An additional 2000 manuscripts are expected to be acquired in the next few years. The holdings range from the 11th to 20th centuries, with a particularly strong collection of manuscripts from the 14th to 16th centuries. About half of the manuscripts are East Slavic, with much of the remainder South Slavic in provenance.

University Libraries' Special Collections collect, preserve, and promote the use of distinctive collections, unique resources and primary research materials. Our diverse collections are available for use by Ohio State University faculty and students as well as visiting scholars and the general public. 

The Department cooperates with interdisciplinary programs offered at the University including the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, programs in East Asian, Near and Middle Eastern, Byzantine, Slavic and Eastern European Studies, as well as the departments of Comparative Studies, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, English, French and Italian, Philosophy, and Classics, and the Interdepartmental Programs in the Study of Religions, Classical Archaeology, and Film Studies.