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The minor in Visual and Material Studies (VMS) directs students to evaluate the socio-political, artistic, and economic life of visual and material culture through exposure to a variety of methods, theories, and academic approaches within the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

The minor in VMS encompasses methodologies that promote the clear communication of ideas, the construction of rigorous arguments, the analysis of evidence, and systematic citation of previous scholarship. This minor is relevant for students with an interest in analytical writing and broad contextualization of ideas as well as constructions of race, gender, and identity that are expressed in visual and material culture. 

The VMS minor involves a competitive application process through which a limited number of candidates will be accepted per academic year.

Minor Requirements

Students seeking a minor in VMS will need to:

  1. Complete no fewer than three courses from the department's course offerings (One introductory level course and two upper level electives taught by different VMS faculty)*
  2. Apply and secure approval of their candidacy from the Minor Selection Committee 
  3. Enroll in the VMS Senior Capstone Seminar
  4. Write a Senior Capstone thesis supervised by a VMS faculty member

*The three courses can come from any of the overarching VMS course categories listed below. Classes chosen must be taught by no fewer than three different VMS faculty members—this includes the introduction course. Courses not listed but taught by previous or visiting VMS faculty can also be considered in the application.

Introductory Level Courses:
VMS 0001 Introduction to Visual and Material Studies
VMS 0010/FMS 0070 Histories of Film I (1895-1955)
VMS 0011/FMS 0071 Histories of Film II (1955-Present)
VMS 0020 Interpreting Art: Tools for Critiquing, Creating & Curating
VMS 0024 Introduction to Modern Western Sculpture
VMS 0025 Introduction to Contemporary Sculpture
VMS 027/0127 /CVS 144 Sculpture in Site. Land Art, Installation Art and Public Art since 1960
VMS 0052 Encounters with Global Modernity
VMS 0080 A View of Ancient Middle and South American Art
VMS 0081 A Critical Perspective of the Americas 
VMS 0091 Shaping Modernity: Sculpture and Film Histories 
VMS 0092 Dialogues in Contemporary Film and Sculpture Since 1960

Category One; Ways of Thinking and Approaches to Practice: 
VMS 0121 Narrating Now
VMS 0122 Reassessing Museums
VMS 0124 Picturing the Body Politic
VMS 0128/ENV 128 Food as Sculpture since 1960
VMS 0130/ITAL 72 Arte Povera and post-WWII Sculpture in Italy
VMS 0131(0193 04) Contemporary Art: 2000 to Now
VMS 0132 (0193 05) Roots of Contemporary Art
VMS 0150 Post Conquest Narratives
VMS 0189 Art of Building Empire 
VMS 0190 Beyond the Studio 
VMS 0193 03 Decolonizing the Academy, Topics in VMS
VMS 0193 06 Afro-Brazilian diaspora-the MFA

Category Two; Landscape, Imagined, & Built Environment:
VMS 0105/FMS 0072 Cinematic Cities 
VMS 0129/ENV 0129 The Greening of Art. Ecology, Sustainability, Sculpture Since 1960 
VMS 0135 Architecture, Modernism and the Americas
VMS 0136 Urbanity in Mexico
VMS 0141 Art and the Anthropocene
VMS 0155 Reimagining the Americas
VMS 0160 Landscapes and Ecologies, 1500-2000
VMS 0185 Space, Place, and Ritual 
VMS 0161 Art and the Environment: Visual Ecologies
VMS 0193 02 Cultivating Ecologies, Art & Environment
VMS 0193 01 Redrawing Realities: Social Action
VMS 0193-05 Imagining the Amazon: Art & Activism

Category Three; Visual Narratives: Race, Gender, Class:
VMS 0101/FMS 0074 Neo-Noir and its Contexts
VMS 0105/FMS 0073 History and Aesthetics in Hitchcock
VMS 0126 Art and the Home Since 1900 
VMS 0145 American Art and Visual Culture: Race & Representation
VMS 0147 Ecosystems of Mind
VMS 0148 Why do Icons Matter?
VMS 0180 A Critical Perspective of the Americas 
VMS 0181 The Art of Ancient Mexico
VMS 0182 Art of the Maya
VMS 0192/SPN 0192/LAS 0191 Icons of Latin America
VMS 0193-01 Negotiated Perception: Photo History
VMS 0193-02 Directions in Contemporary Film
VMS 0193-03 Film Analysis in a Global Context
VMS 0193 07 Antropofagia: Decolonizing Brazil
VMS 0099/0199 Independent Study

VMS Minor Application

Students can apply for the VMS Minor on a rolling basis. Contact the VMS Chair to receive a link to the application form. The application includes a 250-word thesis proposal; a list of completed VMS and Art History courses; and a list of VMS faculty members that you would like to invite as principal advisor and second reader. It is strongly recommended that students submit an application by the end of their 2nd year of undergraduate studies, although applications by 3rd year BA, BS, BFA, or combined degree students, and 4th year combined degree students will be considered as well. 

Minor Checklist Form

Students seeking a VMS minor must fill out and submit their VMS Minor Checklist to the Chair of the VMS Department by the end of the Capstone Seminar course.

Capstone Research Seminar 

The Capstone Research Seminar (VMS-0199) is a requirement of the VMS Minor. In this weekly class, VMS Minor candidates learn research tools, explore methodologies and work on defining a final topic, bibliography, abstract, and outline for their thesis. 

Capstone Thesis

In their final semester, usually immediately following the Capstone Research Seminar, VMS Minor candidates enroll in an Independent Study with their principal advisor to write their Minor Thesis, building on the structure defined during the Capstone Research Seminar. The writing process is also supported by a second reader (VMS faculty member), and third reader (non-VMS faculty member). All VMS candidates present their theses at the VMS Minor symposium, organized at the end of each academic year. 

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