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Office of Undergraduate Research

Research Opportunities by Department

Undergraduate Research in the Department of Art & Art History


The Art History Program in the Department of Art and Art History has an exciting and unique dimension, one that the University of Rochester innovated; its focus on visual and cultural studies. Students do research not only on great works of art but on the wider world of images in which we live: images from film, television, advertising, mass medias, the worlds of sports and fashion, urban space, tourism, and religion. This thematic diversity is mirrored in the kinds of images we look at: analog and digital photography and their uses in new media (such as social networking sites) as well as in areas like photojournalism and snapshot photography; film, video, video gaming and home video; and emerging fields such as biomedical optics and the politics of the Internet, as well as the traditional art media of painting, sculpture, and architecture.

The diversity in our course offerings is also reflected in the research that students do both in courses and independent studies. Recent student work has included the following examples:

  • “An Impossible Space” (a comparative study of the film Children of Men and the computer game Half-Life 2 and their treatment of catastrophe)
  • J. G. Ballard’s Crash as ‘Political Pornography’ (a study of the film and novel that suggest that our culture is consumed by fascination with car crashes and their images)
  • “All Wrapped Up: The Entwined Heritage of Fabric and Female Identity in the Work of Yinka Shonibare” (a proposition that Shonibare’s “heritage of cloth” provides a site of patriarchal memory instead of helping to unfix the construct of feminine identity)

Examples of independent studies conducted with our faculty, who work one-on-one with students on specific topics, include:

  • The role of women in television—as subjects of programs, audiences, advertising consumers, actors and authors.
  • The impact of the composer John Cage on modern art.

How to get started:

Students who are interested in pursuing research can get started by taking an Introductory level course and discussing their interests with a faculty member. There are many opportunities to become involved as early as freshman year. Students are encouraged to meet with a faculty advisor to design a coherent program of study early in their degree process.

Research Opportunities by Department—Main List