Senior Thesis

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

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

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

The application deadline for 2015-16 has passed.

All application guidelines are included in the Undergraduate Student Handbook.


The department offers Summer Research Grant for rising seniors to facilitate the preparation of a senior thesis. These competitive grants can be used for domestic and international travel to art collections, archives, architectural sites, monuments, etc. Applications are typically due in April.

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

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: Professor Francesco de Angelis)

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

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

2015 Senior Thesis Research Fellowship Recipients

Eleanor Goerss, CC 2016, to travel to the Netherlands to research the aesthetics of religious identity in the 16th and 17th centuries

Aidan Mehigan, CC 2016, to research Pietro Belluschi at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.

Past Senior Thesis Research Fellowship Recipients

Sarah Bell, GS 2015, to research the Jackson House of Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Angel Jiang, CC 2015, to conduct research on the Norwich Cathedral in the United Kingdom

Elizabeth Lightfoot, GS 2015, to travel to Europe to research her thesis on Edith Elmer Wood

Hwi Jane Lee, CC 2013, to travel to Korea to study Korean Contemporary Art

Andrea Lujan, GS 2011, to research her proposed thesis on the Aztec Moon Goddess

Diana Greenwald, CC 2011, to study the American painter Thomas Moran and his portrayals of Yellowstone National Park