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RASC/a: New Art History Ph.D. Program at SMU

New Art History Program offers students close mentorship and generous funding

In 2011 the Art History Department will launch a Ph.D. program that builds on more than twenty-seven years of experience in graduate studies. Our Master’s degree program is highly respected and our students successful. In recent years, our MAs have gone on, most fully funded, to Ph.D. programs at Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, Brown, Cornell, Michigan, UCLA, USC, UT Austin, and the Courtauld Institute in London.

An innovative new curricular initiative rooted in the fields both of art history and visual culture studies will provide its shape. RASC/a (Spanish for “scratch”), the name of the Ph.D. program, stands for “Rhetorics of Art, Space, and Culture.” It builds upon the strengths of the present faculty but with renewed emphasis on historical and new media, visual technologies, architecture and the city, race and gender, and performance and ritual. Emphasizing spatial as well as visual culture, it extends the department’s commitment to the study of technologies of visual communication, while also advancing transnational scholarship in Arts of Latin America, Iberia, and the Americas.

Students will enjoy close mentorship within a small-program setting and generous funding: a fellowship package of five years of tuition and health benefits plus a stipend of $25,000 per year. Students also receive support for off-campus and international research, and conference travel. In addition, the department conducts annual site-specific graduate seminars that take students off-campus for eight to ten days each year (Venice in 2009/10, Mexico City in 2010/11). Our campus facilities include a number of significant resources for graduate training. In addition to a dedicated art and art-history library (Hamon Library), the SMU campus is home to the Meadows Museum of Art, one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Iberian art outside Spain; the Bridwell Library, an internationally-recognized collection of manuscripts, incunabula, and early print media; and the DeGolyer Library, whose collections include a wealth of materials on early voyages and travels, Western Americana, and the history of science and technology.

Dallas/Ft. Worth is home to numerous museums and collections of international stature, and our students enjoy access to these remarkable resources as well. The Dallas Museum of Art holds an encyclopedic collection of over 30,000 objects, with particular strengths in Modern and Contemporary, Classical, American decorative arts, African, and Pre-Columbian. The Kimbell Museum, housed in Louis Kahn’s landmark building, boasts a smaller but superlative collection of art from around the world. The Amon Carter museum includes one of the world’s best and most comprehensive collections of American photography, with strong holdings in American art and sculpture. The Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas) and the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth possess fine collections of twentieth and twenty-first century American and European art. These collections are joined by a number of smaller museums in the area (including the Dallas Latino Cultural Center, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary), as well as several first-rate private collections. Our students receive internships at these institutions, as well as regular instruction in their galleries and storage rooms.


For more information about graduate study in the RASC/a program at SMU contact Professor Adam Herring aherring@smu.edu and go to www.rasc-a.com.

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