The new academic year is upon us.  With the new year comes the promise of new students and faculty, innovative lectures and thought provoking seminars, and opportunities to continue to expand our offerings in art and design history at SAIC.  As is characteristic of a research-oriented department in a prestigious art school, our faculty have been busy with publications, lectures, and talks.  Their accomplishments are too numerous to provide a full list here.

I am especially pleased to congratulate Annie Bourneuf on receiving the 2016 Robert Motherwell Book Award from the Dedalus Foundation for her book Paul Klee: The Visible and the Legible. Also, Assistant Professor Shiben Banerji was awarded the Mellon Junior Fellowship in the Humanities, Urbanism, and Design at the University of Pennsylvania, a residential fellowship for 2016 – 2017. Among other publications, Assistant Professor Mechtild Widrich co-edited and contributed to Presence. A Conversation at Cabaret Voltaire and Participation in Art and Architecture: Spaces of Interaction and Occupation. Professor David Getsy published Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender  and Queer for the Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art series. Assistant Professor Seth Kim Cohen published Against Ambience and Other Essays, and he served as Labex International Research Chair at Universite Paris 8.    

As has been the department's good fortune for some years now, a new academic year brings on the arrival of a new colleague.  I am very pleased to welcome Assistant Professor Jennifer Nelson to SAIC.  She will join a department of fifteen full-time historians specializing in modern and contemporary art and design.  In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, Professor Nelson will oversee our undergraduate art history survey sequence, a role that seeks to expand global perspectives in study of art history for our the first-year students.  Another important addition to our department is Brooke Barnett, who is our new Administrative Director of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.  This year Associate Professor Delinda Collier steps down from her position as the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.  Assistant Professor Annie Bourneuf will replace her beginning in the fall of 2016.

Dialogue and debate are important aspects of an academic department.  The Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism continues to enrich an already dynamic discourse at the School by hosting and sponsoring lectures, talks, panels, and all manner of events that feature art and design history.  Last year we were fortunate to present and support numerous lectures by Sarah Carter, Luis M. Castañeda, Joseph Clarke,  Kjetil Fallan, Ramzi Fawaz, Wendy Greenhouse, Caroline Jones, Grace Lees-Maffei, Hamid Naficy, Daniel Siedell, Sarah Jones Weiksel, and Andrew Weiner.  Also, the department organized and sponsored two important symposia: “Human-Non-Human Networks” and “Local Anxieties: Relocating Architecture in a Global Public Space.” This year the department will continue to host events that bring to campus both established and up-and-coming scholars.  Two notable events for fall 2016 are the Princeton Art Historian Rachael DeLue, who will give the prestigious 28th Annual Norma U. Lifton Lecture on September 6, and, in collaboration with the Goethe Institut, the Architect and Professor of Design Theory at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg, Germany, Friedrich von Borries who will participate in a panel discussion with Assistant Professor Bess Williamson and Assistant Professor Mechtild Widrich on September 30.

Since last year, graduate students in SAIC’s Masters of Art History and Dual Degree programs have participated in academic conferences and have traveled nationally and internationally to conduct research on their thesis projects.  This student work was partially funded by competitive school and departmental travel grants.  Our alumni have continued to gain national and international recognition, and advance their careers as scholars and curators in many of the most esteemed academic and art institutions.

As we prepare for the coming academic year, the department continues to expand our BA in Modern Art History program.  We have added “Scholars” sections across our art history curriculum, and a "Pro-Seminar" to follow our already popular "Sophomore Seminar."  Both undergraduate seminars prepare art history students for the required capstone "Art History Methods" courses.


Michael J. Golec

Chair, Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.