Senior Thesis

The senior thesis is an optional project for Art History, History and Theory of Architecture, and Art History/Visual Arts majors.

Writing a senior thesis qualifies students to compete for departmental honors and (indirectly) strengthens dossiers for university honors. It is also a great opportunity for students interested in graduate school to build their academic resumes and experience the intensity and rewards of graduate-style research. All thesis writers must enroll in the year-long senior thesis seminar.

Students who intend to write a thesis should begin formulating a research topic and approaching potential faculty sponsors during their junior year.

The application deadline for a 2017-2018 senior thesis project proposal is Monday, August 21, 2017. Applications can be found on the undergraduate Planning Sheets and Forms page.

All application guidelines are included in the Undergraduate Student Handbook.


Students may apply for a Senior Thesis Research Fellowship, offered through the department, to facilitate the preparation of a thesis project during the summer before senior year. These competitive grants can be used for domestic and international travel to art collections, archives, architectural sites, monuments, and other places of interest. Applications are typically due in April of the student’s junior year; specific deadline information and instructions will be circulated in advance via the Art History majors listserv.

Grants for thesis research during the academic year are also available through Columbia College and General Studies. Please visit their websites for more information.

2016-17 Senior Thesis Projects

Canada Austin Choate: "It's Only Music, John: Dan Graham's Rock Criticism, 1968-88" (Sponsor: Branden Joseph)

Benjamin Philip Davidoff: "The Ancient Synagogue at Sardis: Religious Pluralism in the Late Roman Empire" (Sponsor: Ioannis Mylonopoulos)

Megan Anne Kincaid: “Motherwell’s Modernism: The Universal Language of Automatic Drawings” (Sponsor: John Rajchman)

Geon Woo Lee: “Tradition Redux: Architecture of Kim Swoo Geun” (Sponsor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Isabella Michelle Sterman Rosner: “The Neatest Worker of the Party”: Text, Stitching, and Sisterhood in Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen’s Needlework” (Sponsor: Anne Higonnet)

Amanda Brooks-Kelly Weiss: "Italian Baroque Outsiders: Guercino and his Old Testament Subjects" (Sponsor: Michael Cole)

Samantha R. Williger: “Performing Anarchy: Christopher D’Arcangelo’s Rosa Esman Gallery Invitational Action—Look Outfor what you Look At” (Sponsor: John Miller)

2015-16 Senior Thesis Projects

Megan Elizabeth Baker: "Peinte par elle-même: The Digital Reassertion of Female Artistic Style in Eighteenth-Century France" (Sponsor: Anne Higonnet)

Eyvana Maria Bengochea: "From Stalin to the Surrealists: Connecting Exhibition Practice Between the Wars in France and Germany" (Sponsor: John Rajchman)

Sean Stephen Brian Delanty: "On UFO Photography" (Sponsor: Branden Joseph)

Jacob Ian Gagne: "Meat Monumentalized: The Slaughterhouses of Francisco Salamone" (Sponsor: Barry Bergdoll)

Eleanor Crimmins Goerss: "Fragmented Temple & Maiden Intact: The Art of Sanctuary and Sermon Book in the Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam Begijnhof" (Sponsor: Diane Bodart)

Kolleen Alexandra Ku: "Figuring Sensation: Kazimir Malevich's Late Figurative Paintings (1926-1935)" (Sponsor: John Rajchman) 

Aidan Timothy Mehigan: "Toward a Benedictine Architecture: The Campus of Portsmouth Abbey, 1952-present" (Sponsor: Barry Bergdoll) 

Kady Min Pu: "Taming The Bull: Bull-Leaping in the Ancient Mediterranean" (Sponsor: Ioannis Mylonopolos)

Sofia Silva: "Guillermo Kuitca's Produced Space in the Age of Globalization" (Sponsor: Kellie Jones)

2014-15 Senior Thesis Projects

Sarah Bell: "The History of Preservation as a History Worth Preserving: William Sumner Appleton and His Work at Jackson House" (Sponsor: Barry Bergdoll)

