Senior Honors Thesis

The Art History Honors Program is available to majors with exceptional academic records who seek a greater intellectual challenge. Thesis writing and research is excellent preparation for graduate school and a career in Art History. The Honors Thesis is conducted as a two-term sequence (fall: ARHS 4391 and spring: ARHS 4392) during senior year, culminating with a 30-page thesis and faculty review.

Most students begin the thesis process in spring of their Junior year, when they identify a thesis topic. Once you have an idea in mind, contact the Art History professor whose research and teaching is geographically, chronologically, or conceptually closest to your proposed topic. The summer preceding your senior year is an excellent time to begin your research. Many students travel to sites or museums to conduct primary research on artworks. Funding from the SMU Meadows Exploration Awards and other on-campus sources is available for this research.

Thesis writing is a year-long process. Students register for ARHS 4391 (3 credit hours) in the fall semester and ARHS 4392 (3 credit hours) in the spring semester. Both courses must be taken in sequence and passed successfully. These courses are research-based directed studies with the thesis adviser.

The exact structure of the thesis should be determined in consultation with your advisor. In general, an Honors Thesis should be based upon original research and argumentation. A sample thesis outline would include the following sections:

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Previous Scholarship
  5. Methodology and/or Theoretical Framework
  6. One or more case studies of art historical objects
  7. Analysis
  8. Conclusions
  9. Figures / Images
  10. Bibliography

Examples of undergraduate Art History theses from previous years are available from the Department of Art History office. 

In mid-April, students submit their final thesis draft to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will then forward it to the entire Art History Department faculty. Exact deadlines are determined each year, and will be communicated to the students. Approximately one week after the final draft deadline, students give a 20 minute, academic conference-style presentation of their thesis to an audience Art History Department faculty. The faculty discuss the thesis, vote, and convey their comments and suggestions to the thesis advisor, who in turn discusses these with the student. The final and complete thesis, in correct formatting and with all images and bibliography included, is due to the thesis advisor no later than the last day of the spring semester final exam period.

Recent Senior Honors Theses in Art History


2022 - Katherine Delony

Scenes of Screens, Scenes of Sodomy: The Influence of the Folding Screen in the Development of Sexual Identity in Eighteenth-Century France" (advisor Prof. Amy Freund)


2021 - Sophia Salinas

“Cyber Touch: The Body and Transgression in Cyberfeminist Art Practices” (advisor Prof. Anna Lovatt)

2019 - Kelsey Kerkhof

“Hopper and Hitchcock and the Victorian House” (advisor Prof. Randall Griffin)

2019 - Alexandra Monique Lenczycki

“The Art of Living: Appropriation in the posters of the United States AIDS epidemic” (advisor Prof. Anna Lovatt)

2018 - Lauren King

“Bulls in Persepolis: A Phenomenological Perspective” (advisor Prof. Stephanie Langin-Hooper)

2018 - Blair Betik

“Roman Intent and Greek Experience: A Postcolonial Examination of Roman Additions to the Sacred Way at Delphi” (advisor Prof. Stephanie Langin-Hooper)

2017 - Morgan Fatora

“Perceptions of Ancient Veracruz Ceramic Art: As told by three mid-century Forgeries” (advisor Prof. Adam Herring)

2017 - Marisa Infante

“Re-Evaluating Modern Labels of Aphrodite On Hellenistic Jewelry” (advisor Prof. Stephanie Langin-Hooper)