Martha Scott Burton: "To Suffer a Sea-Change: The Afro-Future Female and the Aquatic in Ellen Gallagher's Watery Ecstatic" (Sponsor: Kellie Jones)

Andrew Demas: "Born Out of Autocracy, Forged in Democracy: the Metamorphosis of the World Trade Center and the Mediation of Economic and Public Priorities" (Sponsor: Barry Bergdoll)

Alexandra Eynon: "Curious Cases: The Cabinet and the Contemporary" (Sponsor: Keith Moxey)

Alexander Hyman: "Constructed Regionalism: Architectural Eclecticism in Jewish and Arab Homes in Mandatory Palestine" (Sponsor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Julia Jarrett: "Reflections on the Polish Avant-Garde: Wladyslaw Strzeminski and the Theory of Unism" (Sponsor: Noam Elcott)

Angel Jiang: "Storied Cycles: Reading the Boss Sculpture of Norwich Cathedral" (Sponsor: Stephen Murray)

Elizabeth Lightfoot: "Form Follows Family: The Impact of Edith Elmer Wood on Modernism, Feminism, and New Deal Housing Reform" (Sponsor: Mary McLeod)

Daniel Merritt: "Build the Bridge: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and the Development of Memory, Recognition, and Contemporaneity" (Sponsor: Kellie Jones)

Zachary Small: "Sojourning Senescence: John Baldessari and his Late Works" (Sponsor: Branden Joseph)

Ione Wang: "Intimate Matters: Giorgio Morandi's Still Lifes, The Museum of Innocence, and Waste Not" (Sponsor: John Rajchman)

2013-14 Senior Thesis Projects

Roko Rumora: "The Danger of Seeing Double(s): Same-Subject Pendant Statues in Roman Visual Culture" (Sponsor: Francesco de Angelis)

Rebecca Schechter Fattell: "Inhaling Viewers, Exhaling Music: The Visualization of Sound in Johannes Vermeer's Oeuvre (Sponsor: Keith Moxey)

Shirlynn Sham: "A Shocking Split: Intrusions of the Phantasmagoric into the Embodied Perceptual Model" (Sponsor: Jonathan Crary)

2017 Senior Thesis Research Fellowship Recipients

Adam J. Elkhadem, CC ’18 to research the late classical sculpture of Skopas of Paros in Greece.

Diana Winfield Luber, CC ’18 for research on the cultural and artistic exchange of Medieval Islamic Spain.

Amber Noé, CC ’18 for research on Willem de Kooning's lithographs in Japan.

Alicia Schleifman, CC ’18 for research on the paintings of Ed Ruscha in Los Angeles.

Iphigenia Seong, CC ’18 to study the works of Nam June Paik in South Korea.

Sam Velasquez, CC ’18 for research on the works of Oswaldo Guayasamín in Ecuador.

Past Senior Thesis Research Fellowship Recipients

Benjamin Philip Davidoff, CC ’17 for research on the architecture of ancient synagogues in Israel, Turkey, and Italy.

Geon Woo Lee, CC ’17 for research on modern architect Kim Swoo Geun in Korea.

Elizabeth Monroe, CC ’17 for research on contemporary artist Mark Bradford in New Orleans.

Isabella Michelle Sterman Rosner, CC ’17 for research on nineteenth-century needlework in England and Massachusetts.

Eleanor Crimmins Goerss, CC ’16 to travel to the Netherlands to research the aesthetics of religious identity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Aidan Timothy Mehigan, CC ’16 to research Pietro Belluschi at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.

Sarah Bell, GS ’15 to research the Jackson House of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Angel Jiang, CC ’15 to conduct research on the Norwich Cathedral in the United Kingdom.

Elizabeth Lightfoot, GS ’15 to travel to Europe to research her thesis on Edith Elmer Wood.

Hwi Jane Lee, CC ’13 to travel to Korea to study Korean Contemporary Art.

Andrea Lujan, GS ’11 to research her proposed thesis on the Aztec Moon Goddess.

Diana Greenwald, CC ’11 to study the American painter Thomas Moran and his portrayals of Yellowstone National Park.